• The Beat And The Heat Goes On

    The next two days could be crucial in deciding the winners. Lead changes are expected across three of the four classes today as the weather roles the dice.

    Ocean Fifty – searching for a way out

    Lying 4th Leyton have made up nearly 100 nautical miles on the OceanFifty class race leaders Primonial since yesterday. There are around 300 miles to the little Brasilian island of Fernando de Noronha which is the most southerly turning mark on the Transat Jacques Vabre race.

    Sam Goodchild and Aymeric Chapellier are quickest in the OceanFifty class this morning making over 17 knots, but – as ever – the British sailor remains cautious, “Are we out of the Doldrums yet? Well, that is not a question you ask or answer….when you say you are out you’re not! And we saw yesterday afternoon our friends in the west were going SSW at good speeds but last night they were stopped, which is good for us. We are not out the Doldrums and will just carry on going SSW until we get to Fernando. Yesterday was a chance to just catch up on rest, I think we both got some good longer sleep which was good, proving we really needed it. We are just plugging away.”

    Later today, the class should break free and start to pick up speed towards Fernando de Norohna, the final turning mark before Martinique.

    Class40: focus on strategy

    The head of the Class40 fleet is getting closer and closer to Cape Verde and more particularly to the island of Sal, which they must leave to starboard before they can head across the Atlantic. However, the weather conditions remain complicated, "The conditions are light and it's not going to get any better for the next 24 hours. We'll have to cross a zone of light winds before we can hope to find the beginnings of trade winds," explained Valentin Gautier (Banque du Léman) in a note received last night.

    The leading group has been caught up again and "our lead over the fleet will melt away like snow in the sun. We will be trying to make the most of it once again, as the next night promises to be one of the most important of this transatlantic race" said the Edenred pairing last night.

    Ultime: the miles are flying

    This morning, the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild has a 300 mile lead over the second ranked Ultime, Banque Populaire XI.

    Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier have averaged much higher speeds than the rest of the fleet as they head towards the virtual course mark located 20 miles to the north of Trindade Island. "It's always nice to have a lead over our pursuers like that, it allows us to manage things better, but we mustn't forget that in a multihull it doesn't represent much time, so it can come back quickly. We mustn't stop, we mustn't have any technical problems and then it’ll be fine." explained Cammas on French radio this morning.

    They’re expected the round the waypoint early this afternoon before starting the ascent towards Martinique at high speed. At the rear of the fleet, Sodebo Ultim 3, who had decided to start racing again despite a weakened foil, is now out of the Doldrums and will be able to follow in the footsteps of her rivals up front and begin her descent.

    IMOCA – the pressure is on

    The high pressure, cat-and-mouse racing will continue into another day. At the front of the pack LinkedOut, Charal and Apivia have broken free, leaving three other boats Initiatives-Coeur, Arkea Paprec and 11th Hour Racing Team - Mālama, 140 miles behind them.

    By the end of the day the leaders should enter the Doldrums, a zone that is becoming increasingly complicated. They will first have to find a favourable entry point to the east and then will have to slalom between the squalls and the lack of wind. A good 36 hours of nail-biting decisions await the skippers.

    The Class 40 fleet is an exciting mix of top professional and amateur sailors, of old and new boats. It is also a class divided in two by 150 miles of Atlantic ocean. We caught up with a boat near the front and one near the back to hear how both have coped with some tough racing.

    In the leading bunch and sitting in 7th place is the professional British pair of Brian Thompson and Alastair Richardson aboard Tquila. Earlier this year the pair broke the transatlantic speed record as part of the crew on Argo – this Transat crossing couldn’t be more different! Ten days into the race they are approaching Cape Verde and contemplating their next move, “If the leaders stay bunched and close to the islands then we might go wide and stay in slightly stronger winds. That’s the dilemma at the moment” explained Richardson this morning.

    Their seventh place is a remarkable achievement considering they have struggled for days with the electronics on board. This has meant no satellite connections or up to date weather data. Alastair used his mobile phone whilst skirting the Canary Islands to call his wife so she could advise on their position using the race tracker on the website.

    Luckily for us they regained connection with the outside world just before our morning call. Thompson was in good spirits, “We seem to be doing miraculously well considering all the trouble we’ve had. It has been fantastic racing”

    The problems also led to a faulty auto pilot which means the pair have had little sleep, “We’ve got an older boat and when we drive it manually we’re about a knot faster so we’ve been sailing the boat most of the time. We’ve only used the auto-pilot when we’re super super tired but that also broke the other day, so it has been a nightmare. At the moment, I’m taking it to bits to try to make it work.” explained Richardson, a former Olympic and America’s Cup sailor.

    At the other end, in the second bunch of 20 boats are Dutchmen Frans Budel and Ysbrand Endt. Their boat Sec Hayai is in 36th place and passed the Canary Island of Palma this morning. Budel is a race rookie but for Endt it’s a second time in the Transat Jacques Vabre, “This has been so different from the first time. The conditions are so completely different than any other time I’ve been here” admits Endt who has taken on much of the navigational responsibilities aboard.

    The conditions are not the only things that have tested the pair, “We almost lost the generator for our electrical system but then we managed to get it off our transom, repair it fully and even modify a bit to make it better” explains Endt with a laugh of satisfaction.

    Neither sailor is thinking about the end of the race, they’re focused on making up ground on their nearest rivals, “We’re only thinking about the next two days and getting past the Canaries as fast as possible to try to win places. Our goal is to get back into to the top thirty.”

    450 miles ahead of the Dutch, the British pair on Tquila are enjoying their sailing again after fixing the electrical problems on board, “The start of the race was wonderful and it’s fantastic racing at the moment. We’ve got an interesting few days coming up weather-wise though because this is the last bit of good wind then it’ll be sub 10 knots in the coming days”

    This article was originally published in forum thread: A New Course For TJV started by Photoboy View original post