The forecast for the Transat Jacques Vabre is a shocker. The tradewinds void isn't a good prospect for the ARC rally either

Ah, what could be better than barrelling down the Trades to the Caribbean?

Such a pity then that it doesn’t look like the skippers of the Transat Jacques Vabre will be doing too much of that until they are quite close to the Caribbean Sea.

This picture shows the various quickest routes as calculated on the routeing software run by Mike Golding. Even if he moved the start point on past Ushant, it was still telling him the fastest route was north of the Azores and, extrapolating data on the most notherly option, almost as far as Newfoundland.

In the real world, I doubt anyone would end up on the extreme northerly route. Quite apart from the likely battering from some pretty heavy reaching, you’d eventually run into a hefty counter-current from the Gulf Stream. That one doesn’t make much sense as a route to Costa Rica.

But the rhumb line route does look quite possible because, as you can see, running down to the Cape Verdes to pick up the tradewinds would force boats through some very light winds, and it would add many hundreds of extra miles to the course.

So the course looks cold and hard. Not much call for shorts or umbrellas in the drinks.

If you happen to be one of the hundreds of people doing the ARC rally in a couple of weeks’ time, or crossing the Atlantic independently, take note. The La Solidaire du Chocolat race from France to Mexico has also been shocker: for the first two weeks the Class 40s all had to bash upwind.

It appears that the Azores High is settled pretty well south and the tradewinds are not yet well established. Not that nice a picture if you’re hoping for for flying fish and melting butter.