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Transat Jacques Vabre: Who will emerge first from the Doldrums?

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15/11/2007 –

All of the Orma will be in Salvador de Bahia harbour by tomorrow (Sopra‘s arrival is forecasted at 2 p.m. French time). The Doldrums are now shaking up the Imoca fleet and putting more pressure on the already exhausted sailors: gales, lightning that hit close to the boats with a defeaning crash, and winds that disappeared for about 10 hours. They are taking their toll on their visitors. Finding the right point of entrance could mean giving up the lead — or not. But what is sure is that the first out of this trap will be the first to hit the trade winds motorway to the finish line. But we are not there yet, with some 36 hours still to go before they are out of the danger zone. Stay tuned !

MONOHULLS  Imoca and Class 40
The transition zone the leaders of the Imoca pack have entered overnight has a reputation to maintain  and it is antagonizing the monohulls skippers, even deposing the leader of the fleet.

Cheminées Poujoulat
is now leading the Imoca (4p.m). She was new to the top 3 early this morning after gybing west 24 hours ago), therefore putting – temporarily — an end to the British domination (by 4 miles at 4 p.m).

Since Nov. 11, the Ecover 3 skippers have been controlling their eight pursuers, patiently building their lead during four days. But their advance dramatically melted (from 50 miles to less than 10) when they entered the Doldrums and were caught in calms for 10 hours (from 2 a.m. to 12 a.m.). In the noon audio session, they wished their position had been more to the west in order to better control their hunters, who opted for a “medium” westerly route. The result fell at the 4 p.m. poll. Ecover 3 should be lining up with the other boats later on and we’ll see then which will cross the other first.

VM Materiaux is stubbornly pointing her bow to the west and is polled in 6th place at 4 p.m., while Gitana Eighty (7th), which sought another point of entry in the Doldrums – more south and east to shorten the route to the trade winds– refilled her water reserve but not her sails, even watching some lightning hit really close to the boat.

The passage through the Doldrums should take another 24 to 36 hours, and the first one out should definitely gain an advantage over the others.

There is a huge gap of 127 miles between the 8th (Britair) and 9th (Generali) who has the Roxy girls close in her wake. Sam and Jeanne would be really happy to eat her and giving it all to do it.

Samantha and Jeanne also increased their lead on Maisonneuve after the passage through the Cape Verde Islands (115 miles at 4p.m.) giving themselves more of a margin.

Aviva is passing beneath the Cape Verde Islands sailing along Cervin EnR only 15 miles behind and more to the south.

The boats in the Class 40 are now seeking to optimize their speed heading down south towards the Cape Verde Islands in trade winds. According to Marc Emig (AST Groupe) in the audio session today, there are no real options to gamble on in term of weather. The 2nd in the ranking is trying to hold her place in this game, with Chocolat Montbana hot on her heels only 10 miles behind at 4 p.m. As for the Imoca, the skippers are seeking to stay in the pack not getting too much lateral distance.

Telecom Italia regained a comfortable lead of 56 miles on her pursuers on the approach to the Islands that all of them should pass in the east.  40 degrees is in 5th, 75 miles behind the leader, only 6 miles behind ATAO Audio System, which is 100 miles away in lateral. As for Novedia Set Environnement, Tangy and Nick grabbed 2 more places (from 13th to 11th) after choosing to gybe back east.

The only all-female crew of the class 40 on Pindar is inching up a few places and is now ranked in 18th.

This descent should be fast and not only to battle for a better place in the ranking. The northern trade winds that are pushing the skippers and boats down are likely to weaken starting on Sunday and none of the competitors wants to make his sail to Bahia lest any longer.

MULTIHULLS  Class 50
Crèpes Whaou ! is still firmly leading the Class 50 fleet in front of Laiterie de St Malo 190 miles behind. Croisières Anne Caseneuve, still in third, lost a few miles on the 2nd   (239 miles behind at 4 p.m.). Nim Interim Management is playing cat and mouse with Négocéane that she passed overnight. Victorinox is running her own race as Négocéane is unreachable and DZ Energie does not pose  a threat to her.

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Mike Golding – Ecover
It is just a bit frustrating and we have a million jobs on the go this afternoon, and we have lost all that lead, so it is not the best of days.” “We have just been going too slow. It is as simple as that. I think that we have had the wrong sail combination up. And we have put that right and I think we will be alright from here on inwards. I mean we are still further south than them, that’s our trump card if you like, possibly, and also further to the east. While that is not a benefit here it could be when we get out of the other side. That is kind of new, but if I could go west at the moment I probably would. Let’s see how it stacks up the next few hours. We have just made a sail change and might have lost a little bit in that.”

Bruno Dubois – Ecover  (12:00)
“We starting off again, we had stopped, we have had a few squalls over night lots of sail changes, GITANA EIGHTY stills has wind from them, good for them, we should be there in the next few hours, We have been manoeuvring since this morning lots of rain but not a lot of wind, another 24 hours in this shit and then it should go better. If we are not out first then we should be happy with the good stuff we have done so far and then we shall see.”

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ORMA arrivals

1) Groupama (Franck Cammas / Steve Ravussin)

Elapsed Time: 10 days, 0 hours, 38 minutes et 43 seconds
Arrival: Nov 14 at 13:40:43,
Average speed: 18.04 knots

2) Gitana 11 (Lionel Lemonchois and Yann Guichard)
Elapsed Time: 10 days 9 hours 49 minutes and 6 seconds
Arrival: Nov. 15  at 21h51’06” (CET) / 18h51’06” (local time)
Average speed: 17,36 knots
Gap with the winner: 9 hours and 10 minutes after the winner, Groupama 2.

3 ) Banque Populaire (Pascal Bidegorry / Yvan Ravussin) –
Elapsed Time:10 days 16 hours 57 minutes and 57 seconds
Arrival:  Nov. 15 at 04h59’57” (CET) / 1h59’57” (local time)
Average speed: 16,89 knots
Gap with the winner: 16 hours and 19 minutes

4) Brossard ( Yvan Bourgnon / Jacques Vincent)
Elapsed Time: 11 days 1 hour 15 minutes et 9 seconds
Arrival:  Nov. 15 at 14h17′ 9″ (CET)  / 10h17′ 9″ (local time)
Average speed: 18,27 knots

Photo: Jacques Vincent and Yvan Bourgnon – © MOCHET Marcel / AFP

– PR –

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