Nearly two days after the start of the race in Calais, the fleet is already scattered across 200 miles of race zone: whilst the leaders are rounding the southern tip of Ireland, the tail of the fleet stretches right back as far as the Isles of Scilly… However, all that may change in the coming hours!
LE CAM and RIOU have covered 400 miles since the start and have nearly a 200 mile lead on those at the back of the fleet, Yann ELIÈS (FRA) and Alexandre TOULORGE (FRa). The start of the race has been merciless: dodging the windless zones in the Channel the leaders were able to punch away into the Irish Sea leaving the rest of the fleet in their wake. However the forecasts suggest that by Tuesday lunchtime the front of the fleet are likely to suffer the reverse phenomenon.
Already this morning, the two escapees can feel their two shadows breathing down their neck, namely Temenos and Cheminees Poujoulat. Dominique WAVRE (SUI) has successfully managed to keep a hold of the leaders overnight and is only an hour and half behind, whilst Bernard STAMM (SUI) is still just hanging on, 60 miles off the pace. The weather situation is in the process of reshuffling the cards since the high pressure zone gradually settling over Ireland will see the winds drop. The 15 knot northeasterly wind will clock progressively east midday, creating very light conditions after the Fastnet Rock… And the situation is likely to remain like that for some time!
Reflecting on the opening 24 hours and his battle with RIOU, LE CAM said yesterday afternoon. 'He's been a great pacesetter since the middle of the night! Ahead of us last night we saw cargo ships, fog, fishermen and fifty metres of visibility… We made a lot of manoeuvres between gennaker and spinnaker in very variable winds and passed very close to a trawler in the fog.'
RIOU was equally upbeat, with everything onboard running like clockwork, 'Last night, we managed to break away from the others by following the direct route and outside we have sun, flat seas and fifteen knots of wind on the beam. We've got away from Dominique WAVRE a little but we are currently alongside Jean LE CAM.'