Tricky finish in store for the MOD 70s
The competition in both the Transat Jacques Vabre's multihull classes is getting closer.
The MOD70s are this morning directly off Salvador de Bahia where this race finished for so many years, with Edmond de Rothschild still out in front but with Oman Air having closed to 46 miles astern down from 70 miles 24 hours ago. Having passed the eastern point of Brazil, Recife, last night, the 70ft tris' next landmark is Cabo Freo to the east of Rio, where the course allows them to hang a slight right for the final 500 miles to the finish at Itajai in southern Brazil.
As Oman Air crewman Damian Foxall told us before the start of the race, this last passage could provide a last roll of the dice in a race which to date has been fairly processional for the speedy MODs. Unlike the monohull crews competing, the multi classes can use short-based routers and ashore Jean-Yves Bernot is working with Edmond de Rothschild and JEF Cuzon has a similar role with Oman Air. They will be pouring over the weather between Rio and Itajai over the next three days.
At present there is a cold front immediately south of Itajai, stemming from a depression centred to the southeast, out in the Atlantic and this is edging is way northeast (towards the boats) over the course of today. This seems to develop into a trough tomorrow, so the MOD70s will head into it in northeasterly, then they will have to find a way through before they break into southeasterlies on the opposite side of the trough. Basically the last two days, are going to be tense both on board and for the weather teams back in France.
Meanwhile the two Multi 50 leaders are tackling the Doldrums and just as with the MOD 70 earlier in the week, both have taken a slight left turn in an attempt to minimise the distance they have to sail through this notorious area. The satellite wind radar images show that at present there appears to be a corridor through between 28-29°W with the southeasterlies filling in at around 6°N.
In terms of DTF Yves le Blevec and Kito de Pavant on Actual appear to have reduced their deficit on Erwan Leroux and Yann Eliès' FenetreA Cardinal by a whopping amount - from 113 miles yesterday morning to just 36 miles at the latest sched. However aside from the leader slowing up as they enter the ITCZ, this is also because they are further east than Actual. On the water the two boats are 103 miles apart.
Behind the IMOCA 60s leaders will be entering the Doldrums tonight. Francois Gabart and Michel Desjoyeaux on the all-powerful MACIF is of course now in the lead and has extended slightly on chasing Vincent Riou and Jean le Cam on PRB, now up to 29 miles. MACIF looks set to follow a similar route to FenetreA Cardinal through the Doldrums, but is approaching from a more easterly heading. The boats behind are set up to the northwest and look to be following a route closer to Actual's.
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In the Class40s Sébastien Rogues and Fabien Delahaye on GDF Suez continue to extend, up from 32 and 94 miles over second place mare and third placed ERDF-Des Pieds et des Mains respectively, to 46 and 131 miles at the latest sched. They are following a similar westerly route down the Atlantic as the fleet ahead of them as taken.
The racing is particularly close behind with Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron on fourth placed Campagne de France now down to two miles off third place, having sailed 316 miles in the last 24 hours compared to ERDF's 294.9.
Some impressive fliers are going on in the Class40 still with Louis Duc and Stéphanie Alran on Phoenix Europe having passed through the Canary Islands last night. However they are looking slow now in the wind shadow of the islands and have dropped from eighth to ninth over the last 24 hours. Two other boats are taking a similar route to them - Fantastica, the Italian latest generation Verdier design and leading amateur skipper Catherine Pourre on an older Verdier design, Earwen.
Mike Gascoyne and Brian Thompson on their Akilaria RC3 Caterham Challenge have regained a position over the last 24 hours, now up to 11th but with the boats ahead some 100 miles ahead of them now.
Update from Caterham: All good on board with some rest at long last as well as starting to push a little but still a bit gentle on the sail until we have full confidence. wind a little lighter for us than predicted but we still have passed Proximedia overnight which is good. Weather routing for us looks ok over the next few days with the leaders slowing down as the winds fall but we should have more wind down south in a few days time than the leaders so we should gain back some of the lost miles.
Changing from the reefed medium spinnaker to the full masthead medium in a couple of hours time, just taken out second reef so one reef in the main hoping to make it through to lunchtime without any problems, our first full day without a drama for quite a while would be nice weather looking better with clear skies and a bright moon overnight. Hopefully some sun today to see how these solar panels are working..."