Atlantic Ocean – Beyou (Charal) has snatched control of the fleet this Tuesday after skirting around the western edge of a low pressure system, which shook up the bulk of the fleet throughout the night. Committed to the same course, Charlie Dalin (Apivia) is 2nd, whilst previous race leader Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut), doesn’t appear to have reaped the rewards of his gamble on an option due north. Further down the leaderboard now after being forced to make further repairs, Kévin Escoffier has lost some ground.
The second low pressure system, which the Vendée – Arctique – Les Sables d’Olonne fleet tackled yesterday, proved to be a tough nut to crack for some. Indeed, still the leader of the fleet on Monday, Thomas Ruyant believed the way out lay to the north in a passage coloured by breeze, speed and the likely negotiation of one tricky passage… A tempting option then. With a stormy night on the cards, Thomas Ruyant really thought his daring gamble would pay off. Alas, at the end of this breezy spell of 30-knot winds, gusting to 35, a ridge of high pressure sprawled across his route, dishing out heavy penalties.Meantime, Jérémie Beyou and Charlie Dalin played the comfort card in a very high-speed dash around the low pressure system and came out on top. This morning, the skipper of Charal had moved up to the front of the pack, the solo sailor on Apivia not far behind as her skipper explains: “We had to deal with some strong wind again last night. There’s a lumpy sea and the succession of wind shifts are giving us cross seas. My rivals had closed on me, but we’re beginning to take different options. We’ll see which of them pays off in a few days’ time. I’m not getting on too badly for my first time in solo format. Let’s hope it lasts! Apivia is slamming the whole time. There isn’t really a comfortable point of sail where we can calm things down a bit, especially when the seas are heavy, but that’s part and parcel of our job. With the speed comes discomfort, and I’m ready to pay the price if it means I can go faster”. Kévin Escoffier loses ground.
Hanging onto the coat-tails of the top trio of brand-new IMOCAs, Kévin Escoffier, 4th yesterday, had lost some ground this Tuesday morning. In the very light airs of the ridge of high pressure, the skipper of PRB slowed, braked, stopped and even ‘moonwalked’ backwards for a while (at 9 knots)! However, it proved to be beneficial since the skipper not only managed to consolidate the temporary repair on his mainsail, which he’d managed to puncture the day before, but he also completed a partial repair of his mainsheet track bulkhead, after noting that it had separated. He intends to complete the latter repair during the next calm spell.Really raising his game with every passing hour, Boris Herrmann (Seaexplorer – Yacht Club de Monaco) has hoisted himself up into fourth place, ahead of Isabelle Joschke (MACSF), who was being given a rough ride in the storm yesterday but remains solid in fifth place ahead of Samantha Davies (Initiatives Cœur), who is also posting a strong performance. In 7th place, Kévin Escoffier (PRB) has managed to squeeze himself in between the British skipper and Clarisse Crémer (Banque Populaire X), now 8th. Evidently, the female trio are certainly going to be worth watching in the upcoming Vendée Globe!On the softly, softly up to Unesco
With the leaders exiting the low pressure system and then negotiating the ridge of high pressure and its calm winds, the top trio has managed to break away from the rest of the fleet now. Boris Herrmann laments a deficit of 35.9 miles in relation to Jérémie Beyou, but how long will this split last? The forecasts indicate that the light airs will soon make their presence felt, likely forcing the first three boats onto a long arched course out to the west at low speed to make the IOC-Unesco mark at 62°N 25W, to the south-west of Iceland. The winds will also be light for the chasing pack, but their trajectory may be more direct, potentially reshuffling the cards. Nothing is certain in the world of offshore racing of course and the weather may well play out differently for the various runners and riders in this IMOCA fleet. Watch this space…