Transat AG2R: Converging on La Palma

The leaders are due to round La Palma turning mark this morning

Saturday April 28th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Chart courtesy of Expedition/Tasman Bay Navigation Systems and GRIB (European model) from PredictWind

Positions at 0530 UTC:

Pos Boat Crew Lat Long Spd Crs Spd Dist DTF DTL
          4 hour aver   24 hours      
1 NACARAT Erwan Tabarly - Eric Peron 29 40.00' N 17 37.39' W 10.5 199 8.3 200.3 2593.2 0
2 CERCLE VERT Gildas Morvan - Charlie Dalin 29 44.47' N 17 41.93' W 10.3 200 8.3 198.1 2596.5 3.3
3 MACIF Paul Meilhat - Fabien Delahaye 29 50.39' N 17 38.36' W 10.1 199 8.2 197.3 2603 9.8
4 GEDIMAT Thierry Chabagny - Christopher Pratt 29 55.24' N 17 34.91' W 9.9 197 8.1 199.3 2603.4 10.2
5 BRETAGNE CRÉDIT MUTUEL PERFORMANCE Anthony Marchand - Romain Attanasio 29 51.90' N 17 35.90' W 10.1 197 8.1 195.5 2604.9 11.8
6 BANQUE POPULAIRE Jeanne Gregoire - Gérald Veniard 29 51.74' N 17 29.65' W 10.3 198 8.2 196.3 2606.5 13.3
7 SEPALUMIC Fréderic Duthil - Francois Lebourdais 29 54.22' N 17 32.61' W 10 201 8.1 197.8 2608 14.8
8 ARTEMIS Sam Goodchild - Nick Cherry 29 58.71' N 17 28.37' W 9.6 201 8.1 195.3 2613.4 20.2
9 LES RECYCLEURS BRETONS Michel Bothuon - Simon Troel 30 05.05' N 17 16.30' W 9.6 193 7.9 190.7 2623.3 30.1
10 CORNOUAILLE PORT DE PECHE Jean-Charles Monnet - Alexandre Toulorge 30 11.80' N 17 06.69' W 9.8 192 7.6 183.3 2633.1 39.9
11 LA SOLIDARITÉ MUTUALISTE Damien Guillou - Ronan Treussard 30 17.18' N 17 06.38' W 9.9 192 7.6 182.1 2638 44.8
12 GAES Anna Corbella - Gérard Marin 30 40.75' N 16 49.13' W 9.1 195 6.7 161.2 2665.8 72.6
13 EDM / PAYS BASQUE ENTREPRISES Amaiur Alfaro - Christophe Lebas 30 44.11' N 16 37.78' W 8.6 203 6.9 164.9 2673.6 80.4
14 ONE NETWORK ENERGIES Yannig Livory - Guillaume Farsy 31 14.68' N 16 24.62' W 8.2 211 7.1 169.9 2705.6 112.5
15 ARMOR-LUX / PERE LOUSTIC / CLOWN A L'HOPITAL Germain Kerleveo - Jean-Sébastien Henry 31 30.33' N 15 38.20' W 7.4 220 7 167 2740.8 147.6
16 HOTEL EMERAUDE PLAGE SAINT-BARTHELEMY Louis-Maurice Tannyeres - Joanna Tannyeres 33 16.56' N 15 06.37' W 8.9 222 6.7 159.7 2844.3 251.1

Erwan Tabarly and Eric Peron on Nacarat regained the lead in the Transat AG2R yesterday afternoon and since then the doublehanded Figaros have been converging at speed as they approach the turning mark 10 miles to the north of the northwestern-most Canary island of La Palma.

At the latest sched the turning mark was 41 miles away for Nacarat, so if the 20 knot northwesterly holds she should be around the turning mark mid-morning today. The positions behind her have changed little since yesterday morning although Fred Duthil and Francois Lebourdais on Sepalumic, who pulled into the lead mid-week have dropped from sixth to seventh.

Early this morning Erwan Tabarly recounted: "It's going great. We spent the day yesterday admiring the Madeira coastline and its magnificent scenery. The sky is clear with bright moonlight. We went 30-40 miles below the island. There were some small disturbances, but nothing nasty. In fact, it is better for us than for Gildas [Cercle Verte]. Compared to our route he has lost a few miles in the wind shadow. It does not mean that we have not suffered, we also have, but we got through it faster. The transition [after the last front] was pretty brutal, the wind shifted into the northwest and filled in at 20 knot immediately. Now we are making 10 knots under spinnaker. We're surfing well - a bit on edge - under spinnaker. I think it should be like this all the way to La Palma. It was a virtual waypoint north of the island which we must leave to starboard and leave the island to port. We're going to try and not go too close to the island to avoid the wind shadow. After La Palma, we should be into well-established trade winds with the [Azores] high pressure well established. We should cross the Atlantic a little further south [of the great circle]. The wind will veer northeast from the Canaries on and it should last. It will require us to pay attention exiting the Canaries."

 The Artemis Offshore Academy's Sam Goodchild and Nick Cherry have consolidated their eight place 20 miles off the lead but with a 10 mile buffer to the ninth placed boat.

Yesterday Nick Cherry wrote: "The 'nice' part of this race that we've been looking forward to for about 6 months has definitely begun now. As I write we are just passing Madeira about 30-40 miles off, close enough to see this giant rock in quite alot of detail but hopefully far enough to avoid the worste of its wind shadow. We've got 10-15 knots of wind, bright sunshine and regular visits from some of the most acobatic dolphins we've seen so far. Unfortunatey they are good at leaping and flipping but also a litle camera shy. Sam has been as far as getting his head over the back of the boat to try and get some underwater shots but stll no luck yet.

"The daily routine now invloves a lot less puting on of foul weather gear, changing headsails on the bow and operating at 25 degree of heel. Helming, trimming the spinaker and hoisting and lowering the genoa as a staysail make watches on deck go a lot quicker and the conditions downstairs mean that we can take food preparation a lot more seriously. Freeze dried meals that were like a soupy mush a few days ago are now mixed with excactly the right quantity of water for perfect consistency and improved with a dash of olve oil, garlic salt of even hot sauce. The shepards pie we just ate was an absolute treat, and the olive oil lubricates our bowls in a way that means they barely need washing up...

"Race-wise things will get interesting after the turn at the Canaries tomorrow afternoon, It looks like all the bots will round quite close together, my latest routing has us just 4 minutes behind "Sepalumic" in 6th by the waypoint. We've just watched "les recycleurs bretons" just behind us go through a tiny gap in the rocks off Madeira on the AIS with interest. This seems to be a real specialty of skipper Michel Bothuon's, in all three Figaro races I've done now I have watched him thread through gaps you wouldn't know were there on the computer screen. So for now we have bit of planning to do with long range weather files ahead of tomorrow's turn on to the main leg of this race and I need to get some sleep. Yesterday things were so much fun on deck I didn't get enough sleep done during daylight and paid for it with a couple of tough watches in the wee hours."


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