Within 0.3 miles of each other for a large part of yesterday, the relative architects of the latest Marc Lombard and Owen/Clarke "bateaux de choc" must be intrigued by the performances in this 1000 milles de Calais.
Owen, currently forming part of the crew aboard Ecover, could not have hoped for better conditions to perform his datalogging, whereas Lombard must have mixed feelings this morning with Bonduelle's sistership, Sill retiring from the race yesterday night with keel worries.
The fleet are currently racing under the influence of a zone of high pressure that looks to have settled itself in off the west coast of Ireland. Rounding the Fastnet Rock is likely to prove interesting if the 10-knot NNW drops off lightly as they get close to land. For now the duo seem very evenly matched upwind but downwind from the Fastnet may tell a different tale.
Brian THOMPSON (Ecover). "We're just approaching the Scillies. It's been a good night. We had a little bit more wind between Land's End - up to 13 knots. As a result we changed sails and now we're getting nearer the Scillies the winds are getting lighter and we're changing back to the big genoa. Otherwise it's been a really easy night. A lot of stars to steer by and we can see Bonduelle just ahead of us and I think we're too far away to see Virbac or PRB but they must be quite close. As for the leader, we always thought Bonduelle was going to be a good boat and it's really interesting racing with her now. All the new boats and new designs are better than the old boats and it would be surprising if it wasn't fast. We'll see what the downwind conditions are like at the Fastnet and if there's a difference in boat speed there, but upwind we seem very, very similar".
IMOCA is a fascinating type of boat with all the development within the class. They're fast and very seaworthy boats built for round the world sailing and all the technology in the boats is very, very high and take in all the best ideas from the multihulls, the Volvo and the America's Cup as well as the ideas that are just from the Open 60's...The hydraulic swinging keel and the daggerboards - they're all very unique and that makes the boats very interesting to sail".
After Bishop Rock we're expecting more of the same conditions, up close reaching upwind towards Fastnet Rock. Round the rock the wind could go quite light because of the land and then on the way back more reaching and downwind."
Full positions are available on the event website at the address below.