In the clash of the giants that is the Ultime class of the 2010 Route du Rhum-La Banque Postale, Franck Cammas is looking increasingly likely to be crowned king, as Groupama 3 profits from another day of unchecked high speed miles down the trade winds motorway towards Guadeloupe.
The big green tri devoured nearly 490 miles of Atlantic in the 24 hours to 1500hrs (CET) today. Groupama 3’s lead is now up to the best part of 350 miles with just over 1770 miles to go, well ahead of a worthy three cornered fight as support billing, Sodebo, Gitana XI and Idec all within 30 miles variation of each other powering towards the finish at very similar speeds.
Groupama 3’s 24 hour averages continue to be in excess of 20 knots, leaving Yann Guichard, solo skipper of the route record holding Gitana XI, in third to admit today that he is resigned to the battle for the remaining podium places.
Meantime after his rescue from his badly damaged Air Oman Majan yesterday evening, Sidney Gavignet is now on board the Turkish bulk tanker Kavo Alexander heading for either Gibraltar or Malta. He is expected to disembark either in Gibraltar, Saturday or Malta. Tuesday, depending on the ship’s refuelling itinerary. Oman Air Majan’s shore team are heading for the Azores to evaluate a salvage mission.
In the IMOCA Open 60 class it is a buoyant Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnement), the Farr designed former BT and Armel Le Cléac’h on Brit Air, a Finot Conq design, both of three years vintage which currently top a fleet which contains no fewer than three new designs launched already this year.
Their passage around the north side of the dominant high pressure system is set to be followed by a very active front, which will give strong but unsettled winds which will push them harder after a long spell slogging upwind around the high.
Their reward, after the front, should be a brisk northerly airstream to turbo boost them downwind towards the West Indies. But Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia), admitted today that his southerly routing around the high had been too costly against the majority group in the north, echoing a sentiment expressed during last year’s Transat Jacques Vabre when he lost out on a similar strategy. But Desjoyeaux, as his opponents know all too well, is the sailor most capable of delivering against the weather
The same routing dilemma is now playing out progressively in the Class 40 fleet where Thomas Ruyant (Destination Dunkerque) has leveraged his margin to 17 miles now over second placed solo-skipper designer Sam Manuard (Vecteur Plus) and Germany’s Jorg Riecher on Mare.de in third admitting today that he is thriving on the close racing.
Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat), double round the world race winner and one of the favourites to win, suffered another ocean racing disappointment today when he confirmed that he expects to have to make a repair pitstop in the Azores, just under 500 miles to the SW, after a failure in his steering system. He can only sail relatively slowly downwind with the helm jammed and sails balanced. The popular Swiss skipper is trying to make a temporary fix.
More Details : Website of la Route du Rhum/La Banque Postale
Photo Credit: Yvan Zedda