Solidaire du Chocolate: Into the trades

mare back into the lead as the fleet enjoys a weekend in the Trades

Saturday March 17th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Solidaire du Chocolat charts courtesy of Expedition/Tasman Bay Navigation Systems and GRIB (European model) from PredictWind

Positions at 0830 UTC:

Pos Boat Crew Lat Long Spd Crs DTF DTL
          4 hr av      
1 Mare Jörg Riechers - Marc Lepesqueux 37°12.41'N 022°52.81'W 10.3 238 3958.4 0.0
2 Geodis Fabrice Amedeo - Armel Tripon 37°14.29'N 022°28.52'W 9.9 238 3977.4 19.0
3 Yannick Bestaven - Eric Drouglazet 36°29.62'N 022°10.81'W 10.3 251 3977.9 19.5
4 Agir Recouvrement - Bureau Veritas Stéphane Le Diraison - Adrien Hardy 36°30.99'N 022°10.22'W 10.4 252 3978.7 20.3
5 Jack in the box Aloys Claquin - Ludovic Aglaor 36°26.93'N 021°58.92'W 9.8 251 3986.3 27.9
6 Poëmes Bleus - Planète Insuline Mathis Prochasson - Matthieu Galland 39°02.33'N 022°55.63'W 10 238 3991.9 33.5
7 Eole Generation - GDF Suez Sébastien Rogues - Bertrand Delesne 36°29.08'N 021°21.73'W 9.2 255 4015.6 57.3
8 Looking for a sponsor Jean Edouard Criquioche - Anna Maria Renken 37°56.66'N 021°45.85'W 8.7 243 4022.4 64.0
9 Transport Cohérence Benoît Parnaudeau - Benoît Jouandet 36°39.33'N 020°20.04'W 7.4 248 4066.1 107.7
10 Initiatives - Alex Olivier Tanguy de Lamotte - Jean Galfione 35°53.89'N 019°51.03'W 6.2 253 4077.4 119.1
11 Groupe Picoty Jacques Fournier - Jean-Christophe Caso 37°52.81'N 019°55.31'W 8.1 265 4104.8 146.4

While the situation in the Class40's doublehanded Solidaire du Chocolat race might look very similar to how it did when we last reported on it 48 hours ago, in fact over Thursday night the Franco-German crew of Jorg Riechers and Marc Lepesqueux on mare lost the lead as the boats in the south came good with former Mini sailors Stéphane Le Diraison and Adrien Hardy on Agir Recouvrement-Bureau Veritas moving ahead with 2009 Solidaire du Chocolat winner Tanguy de LaMotte and Jean Galfione on Initiatives-Alex Olivier holding second.

Since yesterday lunchtime however though, with the area of high pressure consolidating, so the northerly group has been first to benefit from the new breeze with mare regaining the lead which she has since maintained. Meanwhile there is a massive fight going on among the boats to the south with Agir Recouvrement-Bureau Veritas and the race favourites, Transat Jacques Vabre winners Yannick Bestaven and Eric Drouglazet on within sight of each other with mare's Mach 40 sistership Jack In The Box off their port quarter and Initiatives-Alex Olivier taking a punt to the south, a costly move that has dropped them back to 10th.

The boats are at present approaching the Azores with, at the latest sched, mare some 109 miles due east of Santa Maria the most southeastern island in this Portugese mid-Atlantic group. The bulk of the fleet looks set to leave the Azores to starboard.

While they might be enjoying some good downwind conditions with boat speeds hovering at 10-12 knots for the front runners, this is all set to change unfortunately. Tomorrow and into Monday the high is due to set off northeast causing the wind to veer into the southeast and then the south by Monday and this is likely to be the reason Initiatives-Alex Olivier has taken such a hit to the south, in get into a position where she may be able to stay in favourable breeze for longer.

Mid-week the crews will have to work out how best to tackle the bottom end of a front associated with a depression way off to the north before the next area of high pressure moves in later in the week, causing the favourable northeasterlies to resume.

Back marker Groupe Picoty is to pull into the Azores to replace the damaged rudder they attempted to fix in Bayona earlier in the week.


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