All change in the Class40s
It's been a hectic last 24 hours for the 25 boats taking part in the Transat Québec Saint-Mal, - especially among the Class40 fleet where a big wind shift together with some technical hitches have reshuffled the cards among the leading pack.
Yesterday's frontrunner, Mare.de, sustained a broken bowsprit and has been forced to slow down, going from first to eighth, while her competitors managed to sneak past.
Most of the Class 40s are now approaching their final compulsory waypoint of Saint Pierre that they are expected to round later tonight.
In the Open class Erwan Le Roux's Multi50 trimaran Fenêtré A Cardinal is still the undisputed leader followed by Erik Nigon's Vers un Monde sans Sida 132 behind and by the first big monohull, Italy's Vento di Sardegna skippered by Andrea Mura.
While overall race leader Fenêtré A Cardinal is already well past St Pierre et Miquelon, sailing off Cape Race on the east tip of Newfoundland, and heading out for the 2,000 miles atlantic passage, the rest of the fleet is left struggling against a small low pressure developing over the area west of St Pierre, causing light and variable winds. As a consequence the Class40 fleet has compressed and any advantages gained so far have melted away. So much that, at the latest position report, only 21 miles separate the new leader, Fabrice Amedeo's Geodis from 9th placed American team on Bodacious Dream led by David Rearick and the first 15 boats are all within 25 miles.
Geodis took the lead after benefitting from some radical options of his adversaries, like Aurélien Ducroz on Latitude Neige/Longitude Mer who briefly moved in first earlier today but has then opted for a more southern route to try and avoid the centre of the low, with its light airs.
Amédéo followed by Stéphane Le Diraison on IXBlue, who's made one of the best comebacks, are instead trying to escape from the east while mare.de skipper Joerg Riechers is bidding on the south, an option that, so far, looks to pay off thanks to a stronger westerly/south-westerly breeze that has allowed Mare to regain some ground on the leaders after their bowsprit breakage.
American Ryan Breymaier explained what happened: "Just as night fell yesterday, we heard a funny pop; we bore away and looked around, only to find nothing. Unfortunately when we came back up the bowsprit broke. Two little pieces had come unglued, allowing the ropes attached to the sprit to move, thereby applying an uneven pressure, which caused it to fail. We managed to get the broken piece down below, cut the damaged section off the nosepiece, and off of the body of the sprit. Then we glued two pieces of fibreglass plate in place top and bottom. This morning, the bobstay and tack lines were re-spliced to account for the now 1ft shorter sprit, and the kite reset."
Mare's damage was not alone - both Robert Patenaude on Persévérence and Georges Leblanc on Océan Phénix admitted they had exploded their spinnakers, some battens had broken on Gilles Lamiré's ORMA 60 Défi Saint-Malo Agglo as well as on Vento di Sardegna, some rudder issues on Benoit Parnaudeau's Transport Cohérance, halyard problems on Bleu, skippered byEric Tabardel, and another broken bowsprit on Christophe Coatnoan's Partouche. Luckily none of the boats had to abandon racing, with only Transport Cohérance planning to make a brief pit-stop in Saint-Pierre et Miquelon.
Top 3 position report on July 26th at 13:40 GMT
1 - Fabrice Amedeo – Geodis – Distance to finish 2,192 nm
2 - Stéphane Le Diraison - IXBlue– 2,5 nm to leader
3 - Sébastien Rogues - Eole Generation - GDF SUEZ – 31,7 nm to leader
1 - Erwan Le Roux - FenêtréA Cardinal 3 – Distance to finish 2022,9 nm
2 - Erik Nigon - Vers un Monde sans SIDA – 132,5 nm to leader
3 - Andrea Mura – Vento di Sardegna – 179,7 nm to leader ( First Monohull)