Why weather decisions right now could be the turning point of the race


Today could be the turning point of the Transat Jacques Vabre. There is a good chance the elastic could break between the leading pack of Open 60s and the rest of the fleet as a weather window opens up for some and closes for others.

In this race the weather has been all the wrong way round: high pressure over the Atlantic and a low south of the Azores. It means skippers now have some important tactical decisions to make that affect how they line up further down the course.

This depression to the south of the Azores has sucked life out of the tradewinds between the Canary Islands and the Cape Verdes. So the question is whether to go west of Madeira or slip along close to the Moroccan coast. Whoever chooses the latter could – just could – get away with shaping a shorter course east of the Canaries.

Problem is, that weather window will only be open for a short time. It’s a risk, but this is what the frontrunners will be weighing up. Either way, the forecast suggests better winds for the leaders. As is so often the case in yacht racing, the rich will probably get richer.

One interesting thing if you are watching the fleet progress is this: most skippers are getting outside routeing advice, but Michel Desjoyeaux on Foncia (above) is not. He reasons that as he won’t be allowed help on the Vendée Globe he’d better start training now. The guy needs no lessons anyway.

Great photo by Yvan Zedda