There is a definite mood of preparation and expectation in the Open 60 monohull fleet as the yachts continue to head due west and look forward to a tough period of headwinds.
All the skippers appreciate that this depression represents a possible turning point in the race.
Conrad HUMPHREYS on Hellomoto - currently in ninth place - sees this upcoming period as the end of 'Phase 1' of The Transat and is aware that almost anything can happen right up to the race finish, while Mike GOLDING (Ecover) - 55 miles ahead of Humphreys - regards this weather as; "An opportunity to settledown and race the boat."
Since his canting keel motor failed early in the race, Golding says he has had no further problems so far and is hunting an opportunity to take some immediate distance out of Virbac's 24 mile lead. Current weather models also suggest that the monohull fleet will have very fast sailing conditions once they have battled through the period of strong headwinds and turn SW towards the Grand Banks off Newfoundland.
Michel DESJOYEAUX is continuing to lead the 60ft trimaran fleet on Geant and is already encountering confused seas ahead of the low pressure system. The French skipper, who sailed this race four years ago on his Open 60 PRB, says the 40 knot winds and big seas ahead present a situation that must be "handled with delicacy." While Desjoyeaux's understatement is entirely characteristic, he is unequivocal over future tactics and regards the timing of any tacks through the low as crucial to maintaining his lead over Thomas COVILLE on Sodebo, currently 25 miles astern of Geant and producing an average speed of 25.2 knots.
Kip STONE, leading the 50ft monohull class on his Owen Clarke Design yacht, Artforms, has being using the recent, relatively calm conditions to sleep and has let the autopilots control the yacht; "I've used this time to rest-up, but I'm always ready to jump on the helm if it gets lumpy."
43 year old Stone is excited about the system approaching the fleet; "I'm looking forward to a little more breeze and I'll be interested to see how the boat fares in heavy weather."
Stone, like the rest of the leading skippers in The Transat, will find the answers later today.