Photo: Sébastien Col/Macif

Actual past St Barts

Virbac Paprec 3 due off Dominican Republic tonight in the Transt Jacques Vabre

Monday November 14th 2011, Author: Andi Robertson, Location: none selected

Multi 50 leader Yves Le Blevec and Sam Manuard aboard Actual passed their milestone at the edge of the Caribbean when they took their right turn, skirting St Barts against a beautiful sunrise this morning and headed SE towards Barbados where they turn to point to Puerto Limon, Costa Rica.

Le Blevec commented: “We had a magnificent sunrise over St Barts. The trade winds will be less favourable ahead and we have to be careful to avoid wind shadow of islands. Wherever Maître Jacques is, nothing changes in the way we are sailing. We pushing the boat hard in any case. Physically we are okay, but we are starting to feel some tiredness particularly when trying to keep balance aboard the boat. It was like a lake as we passed St Barts with 15-knot wind and 15 knots of boat speed.”

With 150 miles to go at 1600 this Monday afternoon, Jean-Pierre Dick and Jérémie Beyou on Virbac Paprec 3 have a lead of just over 60 miles ahead of Hugo Boss as they anticipate passing into the Caribbean later this evening or overnight. The Caribbean trade winds are forecast to start off brisk before becoming less organised and well defined, but with over 190 miles of margin, the chasing pack are still not posing any threat to the leading two boats.

MACIF, sailed by François Gabart and Seb Col, is leading the chase in third place with all of the IMOCA 60 fleet now lined up on their southwesterly trajectory towards the gap into the Caribbean. Kito de Pavant and Yann Reginiau on Groupe Bel gybed just after midday as did Mike Golding and Bruno Dubois on Gamesa. The duo which broke to the south last Friday have not made any significant gains on the pack for their moves, though both crews were hoping their leverage to the east, sailing a more open angle towards the gap may allow them to redress the balance a little.

De Pavant commented this afternoon: "It goes pretty okay. We are in the process of getting across to join the course taken by our northern friends. We will see how we cross them tonight or tomorrow morning when we will see the what plays out really from our option. I'm not sure we’ve lost or gained much. At the very least I do not think we’ve lost anything. We risked ending up with Mirabaud and Safran. We have a good angle allowing us to get south a bit now. And a few degrees of difference in the trade winds can make a big difference and suddenly you get good leverage. We would like the cow's ears grow a bit to protect us from the sun: I will take my watch soon, which is not so pleasant as the sun is very warm in the morning. But there is some wind which cools down the temperature a bit. And below there are sometimes when you cannot find the fan ....I take a quiet coffee, we sleep a lot, both myself and Yann because we gave a lot early in the race and we have a sleep deficency that we are trying to recover, but we are still a bit tired."

And Golding sounded content that they had given the option a go, gambling to gain on the leaders rather than pace themselves against the pack, but in the end last night their efforts were not helped when they had a gennaker furler malfunction: "We have suffered for our decision to go to the south round that area of light wind and are paying the price for it know, but otherwise everything is fine onboard, we had a bit of a drama last night with one of our furling drums and ended up with our Code 3 [gennaker] and having to drop it without it being furled. We spent two hours half flying and half trawling our Code 3. There are a few little set backs, otherwise everything is fine onboard.”

From on board Banque Populaire, Christopher Pratt said: “We were sailing within sight of MACIF yesterday, but then separated apart yesterday when they gybed. But the battle is on to the finish. Everything is wet on board. At the helm it is completely soaked, so even in hot weather we have our foulies on. We always have someone out on deck. Im starting to get a rash from damp around cuffs. I am not really tired. I have not really even considered it. My body is now used to rhythm. Armel is in charge of strategy. For the moment maybe its not exactly what we were hoping for approaching the French West Indies. We need to stay up there with the others and then in final stretch there will be opportunities I am sure.”

Though in Class 40 there is still a big lead for, over 140 miles, the advance of Hannah Jenner and Jesse Naimark-Rowse on 40 Degrees and Norway’s Ruune Aasberg some 400 miles to the north of their rivals is looking good for the meantime as the duo rise to a solid third and fourth respectively, some 34 miles apart. They are on the northern edge of the Azores High with a breeze which will progressively lift them and allow them to get south well. They have 130 miles to gain to be a serious threat to second placed ERDF Des Pieds et Des Mains.

Top three places in each class at 1700 CET

1 - Virbac Paprec 3 (Jean-Pierre Dick - Jérémie Beyou) : 1160,8 milles to finish
2 - Hugo Boss (Alex Thomson - Guillermo Altadill) : 63,8 milles to leader
3 - Macif (François Gabart - Sébastien Col) : 237,4 milles to leader

1 - Actual (Yves Le Blevec - Samuel Manuard) : 1680,2 milles to finish
2 - Maitre Jacques (Loïc Fequet - Loïc Escoffier) : 200,4 milles to leader

1 - (Yannick Bestaven - Eric Drouglazet) : 2356,5 milles to finish
2 - ERDF Des Pieds et des Mains (Damien Seguin - Yoann Richomme) : 137 milles to leader
3 - 40 degrees (Hannah Jenner - Jesse Naiwark) : 249,9 milles to leader

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