Calm seas, light breezes and a blue sky… There's fabulous weather on the Celtic Sea, but these warm, high pressure conditions don’t suit competitors in the Mini Fastnet, who are struggling to get their yacht to inch forwards: no wind, no speed. At an average of 2 to 3 knots, the first competitors are expected to reach the Fastnet lighthouse this evening in go-slow mode.
Despite the light winds, the Mini Fastnet fleet is progressing more or less directly towards the Fastnet lighthouse. The leaders are about 25 nautical miles from Stags Buoy, 13 miles east of the lighthouse. But making just 2.5 knots, they won’t be rounding the Rock before the middle of the night.
In the Protos, the advantage has been with Damien Audrain and Pierre Brasseur (EPC – Rêves de Clown) since yesterday evening, as they regularly record a slightly higher speed than their rivals. Since halfway through the day, they have been neck and neck with Luke Berry and Pierre Denjean (Wild Side) now in second, and Davy Beaudart/David Raison (Cultisol), who this morning return to the group of frontrunners. Jean-Baptiste Daramy and Pierre-François Dargniès (Chocolats Paries – Sygespro) are just behind, these four all within two miles.
The nine other Protos are battling it out in their wake. Six are among the Series boats with Jean-Christophe Allo and Diane Dhome (Reality) bringing up to rear, 35 miles further back.
Among the Series boats, nothing’s changed. Damien Cloarec and Yannick Le Clech (www.damien-cloarec.fr) have this afternoon, they extended their lead to four miles over their rivals Jonas Gerckens and Thibault Reinhart (Netwerk) and Arnaud Machado and Jimmy Pahun (Velasco II Du Léman à l’Océan.com) who are two miles behind them, in third position.
A wind shift at 1600 forced them to tack to the north – and at just 4 knots, this has become a triple punishment. The dark horse is Quentin Vlamynck and Loïc Coudret's quentinvlamynck.fr in 4th, who have decided to take a westerly option.
The main pack of Series boats remains closely grouped: Juan-Mari Odriozola and Albert Lagneaux (Donostia 2016) in 20th position are still less than 30 miles behind the leaders.
The next few hours are likely to be long ones for the Mini Fastnet competitors. The wind isn’t due to fill in before dawn tomorrow, with the arrival of a depress. While that’s the good news, the not-so-good news is that the breeze will be southwesterly, so the downwind sleigh ride the competitors were expecting back from the Rock will have to remain on hold for a while.