RIOU reported this morning, "Everything is going well, we are reaching along it is a calm night, we have 20 knots of wind, conditions for sailing are ideal. We are now planning about Santa Helena, on the South American coast, wanting to choose the right moment to turn left at some point. We haven't really changed our rhythm, we aren't that tired and we will now need all our strength to make a big effort."
Veolia Environnement crossed the gate in third place at 05:15 this morning. Onboard Roland JOURDAIN (FRA) and Jean-Luc NÉLIAS (FRA) were clearly looking forward to the racing to come. "Finally we will be down in to the great south - the cold, the action, the reason we have come here…" they said in their report this morning.
Now that the leaders have passed through the scoring gate, they are racing to get south as quickly as possible, in an effort to be first on the Roaring Forties express train. This is still some days away, but the first boats there will almost certainly leap away from the rest of the fleet. RIOU and Jean-Pierre DICK (FRA) on Paprec-Virbac 2 acknowledge as much, both saying it's more important to be close to each other, and thus on the same weather system, than it is to take a risky move away in an effort to be their first. The risk of losing out is simply too high.
Thus, it's no surprise to see the top pair within just six miles on the latest 10:00 GMT position report. But don't be fooled - they're not sailing within sight of each other. Paprec-Virbac 2 is about 23 miles further north, but is also further east, resulting in the six mile gap on 'distance to finish'.
Out of the Doldrums
After emerging from the doldrums, the southeast tradewinds represented a break of sorts for the tired crews who had been burdened by countless sail changes in the less table winds. Now the skippers can set up the boats, stack their sails on the high side of the boat to increase stability, and catch up on some rest.
"It is a relief to be on the move again. In the doldrums you know when you are going in but you never know when you are going to get out," said Delta Dore skipper Jérémie BEYOU (FRA) yesterday. "The boat has been heeling since last night and we've had 15-20 knots wind, sailing at 13 knots. From here to Fernando de Noronha, there is not much to do now.but we are going to have quite a lot on our plates going into the south Atlantic.it is very hot on board; nice weather and conditions for sailing but a little hard to sleep, and we have a fan to keep the boat cooler."
Following passage through the Fernando de Noronha gate, the next obstacle is the St Helena High - a weather system that prevails to the west of South Africa, which prevents the crews from cutting the corner around Cape Town. Instead, the teams will sail nearly directly south, until they begin to pick up the strong westerlies that will power them around the bottom of the globe.
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