First arrivals due

As PRB and MACIF jockey for the lead in the IMOCA 60s in the Transat Jacques Vabre

Monday November 18th 2013, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

There's just 150 miles left to sail for Seb Josse and Charles Caudrelier's Edmond de Rothschild that is leading the Transat Jacques Vabre charge into Itajaì. Yesterday morning she and Sidney Gavignet and Damian Foxall's Oman Air gybed for the finish but had to negotiate a trough lying between them and the finish. Yesterday mid-afternoon the speedy tris were in the thick of the trough, their speeds down to merely 11-15 knots. However Josse and Caudrelier seem to have made a better job of this and while the Omani tri closed to within just 31 miles mid-afternoon by the final sched last night this had gone back up to 56 miles and at the latest sched stands at 63 miles. So barring a disaster  Edmond de Rothschild should arrive this afternoon in first place with a lead of around three hours.

Images courtesy of Expedition Navigation Systems and PredictWind

In the Multi50s, Actual did a slightly better job through the Doldrums on Saturday night that class leader FenetreA Cardinal, however the latter, sailed by Erwan Leroux and Yann Eliès, edged back into the lead early yesterday morning and now solidly into the southeast trades has since built up her advantage to 41 miles. The leader has some 260 miles to go to reach the latitude of Recife which she should be passing tonight. Weather-wise the St Helena high is in the middle of the south of the South Atlantic and so this means that the free-est point of sail the 50s can expect to be on as they head down to Cabo Freo will be a beam reach. Fast, but lively in such boats...

Behind them the five IMOCA 60 frontrunners are now through the Doldrums, having taken a most western passage through than the boats ahead of them. Over the last 24 hours Vincent Riou and Jean le Cam on PRB have been jockeying for the lead with Francois Gabart and Michel Desjoyeaux on MACIF with the orange boat a nose ahead (1 mile) at the latest sched having speared off to the west. However this is not a great tactic in the longer run as it will require PRB to sail higher and slower if she is to get past Recife. Often when the St Helena high is further north, the wind backs the further south you sail, but as it is south, this won't happen. So advantage MACIF still, we feel.

Yesterday moring there was just 44 miles separating first from fifth among the 60s however as the boats have emerged from the Doldrums so the elastic has been stretching again and at the latest sched this has increased back up to 119 miles with Bernard Stamm's Cheminees Poujoulat bringing up the rear.  

Meanwhile in a different part of the ocean, the lead Class40s are set to pass the Cape Verdes over the course of the next day. While Sébastien Rogues and Fabien Delahaye on GDF Suez and Jörg Riechers and Pierre Brasseur on mare continue to comfortably hold first and second places, a battle royal is taking place for third place. Currently fifth boats - Campagne de France, Tales Santander 2014, Watt&Sea Région Poitou Charentes, SNCF-Geodis and the new Humphreys design, Vaquita  - are all within five miles of each other and within site on the water as they continue to fly down the Atlantic under spinnaker.

Surprisingly still in the fight is Louis Duc and Stéphanie Alran's Akilaria Phoenix Europe, which has taken a very different route south closer to the African coast and despite being some 270 miles to the east of the bulk of the fleet is still holding tenth place, although her passage towards the Doldrums won't be on such a hot angle as the others.

As the leaders sail into less pressure, British interests on Caterham Challenge, sailed by Mike Gascoyne and Brian Thompson, have perked up considerably with the boat having closed on third placed Campagne de France from 158 miles 24 hours ago to 85 at the latest sched. However they remain resolutely in 11th place with much work still to do.



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