Slow boats to Guadeloupe
With the first three Ultimate class boats home in the Route du Rhum-Banque Postale, so the next arrival is due imminently in Yann Guichard's Gitana 11, that at the latest sched still has 86 miles to go before reaching Pointe a Pitre. After Gitana, the next arrivals should be the first IMOCA 60s but as to when they might arrive... the routing says Sunday, but it could equally be Friday.
Among the Multi50s, Lionel Lemonchois on Prince de Bretagne continues to make steady in roads into the lead currently held by Lalou Roucayrol on Région Aquitaine - Port Médoc. However over the last 24 hours the 206 Route du Rhum winner's progress has been slowed and he is has only managed to close by 17 miles - from 102 to 85 miles astern - not enough with 588 miles of runaway left for the leader. Both boats are in light easterlies to the north of a SW-NE orientated ridge to the northeast of the Caribbean and to the south of the giant depression currently holding court off the eastern seaboard of the USA. With her broken bow Crepes Whaou! 3 is making better progress and has averaged 9 knots over the last four hours.
In the IMOCA 60s this morning Roland Jourdain on Veolia Environnement is back in the driving seat and has extended his lead from 42 miles up to 79 miles over second placed Armel le Cleac'h on BritAir. Over the last 24 hours the leaders among the westerly group of IMOCA 60s have been making the best they can as they drop south away from the depression and past (hopefully) the western end of the ridge. The going has been slow - with most boats in this group only covering 100-150 miles in the last 24 hours.
The deficit between the westerly and southerly groups of IMOCA 60s is huge. In terms of DTF Michel Desjoyeaux's Foncia (now ahead of Akena Verandas) is now 583 miles astern of Veolia and despite now being at the same latitude as Guadeloupe with their bows still pointing towards South America, they still haven't made it far enough south to reach the stronger easterly trades.
The forecast for 24 hours time has the westerly group of boats upwind as they claw their way to the finish, however at least there should be a little pressure, while for the southerly group the wind is forecast to veer slightly into the southeast - not good, as this will put Guadeloupe dead downwind of them.
The man-rocket that is Thomas Ruyant on board Destination Dunkerque at the head of the Class 40 fleet has finally had a difficult day tackling headwinds to the southeast of the depression while those behind have given up chasing him and are taking a more southerly course. As Ruyant is upwind, the chasers are still enjoying brisk reaching conditions as they sail southwest away from the Azores high and as a result they have taken around 50 miles out of the leader. For example second placed Yvan Noblet on board Appart City has reduced his deficit from 129 miles to 74 over the last 24 hours. However inevitably Ruyant's tactics look set to reap dividends as he will remain in pressure as those among the westerly group who headed south will find the going increasingly light.