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11/05 - 07h41

The Best of It

The tale of two regimes continues today. The Ultimes are in good trade winds contemplating gybing downind under the Azores high pressure, the remainder of the fleet will take on a new front from this evening.


Almost all of the competitors in La Route du Rhum are still in powerful W and NW'ly winds but for the leaders of the fleet, the Ultimes which are off Maderia and still lead by Loick Peyron, the regime improves all through today. The IMOCA and Multi50 fleet are heading on a routing towards the Azores nearly 400 miles ahead of them. Class 40 which is now lead by Kito de Pavant is off Cape Finisterre.

Today it will be hard for the rest of the fleet to watch the Ultimes race in N'ly tradewinds of 20kts, sliding under the Azores high pressure zone in sunshine and easing seas, and not feel envious. For the IMOCA Open 60s, Multi 50s, Class 40 and Rhum solo skippers another frontal system is going to bring yet more strong winds and big seas. For the Ultimes it will fast downwind sailing in 20kts as their breeze rotates E'ly, choosing the best times to gybe, while for the IMOCA Open 60s, lead by Francois Gabart and the Multi 50s, lead by Lalou Roucayrol it will be soon be punching into headwinds and unruly seas.  

This Wednesday morning race leader Loick Peyron on Maxi Solo Banque Populaire is taking full advantage of the favourable conditions. After two and a half days on the edge, he is leading the charge under full mainsail and gennaker, taking time to restore his energies when he can.

Closer to the rhumb line, direct route to Guadeloupe, the IMOCA Open 60s and Multi 50s will have to cross the oncoming system bringing W and SW'ly winds which will strengthen this evening.

At the front of the IMOCA Open 60 class Francois Gabart (Macif) leads by 38 miles ahead of a duel for second between Jeremie Beyou (Maitre Coq) and Safran (Marc Guillemot) which are only three miles apart.

The new system will create a bigger split in the Class 40 fleet with the leaders, De Pavant (Otio-Bastide Medical) and Thibault Vauchel Camus (Solidaires en Peloton), off Porto, Portugal this morning while many of those who stopped, like Jean Galfione (Serenis Consulting) or Brieuc Maisonneuve (Group Flo) are still in the middle of the Bay of Biscay as are most of the Rhum Class.

Several new technical pitstops are evident. One of the favourites to win the Multi50 Class, Yves Le Blevec (Actual) who lead early in the race, is approaching Cascais where he will repair his wind instruments. In Class 40 Christophe Coatnoan (Normandie Sussex) has electrical problems and is headed to La Coruna, the Spanish have where he will find Nicolas Thomas (Guadeloupe Grand Large 1001 Piles Batteries) who has rudder problems. Belgian Michel Kleinjans (Visit Brussels) is in Camarinas with sails problems, Louis Duc (Advanced Energies Carnac) is stopped in Brest. Luc Coquelin (Guadeloupe Dynamic) from the Rhum class has turned towards Spain where he will investigate a keel issue.

So the big multihulls have the best of it, favourable breezes right to the finish in Guadeloupe some 2480 miles ahead for Peyron this morning. He now has more than 80 miles in hand over the bigger Spindrift 2 of Yann Guichard. But the new low pressure may well now influence the leader boards in the other classes. Only time will tell.

They said:
Yann Guichard - Spindrift 2 (Ultime), 2
on 0400hrs ranking:
“It is not easy. I am very tired but the rest seems to go well. I am under gennaker and full main and sliding along nicely. I have rested a little. But we have had the transition to the trade winds and the last few days have been tough. Now we have the prospect of many gybes to do.  The boat is making between 13 and 21kts right now.”
Erwan Le Roux - FenêtréA-Cardinal (Multi50) – 2
nd on 0400hrs rankings
"It's quieter for two hours and so I want to sleep. I am between two micro-naps. We cross the front then turn down to slip under the anticyclone. Lalou Roucayrol seems well positioned for this wind shift. Yves Le Blevec going to Cascais means a delay for him but that's the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe: you never know what might happen! Today is the day when your batteries are charging. I ate last night with normal diet including a dessert. I feel that the pace settles and it's not bad. I am looking forward to a good breakfast and that's good too! "


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