Jean-Pierre Dick and Loick Peyron on Virbac-Paprec retain Transat Jacques Vabre IMOCA lead through doldrums
Having worked their way through the doldrums Open 60 sailors Jean Le Cam and Kito de Pavant on Bonduelle are now just 31nm behind Sill et Veolia (Jourdain / MacArthur) in second. Jean-Pierre Dick(left)and Loick Peyron on Virbac-Paprec who retain the lead are now 19.6 miles ahead. With a central position between Sill to the west and Bonduelle to the east, Virbac-Paprec is nosing her bow first into the new wind, heading just west of south (190), as the breeze starts to rotate from the east to the south-east.
The leading trio are currently close hauled but the wind will progressively ease to a close reach nearer the Equator. They should end up on a reach (80 degrees to the wind) approaching the curve of South America down the track, to finish their transatlantic crossing on a broad reach off the Brazilian coastline level with Recife.
The wind will build gradually from 10-15 knots to 25-30 knots by Thursday, and the full main and Solent will be replaced by one reef in the mainsail and staysail, then Solent, then small gennaker with full main, with a full spinnaker for the final leg into All Saints’ Bay.
With so many sail changes between here and Bahia, the two Lombard and one Farr designed Open 60s in the lead all have the same potential in terms of boat speed, and so final victory will be more down to small tactical moves made today as they pick up the Trade winds, or right at the end of the race, choosing to sail inshore or off on the last stretch into Salvador.
Still in with a chance for a place on the podium are fourth and fifth placed Ecover (Golding / Wavre) and Skandia (Thompson / Oxley), both boats enjoying a rapid crossing through the doldrums as they close the gap even more on the top three boats. Ecover is 40m from Bonduelle, 90m behind Virbac-Paprec, and further to the west, Golding hoping that the difference in latitude may mean that he and Wavre pick up the wind shift early and can sail freer and quicker to gain more miles heading towards the finish.
Skandia, having repositioned further west like Ecover at 29 W, is in a fierce duel to keep Pro-Form (Thiercelin / Drouglazet) behind them, the unrelenting French skippers now five miles behind but one degree further to the east.
Roxy (Liardet / Merron) have lost out overnight as they got becalmed sailing through the Cape Verde Islands, and UUDS has sneaked ahead by 7m into 7th place. Plenty of opportunity for the girls to regain a place as their doldrums crossing lies ahead.