Left hand turn
Class 40 positions at 1030 GMT
With the front passing over them causing the wind to veer into the northwest, so over the course of yesterday afternoon the entire Transat Jacques Vabre fleet tacked southwest. The Multi50 leaders were the first to go at around 1400, with Yves le Blevec and Sam Manuard on Actual to the south of her two closest rivals Crepes Whaou! and Prince de Bretagne. They were followed by the first IMOCA 60s at around 1600, with Groupe Bel and Banque Populaire to the south and first to go, with the leading pack, including Virbac-Paprec 3, PRB and Safran to the north tacking at 1700 and with Francois Gabart and Seb Col on MACIF in between.
Behind the bigger faster boats, the first Class 40s to turn their bows southwest were the northerly group of Aquarelle.com, Concise 2 and Bureau Veritas - Dunkerque Plaisance at around 2000 last night.
While Franck-Yves Escoffier and Antoine Koch on Crepes Whaou! were leading the Multi50s as they tacked yesterday, so overnight Actual has nosed ahead, although at the latest sched they lead by only 3.8 miles, still positioned to the southwest of their rivals, and sailing a knot faster. Surprisingly Prince de Bretagne, sailed by double Route du Rhum winner Lionel Lemonchois and Mathieu Souben seems to have lost out due to her northerly positioning through the front and has fallen back to 46 miles off the lead.
Overnight there has also been a change of leader in the IMOCA 60s with MACIF pulling ahead. As with Prince de Bretagne, the 60s in the north have lost out slightly and this has also allowed Bernard Stamm and J-F Cuzon to pull into second on their Juan K-designed Cheminees Poujoulat, some 10 miles ahead of Vincent Riou's PRB, the first of the northerly group. Good news for the Brits is that disaster has not yet befallen Alex Thomson and Guillermo Altadill on Hugo Boss, who moved up to fourth place, following a similar track to MACIF. Meanwhile Groupe Bel and Banque Populaire remain in the mix, but some 36 miles to the southeast of MACIF.
Among the Class40s, the situation is slightly different in that the northerly boats have managed to hang on to the lead with Aquarelle.com, Concise 2, Bureau Veritas - Dunkerque Plaisance and race favourite Tanguy de laMotte's Initiatives - Alex Olivier separated by just 13 miles, with Ned Collier Wakefield and Sam Goodchild holding second, just 2.8 miles off the lead - a great performance so far by the young Brits. However a threat remains from 2.4m Gold medallist Damien Seguin on ERDF Des pieds et des mains, who like Groupe Bel and Banque Populaire in the 60s, is holding a southeasterly berth, in this case some 40 miles to the left of Aquarelle.com.
Weather-wise, the boats are currently in the northwesterly flow between a depression centred to the south of Iceland and the large high, the centre of which has drifted south of the Azores. This is the time of year for substantial north Atlantic meteorological activity, with fast moving depressions regularly sweep their way across to Europe and at present there are two lurking on the horizon - one situated to the southeast of Newfoundland, the other to the northeast. Over the course of the next 24 hours, the forecast has the southerly of these melding with the one to the north. This will have the effect of shifting the high southeast and turning its northernmost part into a ridge, so over the next 24 hours the Multi50 and IMOCA 60 leaders will see the wind continue to veer into the north and lighten before kicking into with a vengance from the south as the next front arrives tomorrow night. Another vicious depression is due to strike the fleet on Monday and after this the longer term weather forecast shows conditions turning a little weird with high pressure developing across the entire breadth of the north Atlantic by Thursday.