Grant Dalton's broken collarbone is mending, the British and EF Education's women have new masts, and Dennis Conner has forgiven skipper Paul Standbridge.
Relatively speaking, on the flip side of trouble in the Whitbread Round the World Race, Paul Cayard's EF Language is setting out on a Caribbean cruise as the world's premier sailing race starts its sixth leg today, 4,750 nautical miles from Sao Sebastiao, Brazil, to Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
For the first time, the race will be settled on points, not overall elapsed time. Either way, EF Language is sailing a blowout.
On time, the Swedish-sponsored boat with half an American crew leads by almost five days with 30% of the 31,600-mile race remaining. On points, EFL's lead of 507 to 411 over Dalton's Merit Cup is such that it could hit an iceberg--not likely on this equatorial leg--and still be on top of the standings.
At least the first part of this leg bears little risk. The nine Whitbread 60s will be sailing--drifting--through the doldrums, a climatic convergence zone between the southern and northern hemispheres with very little wind.
Dalton, the Merit Cup skipper, said, "This leg can be a lesson in patience for the crews. The first yacht out of the doldrums will probably win."
Light air will mean fewer worries for Lawrie Smith's Silk Cut and Christine Guillou's EF Education, which lost their masts in the Southern Ocean and had to motor in to Brazil.
Toshiba also turned on its engine momentarily to clear seaweed from its propeller and was disqualified from the leg, dropping to sixth place overall. Skipper Paul Standbridge feared owner Conner would fire him, but apparently all is well.
"I'm disappointed in the outcome of the jury's decision, but it's time to move on," Conner said. "Paul Standbridge will continue as skipper of the yacht Toshiba and the crew will challenge itself to finish at the top."