Approaching Gibraltar

Oman Air-Musandam still holding a significant lead as MOD70s overhaul Multi50s

Tuesday June 11th 2013, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

The leading Route des Princes teams on leg 1 from Valencia to Lisbon should pass Gibraltar later this morning ready to take on a complicated ridge which will protect the Bay of Cadiz and beyond that the corner of Portugal, Cabo St Vincent.

Sidney Gavignet and the crew of Oman Air–Musandam have managed to build their lead back out to 22 miles over Yann Guichard’s Spindrift over the night hours, swapping during the night from a position offshore of their pursuers to now be north and west of them. But while the wind still has held up well for the leaders, albeit changeable in strength and direction and so requiring constant attention on deck, the leaders are still making relatively slow progress towards the exit door of the Mediterranean.

Having already won the point bonus at Benicarlo, Oman Air-Musandam is on course to also add the available extra point awarded at Gibraltar.

Always upwind, Oman Air- Musandam has been making between 14 and 18 knots but their VMG – their net speed achieved in the direction of the course – is closer to nine knots. At 0800 this morning CET Gavignet and crew had 28 miles to make to Gibraltar.

Oman Air-Musandam's Gilles Favennec commented: "We are getting towards Gibraltar, we have a good pressure and all is well on board. We are not far from the Multi50s. From the beginning we have been in front really since Benicarlo, we managed to keep the wind a little longer than others. When it has dropped, it was still 5-6 knots so we always have kept going. But we will have to go straight across the high pressure ridge and that will be difficult. We are pleased to have points Benicarlo and have taken the lead but there is a lot to think about now. Getting out of the Strait and across the ridge will be difficult. We have not yet decided what will be best. We sail in a W’ly wind, it is a local effect of the Strait of Gibraltar. When we get to the ridge we will have two choices: play close to the high to get the rotation of the wind or go near the coast and look for the heat and the night breeze."

In third place Sébastien Josse’s Edmond de Rothschild is +47 miles behind the leader and Virbac-Paprec 70 is +52 miles behind in fourth.

Meantime the Multi50s continue to battle in close contact with one another, between the Spanish and Moroccan coasts in 15-18 knots of westerly wind with relatively flat seas although the marine traffic on the approach to one of the world’s busiest shipping highways is intensifying all the time.

The Lalou Roucayrol-skippered Arkema - Aquitaine Region now leads Yves Le Blevec's Actual by just over half a mile and the Erwan Le Roux-skippered FenêtréA-Cardinal is just over 12 miles behind the leaders.

Up ahead the 180 miles passage across the the Bay of Cadiz, along the Algarve coast to Cabo St Vincent looks even more complex, and potentially slow with another compression of the classes possible.

Yves Le Blévec on the Multi50 Actual: "We are now approaching the Strait of Gibraltar. There are a lot of things we need to be careful about, especially maritime traffic. There are a lot of shifts and changes in the wind but we are doing our best. We came to a bit of a transition in the night was not too favourable for us Lalou (Arkema-Aquitaine) got back at us The fleet is closely grouped and we follow the AIS permanently, it's nice there is this tension between us. The goal for us was to keep in the middle in the Alboran Sea as much as possible and largely the others did the same. If one of them went closer to Morocco and Spain we would have been worried. The wind has picked up, we have around 18 knots and it is nice that the sea is flat. In the strait, there will be a little less wind but now we have wind that suits us and that can go fast. We should get into the Strait late morning, so local time between 10am and noon. The bonus points are part of the game but most of all we just want to open more of a gap After the Strait, the wind will be weaker and the beginning of the Bay of Cadiz will be difficult and slow."

So also a strategic question has to be addressed first by the leaders on Oman Air-Musandam, whether to work the coast and try and use the sea breezes or to stay further offshore, closer to the centre of the high pressure ridge and hence probably lighter winds but in so doing be able to better use the rotation of the wind direction around the high and so make fewer tacks.

“We have not yet decided what we will do,” confirmed Gilles Favennec from Oman Air-Musandam.

Positions at 0945 UTC

Pos Skipper Boat Lat Long Spd Crs Dist DTF DTL
          2 hour aver   24 hrs    
1 Lionel Lemonchois Maxi 80 Prince de Bretagne 35 53.89' N 5 13.63' W 11.4 272 ° 266.1 298 0
1 Lalou Roucayrol Arkema – Région Aquitaine 35 55.52' N 5 29.80' W 8.6 272 ° 216.1 285.1 0
2 Yves Le Blevec Actual 35 55.71' N 5 27.72' W 8.5 268 ° 207.9 286.6 1.49
3 Erwan Le Roux FenêtréA-Cardinal 35 54.51' N 5 09.79' W 9 258 ° 200.1 300.8 15.63
NL Gilles Lamiré Rennes Métropole - Saint-Malo Agglomération 39 27.67' N 0 19.37' W 0 000 ° 0 669.8 0
1 Sidney Gavignet Oman Air-Musandam 36 00.84' N 5 42.41' W 10.9 281 ° 278.7 273.7 0
2 Yann Guichard Spindrift 35 53.93' N 5 15.97' W 11.3 260 ° 275.8 296.1 22.45
3 Sébastien Josse Edmond de Rothschild 35 58.64' N 4 21.25' W 6.3 265 ° 235.2 339.4 65.69
4 Jean-Pierre Dick VIRBAC-PAPREC 70 36 01.24' N 4 15.53' W 6.5 278 ° 230.9 344 70.29



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