Through the front
IMOCA 60 positions at 1030 GMT
Class 40 positions at 1030 GMT
While the IMOCA 60 class was neatly divided into two groups 24 hours ago, with the approach of the complex weather they are negotiating today, so opinion seems to be divided on how best to tackle this.
Having crossed the front last night, the two leaders Virbac Paprec 2 and Hugo Boss are in good shape, now cranking southwest in favourable northerly breeze on the eastern extremity of the giant area of high pressure extending out of the eastern coast of the USA. Behind the 60s have divided into three. The northerly group - still led by MACIF and with Banque Populaire, Mirabaud and Safran behind - are following the northerly route taken by the leaders and are shortly to tackle the front. Yesterday at around 1300 Mike Golding and Bruno Dubois on Gamesa gybed south pretty much aiming at the turning mark off St Barts, while Groupe Bel has continued on her southerly course, along with the Multi50 Maitre Jacques.
While the boats to the north will play 'follow the leader' in to the northerlies/northeasterlies around the high, the mostly southerly two boats will be into the trades, featuring winds a little lighter than those to the north, but worst they have no option other to gybe downwind to get to St Barts. If the forecast is correct then Gamesa could be in for problems shortly as she is encroaching on an area with no wind to the south of the front, however this is not evident in the latest sched which shows her having averaged 16 knots between the last scheds and she still holds third place. Conditions should even out over the course by tomorrow morning but this will still leave the group to the north able to lay St Barts on port gybe.
In the Class 40, the high to the north is on all the crew's minds. The forecast still has this moving across the fleet only when it does so has moved a little later. At present the bulk of the fleet is due south of the high enjoying 15-20 knots running conditions. Aquarelle.com still holds a commanding lead, however second placed ERDF Des pieds et des mains has regained 15 miles and is now 121 miles behind. The high is now forecast to pass over the fleet tomorrow morning. This will put the two boats to the north, including Hannah Jenner on 40 Degrees, upwind, but they will eventually reach the strong northeasterlies the lead 60s are currently riding, and as the frontrunners slow, this will allow them to regain some ground.