Solidaire du Chocolat: Light Sunday for mare

But Reichers and Lepesqueux still hold a 50 mile lead

Monday March 26th 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
          4 hr aver      
1 Mare Jörg Riechers - Marc Lepesqueux 23°21.32'N 052°23.75'W 7.3 243 2233.4 0.0
2 Yannick Bestaven - Eric Drouglazet 24°30.69'N 052°02.03'W 7.5 268 2284.8 51.4
3 Geodis Fabrice Amedeo - Armel Tripon 24°31.53'N 052°00.59'W 7.6 265 2286.3 53.0
4 Agir Recouvrement - Bureau Veritas Stéphane Le Diraison - Adrien Hardy 24°35.81'N 052°00.09'W 7.7 266 2289.0 55.6
5 Eole Generation - GDF Suez Sébastien Rogues - Bertrand Delesne 23°51.72'N 051°02.73'W 8 271 2313.3 80.0
6 Jack in the box Aloys Claquin - Ludovic Aglaor 23°59.08'N 050°03.35'W 6.5 260 2365.5 132.1
7 Initiatives - Alex Olivier Tanguy de Lamotte - Jean Galfione 23°30.41'N 049°08.23'W 8.1 277 2400.7 167.3
8 Poëmes Bleus - Planète Insuline Mathis Prochasson - Matthieu Galland 24°36.71'N 048°18.71'W 2 236 2467.9 234.5
9 Looking for a sponsor Jean Edouard Criquioche - Anna Maria Renken 25°39.85'N 048°27.72'W 3.5 235 2487.8 254.5
10 Groupe Picoty Jacques Fournier - Jean-Christophe Caso 26°16.80'N 046°25.09'W 4.4 215 2602.9 369.6
11 Transport Cohérence Benoît Parnaudeau - Benoît Jouandet 20°12.37'N 041°56.84'W 7.6 209 2753.4 520.0

Since pulling back into the lead on Wednesday last week, so the northerly option for Jorg Riechers and Marc Lepesqueux on mare has paid handsomely. On Saturday in particular as the rest of the fleet had to gybe north, mare was able to stay on course extending her lead over Yannick Bestaven and Eric Drouglazet on from 50 to 75 miles. Unfortunately the Franco-German crew had a slow day yesterday as she was all but becalmed and the trio to the north of her, led by, but with Fabrice Amedeo and Mini Transat winner Armel Tripon on Geodis and ex-Mini sailors Stéphane Le Diraison and Adrien Hardy on Agir Recouvrement neck and neck with her, have made better progress and are back to 50 miles astern of the leader. Back to square one, except now mare is no longer the most northerly boat.

From mare Marc Lepesqueux last night reported: "This Sunday has not been easy. The weather is beautiful for a stroll in the sea but to run, it is exhausting. Last night, with winds still changing in strength and direction, we approached a small gap to get through the windless zero. From starboard tack upwind, we moved through the modes as, as expected, the wind veered (in our case turning from west to northwest and then north and finally northeast...) So we began to change sails: Solent then Code 0, A5 and Code 5 finally the big spinnaker, before returning to the Code 5. Since this morning we have been back under big spinnaker to try to sneak through these sporadic winds, at between 1 and 5 knots ... and sometimes seven. The softest part, I hope, occurred at around 0700UTC. We have also had to deal with seaweed catching in the rudders. At daybreak, we also saw that it got caught around the keel and propeller. So we had to get that off without stopping. In this sea, it wasn't bad at all but the rest of the fleet took the opportunity to regain some ground. It seems that the high remains in our path, it should slow us down as much as the other Class40s.

"Yesterday we had a fright. We spotted a whale about 500m away. Suddenly, just 10m to port, we saw the back of another big beast! I have bad luck when I've been leading with things that float on the water: a freighter in the last stage of the 2005 Solitaire when I was leading the fleet, a pipeline last year when we were four miles ahead of the second. Thankfully there was no problem - just a fright."

The boats are currently heading towards the turning mark off St Barts currently 670 miles away from mare. The high has shifted to the north of them and this has allowed mare to pick up speed (although the average speed above isn't showing it, she is now the fastest boat in the fleet). The high is forecast to move northeast over the course of today which will cause the wind to veer into the southeast for the frontrunners however another transition is forecast to take place overnight on Tuesday when a front rolls over them. This might put them back on the wind as they approach St Barts, before the new breeze fills in from the north.

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