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5 November 2007, 06:13 pm
Safran Takes The Lead In TJV
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Safran leads the fleet

Transat Jacques Vabre 2007

Safran has moved into the lead of the Transat Jacques Vabre fleet after an overnight gamble to stay closer to shore paid off.
Being first in a sailing race is a fine combination of different ingredients. Experience, boat and sails design, analysis and interpretation of the weather information and good knowledge of the area you are going to sail in. But at some point, whether it is inspiration or luck, one of the option picked up just paid much more.

Monohulls (IMOCA and Class 40)

Safran (GUILLEMOT/CAUDRELIER) separated from the rest of the 60-footer fleet overnight after deciding to go through the Chenal du Four (closer to the shore) where he not only avoided contrary currents but also benefited from more wind (up to 17 knots), a bonus as it was not forecasted to be so strong.

Ecover, Gitana Eighty, Foncia and Groupe Bel, who were sailing along with him before the option, are now up to 20 miles further north. Those direct pursuers have pushed hard south and west during the day so as not to be glued in a transition zone of light winds before they can reach fresher wind. This situation will give Safran a nice advantage before she reaches the Canary Island (up to four days from now).

Aviva and Roxy are maintaining their positions in the middle of the fleet. Sam DAVIS (GBR) was quite satisfied that Roxy has kept up the pace with the newest boat, showing no disadvantage in these conditions. However the British skipper did admit to an error in their routing, "That was a mistake to pass out Ushant because our weather router told us he had a feeling it would be better to pass inside. We were too scared to risk to lose wind. So we chose not to take the risk…. We're regretting that because we were quite well-placed," said DAVIS.

Artemis slipped down to 12th after having sailed with Foncia and Safran yesterday. Johny MALBON (GBR) mentioned today that they would now concentrate a bit more on their routing.

"We had a very bad last part of last night before Ushant," said MALBON. "We nearly didn't make it through without having to gybe and then just at the last minute we had to change the sails and gybe. Just after the morning I guess we came across Foncia and then Safran. We had a good gybing battle with them and we're all looking for a way through the high-pressure ridge. And we were very close to them for the whole day and that's why it's even more upsetting for us right now."

At 16:00, Ecover gained one place, ranking fourth (passing Groupe Bel) as well as Roxy (ninth) whereas Aviva slipped 12th, passed by Pakea Bizkaia and Artemis.

In class 40 Telecom Italia (designed by Guillaume VERDIER, who also designed Safran) still holds the lead, without concession. The fleet split in two after Ushant, a consequence of the course they set to pass the lane. Sail changes were not an option to keep up with the changes in the wind-shifts. Moreover, the new boats are also testing their sails' range, which sometimes means more effort to choose the right sail at the right time.

The skippers that positioned their boats on the most easterly route are now reaching some fresher wind with speeds of up to 6-7 knots, whereas the boats more to the west and at the tail end of the Class 40 are stuck in wind holes (1 to 2 knots only)

Multihulls (ORMA and Class 50)

Banque Populaire took the lead of the ORMA Class overnight. The first three trimarans, Groupama and Sopra Group, were staying within 12 miles of each other (as of 16:00). Gitana 11's and Brossard's option further to the north was not successful as they were showing respectively a 35.1 and 62.1 miles behind the leader that might be difficult to fill in the sails of the leading pack (up to 25 knots). The latter should reach Cape Finistere in the next 24 hours. More choices to make there…

Crèpes Whaou ! is starting to accelerate, increasing dramatically her lead over her competitors. The gap between the duo ESCOFFIER/FAUCONNIER and Croisières Anne Caseneuve doubled up and the difference between the frontrunner and the last boat is now 76 miles (after only 24 hours of racing).

Transat Jacques Vabre -
Veronique Teurlay (As Amended By ISAF)
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