Commanding lead for Virbac Paprec 3 and Hugo Boss
IMOCA 60 positions at 1030 GMT
Class40 positions at 1030 GMT (click on image to enlarge)
The IMOCA 60 race is getting interesting in the Transat Jacques Vabre. Alex Thomson and Guillermo Altadill on Hugo Boss remain stuck to Jean-Pierre Dick and Jeremie Beyou on Virbac Paprec 3 in reasonably strong westerlies while the rest of the front runners are tightly clustered together some 350 miles away to the southeast, with MACIF continuing to lead Groupe Bel and Safran with Armel le Cleac'h and Christopher Pratt on Banque Populaire now further west.
While Hugo Boss and Virbac Paprec 3 have remained in the breeze, albeit upwind, and in fact have just tacked northwest on to the unfavourable tack, the southeasterly group has been all but becalmed in the eastern extremity of the ridge extending out from the east coast of the USA. While Hugo Boss and Virbac Paprec 3 have averaged over 8 knots between the last scheds, so the group led by MACIF have been making 2-3 knots. As a result the two northwesterly boats have managed to build up a commanding lead, 190 miles ahead of MACIF (compared to 40 miles 24 hours ago) which has dropped to sixth place.
What is interesting is that the forecast has changed in the last 24 hours with the main area of high pressure forecast to recede to the northwest later today, leaving the remnants of the ridge behind it and later today this will effectively open the door for Hugo Boss and Virbac Paprec 3, allowing them to turn their bows towards St Barts in favourable northerly or northeasterly breeze, while the MACIF group will still have to sail some miles before they see the wind filling in from the northeast.
However while we can expect to see the boats picking up speed over the next 24 hours they are not out of the woods yet with two bubbles of high pressure remaining to their south through until the weekend. So it is possible that if the MACIF group stick to their guns and hit the left hand side of the course hard they could come good in the long term, with 1600 miles still to sail to the mark at St Barts.
With the sad departure from the race course yesterday of Ned Collier Wakefield and Sam Goodchild on Tony Lawson's Concise 2, so Yannick Bestaven and Eric Drouglazet on Aquarelle.com have pulled out a commanding lead in the Class40s, now 91 miles ahead of second placed Damien Seguin and Yoann Richomme on ERDF Des pieds et des mains. The two front runners passed through or past the Azores last night, while the bulk of the Class 40 fleet are still negotiating their way through.
The Class 40s, particularly those still in the north, have some big conditions coming their way today with a depression rolling across to their north bringing with it 40 knot winds. However conditions will turn favourable for them tomorrow morning with the wind veering into the northwest or north and abating.