Downwind across the Bay of Biscay

Fast start for the Solidaire du Chocolat Class 40s

Monday March 12th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Solidaire du Chocolat charts courtesy of Expedition/Tasman Bay Navigation Systems and GRIB (European model) from PredictWind

Positions at 0830 UTC:

Pos Boat Crew Lat Long Spd Crs DTF DTL
          4hr aver      
1 Jack in the box Aloys Claquin - Ludovic Aglaor 45°50.94'N 005°28.58'W 12.4 233 4844.0 0.0
2 Agir Recouvrement - Bureau Veritas Stéphane Le Diraison - Adrien Hardy 45°51.19'N 005°24.64'W 11.7 239 4846.8 2.7
3 Mare Jörg Riechers - Marc Lepesqueux 45°42.17'N 005°22.03'W 12.3 233 4846.9 2.8
4 Yannick Bestaven - Eric Drouglazet 45°59.05'N 005°26.20'W 11.3 238 4847.2 3.2
5 Initiatives - Alex Olivier Tanguy de Lamotte - Jean Galfione 45°52.69'N 005°21.29'W 12.1 236 4849.4 5.3
6 Groupe Picoty Jacques Fournier - Jean-Christophe Caso 46°05.84'N 005°24.12'W 11 237 4849.9 5.9
7 Poëmes Bleus - Planète Insuline Mathis Prochasson - Matthieu Galland 46°28.15'N 005°30.20'W 9.6 246 4850.1 6.1
8 Eole Generation - GDF Suez Sébastien Rogues - Bertrand Delesne 45°54.73'N 005°15.71'W 11.2 237 4853.6 9.5
9 Géodis Fabrice Amedeo - Armel Tripon 45°57.89'N 005°15.65'W 10.7 238 4854.2 10.1
10 Looking for a sponsor Jean Edouard Criquioche - Anna Maria Renken 46°06.87'N 005°15.74'W 10.5 241 4855.8 11.8
11 Transport Cohérence Benoît Parnaudeau - Benoît Jouandet 46°05.31'N 005°10.60'W 10.1 242 4859.0 15.0

The doublehanded Class 40s competing in the Solidaire du Chocolat are now half way across the Bay of Biscay to Cape Finisterre this morning following their departure from La Nazaire at the mouth of the Loire late yesterday afternoon. With the wind still in the east they are making good progress, particularly so in the case of the two new Sam Manuard designs Jack in the Box and Mare, along with 2009 winner Tanguy de LaMotte on his trusty Initiatives-Alex Olivier.

Generally the frontrunners are pointing directly at Cape Finistere - there's not much in the way of tactics involved at this stage, just pure speed - Jorg Riechers and Marc Lepesqueux on mare having set up to the south of the pack.

With around 200 miles to go before the leaders pass Cape Finistere (northwestern tip of Spain), so the unusually favourable conditions - 20 knots from the east - look set to continue for the rest of today before they fall out of the circulation around the high pressure (currently centred over the UK and the reason it's giving the impression in London of being summer) and this seems set to coincide with their arrival at the Cape.

The forecast for the last few days has been indicating that there will be a very light patch between Cape Finistere and the Azores (some 850 miles to the WSW) and this is likely to mean that there is effectively only one option - to head south. Even so, the boats are still going to have a light day tomorrow until a light northerly fills in off the Portugese coast tomorrow night. This in turn looks set to build and veer into the northeast as the boats head south. Only then will some tactical options open up.

The competitors will be keeping an eye on the long term forecast for mid-week an intense depression is set to make its way across the North Atlantic before the Azores high establishes itself in its rightful spot by the end of the week.

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