It's looking difficult for Virbac Paprec 3 to try to get up to the Crozet ice gate before the strong depression arrives

It is still looking like touch and go for Jean Pierre Dick and Loick Peyron as they close on the east end of the Crozet ice gate, battling to get there before this low pressure system descends rapidly into the area. As of this morning it is looking like they will certainly have some unpleasant upwind conditions as they arrive at the mark but after that they should be able to bear off quickly for a very fast power reach to the east towards the Amsterdam gate.

This stretch will be immediately into flatter water, racing east behind the high but the wind angle – around 80 – will probably be too close for them to make any real challenge on their new speed record.

On their current course it is tight for the layline to the east end mark. They may choose to hitch back west and be able to sail a faster more open angle as the strong breeze builds but but at the moment it seems more likely they will just try to be north as quickly as possible.

The good news is that as they move north this morning they have picked up speed and are now doing around 10 knots with 100 or so miles to the crucial will be there.

The weather picture in the east Atlantic under South Africa, with the blocking high pressure to the WSW of the Kerguelens, was described this morning by race weather consultant Marcel Van Triest as “exceptional” and “messy”.

Neither is there any change in the gloomy outlook for the boats towards the back of the fleet. They will be working upwind for at least another two days, and for the likes of GAES Centros Auditivos, the girls are basically moving at a very similar speed to the high pressure as it tracks east and so their situation is going to worsen.

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