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11/07 - 07h48

Leaders Under Pressure

Peyron, Gabart and Vauchel-Camas, respectively leaders in the Ultime, IMOCA and Class 40 fleets are all under a little more pressure than they would like this morning while Erwan Le Roux has seized the lead in the Multi50 Class. Such are the perils of leading in and around the light airs of the all encompassing Azores high pressure system. 

The worst of the front passed over exposed Cape Finisterre last night and the Rhum class racers there seem to have continued to make decent progress with no major incidents reported. Several decided a safe haven was the better option, but all of the fleet are now out of Biscay and south of Finisterre. In moderate trade winds the leading Ultimes trimarans are gybing downwind with leader Loick Peyron losing some miles to his chasing pursuers after straying into lighter winds.

Just south of the Azores the same fate befell Francois Gabart who moved back north to keep in check with Jeremie Beyou in second. The Maitre Coq skipper also gained significant miles on the class leader on Macif. And in Class 40 the pacemakers are in moderate reaching conditions with the top three boats within 10 miles of each other.

The game warmed up again at the head of the 71 boat La Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe race as Loick Peyron found his lead cut again by Yann Guichard (Spindrift 2) and Lionel Lemonchois. Two nights ago that margin topped 200 miles, this morning it is 147 but relative to the distance to the finish line -1400 miles – that is still a healthy margin. The Maxi Solo Banque Populaire skipper had to readjust back to the south, away from the lightest airs of the high pressure. Course record holder Lemonchois in third has also gained. The race is not over as this leading group will have to work down to 20 deg N to find the more consistent breeze.

A readjustment was also necessary for Francois Gabart who has lead the IMOCA Open 60 class since the start line last Sunday. But he has come under increasing pressure from the wily, gifted Beyou who is measuring his game nicely in second, 150 miles south of the Azores. Beyou has gained some 30 miles overnight crossing the front last night while Gabart stayed south and tacked later. But now they need to avoid the lightest winds of the Azores high pressure but should be downwind under spinnakers which should now be set until closer to the finish. The same holds true for the Multi 50 duel where Erwan Le Roux has taken the lead from Lalou Roucayrol by five miles this morning. Coming to the front first Le Roux tacked earlier and is able to cross his rival continuing this engaging match race.

Three hundred miles to the east the battle is raging at the front of Class 40 where the leaders are in N'ly airs of 20kts or just over, setting small spinnakers which they will trade up as the breeze decreases. Thibault Vauchel-Camus had a lead of just over four miles on Kito de Pavant who is actually 50 miles further to the north while Alex Pella's delta to the lead has also reduced.
Conrad Humphreys progression up the fleet continues on Cat Phones. He is up to 14th this morning while Miranda Merron has gained to eighth

They said: 

“I was trying to sleep at the moment! I have had to gybe, the wind has been up and down a lot and with big shifts in direction. There are clouds either side of me. It is a little bit better right now. We are a little too close to the anticyclone but there you are. The ideal is to get the right course because you can't keep gybing as the shifts come. There is a lot or rain with wind, but then it drops. It will get easier.”

 

Erwan Le Roux - FenêtréA-Cardinal (Multi50) - 1st place at 4:00: 

"It's a bit of a mess. We don't really know where the wind is coming from or where the clouds are coming from. We are ahead but that was not expected. You tack or gybe, change sails and then suddenly it picks up. It is tiring as we try to get round the high pressure. But we should soon set gennakers and get downwind.”

Yannick Bestaven – Le Conservateur, 4th in Class 40:

“We have been under spinnaker for an hour or two and we are gliding along but it was hard work avoiding the soft stuff. There are still pitfalls to avoid as we negotiate the high pressure and the breezes will be gentler. I had a lot of technical issues, things to repair.”

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