Atlantic Ocean – While Safran, the long term leader of the IMOCA Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona Race, was still holding a comfortable lead at 10:30 UTC, her speed was slowly beginning to drop as she entered the periphery of the ridge. This zone of high pressure, a band of light winds located off the Portugese coast, is the last meteorological hurdle that the French IMOCA 60 and her three rivals will face before they reach Gibraltar in around two days’ time.
Over the four hours leading up to 10:30 UTC, Safran’s 17.5 knot boat speed had been 1.5 knots slower than her rivals, while her average speed over the previous 15 minutes had dropped to 15 knots, compared to Hugo Boss and Team Neutrogena’s 19.0 and 20.2 knots respectively.
Co-skipper Morgan Lagravière confirmed this morning that the wind had dropped. “We have less wind than the others right now, but we have to accept that. We are 70 miles ahead of second, so we can’t be in the same wind.”
Lagravière said that he didn’t believe Safran would escape the ridge of high pressure until early tomorrow afternoon, when northerly winds would fill in to the east of the ridge. “We just hope it happens like that, because in light winds, anything can happen. We could be stuck and see the fleet coming back into us…” Other than predicting that their boat speed would drop and that the boats behind would catch them up to some degree, Lagravière said it was hard to make predictions.
The competition still remains hot for second with Pepe Ribes and Ryan Breymaier on Hugo Boss continuing to fend off their team mates, Guillermo Altadill and Jose Munoz, on Neutrogena. At 10:30 UTC Hugo Boss remained eight miles ahead, but Hugo Boss had also suffered some damage having broken some track on their mast and their spinnaker snuffer.
“It has been a lot of work as usual,” commented Breymaier. “Guillermo is very very determined, breathing down our neck, so we have to keep the boat at 100% all of the time!” While they haven’t tried to make any repairs while they have been charging along, Breymaier says they will attempt to fix their boat once they get into the lighter winds of the ridge.
As Hugo Boss is too far ahead for him to see, ‘determined’ Guillermo Altadill says he has been glued to the race tracker, to monitor Hugo Boss’ progress. In the stronger conditions, Neutrogena has also had its share of problems. While her mainsail tear is now fixed, Altadill said that yesterday they had broken the lower running backstay on one side, which required a trip up the mast to fix.
As to their prospects today, Altadill said they had a few more hours of 20 knot sailing ahead of them before they reached the ridge. Then they would be aiming for the band of favourable northerlies directly off the Portugese coast. “The crew that deals with that the best will have a lot of advantages,” he advised.
Bringing up the rear, Gerard Marin on GAES reported this morning that they were still enjoying 20-25 knots southwesterlies, which were shifting slightly and a calm, relatively long sea.
Since yesterday evening GAES has been sailing a few degrees higher, edging south. “With the sail configuration that we have, we need stay further south than the others. At present out only objective is to get to Gibraltar as quickly as possible.”
He estimated GAES arrival time in the Strait as being 1200 on the 12th June.