Continuing our analysis of the weather faced by the IMOCA boats competing in the Transat Jacques Vabre, Christian Dumard looks at the contest between those who opted for the South and those that went out to the West. The score is I-0 for the moment with the advantage going to the skippers who chose the option of sailing along the coast of Portugal.
The high pressure system opened up a gateway off Cape Saint Vincent for Charal, Apivia, 11th Hour Racing, Banque Populaire and PRB, who are now sailing at more than 17 knots in the trade winds and trying to avoid the wind shadow from the Canaries. Charal, the first to move westwards to take advantage of the wind shift to the south of the high, gained a small advantage over Apivia. 11th Hour Racing also did well benefiting from wind shifts between Portugal and Madeira, which has allowed the crew to get back up to third place.
A fine performance from a few of the non-foilers
While the podium currently goes to foilers, in the top ten there are several older generation boats with straight daggerboards managing to do well. Banque Populaire is up in fourth place ahead of Groupe Apicil, Corum l’Epargne and Pure, with the latter performing remarkably well considering the age of the boat and the short preparation time Romain Attanasio and Sébastien Marsset had. They are all heading now for the Cape Verde Islands and the Doldrums, which this group is expected to reach on Tuesday 5th.
The westerners dealt a poor hand
Out to the West, the low-pressure system with its wind shift to the NW, simply did not appear on time. After several days sailing upwind in heavy seas and strong winds, the group led by Maître Coq and including Malizia, Bureau Vallée, Advens for Cybersecurity, Hugo Boss and Prysmian Group, now need to get around the Azores high before they too can find smoother and faster sailing in the trade winds to make their way towards the Doldrums. Their position off to the West should enable them to narrow the gap to the frontrunners before they enter the Doldrums in the middle of the week.
A new hand may be dealt at that point in the Doldrums, depending on whether the crossing is open or not. At the moment, the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone does not look like being very active mid-week, but that could all change. The weather models are not always very reliable in this area, which is well known for its calms and thunderstorms.