Past the Canaries
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
|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|