IMOCA 60 Update
The Open 60 monohull leaders are still under the influence of the Doldrums for a few hours yet, but are all reporting signs of the trade wind conditions in the skies. Virbac-Paprec, squeezing ahead in between Sill et Veolia to the west and Bonduelle to the east, is already into the new wind, heading just west of south (188), as the breeze starts to rotate slowly from the east to the south east.
PEYRON on Virbac-Paprec was brief about their strategy on the satellite phone yesterday, 'We'll have to reposition ourselves and head more on the direct route before Sill et Veolia so we can mark them.' DE PAVANT on Bonduelle was giving his fighting talk after their coup over the 24 hours, 'We hope we can really threaten the leaders and the upwind leg ahead will be good for us. It looked better to be in the east rather than west but we'll see tomorrow. We're quite well rested after a magical night so we're ready for the squalls we can see ahead.'
Finally, Bilou (JOURDAIN) on Sill et Veolia sounded exhausted in comparison, he and ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year MACARTHUR had evidently had a tougher night on Monday, 'We got pretty stuck and our spirits are a bit dented, Virbac-Paprec is sailing a bit faster in lighter airs, they took out 7-8 miles from us in two hours! So it wasn't our lucky day and we're totally exhausted. And Bonduelle has had a boost over in the east. The wind is stabilizing from the east to south east, we should get into the new wind in a few hours but Virbac-Paprec will get into this before us.'
On a close hauled tack right now, these boats will progressively ease sheets to a close reach nearer the Equator, until they end up on a reach approaching the curve of South America at 5 S 300m down the track, to finish their transatlantic crossing on a broad reach off the Brazilian coastline level with Recife. The wind will build gradually from ten to 15 knots to 25-30 knots by Thursday, and the full main and Solent will be replaced by one reef in the mainsail and staysail, then Solent, then small gennaker with full main, with a full spinnaker for the final leg into All Saints' Bay.
With so many sail changes between here and Bahia, the two Lombard and one Farr designed Open 60s in the lead all have the same potential in terms of boat speed, and so final victory will be more down to small tactical moves made yesterday as they pick up the trade winds, or right at the end of the race, choosing to sail inshore or off on the last stretch into Salvador. DE PAVANT concluded that, 'we have three different routing options telling us we'll finish on the 19th but the race may finish in light airs.'
Still in with a chance for a place on the podium are fourth to sixth placed boats flanked within one degree apart from left to right, fifth placed Skandia with Brian THOMPSON (GBR) and Will OXLEY (AUS) at 29 39 W just 2-3m behind Mike GOLDING (GBR) and Dominique WAVRE (SUI) on Ecover positioned at 29 27W slightly inside, and Marc THIERCELIN (FRA) and Eric DROUGLAZET (FRA) on Pro-Form on the right hand side at 29 01 W just 7m behind Skandia.
GOLDING yesterday explained his strategy, 'We're in this position because we're down on speed due to two problems. Firstly, our inability to deploy Code sails as we have no furling since the tack line broke the other day. Secondly, the damaged rudder is slow, no matter what we do. So we pushed over to the right (west) to see if it will pay, but it's not been a critical factor in the outcome. But the fleet hasn't really closed up so much, more in distance than in time, we've still got another 24 hours before we're clear out of the Doldrums yet.'
Anne LIARDET (FRA) and Miranda MERRON (GBR) on Roxy lost out on Monday night as they got becalmed through the Cape Verde Islands under the prevailing grey stormy conditions, and UUDS with Hervé LAURENT and Laurent MASSOT (FRA), although also reporting a lack of wind through their more westerly route as well, nevertheless sneaked ahead into seventh place this morning. MERRON penned her thoughts on the matter, 'The past day is almost not worth recording, but here is a brief summary anyway. While not obvious, it turned out that there was NO wind beween the islands of Santiago and Fogo, where we spent many hours with the sails slatting in the swell...' There will be plenty of opportunity for the girls to regain their previous position as their Doldrums crossing lies ahead.
