After 10 days at sea the leading Open 60s in Transat Jacques Vabre fleet are through the doldrums and now feeling the effects of the south-east trade winds as they cross the Equator towards Brazil
After 10 days at sea the leading Open 60s in Transat Jacques Vabre fleet are through the doldrums and now feeling the effects of the south-east trade winds as they cross the Equator towards Brazil.
Jean-Pierre Dick and Loick Peyron on Virbac-Paprec remain at the head of the fleet with Roland Jourdain and Ellen MacArthur on Sill et Veolia now 19 miles behind in second. Jean Le Cam and Kito de Pavant on Bonduelle, has dropped down the rankings overnight and is now over 50 miles from Sill. However, the leading trio is logging similar speeds around 15kts while Mike Golding and Dominic Wavre on Ecover in fourth, and Brian Thompson and Will Oxley on Skandia in fifth are tracking similar speeds in slightly less breeze.
In sixth place, currently weaving their way through the doldrums is Marc Thiercelin and Eric Drouglazet on Pro-Form. Chatting about situation Thiercelin said: “We are crossing the doldrums at supersonic speed. The conditions change all the time, which means we have to change sail combinations quite often, but the clouds continue to follow us around, and so does the wind. It’s been raining non-stop, and the humidity on board is unbearable. I don’t think we’ve seen the sun since the Canaries. It’s pretty uncomfortable; I’m now just desperate to arrive so I can dry out.
“We need to negotiate the wind rotation towards the west very carefully so we can head towards Salvador. We can’t compete with the new generation boats on pure boat speed, but it’s great to know that we are just in their wake, and that we should arrive just a few hours behind them. Since the start, Eric and I have gone all out, no economizing at all, lots of manoeuvres, hand-steering. It’s been full on! We always race to win, it remains our objective, but if we’re in the top five without losing much in terms of distance from the leaders then we’ll have sailed a good race.”
In the Multihull ORMA fleet Pascal Bidegorry and Lionel Lemonchois on Banque Populaire continue their charge south with a 64-mile lead over Fred Le Peutrec and Yann Guichard on Gitana XI. However, Michel Desjoyeaux and Hugues Destrema on Geant are currently snapping at their heels just five miles astern. These three are currently locked in a tacking battle on the right-hand side of the course heading towards the Ascension Islands.
Despite sailing into a wind hole on Monday Joe Harris and Josh Hall on Gryphon Solo have pulled out a 163-mile lead in the 50ft Monohull fleet. Servane Escoffier and Bertrand de Broc on Vedettes de Brehat are second, and Kip Stone and Merf Owen on Artforms have, overnight, pulled through Luc Coquelin and Chantale Foligné and are now up to third. Commenting Stone said: “We’re sailing in light air, 10-15 knots, and it’s a beautiful sunny day, but it’s challenging with all these squalls popping up. What we have are little squalls, dozens of squalls crossing our path. So we’re gybing our way downwind, trying to get the best angle off of each squall.
“It’s like crawling through a minefield – you’ve got to get on the right side. If you catch the right side of the squall, you do well. If you catch the wrong side, you can get stuck for hours.”
Franck-Yves and Kevin Escoffier seem to have the Class 2 multihull race ‘in the bag’. They are now 1,311 miles ahead of second placed Pascal Quintin and Raphael Sohier on Jean Stalaven with just four of the six boats left in the fleet.