Past the Canaries

Roman Attanasio and Sam Davies on Saveol more than an hour ahead in the Transat AG2R La Mondiale

Tuesday April 27th 2010, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

See the image above full size here courtesy of Expedition Navigation Systems and PredictWind.

Last night at 22:21 Roman Attanasio and Sam Davies on their Figaro Saveol passed through the waypoint gate to the northwest of the Canaries, in the lead of the Transat AG2R La Mondiale.

Romain Attanasio commented: "We're happy - since this is the moment we've been waiting for. In the Bay of Biscay we knew there would be an anticyclonic bubble and it would be necessary to skirt around this because it blocked our route. Then at Cape Finisterre, we knew there was a wind shadow and we would have to pass at least 50 miles offshore. After that there were no trade winds off the Portugese coast due to position of a depression, which initially stopped there, then a second which arrived and to the south of this depression the ridge, its tail extending down to the Canaries. We did not know which side to pass this ridge so we remained in the middle as we did not want to take a radical choice. It was necessary to head south because that was where the wind was. There was a moment when we doubted our choice because we were all alone in the middle and especially because that middle position very often doesn't work - it is better to be on one side or the other. But we wanted to get south and we succeeded."

Over an hour later, Saveol was followed through the gate in quick succession by Armel le Cléac'h and Fabien Delahaye on Brit Air at 23:30 then Jeanne Gregoire and Gerald Véniard on Banque Populaire at 23:33 and then Gildas Morvan and Bertrand de Broc on Cercle Vert one minute later. Groupe Bel would have been with them had she not suffered a collision yesterday afternoon with a whale causing one of her rudders to be broken.

Over the 24 hours Saveol has managed generally to remain 10 miles ahead of the competition, despite the wind softening slightly on the approach to the gate.

The gate is the last mark of the course before the boats head for the St Barts finish line but with more than 2,500 miles to go, around two thirds of the race still remains ahead of them.

So the question is - where to go from here? Saveol and trio chasing her, who have now put almost 30 miles between them and the next group, passed through the gate and headed on to the expected course to the south of the great circle. The reason for this is that there is a well established area of high pressure in the middle of the north Atlantic, to their west and some 900 miles southwest of the Azores and heading south of the great circle will mean stronger breeze, a price worth paying over sailing the more direct course. Already between the trio immediately astern of Saveol there is now almost six miles laterally across the course between Cercle Verte in the north and BritAir in the south. However the wave of boats behind the trio, led by Joseph Brault and Antoine Koch on Gaspe 7 appear to be sticking to the great circle route, which could prove a smart option is the high moves north. Behind them, the top notch crews aboard the Generalis and Credit Mutuel de Bretagne are taking a course between the two options.

So critical is the positioning of the high over the next few days. Tomorrow morning the high is forecast to have moved 450 miles ENE, and a further 100 miles east come Thursday morning while by Friday it has headed north slightly approaching the Azores and on Saturday it will be over the Azores.

The result is that until early next week, when they are likely to encounter their next meteorological hurdle, the Transat Ag2R La Mondiale will effectively become a drag race in 20 knots, where it will be a case of how long and how hard the crews can push their boats in the 20-25 knot trade winds.

Positions at 0748 GMT

Pos Boat Lat Spd Crs Spd Crs Spd Dist DTF DTL
  Crew Long Instant   4 hour av   24 hour av      
                     
