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Transat Jacques Vabre: Hot on the heels

TJVImoca60Gitana.jpg

11/11/2007  –

Tomorrow, Groupama 2 (Orma) should pass under the 1000 miles to race before crossing the line in Bahia, Brazil. In comparison, after 7 days at sea, Ecover (Imoca) will still have 2 000 miles to sail as will Crèpes Whaou! (Class 50). Pakea Bizkaïa (Imoca) and Telecom Italia (Class 40) will be 2 600 miles away from the line. Dzenergy.com (Class 50) is 2900 miles out, the same for Pindar 40 (Class 40). There are a wide range of interpretations that could be made out of theses numbers. Boat and sail designs are at stake (as regards the evolution of the boats) as well as tactics and weather patterns. These are the numbers for today and they should evolve tomorrow…keep an eye on them

MONOHULLS – Imoca and Class 40

It took 2 perfect gybes to Mike Golding and Bruno Dubois (Ecover 3) to take the lead off Safran in the Imoca class after 7 days at sea as they crossed 50 meters in front of Groupe Bel in the night. Groupe Bel still hot on her heels – only 3.3 miles behind at 4:00 p.m

But the game is far from being over as the next 48 hours are to be crucial for each boat to hold her place in the ranking. The 7th boat in the leading pack is 66 miles away from the leader after 2000 miles of racing which means the two skippers on Ecover are keeping a close eye on their competitor’s tactics. Safran and Gitana Eighty are on the same route as Ecover 3 only 13 and 19 miles away whilst Foncia and Cheminées Poujoulat sailing along the coast still represent a threat as they approach the Cape Verde Islands. VM Matériaux racked up one place since this morning and is now in 5th.

In the middle of the board Generali and Brit’Air are sailing in the tracks of the leaders whilst Roxy and Maisonneuve have been heading west since yesterday getting closer to the Rhumb line.

Aviva is battling hard west of the Canary Islands. Their speed as well as Akenas Veranda 22 miles in front of them dropped dramatically at 12:00 (around 4 knots).

Unexpectedly Sidaction which passed at the west of Madeira (with the wind supposed to be blocked by the islands) in the Class 40 made a nice 20 mile gain over Telecom Italia and was ranked 2nd at 12:00. The Italian leader’s averages are dropping as they are approaching the Canary Islands. They sail on the Rhumb line passing west of the Islands where they hope to avoid the calms but as they are trapped in shifting winds they looked with worry at the decisions their hunters are making.

Even if the route between the Islands is the shortest to grab the Trade Winds it could be the most risky because the land blocks the wind but it looks like Atao Audio System and 40 degrees are heading right in the middle of the Archipelago. As Groupe Partouche sticks to her eastern option she is making a huge bet, but from the skippers point of view coming back in the West would have made them lose too much ground. They’d rather follow their convictions and hope for an opportunity.

MULTIHULLS – ORMA and Class 50

Groupama 2 has already felt the effects of the doldrums as they have been sailing all the night under heavy showers and 35 knots of wind. Even thought the skippers of the green trimaran had anticipated the heavy conditions in the area they had a rough time and had to reduce to 2 reefs in the main and no front sail at an angle of 80 degrees messy seas. Despite this they were happy to avoid the calms and had kept an advance of 289 miles at 4:00.

The leader of the class should get out of the doldrums zone when his 2 pursuers will enter it. Gitana 11 and Banque Populaire were separated by only 2 miles (12:00) with Gitana 11 positioned more to the east and showing a slightly better average speed in the last 4 hours that could make a difference.

According to Franck Cammas (audio session today) this position in the East (for Gitana 11) could be favourable to the passage. Estimated Time of Arrival for Groupama is in between Tuesday evening and Wednesday.

Crèpes Whaou! is now sailing on the direct route with an advance of  239 miles on Laiterie de St Malo close to the African coast where the winds are supposed to be steadier and stronger (4 p.m.).

Even thought she is sailing 296 miles away from Crèpes Whaou!  Croisières Anne Caseneuve distance on 24 hours is 271 miles (compare to 275 miles for the overall leader). It is worth mentioning it!

****
Bruno Dubois – Ecover (Imoca) – 4 pm

We are really happy, it was really nice since yesterday we managed to take the right shift. It’s pretty good. We have Groupe Bel very close to us as he came back with different wind and we are fighting again like yesterday just with Bel. We did not have wind this morning this is why Bel came back on us but everything is fine.  For now we have 14-15 knots from North East we sail at 13-14 knots of sea.

The weather is nice, the atmosphere is good. We are discovering the boat day after day. We are looking foward to ge more South. We do not really know yet what we are going to do concerning the Cape Verde Island. We go day by day. For now we are trying to be as west as possible. We see that Michel Desjoyaux is quite dangerous on the beach so iss Jean le Cam which is a bit more west than us. So we have to be carefull. Everybody around is quite dangerous so we try to make the best speed out of the boat. There are going to be a tough couple of days to come so everything can change again. We stay concentrated on the racing.

We started the race with the idea of Ecover 2 but and we realize there were a lot of things totally different so we have to revise our idea about when to use the sails and everything. This is why for us staying close to the group is very important because we can inch our performance and we can see that the boat is very quick downind. She is pretty quick in every conditions. I think this is a very good tool for Mike for the next Vendée Globe.

Franck Cammas Groupama 3 (Orma) – 12:00

“There was certainly a lot of action! In the dark night, the squalls kicked in and we had up to 35 knots of breeze. We remained under this squall virtually the whole night and it was really pretty full on… We had to wait for the conditions to ease and slow us down so that we could bear away and reduce the sail area” “Even though we were anticipating a fair number of things, we didn’t envisage that the wind would kick in so strongly so we got had a bit. In addition, you can’t see a thing at night! We even spent four hours under 2 reefs alone. Conditions were pretty bouncy so we’re really happy that the night is over.”

“We’re still right in the throes of it and we’re being forced to slalom between the squalls. There are fairly messy seas and as soon as the wind drops, it’s like being in a shaker. However, as soon as the wind fills in, we slip along better. As a result, our escape isn’t going to happen straightway!”

Simon Clarke – Offshore Clarke Racing (Class 40)

We ‘ve been chasing the lead since we made a little mistake off Cape Finisterre and our spinnaker ended up in  tears i should say. So we lost a few miles behind the leader with that little mistake. We feel that we are catching in. We feel that more West would pull us South. We are quite happy with that and hopefully in the next 24 / 48 we should take some more places because the wind is going to shift around to the western side of the course… We are sailing down in quite nice conditions, the weather has getting hotter and we taking off more and more clothes. We are very pleased with the boat althought we had a few problems on the boat… We nearly lost our rudders on the second night so we wanted to make sure to be able to make the repairs to keep them on the boat. We are going to be able to push the boat a bit harder now so we are quite happy.

Photo: © MOCHET Marcel / AFP

– PR –

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