Transat AG2R: Deep south routing

Nacarat and Cercle Verte still swapping the lead as Banque Populaire forges ahead

Tuesday May 1st 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: France

Chart courtesy of Expedition/Tasman Bay Navigation Systems and GRIB (European model) from PredictWind

Positions at 0930 UTC:

Pos Boat Crew Lat Long Spd Crs Spd2 Dist DTF DTL
          4 hr aver   24 hours      
1 NACARAT Erwan Tabarly - Eric Peron 23 19.70' N 25 45.12' W 8.4 219 6.2 160.4 2106.5 0
2 CERCLE VERT Gildas Morvan - Charlie Dalin 23 16.42' N 25 39.98' W 8.5 217 5.9 148.6 2111.2 4.6
3 BRETAGNE CRÉDIT MUTUEL PERFORMANCE Anthony Marchand - Romain Attanasio 23 08.12' N 25 01.76' W 8 220 5.5 145.6 2146.1 39.5
4 MACIF Paul Meilhat - Fabien Delahaye 22 55.03' N 24 47.50' W 7.7 216 4.8 128.2 2159 52.4
5 GEDIMAT Thierry Chabagny - Christopher Pratt 22 33.66' N 24 35.39' W 7.4 220 5.3 134.6 2169.9 63.4
6 LA SOLIDARITÉ MUTUALISTE Damien Guillou - Ronan Treussard 23 07.14' N 24 35.44' W 7.9 213 5.3 140 2170.2 63.7
7 EDM / PAYS BASQUE ENTREPRISES Amaiur Alfaro - Christophe Lebas 23 11.54' N 24 25.72' W 7.7 233 5.5 141.9 2179.3 72.7
8 SEPALUMIC Fréderic Duthil - Francois Lebourdais 22 28.63' N 24 24.95' W 7.8 214 5.1 136.4 2179.6 73
9 GAES Anna Corbella - Gérard Marin 23 02.60' N 24 23.63' W 8.4 212 5.2 127.8 2181 74.5
10 ARTEMIS Sam Goodchild - Nick Cherry 22 42.93' N 24 18.71' W 7.8 204 4.6 113 2185.4 78.8
11 CORNOUAILLE PORT DE PECHE Jean-Charles Monnet - Alexandre Toulorge 22 50.68' N 24 17.75' W 8.3 208 4.8 125.9 2186.3 79.8
12 LES RECYCLEURS BRETONS Michel Bothuon - Simon Troel 22 47.66' N 24 06.68' W 7.4 226 4.8 123.7 2196.5 90
13 BANQUE POPULAIRE Jeanne Gregoire - Gérald Veniard 22 03.39' N 24 03.97' W 8.4 216 4.8 128.1 2199.1 92.6
14 ONE NETWORK ENERGIES Yannig Livory - Guillaume Farsy 23 21.79' N 23 38.18' W 7.2 222 5.2 136.2 2223.1 116.6
15 ARMOR-LUX / PERE LOUSTIC / CLOWN A L'HOPITAL Germain Kerleveo - Jean-Sébastien Henry 23 31.30' N 21 54.23' W 8.1 227 4.1 108.8 2318.6 212
16 HOTEL EMERAUDE PLAGE SAINT-BARTHELEMY Louis-Maurice Tannyeres - Joanna Tannyeres 25 19.40' N 21 27.60' W 7.3 212 4.6 120.7 2345.5 239

The race leaders in the Transat AG2R are now almost 300 miles south of the great circle between the Canary Islands turning mark and the finish line in St Barts.

As we mentioned yesterday the leaderboard isn't entirely accurate as the boats are hightailing it southwest and Nacarat and Cercle Verte are nominally leading by virtue of being further north, closest to the great circle. However Banque Populaire is doing well, on their extreme southerly option, now 120 miles to the southeast of Nacarat, as are Sepalumic and Gedimat,  who are leading the bulk of the fleet in the middle of the course.

