60ft Trimarans dive south as rest of fleet battle headwinds
There is now a 957 mile west/east spread between the leading 60ft trimaran, Geant (Michel Desjoyeaux), and 50 ft multihull PIR2 (Etienne Hochede) at the tail-end of the fleet. So far, only one competitor – Marc Guillemot on ORMA trimaran Gitana X – has been forced to retire and sail to his team’s base in France.
At about 2130 GMT last night most of the trimaran 60ft competitors tacked away from the centre of the powerful depression that is now centred above the fleet. This morning Geant is still maintaining his lead and earlier this morning the trimaran’s skipper claimed that he slept all night, letting the boat sail under autopilot in 44 knots of wind and 5-6m seas!
Yves-Parlier and his radical catamaran, Médiatis Region Aquitaine, have yet to tack south and he is currently holding a northerly course. Gitana XI (Fred le Peutrec) was slowed during the night as he spent 6 hours trying to refurl the top part of his Solent sail but reported the problem had been resolved by 0730 this morning and is now back on track. It appears that Karine Fauconnier’s southerly gamble on 60ft trimaran, Sergio Tacchini, has failed to produce results and she remains in tenth place.
In the IMOCA 60 fleet, Jean-Pierre Dick and Virbac continue to lead, although both Ecover, in second place, and third placed Pindar AlphaGraphics have reduced the Frenchman’s lead overnight as Virbac has opted to keep more to the north of the front pack. Even in tough upwind conditions the skippers are managing to clock up the miles – in the last 24 hours to 0700 GMT Mike Golding, Mike Sanderson, Dominic Wavre, Bernard Stamm all raced over 300 miles. But upwind battle is not over yet as conditions continue to deteriorate for this fleet.