• Cat And Mouse Battles In The Doldrums




    After nine days of racing the monohulls are still bunched together in cat and mouse battles in which any mistake will prove costly. Maxi Edmond de Rothschild keeps getting faster at the front of the Ultimes whilst the Ocean Fifty class may well be shuffled as they enter the Doldrums.

    Ultime - enter the southern hemisphere

    The Ultimes have been speeding south since escaping the doldrums yesterday. The technical battle of previous days has turned into a speed race between the four leading boats. However, discounting any possible breakages, catching the leader seems like an almost impossible task. Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier on Maxi Edmond de Rothschild are almost 300 miles ahead and have averaged 3-4 knots more over the early morning than the chasing boats.

    François Gabart on his new trimaran SVR - Lazartigue is doing his best to stay in touch with the leaders, "The doldrums were difficult for us. We lost a lot of ground on our competitors.”

    The crews are now heading upwind towards the next waypoint at Fernando de Noronha.







    IMOCA – man to man marking

    After a long descent along the African coast in search of thermal breeze, the leading group has gybed and is starting a long starboard tack toward the entrance to the Doldrums. The conditions are lighter, forcing the pairs to focus on sail, foil trimming and mast setting. LinkedOut, is still holding the lead but only 70 miles separate the top 5 boats. Apivia is only seven miles behind in second place. It’s a game of cat and mouse, who will blink first?





    Ocean Fifty: winning contest on the programme

    The 50-foot fleet is a playful one. The seven crews have been challenging each other in speed duels over recent days but all this will change as they enter the Doldrums.

    Thibault Vauchel-Camus (Solidaires en Peloton - ARSEP) explained on their radio broadcast this morning that they feel short-changed by the conditions recently, "Primonial is leading the way, even though we're following a similar weather and geographical route. That's the beauty of sailing! Anyway we’re only halfway there so there's still plenty more time!”

    Primonial is still in first place, while Koesio and Solidaires en Peloton-ARSEP are closing the gap. Further east, CGA-1001 Sourires and Arkema 4 seem to have opted for a more direct route. If conditions allow them a quick crossing, this could once again shake up the ranking.




    Class40: yet another slowdown in sight

    The leading 40 footers are seeing the miles pass under their bows as they slide along the coast. The gybes continue to punctuate the race of this very tightly bunched fleet. If the weather forecast is correct then the frontrunners will likely slow while the chasing pack continue in good breeze. Benoit Hantzberg explains more from his boat Volvo, "The next few days are going to be lighter. There will be a lot of gybing to do to get to Cape Verde. It will be similar to what we had along Portugal. That's also why we do these races, not necessarily just for the long speed tacks!"








    As the fleet heads south the crews are absorbed by strategy, tactics and what on earth to wear.



    Ultime: next waypoint in their sights

    The Maxi Edmond de Rothschild is seemingly unstoppable. Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier are smoking south at 30 knots just 600 miles from Trindade and Martim Vaz, the Brazilian islands they have to round before heading up towards Martinique. Their current ETA to the finish line is about a week. Thomas Rouxel, on board Sodebo Ultim 3, concedes they’ll be tough to catch, "They have the lead, they are more comfortable with all points of sail, they are exceptional sailors, I can’t see what could stop them winning, barring technical damage or a twist of fate in the second Doldrums.

    At the rear of the Ultime fleet, the Sodebo crew who suffered foil damage last week are crossing the Doldrums. They’re close to the leading Ocean Fifty boats and are effectively out of the race but that doesn’t mean to say they’re not pushing the limits where they can. leaders. "We're still racing because we are developing the boat, making it more reliable, making adjustments and working with our routing team.” says co-skipper Thomas Rouxel. “There are a lot of parameters to work on, but we're still aiming for performance. We also want to enjoy it because sailing on these boats is exceptional, even if it's not obvious in the Doldrums.



    Ocean Fifty: down in the Doldrums

    The entire Ocean Fifty fleet is now approaching or in the Doldrums. But the three leading boats are still dominating. Over the last 24 hours, they have covered more miles than Sodebo Ultim 3, which is in the same waters. Primonial continues to lead ahead of Koesio and Solidaires en Peloton-Arsep. As the Ocean Fifty boats are following a shorter route than the Ultimes, they are also expected in Martinique on 23rd November.



    IMOCA – when light means tough

    This Transat Jacques Vabre 2021 is proving tough on the monohulls. For days now they’ve struggled with unfavourable conditions and continue to search for breeze close to the African coast. The leading six today made their break, heading west to Cape Verde. LinkedOut has done best and has a small lead over Charal and Apivia.

    Sitting fourth is Sam Davies on Initiatives-Coeur where there are more than just navigational concerns;

    “Yesterday I still had my hat and fleece on, but tonight it's different, it's warmer. …we were looking for the stuff in our bags and we both agreed we'd packed too many fleeces, hats, gloves etc... my bag is really too big (as a girl I have the right to have a bigger dressing room, right?) Then, I finished changing into my shorts, I go back on deck but Nico continues to rummage in his bag.

    "Sam" he says.

    "Yes"

    "I forgot my t-shirts".

    I suggest a solution: I share my T-shirts.

    Nico will wear size 10 (or 12 if he's lucky) women's clothes for the next 11 days.

    And he'll do the laundry.”



    Class40: Canaries split the fleet in two

    25 boats have now passed the Canaries. This first half of the fleet is spread out over 400 miles. It is still led by the same boats: Redman and Volvo, positioned further west. The other half of the fleet remains north of the Canaries, 20 boats spread out over 300 nautical miles. Terre Exotique is rear guard over 700 miles behind the leader just north of Madeira.



    Leaderboard at 18.00 CET

    Ultime
    1. Maxi Edmond de Rothschild
    2. Banque Populaire XI
    3. SVR - Lazartigue


    Ocean Fifty
    1. Primonial
    2. Koesio
    3. Solidaires en Peloton - ARSEP

    Imoca
    1. LinkedOut
    2. Charal
    3. Apivia

    Class40
    1. Redman
    2. Volvo
    3. Banque du Léman
    This article was originally published in forum thread: A New Course For TJV started by Photoboy View original post