MACIF and Banque Populaire looking good in the short term

Our assessment of what's going on for the solo IMOCA 60s in the Transat B to B

Friday December 9th 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Chart above courtesy of Expedition/Tasman Bay Navigation Systems and PredictWind

Positions at 0630

Pos Skipper Boat Lat Long Spd Crs Spd VMG (Nds) Crs Dist DTF DTL
          1 hr - Between scheds - - 24hrs    
1 François GABART MACIF 34 42.76' N 61 14.02' W 12.9 74 10.4 9.5 30 244.6 2651.4 0
2 Armel LECLEACH Banque Populaire 34 18.50' N 61 00.92' W 12.9 88 9.4 8.6 30 211.9 2662.8 11.4
3 Jean-Pierre DICK Virbac-Paprec 3 35 31.10' N 62 20.03' W 6.5 31 9.3 8.3 29 233.2 2671 19.6
4 Vincent RIOU PRB 35 02.15' N 62 08.74' W 12.2 36 12 9.4 15 231.4 2677 25.6
5 Mike GOLDING GAMESA 34 43.23' N 62 16.43' W 11 40 11.8 9 13 199.4 2699.1 47.7
6 Marc GUILLEMOT Safran 34 29.27' N 62 20.19' W 12.5 55 11 7.8 9 181 2709.7 58.3
7 Alex THOMSON Hugo Boss 34 51.80' N 62 40.61' W 9.8 35 11.9 9.6 17 190.4 2710.3 58.9
8 Louis BURTON BUREAU VALLEE 31 52.96' N 62 43.92' W 5.2 75 5 4.9 66 122.1 2818.9 167.5

As the chartlet above amply demonstrates, the singlehanded IMOCA 60s racing in the Transat B to B are experiencing some very differing conditions at the latest sched. Out to the east, the two latest generation VPLP-Verdier designs MACIF and Banque Populaire are still in a favourable southwest flow with their big gear hoisted, while to the northwest Jean-Pierre Dick on Virbac Paprec 3 is suffering, his boat half the speed of those to the east, as he transitions into the northerly headwinds on the eastern edge of the high currently centred over the eastern seaboard of the States.

However the weather is rapidly changing. The GFS forecast has the high off the east coast of the USA moving east to the north of the fleet and ultimately north of the high to their east before the two merge over the course of Saturday night and into Sunday morning. If this proves correct then MACIF and Banque Populaire may be able to make hay over the next day and a half, gybing up the 90 mile wide corridor in favourable southwesterlies to the north of the lobe sticking out west from the high to their east. Meanwhile the boats to the west look set to be on the wind on starboard tack for the rest of today and will have to wait until tomorrow lunchtime for the wind to veer into the southwest as a depression forms off the east coast of the States filling the void left by the exiting high.

Come Sunday conditions will have evened out across the course and will allow the boats to enjoy strong favourable southwesterlies, the boats in the east set to benefit from this more. Beyond this the north Atlantic is looking like a meteorological war zone with another area of high pressure emanating from the east coast of the States over the course of Monday, bringing with it more (and strong) headwinds. Over the course of Wednesday a depression forms over Bermuda. The forecast indicates that this will be headbanger towards the end of next week, as it moves north and east, shoving the high off to the southeast with 40 knot southerlies to its south.

So it is safe to say this will not be the easy ride the forecasts prior to the start were indicating and there will be plenty of opportunities through the week ahead.

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