Golding and Dubois lead IMOCA class, while Groupama could be finished next week 12/11/07

Groupama (ORMA class) has approximately 1000 miles to race before crossing the line in Bahia, Brazil. In comparison – after seven days at sea – Ecover (Imoca) and Crepe Whaou! (Class 50) have double that to sail. Pakea Bizkaia (Imoca) and Telecom Italia (Class 40) are 2600 miles away from the finsh. (Class 50) is 2900 miles out, as is Pindar 40 (Class 40). Different boat and sail designs have seen some vast distances emerging between classes. However, other factors – such as boat handling, tactics and understanding weather patterns – must have played a significant part in determining the class leaders from the rest of the fleet.

British sailor Mike Golding, along with team-mate Bruno Dubois, have had a great weekend’s sail. It took two perfect gybes for Golding and Dubois (Ecover 3) to take the lead off Safran in the Imoca class after 7 days as they crossed 50 meters in front of Groupe Bel. Golding explained: “We literally did two gybes and took four miles out of Bel, just because she was late doing the gybe. We seem to have a good handle of the shifts, a method of monitoring it and good rules about when to gybe, so that all is working well. And so if we can keep doing it, that should pay off handsomely.” The British-French duo have been steadily increasing their lead overnight, and now find themselves approximately 25 miles ahead of second placed Safran, and 35 miles ahead of Groupe Bel.

But the game is far from being over, as the next 48 hours are crucial for each boat to hold its place in the ranking. The 5th boat in the leading pack is about 50 miles away from the leader after 2000 miles of racing which means the two skippers on Ecover cannot relax. Safran and Gitana Eighty are on the same route as Ecover 3, whilst Foncia and Cheminees Poujoulat – sailing along the coast – still represent a threat as they approach the Cape Verde Islands.

Unexpectedly Sidaction which passed to the west of Madeira (with the wind supposed to be blocked by the islands) in the Class 40 made a nice 20 mile gain over Telecom Italia and was ranked first this morning. However, Telecom Italia – along with four other class 40s – failed to give their postions this morning, but the Italian’s averages have been dropping through the Canaries.

Current positions: 12/11/07 12:00 UTC

1. Ecover III, Mike Golding / Bruno Dubois, 2137M to finish
2. Safran, Marc Guillemot / Charles Caudrelier, 25.8M to leader
3. Groupe Bel, Kito de Pavant /Sebastien Col, 34.7M
5. Gitana Eighty, Loick Peyron /Jean Baptiste Levaillant, 42.1M
4. VM Materiauxe, Jean Cam / Gildas Morvan, 55.9M

1. Groupama, Franck Cammas / Steve Ravussin, 1059M to finish
3. Gitana 11, Lionel Lemonchois / Yann Guichard, 318.6M to leader
2. Banque Populaire, Pascal Bidegorry / Yvan Ravussin, 348.6M
4. Sopra, Antoine Koch / Gregory Gendron, 518.3M
5. Brossard, Yvan Bourgnon / Jacques Vincent, 560.2M

Class 50
1. Crepes Whaou!, Franck Yves Escoffier / Karine Fauconnier, 2085.7M to finish
2. Laiterie De Saint Malon, Victorien Erussard / Frederic Dahirel, 354.4M to leader
3. Croisieres Anne Caseneuve, Anne Caseneuve / Houdet Djamina, 389.3M
4. Negoceane, Roger Langevin / Alexis Langevin, 625.6M
5. NIM Interim Management, Lalou Roucayrol / Pierre Van Den Broek, 642.3M

Class 40
1. Sidaction, Arnaud Aubry / Antoine Carpentier, 2726.3M to finish
2. Chocolats Monbana, Damien Grimont / Erwan Le Roux, 11.5M to leader
3. Deep Blue, Florence Arthaud / Luc Poupon, 31.1M
4. Vecteur Plus – Groupe Moniteur, Bruno Jourdren / Nicolas Pichelin, 35.7M
5. A.ST Groupe, Marc Emig / Bertrand de Broc, 41.1M

For a full ranking list, click here .