Open 50 Class 2 Monohull Update
Joe HARRIS (USA) and Josh HALL (GBR) on Gryphon Solo may still have a commanding lead, but their old rivals Kip STONE (USA) and Merfyn OWEN (GBR) on Artforms are now attacking from the rear and have moved into third place with now a 285.7m deficit. After the crippling weather suffered by Gryphon Solo and Vedettes de Bréhat over in the east of the race course for the best part of Sunday, the two Anglo-American teams at the back, Artforms and Paul METCALF (GBR) and Ryan FINN (GBR) on Polarity Solo have knowingly avoided that side of the course and gained considerable miles by sticking to a westerly route in anticipation of passing the Cape Verde Islands well offshore. FINN, the rookie onboard Polarity Solo, has had his eyes opened by this race, 'I'm learning so much about the weather here as the clouds in the Atlantic are so different compared to the cloud formations in the Pacific or off the American coast. We're keeping a close eye on Artforms and learning a lot from them, they know what they're doing! It's an amazing race to be a part of and I'm pretty humbled by the other skippers' performance…'
Multihull Update: ORMA 60 Fleet
As the multihulls are crossing the Equator at the latest position reports, the top three ORMA 60 trimarans are launching in a tacking battle to the Ascension Island turning point in the southeast Trades. The sea state is renowned to be rough in this area too, and so looking after the structure and rigging will be paramount on this leg of the race. Pascal BIDÉGORRY (FRA) and Lionel LEMONCHOIS (FRA) on Banque Populaire, leading from Michel DESJOYEAUX (FRA) and Hugues DESTREMAU (FRA) on Géant by 42m, pulled off a winning counter-tack earlier today to reposition nearer to the rhumb line and ahead of Gitana 11 at the same time.
BIDEGORRY on Banque Populaire explained their strategy, 'I found that there was a tendency for the wind to be more easterly, so we decided to put in an easterly tack and it turned out okay. We're happy with our routing, we're in a great position, and really just focused on sailing our own race, rather than trying to play tactical games with the other two.'
DESTREMAU, on the other hand, explains why they are persisting with their southerly tack, 'We thought a lot about tacking along with Banque Populaire to the east, a good chance to reposition in relation to Gitana 11 too, but we decided not too as we weren't totally clear of the Doldrums, which could be moving south again.'
Class 2 Open 50 Multihull Fleet
Franck-Yves and Kevin ESCOFFIER (FRA) on Crepes Whaou ! are now well into the Doldrums, 1,114m in front of Pascal QUINTIN (FRA) and Raphaël SOHIER (FRA) on Jean Stalavan. Kevin ESCOFFIER reported yesterday that their stop/start night was more because they hit a whale in the middle of the night whilst traveling downwind at 19-20 knots under large gennaker, and had to stop for two hours to repair the crack along the daggerboard and the small leak which was coming into the boat as a result. They were very lucky not to have dismasted the boat in hindsight given the speed they were traveling when they came to an abrupt halt, and are glad that the structure has not been otherwise affected.
WEATHER By Louis BODIN
For the ORMA 60 Multihulls the southeast Trade winds should now be with them for the rest of the journey. But the precise direction is fundamental to their strategy. Normally, the breeze allows the trimarans to reach the Ascension Islands on one tack. So it is vital to find the absolute right moment to make that tack. If the skippers think the wind will rotate more to the east, then they will first head on an easterly tack, but if they think it is going to shift more to the south, then they will make their first tack to the south. We will see what the results bring tonight. The sea-state will also be quite rough for the trimarans.
The leading IMOCA 60 monohulls should have been leaving the Doldrums yesterday morning. They will be in the new 15-20 knot southeast Trades, but in more favourable conditions than the multihulls as they can head directly towards Bahia on a fast reach. The Doldrums was hardly very active as forecast and so the top half of the fleet should be out of this zone by the end of the day. For the rest of the fleet sailing between the Cape Verdes and Canaries the northeast Trade winds should stabilize gradually during the day to 15-20 knots. The stormy and cloudy weather should dissipate during the day.
