Atlantic Ocean – No change this morning in rankings in the four classes, but that doesn’t mean the sailors have been resting. The stormy depression south of the Canaries that is disturbing trade winds has slowed down the Ultime off the coast of Cape Verde, and concertina’d the gap. The Imoca and Multi 50s will be affected by this as well, but they are still gliding south at 20 knots this morning. There is not respite either in the Class40, who will pass west of Madeira around midday, still averaging more than 15 knots. At the head of the fleet, the calmer sea and rising temperatures are making life a little easier. They will use the time to repair little problems, communicate, spend time in the weather files and catch up on a little of the sleep lost in a furious first five days.
Ultime: The hunter and the hunted
Sodebo Ultim’s nice move, which allowed them to flip a deficit of 70 miles into a lead of more than 60 over Maxi Edmond de Rothschild yesterday, is a distant memory. In softening conditions, the lead has melted – under 20 miles this morning at 09:00 UTC. “In these conditions, you quickly go from being the hunter to the hunted,” Thomas Coville, the skipper of Sodebo Ultim’ said, not particularly to see his competitor flying in his wind…exactly as he had done two days ago. Colville knows that the race is really on in the next 36 hours, which separate the two trimarans from the entry of the Doldrums.
Multi 50: Dream gliding
This is probably the first day since the start where the Multi50 will be able to glide like their skippers dream of. The sea is well-ordered, the squalls dispered, the nasty “black run” that Erwan Leroux described is now a beautiful descent. But the opposite problem awaits the bows of Arkema and FenêtréA-Mix Buffet; the wind will drop and they will have to push with their ski poles. They will have to make a lot of manoeuvres and sail changes, probably under the influence of the stormy Canarian depression. Will FenêtréA-Mix Buffet’s decision to be 50 miles west pay out?
Imoca: A test for the faultless leader
Same weather pattern for the head of the Imoca fleet. “The evening was still tense yesterday, but overnight night was much quieter with less squalls,” said Gwénolé Gahinet from SMA. He and his teammate, Paul Meilhat, are waiting impatiently for the more complicated conditions in the disrupted tradewinds and the Doldrums, which are still four days away. Because in pure speed in the stronger wind, St-Michel Virbac, 40 miles ahead, seems untouchable. It is sailing faster (0.5 knots) and lower than the entire fleet, with complete control of the trajectory south.
Class 40: Record speeds
Still being shaken by a choppy sea and stressed by squalls, the leading boats are eager for tonight where conditions should finally allow some relaxation. Phil Sharp and Pablo Santurde (Imerys Clean Energy) are still leading the fleet and setting a great pace. The sensation of the last 24 hours has been V and B. Second this morning, Maxime Sorel and Antoine Carpentier are the fastest and within touching distance of breaking the Class40 speed record, after covering 372 miles in the last 24 hours (15.5-knot average). It is all the more remarkable given that they are making a comeback from having to slow and laminate a crack in their forward bulkhead.
The weather forecast for the day should allow them to glide comfortably west of Madeira. The Italians, Andrea Fantini and Alberto Bona on Enel Green Power are still on the way to Lisbon for a starboard rudder repair.
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