Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Options that paid off in the Transat Jacques Vabre

[Source: Transat Jacques Vabre] Being first in a sailing race is the result of a complex combination of ingredients: Experience plus boat and sail design, analysis and interpretation of weather information, as well as a thorough knowledge of the area where you are going to sail. But, at some point, whether it is inspiration or luck, one option ends up paying off much more than the others.

MONOHULLS (Imoca and Class 40)

Safran (Guillemot /Caudrelier) separated from the rest of the 60-footer fleet overnight after deciding to go through the Chenal du Four (closer to the shore) where he not only avoided contrary currents but also benefited from more wind (up to 17 knots, a bonus as it was not forecasted to be so strong.

Ecover, Gitana Eighty, Foncia and Groupe Bel who were sailing along with him before the option, are now up to 20 miles further north. Those direct pursuers have pushed hard south and west during the day so as not to be glued in a transition zone of light winds before they can reach fresher wind. This situation will give Safran a nice advantage before she reaches the Canary Island (up to 4 days from now).

Aviva and Roxy are maintaining their positions in the middle of the fleet. Sam Davis was quite satisfied that Roxy has kept up the pace with the newest boat, showing no disadvantage in these conditions. The British skipper concedes a mistake in their decision-making as their router had told them to go inside the Ushant, advice they took a risk not following. Artemis slipped down to 12th after having sailed with Foncia and Safran yesterday. Johny Malbon mentioned today that they would now concentrate a bit more on their routing.

At 4 p.m., Ecover gained one place, ranking 4th (passing Groupe Bel) as well as Roxy (9th) whereas Aviva slipped 12th, passed by Pakea Bizkaia and Artemis.

In class 40 Telecom Italia (designed by Guillaume Verdier who also designed Safran) still holds the lead, without concession. The fleet split in two after Ushant, a consequence of the course they set to pass the lane. Sail changes were not an option to keep up with the changes in the wind-shifts . Moreover, the new boats are also testing their sails’ range, which sometimes means more effort to choose the right sail at the right time.

The skippers that positioned their boats on the most easterly route are now reaching some fresher wind with speeds of up to 6-7 knots, whereas the boats more to the west and at the tail end of the Class 40 are stuck in wind holes (1 to 2 knots only)

MULTIHULLS ( Orma and Class 50)

Banque Populaire took the lead of the Orma Class overnight. The first 3 trimarans, Groupama and Sopra Group, were staying within 12 miles of each other (as of 4 p.m.). Gitana 11’s and Brossard’s option further to the north was not successful as they were showing respectively a 35.1 and 62.1 miles behind the leader that might be difficult to fill in the sails of the leading pack (up to 25 knots). The latter should reach Cape Finistere in the next 24 hours. More choices to make there.

Crèpes Whaou ! is starting to accelerate, increasing dramatically her lead over her competitors. The gap between the duo Escoffier / Fauconnier and Croisières Anne Caseneuve doubled up and the difference between the frontrunner and the last boat is now 76 miles (after only 24 hours of racing).



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