Since yesterday, the boats to the North have taken command of the fleet. Today, after Crédit Mutuel (Lipinski / Carpentier), it is the turn of Xavier Macaire and Pierre Leboucher on Groupe SNEF to be at the top of the rankings. For them, as for all of the frontrunners, this is not the time to celebrate, as they may not escape an area of calms with the trade winds fading away.
The weather charts have confirmed that on Tuesday the wind will die away, leaving the sailors with little to puff out their sails. Faced with this final obstacle blocking their route towards Martinique, everyone is adjusting their trajectory with the hope of being better positioned to make their way through this maze.
Positioned in the North towards the latitude of Cuba, the co-skippers on Crédit Mutuel are gambling on the wind building from the North. …
“This is an opening which might allow them to get to a new front behind the French West Indies, which would enable them to come back down with the trade winds which are developing,” explained Christian Dumard, the Race’s weather expert.
This is another bold option that Amarris is also following. Some 550 miles further down, the southernmost boats, like IBSA (Bona / Santurde del Arco), this morning positioned less than 650 miles East of the southern tip of the French West Indies along with Alla Grande Pirelli (Beccaria / Andrieu) and Everial (le Draoulec / Leglatin), are progressing irregularly with a shifty wind. In the middle, Groupe SNEF, the current leader is taking the shortest route.
The race against this area of very light winds has begun. “Things are looking worse than yesterday. We are likely to enter an area of calms forming ahead of us. We have no choice but to try to get further ahead beforehand or we will have to cross it. We’re pushing hard, remaining focused and hope to pick up some more wind,” explained Xavier Macaire.
MAJOR OPTIONS AND TINY CHOICES
Further back, the skippers are also trying to work out how to deal with this area of light winds that may engulf the whole fleet. Aboard Seafrigo Sogestran, 12th around 180 miles back from the leader, it is time for a lot of thinking, as Cédric Chateau explained this morning, “Last night, we fought a bit harder in the squalls and wind shifts than our rivals. That has taken us slightly further north of the group. This has led to us climbing up the rankings, but we can’t say if it will work out in the end. We should get a better angle than our friends, but less wind. We’ll see what happens. We’re attempting some small strategy plays to try to get back up with the group that is much too far ahead for our liking.”
The battle between the South and North is set to continue for some time and it is quite possible that the rankings will be turned upside down. We can see that if we look at the duel between Wasabiii (Bodin / Hayewski) in the far North and Legallais (Delahaye / Douguet), with the latter climbing rapidly back up the rankings since her pit stop in Cascais. Setting off at the rear of the fleet, they are now speeding along the Southern motorway. Equidistant in terms of distance to the finish, the two boats are nevertheless over 615 miles apart