PRB due tomorrow night

As Actual takes second place in the Multi 50s, and GDF Suez leads into the southern hemisphere in the Transat Jacques Vabre

Saturday November 23rd 2013, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Latest arrival into Itajaí at the end of the Transat Jacques Vabre is Yves Le Blevec and Kito de Pavant on Actual, taking second place in the Multi 50s behind FenêtréA Cardinal. Le Blevec and de Pavant reached the Brazil finish line at 8:47:30‏ local time (10:47:37 UTC), 5 hours 7 minutes and 15 seconds after the class winners. Their elapsed time for the course was 14d 22h 47'30s‏ at an average speed over the 5450 mile theoretical course of 15.05 knots. In reality they sailed 5867 miles at an average of 16.35 knots.

Images courtesy of Expedition Navigation Systems and PredictWind

Skipper Yves Le Blevec, said: “It is still pretty challenging in these boats. They are great. To take less than 15 days to get from Le Havre to Itajaí is good, but having said that we went to Normandy to arrive in Brittany (wet weather joke) even if it is bit warmer. These are good averages, super fast, but it is not comfortable at these speeds. And what a great battle!

“We never felt we had to hold back, but sometimes that happens. That is say something unexpected happens and so you do have to stay vigilant all the time. And small mistakes become big ones, and often they are linked to tiredness and fatigue. The gennaker tack broke when we were taking the option closer to shore and that's when we had the breakage. And then we started to get things the wrong way up, schoolboy errors, such as hoisting the spinnaker with the clew‏.

"On these boats you need the wind sensor all the time, and if you don’t have it then you really cant understand much of what is going on, then you struggle, especially at night. With no wind indicator you are virtually disabled and so the stop in Porto Santo was not that expensive, what was frustrating was to stop without even time to drink a quick beer!”

"The capsize of Arkema makes me very unhappy. When I see Lalou (Roucayrol ) who built his boat, he put all his energy into it. I was very moved. It makes me sad because this project was full of passion and it was over in 2 minutes. But for us it was part of the game, always at the forefront of our minds, we must not capsize.

"Congratulations to Yann and Erwan they made a great race. They go fast ... We know each other well , we are neighbors on the pontoons at home, two boats from La Trinité-sur-Mer finishing here one after the other. They are often more comfortable at speed . We try to put pressure on to make them play shots , but overall they are faster."

De Pavant, co-skipper added: “We are not too disappointed. They had it to win. We had three problems, the technical stop in Madeira did cost us a few hours although it was fast and we had a good passage of the Doldrums we were back in front. And lately it was interesting, there were tactical games. We still managed to pick up a bit, we were in the game. Then we had a technical problem which caused us to lose 20 miles. But don’t get me wrong, Erwan and Yann deserved to win, they sailed really well. And we knew they would before the start. We knew all along it would be difficult to beat them. It is astonishing to have kept up that pace all the way through, to be on it all the way. I am so happy to get here, we had plenty of wind, we had some harsh conditions.

"Last night and the night before it was difficult. There is so much stress on these boats, you are on high alert even when the weather is nice. And the stress generates fatigue and you have to take account of that and deal with it. It is a while since we were in the red but we did make mistakes that we should not have done.

“It was a silly thing to stop for, breaking the wind wand, it’s a 5grammes piece of plastic, but without it we don’t have wind information. That is why we had to stop in Madeira.”

Next arrivals are set to be the IMOCA 60s where leaders, Vincent Riou and Jean le Cam on PRB, hold a commanding 85 miles and have just rounded Cabo Frio with some 447 miles to go to the finish where they should arrive tomorrow night. With an area of high pressure in situ to their SSW, PRB is experiencing 20 knots southeasterlies. 

Behind the fight is still on for second place between Safran, sailed by Marc Guillemot and Pascal Bidegorry and Maitre CoQ, sailed by Jeremie Beyou and Christopher Pratt. Safran is taking a course south closer to the coast than her rival and holds an advantage of just 3 miles over her rival. The next wave of IMOCA 60s is some 500 miles further back up the course, off Salvador de Bahia, with Louis Burton and Guillaume le Brec on Bureau Vallee leading the charge.

So much for the compression in the Class40 fleet. While second placed mare, sailed by Joerg Reichers and Pierre Brasseur, closed to within 21 miles of GDF Suez on Thursday morning, as the latter had got stuck in the Doldrums, being first into the new breeze, Sebastien Rogues and Fabien Delahaye on their butterscotch Mach 40 have since been continually extending their lead over the chasing boat, their margin up to 97 miles at the latest sched. GDF Suez crossed the Equator early yesterday evening and has been benefitting from being first to see the slow freeing of the trade winds into the east. She is sailing more than a knot faster than the boats behind her.

The battle for the positions has thinned out since the Doldrums. Mare is looking comfortable-ish in second but has the tenacious Spaniards Alex Pella and Pablo Santurde less than 19 miles behind. However at present the podium is looking reasonable certain with another 100 miles back to fourth place. Currently holding this spot is the great J-C Caso, sailing with Aymeric Chappellier on Groupe Picoty, but they have Fabrice Amedeo and Armel Tripon on SNCF-GEODIS and Yannick Bestaven and Aurélien Ducroz on Watt & Sea Région Poitou Charentes within seven miles of them.

Among the British interests, Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron on Campagne de France are holding eighth place having taken a westerly route through the Doldrums while Mike Gascoyne and Brian Thompson on Caterham Challenge are tenth just 15 miles behind them with the Austrians crew on the Humphreys-designed Vaquita in between.

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