Jordain establishes firm IMOCA lead and British sailor Phil Sharp takes control of Class 40 6/11/06

While the first multihull was heading for the finish line of the Rhoute du Rhum in Guadeloupe early this morning see news story here the battle of the Open 60s just over a 1,000 miles from finish continues with Roland Jourdain (Sill et Veolia) finally establishing a significant lead over Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec) and Jean Le Cam (VM Matériaux).

Benefiting from his south-easterly route, Jordain has, in the last 24 hours, doubled his lead over the following two and now leads by 125 miles. Although the boats are now in a transition zone between the ridge of a high-pressure and a small low-pressure system and the wind should shortly become more consistent Jordain is still concerned about the complexity of the weather however. “At least we [three top boat] are currently in the same weather pattern. These tropical depressions are very unstable and it is rather difficult to estimate their forces and of knowing how they will evolve/move. Behind the depression one is likely to have strong bearing winds, and afterwards, perhaps, the trade winds but nothing is less sure!”

British sailor Brian Thompson on Artemis is sailing fairly consistently in fifth place but is now 86 miles behind Dominique Wavre on Temenos II on a similar line.

Further down the fleet in the Class 40 fleet the young British sailor Phil Sharp is really showing his true colours. Demonstrating his tactical skills as he did last year in the Mini Transat when he finished fourth overall, Sharp has worked his way through into the lead knocking Gildas Morvan on Oyster Funds off his perch and now heads the fleet by 12.8 miles. Sharp took a decision to head west round the Azores High while Morvan has stuck more to the layline. Sharp’s fellow British team mates Ian Munslow and Nick Bubb have suffered over the last couple of days dropping from seventh and eight respectively to ninth and 11th but looking at their positions on the chart they seem to have opted for the westerly route too. It will be interesting to see how they fair over the next couple of days.

Kip Stone the sole American entry in the Route du Rhum is reveling in glory at the front of Class 2 monohull fleet. Stone who’s been leading the fleet throughout is now 133 miles from Servane Escoffier and preparing himself for the stronger winds ahead.

Chatting from the boat yesterday Stone said: “Since sunset, I’ve been working my way down the east side of the high pressure ridge that’s been blocking my direct progress towards the strong winds ahead of the approaching front. It’s a gybing game, criss-crossing the narrow band of breeze from one edge to the next then gybing on the lift just before it dies. At one point, I woke with a start from a short little nap with the boat hardly moving and gybed as quick as I could? In 48 hours, I’ll be bashing along in 30 knots of breeze towards Guadeloupe, but between now and then the light breeze I’m hanging onto now is only going to get lighter and last night’s [Saturday] effort is going to look easy compared to keeping the boat moving in nothing but zephyrs.”