1 SAVEOL 28 19.12' N 11.0 226 10.0 236.0 9.1 219.1 2470.6 0.0
  Romain Attanasio/Sam Davies 19 13.16' W                
2 CERCLE VERT 28 25.77' N 10.0 244 10.2 238.0 9.3 223.1 2480.5 9.9
  Gildas Morvan/Bertrand de Broc 19 07.85' W                
3 BANQUE POPULAIRE 28 23.26' N 8.0 248 10.1 236.0 9.2 220.6 2481.7 11.1
  Jeanne Grégoire/Gérald Véniard 19 06.18' W                
4 BRIT AIR 28 20.77' N 11.0 232 10.3 234.0 9.2 220.6 2482.9 12.3
  Armel Le Cleac'h/Fabien Delahaye 19 04.68' W                
5 GASPE 7 28 55.10' N 11.0 265 9.3 261.0 9.5 228.2 2511.3 40.7
  Joseph Brault/Antoine Koch 18 34.94' W                
6 GEDIMAT 28 52.92' N 10.5 233 8.1 252.0 9.3 224.2 2523.8 53.2
  Armel Tripon/Franck Le Gal 18 21.05' W                
7 GENERALI 28 52.53' N 12.5 233 8.0 250.0 9.6 230.1 2525.5 54.9
  Nicolas Lunven/Jean Le Cam 18 18.95' W                
8 CREDIT MUTUEL DE BRETAGNE 28 52.22' N 9.0 238 8.1 252.0 9.5 228.2 2526.6 56.0
  Nicolas Troussel/Thomas Rouxel 18 17.87' W                
9 GENERALI Europ Assistance 28 57.63' N 10.0 266 7.9 255.0 9.5 229.2 2532.8 62.2
  Yann Elies/Jérémie Beyou 18 10.84' W                
10 LUFTHANSA 28 57.43' N 10.0 254 7.8 255.0 9.1 219.3 2532.9 62.3
  Ronan Treussart/Yannick Le Clech 18 10.77' W                
11 CHEMINEES POUJOULAT 29 02.95' N 6.5 180 7.1 242.0 9.2 220.2 2554.5 83.9
  Bernard Stamm/Gildas Mahé 17 50.36' W                
12 LUISINA 29 09.59' N 4.5 228 7.1 234.0 9.2 221.5 2562.5 91.9
  Eric Drouglazet/Laurent Pellecuer 17 43.25' W                
13 CONCARNEAU - ST BARTH 29 09.33' N 7.0 233 6.9 218.0 8.9 212.7 2563.4 92.8
  Miguel Danet/Damien Cloarec 17 41.19' W                
14 SKIPPER MACIF 2009 29 08.41' N 6.5 247 7.9 247.0 9.8 235.0 2565.5 94.9
  Eric Peron/Gwen Riou 17 37.26' W                
15 SAVE THE RICH 29 13.85' N 8.0 225 7.6 235.0 9.2 221.7 2571.7 101.1
  Christophe Bouvet/Yannick Bestaven 17 32.89' W                
16 AGIR Recouvrement 29 13.88' N 7.0 231 7.8 237.0 9.4 224.8 2573.4 102.8
  Adrien Hardy/Stanislas Maslard 17 30.40' W                
17 KICKERS 29 14.02' N 6.0 227 7.6 236.0 9.3 222.5 2575.3 104.7
  Sébastien Picault/Laurent Bourgues 17 27.89' W                
18 Trier c'est préserver 29 19.46' N 5.5 218 7.9 237.0 9.3 222.7 2578.2 107.6
  Laurent Gouezigoux/Bertrand Delesne 17 28.54' W                
19 iSanté 29 23.74' N 7.0 222 7.2 220.0 8.8 210.6 2592.4 121.8
  Christophe Rateau/Sylvain Pontu 17 11.77' W                
20 MAISONS DE L'AVENIR- URBATYS 29 20.97' N 7.5 247 8.4 243.0 9.5 229.0 2606.8 136.2
  H-P Schipman/Pierre Canevet 16 51.38' W                
21 GARMIN - ONE NETWORK ENERGIES 29 38.39' N 7.5 222 7.8 229.0 9.0 216.3 2613.0 142.4
  Yannig Livory/Erwan Livory 16 54.56' W                
22 GROUPE SNEF 30 07.68' N 8.0 233 7.5 229.0 9.4 226.7 2633.3 162.7
  Jean Paul Mouren/Paul Meilhat 16 56.11' W                
23 BcomBIO 29 52.42' N 4.5 206 7.5 222.0 8.9 212.7 2633.9 163.3
  Luce Molinier/Bertrand Castelnerac 16 36.75' W                
24 MemoireStBarth.com 29 50.02' N 7.0 208 8.5 232.0 9.7 233.3 2641.0 170.4
  Richard Lédée/Christophe Lebas 16 24.66' W                
25 GROUPE BEL 28 28.06' N 0.0 0 0.0 0.0 2.6 62.0 2642.3 171.7
  Kito De Pavant/Sébastien Audigane 16 14.65' W                

 

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