Michel DESJOYEAUX continues to lead the 60ft multihull fleet on Geant with just under 900 miles to the finish line in Boston approx 90 miles ahead of Thomas COVILLE on Sodebo, who has recovered from being knocked out yesterday after a high-speed collision
The ORMA trimarans are set to face increased levels of tactics as wind speeds are set to decrease throughout the day. Desjoyeaux is now 450 miles due east of Nova Scotia, sailing through the Grand Banks fishing area. Although the trimarans are all complying with the self-imposed ice exclusion zone waypoint to limit any contact with ice, Franck CAMMAS - skipper of third placed Groupama - has reported that he is sailing through seas dotted with oil platforms and icebergs. Disturbingly, Cammas also spotted Grand Banks shipping that had not registered on his radar.
The 60ft monohull fleet will enter this area at around midday tomorrow, but for now the leading IMOCA yachts are involved in an intense race further north as Ecover (Mike GOLDING) and Pindar AlphaGraphics (Mike SANDERSON) continue to trade first place throughout the night at the halfway point. However, the two northerly yachts in the front pack - Cheminees Poujoulat-Armor Lux (Bernard STAMM) and PRB (Vincent RIOU) - have been producing high speeds in the most recent position polls. Stamm, in particular, is now less than 10 miles behind the leaders and has recorded VMG data that often doubles that of Ecover and Pindar AlphaGraphics.
In a satellite phone call to the Race Organisation this morning, Bernard STAMM reported ENE winds of around 15 knots - a situation that he hopes will last for three days. These conditions are perfect for Cheminees Poujoulat-Armor Lux, and the forty-year-old Swiss skipper claims his heart is now pumping harder than at any other time in the race so far. With full main sail and his biggest spinnaker, Stamm says he is "roller-skating south" and commenting on his sail configuration added: "When you're going downwind you get the big guns out."
Stamm, a merchant seaman before entering professional racing in the mid-1990s, is tireless in the preparation of his Open 60 and is constantly refining the four-year-old monohull. Shortly before the start of The Transat he remarked happily: "Before, my boat was a jet...now she is a rocket-ship."
Although Cheminees Poujoulat-Armor Lux is a generation older than the two leading Open 60s, this is of no consequence to the un-stoppable Bernard STAMM.
The reaching and running conditions ahead of the Open 60 fleet are ideal for the yachts, but the fleet will run into less breeze at Flemish Cap and - like the 60ft trimarans - light air tactics are likely to intensify until the finish line for this part of the fleet.
In the 50ft multihull class, American Rich Wilson who started 16 hours after the start in Plymouth on 31st May, has raced to within 3 miles of 2nd placed Gifi and 162 miles behind leader Frenchman, Eric BRUNEEL, who has carved himself out a big lead. US countryman, Kip Stone, on the Merfyn OWEN designed Open 50 Artforms is 65 miles ahead of fellow American Joe HARRIS on Wells Fargo-American Pioneer.
For the latest positions go to the event website via the link below.