Photo: Gildas Hémon

Holes in the race course

Mini Fastnet competitors wallowing in the Celtic Sea

Wednesday June 26th 2013, Author: Catherine Ecarlat, Location: France

0.6….. 0.8…..1.5 knots...and only for those with the most skill and luck: competitors in the Mini Fastnet are slowly returning back down the Celtic Sea, closehauled. But at preent the high and its windless zones are right over the Mini fleet, with no stable winds due to return before the end of the day. This area is so often an all-or-nothing place, bringing either too much wind or none at all. Today, it’s the latter.

The lovely wind yesterday afternoon in the Celtic Sea blew itself out rather more quickly than expected, shifting into the north, against the competitors’ route. The leading Protos were the first affected, facing a brakes-on effect that was extreme but not absolute, in contrast to other who were stuck in a millpond for over an hour last night.

Gwénolé Gahinet and Grégoire Mouly (Watever-Nautipark) remain out in front. Since yesterday, they have constantly moved to the west, no doubt counting on faster, strengthening winds out at sea. This tactic appears to be paying off, as with each new sched they are showing higher speeds than those of their direct competitors (3 knots instead of 1.5 at 0600, and 1.5 knots at 0700 instead of the 0.6 knots achieved by the three boats in their wake).

In the Series class, yesterday’s leaders, Justine Méttraux and Isabelle Joschke on Teamwork had a terrible 15 minutes early evening yesterday: they were the first to fall foul of the calm zone that subsequently trapped a large number of the Series fleet (plus a few Protos). Their lead simply melted away into thin air and they spent more than an hour recording zero knots, dead in the water while the rest of the pack closed on them. It was only at around 11pm yesterday that there was effectively a restart for the Series, although since then the fleet has managed to maintain speeds of around 5 knots.

Some of them have taken the opportunity to slip west: Damien Cloarec/Gildas Mahé (Lomig), Ian Lipinski/Charlie Pinot (Pas de futur numérique), Clément Bouyssou/Paul Mariette (No War). Meanwhile, further east, the girls managed to break free once again and create a bit of space, as did GO4IT (Simon Koster/Davy Beaudart).

Now, at 0700 this morning, the leading Protos are stuck to the water, going nowhere, while the rest of the pack and the Series boats are coming up behind at 3-4 knots. It looks like the ordeal is far from over...



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