Conditions across the race course seem reasonably consistent with both Nacarat and Banque Populaire averaging 8.4 knots. However over the next 24 hours the Azores high is due to shift south so that it is centred some 700 miles due west of the Canary Islands with the high slowly shifting even further south on Thursday and Friday and this should benefit the boats in the south as conditions look set to weaken to the north. As a result it seems likely that the boats will have to sail pretty much down to the latitude of the Cape Verdes if they wish to stay in the breeze. The forecast at present has the high lurking in the area until the weekend and into early next week when it is compressed forming a giant ridge running from central Spain southwest into the middle of the Atlantic. 

This morning Erwan Tabarly on Nacarat said: "It's going great. Cercle Verte is within sight. Yesterday we were playing with the wind - port tack, starboard tacks and back again. Since last night we've only been on port with a sustained wind of 20 knots. The wind is pretty unstable right now so we have to constantly adjust the boat ... sometimes you have shifts of 30° with winds ranging from 12 to 20 knots. It's not easy. I must admit I was a little surprised by the wind, but the high pressure will drop south slowly, there will be less wind over the next three days. Then there'll be 15 knots but quite variable in strength. You look very closely at the positions of others. Jeanne [Gregoire on Banque Populaire] is seeing more wind, but her angle seems less good. Anyway we had to choose, so we are confident with our option for now. Cercle Verte is there, but we are not focused on them. When we have to gybe, we don't consider them."

From Cercle Verte, Gildas Morvan reported: "We're still close to Nacarat, which is two miles ahead. We gybed together a few times. We're both heading south to avoid the high pressure coming from the north. That is the goal at the moment. Last night we had a lot of squalls and shifts to negotiate. We're now on port. We decided to stop gybing on the shifts, and watch Nacarat less and concentrate on our own progress and the fleet generally, to monitor their course and speed. I'm interested particularly in Banque Populaire's progress. The first thing I did this morning was to look at their position and speed. We see that they have more wind so more speed, but their angle seems worse ... "

Romain Attanasio (Mr Sam Davies) on Bretagne Crédit Mutuel Performance said: "Last night was a bit of a chore with many squalls. It was repeated gybes and manoeuvres all night, so we didn't sleep much. Not fun! We closely monitor those who took the southern route because you could go further south but in a few day's time there will be more wind in the north. I hear Anthony winding the winches because this area isn't easy! The wind is very unstable, but the good days go by quickly - we really do not get bored! And temperatures are pleasant, not like 50° ahead at the finish!"

Sam Goodchild and Nick Cherry on Artemis, nominally down to 10th place at the latest sched.

Yesterday Sam Goodchild wrote: We are now fully stuck into trade wind sailing which, on face value sounds quite appealing, the sailing we spend a lot of time in Europe dreaming about. Especially the one way type where we don’t have to come back upwind afterwards. However, with the conditions now so stable, we are finding out the harsh reality of being in identical conditions and identical boats is the gains and losses are even smaller. So we are working hard to keep up the pace knowing, that any slip in miles could be impossible to get back.

One of the majors so far has been sleep management. We haven’t struggled to get enough sleep, but getting the right amount at the right time is the challenge. At night we make sure that you are never ondeck for more than an hour as its harder to concentrate when its dark. This is fine but if, in your hour off, you fall into a really deep sleep, getting back to consciousness for your watch can tricky and costly, performance wise. So, we have been experimenting and trying to find the best way of making sure we avoid these deep sleeps at night. With a combination of a bit more sleep in the day and caution over when we eat foods high in sugar and caffeine, every night seems to be getting easier.

To add to this the major reconstruction of our spinnaker is still under way, a time consuming and tedious process that makes us appreciate the invention of the sewing machine like never before. We will hopefully be done by tomorrow.

As every day is the same we are finding more diverse ways to entertain ourselves, including who can get to the sherbert of a lemon sherbert quickest…without chewing. As you can see we are running out of ideas so, open to any suggestions.

All for now


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