The 78 foot (24 metres) biofuelled trimaran Earthrace is just a few hours away from San Diego California, which marks the one third point in her 24,000 mile round the world journey.
Smooth seas up the Baja Peninsula, much lighter than forecast have allowed Earthrace to maintain a pace of more than 21 knots and she is expected to arrive in the next four hours.
At 12:35 GMT, New Zealand skipper Pete Bethune reported Earthrace was 1143 nautical miles ahead of the Cable and Wireless pace.
However the big challenge looming for the Earthrace team is the slow arrival of her fuel.
Scott Fratcher, who was responsible for Ground support during the 2007 attempt reports
'The sponsored SGC bio diesel still has not been released by US customs. The Earthrace ground crew is working frantically and has split into teams working on different tacks to push the paperwork through the complicated bureaucratic process. If the SGC bio diesel does not clear customs by close of business on Friday, California time, just hours away, the team may be forced to wait the weekend with the time clock ticking away and the fuel locked behind a tall cyclone fence.
The Earthrace boat has the speed to complete the round the world race in just 55 days. This leaves 20 remaining days for maintenance and logistical support. So far Earthrace has lost one of those days in Puerto Rico and two more waiting for to transit the Panama Canal. If Earthrace is forced to wait the weekend the team will loose yet another two days and possibly more. The second waiting container of fuel destined for Hawaii will miss it's container ship causing further delays when Earthrace reaches the mid Pacific islands.
Earthrace has a planned six-hour pit stop in San Diego for Cummins to check over the main engines. San Diego is one of the last fully supported ports before Earthrace has to cross nearly 10,000 miles of near desolate ocean just north of the equator. If a breakdown occurs along the next three race legs Earthrace will be hard pressed to locate and ship parts in a reasonable amount of time.
This six hour planned maintenance may turn out to be a lucky strike for the team. If the fuel is released at close of business the trucking company will have to work overtime to move the container to the docks next to Earthrace. By the time the fuel reaches Earthrace the engine maintenance will be nearly completed.
The Earthrace team have upgraded their fuel transfer system and can completely fuel Earthrace in just one hour. This is much faster than last years attempt where fuel transfer took four hour and may prove to be the time saving system for Earthrace in the next eight hours.'
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