The exit from the English Channel into the Celtic Sea and Bay of Biscay is proving slow-going…
The five VO65s and three IMOCA boats racing to the Grand Finale in Genova are battling light and challenging conditions as they work to exit the English Channel and begin the next phase of the race, in more open waters.
At 1000 UTC on Saturday morning, the VO65 fleet was tight and compressed together, approximately 50 miles west of the leading IMOCA, Team Holcim-PRB.
Team JAJO is nominally in the lead, over Mirpuri-Trifork Racing Team and WindWhisper, but in reality, with boat speeds below 4 knots and the spread from first to fifth just 15 miles, this is all about who gets the next puff of wind, the next eddy of favourable current.
“It’s really light, it’s the first big transition of the race,” said Max Deckers on Team JAJO. “We’re expecting wind from the west at some point, but until then it’s just about using anything we get – looking for wind. that’s the main thing.”
The IMOCA teams are facing the same situation. They’ve set up slightly further east and south, Benjamin Schwartz and his crew on Team Holcim-PRB extending away from Biotherm (15 miles) and Team Malizia (25 miles).
“We have to find a way through these light winds in the English Channel to the Bay of Biscay,” said Malizia’s Will Harris.
“We are waiting for some good wind,” was the lament from Marie Riou on board Biotherm.
But the forecast doesn’t offer much respite. Light to (at best) moderate south-southwesterlies are ahead, but this would also mean upwind sailing through the Bay of Biscay, which won’t be fast in terms of making miles toward the goal.
But perhaps it is good practice for the Mediterranean days ahead.
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