Quotes From The Boats…
Loick PEYRON (Virbac-Paprec): 'The transition has been more complicated than expected, we've lost a bit of ground after falling into a lighter patch and also losing one of our smaller headsails, but we don't need it anymore. The wind rotated 90 degrees in one squall, there's been a lot of work to do overnight, we've done lots of sail changes, gennaker up and down, it's been very physical. But we're first out of the Doldrums so we're happy about that. We'll have to reposition ourselves and head more on the direct route before Sill et Veolia so we can mark them. It's logical that Bonduelle gained some miles, that's all part of the lottery in the Doldrums. Every boat's worrying to us so we try not to worry about it!'
Kito DE PAVANT (Bonduelle): 'It was a magical night, we stayed above 15 knots, now we're going a bit slower, there are squalls still ahead but so far it's been a quick transition, even thought the boats behind will have caught up too. We hope we can really threaten the leaders and the upwind leg we'll have will be good for us. It looked better to be in the east rather than west but we'll see tomorrow. We're quite well rested so we're ready for the squalls. It's quite a game of 'snakes and ladders' in the Doldrums, it only takes one cloud to stop one of the boats. Three different routings show that we'll finish around the 19th but we think the race may have a slow finish in light winds and we're not out of the Doldrums yet. We'll try and make it as exciting as possible to follow!'
Roland JOURDAIN (Sill et Veolia): 'It's better now we're more or less out of this mess. We got pretty stuck and thankfully we're moving again, our spirits are a bit dented, Virbac-Paprec is sailing a bit faster in lighter airs, they took out seven to eight miles from us in two hours! So it wasn't our lucky day. And Bonduelle has had a boost over in the east. It's tough in here, when you think everyone must be going through the same thing, but then they're not when you see the polls. The wind is stabilizing from the east -to south east, we should get into the new wind in a few hours but Virbac-Paprec will have got this before us. We'll have to wait another 24 hours to be completely out of here. We're both exhausted after being on deck pretty much all night, and it's now really hot, we haven't adapted to the heat yet. Ellen was talking to me earlier and I just fell asleep listening to her! But she really is impressive on the water, the energy she has and the way she manages things, she's truly exceptional!'
Mike GOLDING (Ecover): 'We're going quite fast now, moving nicely as it's been very difficult, very stop and go here. We're in this position because we're down on speed due to two problems. Firstly, our inability to deploy Code sails as we have no furling since the tack line broke the other day. Secondly, the rudder is slow, no matter what we do. So we pushed over to the right to see if it will pay, but it's not been a critical factor in the outcome. The fleet hasn't really closed up so much, more in distance than in time. We've started to see signs of the Trade wind clouds, which is good news but I expect we'll be dealing with the Doldrums for the next 24 hours still. We're both fine, working the boat very hard, the squalls kept us busy with lots of sail changes. We've had some very heavy squalls, heavy rain, going from ten to 38 knots in minutes. We got through these okay, we even went through one squall flying our gennaker as we were unable to furl it, so we had to run off badly from our heading, which cost us a few miles. All these things are compounding together now.'
Ryan FINN (Polarity Solo): 'We're doing well, keeping a sharp eye on the boats ahead, as we saw them heading over to the east and didn't think it was a good idea, so we can learn from their mistake and keep over to the West. In fact, don't tell them, but we're keeping an eye on Artforms, they know what they're doing so we're more or less following their track for now, we can't go far wrong! We're sailing conservatively, taking care of the sails, it's difficult to know what to expect as we've got three day weather files to look at, but I'm learning so much about the weather here as the clouds in the Atlantic are so different compared to the cloud formations in the Pacific or off the American coast. We're keeping ourselves going on some wonderful curry packets, Paul does more of the cooking on board, though. It's an amazing race and I'm pretty humbled by the other skippers' performance…'
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