Tension is mounting in Boston in anticipation of the arrival of Michel Desjoyeaux's trimaran Geant, due at around 1800 GMT (1400 EST)
Tension is mounting at the Boston Harbour Hotel in anticipation of the arrival of Michel Desjoyeaux’s trimaran Geant, due at around 1800 GMT (1400 EST) today.
The position report at 1300 GMT showed Geant to be screaming into the Boston Harbour finish line at 20 knots having extended her lead over Thomas Coville on second-placed Sodebo to more than 60 miles. But the latest positions at 1500 GMT show that Geant has slowed considerably and Sodebo is now within 38 miles of Geant. However, conditions remain perfect for the finish – brilliant sunshine with 10-15 knots of south-easterly wind due to veer to the south-west later today.
Desjoyeaux winning The Transat will see the French skipper becoming the first ever person to scoop up the world’s top three single-handed offshore races. In 2000/1 Desjoyeaux won the Vendée Globe non-stop single-handed around the world in his Open 60 PRB. He followed this in 2002 with victory in the Route du Rhum aboard his present trimaran Geant. Now he is set to take the hat-trick, with victory in the event that spawned all the others, The Transat.
Aside from this achievement Desjoyeaux has chopped an impressive amount of time off the record for the solo North Atlantic crossing. In the last race in 2000, winner Francis Joyon set a new record of 9 days 23 hours 21 minutes, the first time the record had been broken since Philippe Poupon sailed the course in 10 days 9 hours 15 minutes in the mostly downwind 1988 race. If he finishes according to schedule Desjoyeaux will have taken a further 1 day and 19 hours off the record.
While there is substantial mileage between the ORMA multihull competitors with many of the back markers limping towards Boston with gear problems, competition remains fierce among the Open 60s where, as usual, just three miles separates the present leader, Mike Golding on Ecover from Mike Sanderson’s Pindar AlphaGraphics.
Overnight the boats have been skirting the eastern edge of the Newfoundland Grand Banks, an area notorious for its many fishing boats and rolling banks of fog. Sailing blind last night in the fog Golding said he was convinced he saw an iceberg on his radar set less than a mile away. “I had three contacts on the radar – they were all around us. I was thinking I don’t know what’s going on here, because I couldn’t see anything.”
Astern of him Sanderson is sailing even more blind as not only has his radar stopped working, but so his ActivEcho radar detector that warns him if there is shipping in the vicinity.
Elsewhere on the racecourse French sailor Dominique Demachy on board the cruising catamaran GiFi (complete with microwave oven and modcons) had retaken second place in the 50ft multihull class, from Boston hero Rich Wilson on Great American II. Veteran single-hander Mike Birch is still in the hunt some 80 miles behind Great American II.
There has also been a change in leader in the Open 50 monohull class where Joe Harris on Wells Fargo-American Pioneer, by taking a more northerly route, has overhauled Kip Stone on ArtForms.