Easy first night
After a first night racing in conditions which proved to be slightly better than expected, the MOD70s are closing on Ushant with the bulk of the Transat Jacques Vabre fleet is spread around the Channel Islands. The new flood tide may start to render changes and against headwinds of around 13-16 knots, now choosing the making tack is vital as the competitors continue to head west out of the English Channel.
In the match race between the MOD70s, Edmond de Rothschild and Oman Air passed south of Guernsey at around 0100 this morning and with the wind in the southwest have been on port tack along the coast and it seems like that they will continue out to the west on this tack until they pass a weak front and see the wind veering into the northwest around lunchtime today. In this two boat dust-up, Seb Josse and Charles Caudrelier on Edmond de Rothschild have managed to maintain the upper hand.
Among the IMOCA 60s, race favourites, Francois Gabart and Michel Desjoyeaux on MACIF were swapping places with their sistership, Maitre Coq, sailed by Jeremie Beyou and Christopher Pratt yesterday. All the IMOCA60s got nailed by the tide of the northern tip of the Cherbourg Peninsula late last night and snuck in close to shore. Unlike the MOD70s, the IMOCA 60s left Guernsey to port. As they head off down the north coast of Brittany, so MACIF has taken up position on a course just to the north of Maitre Coq with Cheminees Poujoulat, PRB and Bureau Vallee close behind.
In between the MOD70s and the IMOCA 60s are the Multi 50s where, like the MOD70s they passed south of Guernsey, but around one and a half hours after their bigger one design brothers. Two boats have edged out in front in this fleet with FenetreA Cardinal (ex-Crepes Whaou! 3), sailed by Erwan Le Roix and Yann Elies a nose in front of Actual, sailed by Yves le Blevec and ex-Groupe Bel IMOCA 60 skipper Kito de Pavant.
In the mega-battle between the Class40s, this morning sees our race favourite GDF Suez, the Mach40 sailed by Sébastien Rogues and Fabien Delahaye out in front. The leaders streamed around the northwest tip of Cherbourg at around 02:30 UTC this morning and the bulk of the fleet has chosen to shave the northern coast of Guernsey. GDF Suez currently leads Paralympic Sonar medallist Bruno Jourdren and ex-Mini Transat winner Thomas Ruyant on their Verdier-designed Dunkerque-Planete Enfants and ex-Vendee Globe skipper Yannick Bestaven and Aurélien Ducroz on their older Verdier design, Watt & Sea Région Poitou Charentes.
A few of the Class40s have pulled fliers - in particular Catherine Pourre and Goulven Royer on Earwen appear to be heading for Jersey, while Olivier Roussey, Philippe Burger on Obportus³ have speared off to the north.
Among the Brits Mike Gascoyne and Brian Thompson on Caterham Challenge are up with the lead pack, in 10th place, three ahead of Miranda Merron and Halvard Mabire on Campagne de France, while Ned Collier Wakefield and Sam Goodchild on Concise 8 are 'biding their time' in 18th. Remember the Class40s are all heading for Roscoff where they will arrive later this afternoon in order to sit out this weekend's bad weather.
See the 0630 UTC sched below.