Solidaire du Chocolat: mare back in front

Slow weekend ahead for the doublehanded Class40s

Thursday March 22nd 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Solidaire du Chocolat charts courtesy of Expedition/Tasman Bay Navigation Systems

Positions at 0830 UTC:

Pos Boat Crew Lat Long Spd Crs DTF DTL
          4hr aver      
1 Mare Jörg Riechers - Marc Lepesqueux 30°48.55'N 042°29.72'W 9.3 239 2913.7 0.0
2 Yannick Bestaven - Eric Drouglazet 30°18.25'N 041°27.20'W 9 237 2946.0 32.3
3 Eole Generation - GDF Suez Sébastien Rogues - Bertrand Delesne 29°11.62'N 040°48.61'W 8.5 240 2946.8 33.1
4 Geodis Fabrice Amedeo - Armel Tripon 30°33.04'N 041°24.73'W 9 230 2954.9 41.2
5 Agir Recouvrement - Bureau Veritas Stéphane Le Diraison - Adrien Hardy 30°13.37'N 040°51.47'W 8.7 231 2971.2 57.6
6 Jack in the box Aloys Claquin - Ludovic Aglaor 30°03.18'N 040°42.92'W 9.7 231 2973.3 59.6
7 Initiatives - Alex Olivier Tanguy de Lamotte - Jean Galfione 29°02.71'N 039°37.12'W 8.6 236 3000.4 86.8
8 Looking for a sponsor Jean Edouard Criquioche - Anna Maria Renken 30°36.96'N 039°04.58'W 8.6 225 3064.4 150.8
9 Poëmes Bleus - Planète Insuline Mathis Prochasson - Matthieu Galland 32°18.99'N 039°59.75'W 7.8 220 3069.6 155.9
10 Transport Cohérence Benoît Parnaudeau - Benoît Jouandet 28°13.66'N 036°37.45'W 8 228 3131.7 218.0
11 Groupe Picoty Jacques Fournier - Jean-Christophe Caso 33°22.52'N 036°59.30'W 9.3 191 3233.1 319.4

The north has come good once again for Jorg Riechers and Marc Lepesqueux on their brand new Mach 40, mare, now with just over 1300 miles to go before they reach the turning mark off St Barts.

The Franco-German duo regained the lead in the Solidaire du Chocolat at lunchtime yesterday and have since extended regularly sailing a knot faster than yesterday morning's leaders Sebastien Rogues and Bertrand Delesne on Eole Generation - GDF Suez. At the latest sched Riechers and Lepesqueux are more than 32 miles in front of race favourites (some 60 miles to their ESE) which in turn is level pegging with Rogues and Delesne's Akilaria RC2, a further 85 miles SSE of

Over the last 24 hours the wind has backed into the northwest, putting the boats on to a tight/beam reach and in the north mare has enjoyed both more breeze and the wind being slightly freer. However in these conditions the Sam Manuard Mach 40 design seems to excell with both mare and sistership Jack in the Box, the fastest boats in the fleet at present.

The leaders are currently sailing into the northeast side of the eastern lobe of the high centred off the eastern seaboard of the USA. But this lobe of the high is forecast to be undulating, expanding and shrinking constantly over the next 48 hours and this will cause significant fluctuations in wind pressure and angle culminating on Saturday with a giant ridge setting up to span the breadth of the Atlantic, entrapping all the boats come Saturday (we thought yesterday that some would get through - this now looks unlikely). So this will provide yet another roll of the dice for the leaders and a slow painful weekend for all.

From on board mare, the crew report: "We are now in strange trade winds - from the west! Sun, cumulus clouds, and warm blue sea ... The Caribbean smells good ! But there's more fun to go until we get there. We are under mainsail and jib upwind, heading between 210 and 245 according to the moods of Aeolus blowing between 15 and 20 knots.

"We continue to push mare to the optimum. Last night, we reached 115% of the boat's potential! The fact that we have been regularly leading since the start can be explained simply: We stopped the first, the others caught up and then we were firs to leave and were able to make distance, like a yo-yo. The objective was that the others would be stuck in a windless areas longer than us.

"Today, we are ideally placed, as we hoped, with a westerly wind. Last night we were able to make a lot of ground on the others through this gap. For that, we had to make many sail changes, adjustments and manoeuvres. We must now take a position to the south of the fleet before we reach St Barts."

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