In the IMOCA class the leaders are still Swiss skipper Justine Mettraux and France’s Julien Villion (Teamwork.net) who are about 120 miles SW of the Azores and sailing upwind.
In the south of the Canaries, now starting to work west, it is the winners of the 2021 edition Thomas Ruyant and Morgan Lagravière (For People) who have pulled through to set the pace in the east. They are some four miles ahead of Arkéa Paprec. Co-skipper Yann Eliès reported this morning, “We have a decent trade wind which isn’t too strong and the seas are flat calm, so we’re on the attack. For People kept her foot down through the night, so we had to do the same.“We need to be kind to the boat though and we want to get to the other side with a mast and two foils. We have to show a certain level of intelligence, but when there is a decent wind, we go on the attack, as these are perfect conditions for our boats. We’re fighting hard with two other boats (Charal and For People) and we keep looking at the rankings to see how well or how badly we are doing. It’s really exciting,” added Yann, who is also watching the progress made by teamwork.net in the North. “It’s not easy to know if they are able to stick to what the routing suggests, but they’re certainly brave. Julien (Villion) is an exceptional weather expert and he saw the danger of getting stuck in the high and that there was an opportunity to the North. But this is a tough route for the sailors and their boats. The indication is we’ll get there after them, but not as long after as we first thought, so the second week is going to be exciting.”
On For the Planet, Britain’s Sam Goodchild is enjoying the close racing, “All is good, we are pushing hard to try to stay with the new boats but they are going quick, we have Initiatives Coeur just ahead and V and B just behind and everyone is pushing hard and Malizia coming down to us at the moment. We are in good company. We are in the trade winds the sea state is not too bad and so hopefully it stays that way and we have somewhere between 18 and 20kts of wind and we are finally going west, so hopefully we are now getting closer to the finish line. It is warm but not too warm as yet. Nothing to complain about. “
“We’re not doing too badly. I have just seen a fantastic sunrise. Pierre (Le Roy) is taking a rest. We’ve been chatting on the VHF to Bilou and Guirec (freelance.com)” explained Benjamin Ferré aboard Monnoyeur Duo For a Job, the leading boat with daggerboards, which is getting the most out of one of the fastest boats in that category. “I can see that the foilers have stepped up the pace. We’re in a long upwind stretch on the port tack. It’s nice to see our friends on the AIS. It’s a long speed test, which is fun.”
Racing is close too in the second pack in the North, including Five Group – Lantana Environnement, Medallia and Foussier – Mon Courtier Energie.
As forecast, the weather is likely to turn nasty and this option is going to be very demanding. “There is a front moving in today, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to be hard to deal with. After that, we’re going to have to head south in the tail behind the front where there is a lot of wind. The big topic is the deep tropical low moving in on Thursday and a second low behind it. It will be further south than initially forecast. We are going to have to be careful in this Low and not break anything, which is why we need to get as far south as we can. We have to get in position now for Thursday,” concluded Benjamin Ferré.
North or South, that is the question
Further south, the Class40 boats picked up the trade winds off the coast of Africa after passing the Canaries yesterday and the big question about North or South remains unanswered. “There are two routes to Martinique, via the South or the North, and for now, I’m not sure which one to take. We’re putting off that decision for as long as possible,” explained Nicolas d’Estais, still up with the frontrunners after a week of racing. “There is a nasty Low moving in, which will probably get a name. It will allow high speeds, but it’s quite worrying, so the question is do we go for that system or go for safety and count on the trade winds,” wondered the co-skipper on Café Joyeux. It is indeed a “joyful café” this Monday morning, as the skipper is clearly enjoying the trade winds. “I’m in the cockpit with a fantastic view with the Sun coming up. The boat is sailing downwind and it’s smooth sailing, so everything is looking good.”