Awaiting the North Atlantic buster

Storm force winds forecast for the Transat B to B crews

Wednesday December 14th 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Chart above courtesy of Expedition/Tasman Bay Navigation Systems and PredictWind

Pos Skipper Boat Lat Long Spd Crs Spd VMG Crs Dist DTF DTL
          1 hr - Between scheds - - 24hrs    
1 François GABART MACIF 43 56.89' N 24 47.47' W 15 75 15.7 13.5 76 351.1 1028.8 0
2 Armel LECLEACH Banque Populaire 44 01.25' N 26 50.83' W 15.8 69 15.9 13 67 367.3 1101.1 72.3
3 Vincent RIOU PRB 44 59.89' N 27 03.93' W 15.1 77 15.5 12.4 72 349.3 1143.3 114.5
4 Mike GOLDING GAMESA 43 39.56' N 29 12.42' W 16.3 78 16 14 67 380 1208.8 180
5 Alex THOMSON Hugo Boss 46 05.87' N 29 03.28' W 15.6 61 16.4 11.2 62 318.4 1247 218.2
6 Marc GUILLEMOT Safran 44 44.34' N 29 50.26' W 15.8 71 16.9 14.3 69 361.8 1249.1 220.3
7 Jean-Pierre DICK Virbac-Paprec 3 38 25.44' N 38 36.25' W 14.5 64 12.5 11.9 60 151.8 1670.4 641.6
8 Louis BURTON BUREAU VALLEE 39 43.36' N 40 33.22' W 11.3 354 10.8 9.6 51 197.8 1733.9 705.1

The safety gate to their southeast at 42°N is going to prove a pain for the competitors in the Transat B to B, but a necessary one. Leaders MACIF and Banque Populaire continue to be in the best shape being both ahead and furthest south of the front runners. At 0530 this morning, for MACIF, the western end of the gate was 252 miles away. Fortunately the high to their south is shifting slightly east over the course of today and with this the wind will back from the northwest to due west enabling the boats to make a less painful gybe to the southeast to lay the gate. The boats have to cross the safety gate - a line at 42°N somewhere between 16 and 20°W - before they resume their course to the finish line off Lorient.

However of far greater concern is the onset of the depression currently to the south of Newfoundland. The GFS forecast has this tracking east and then elongating over a WSW-ENE axis by tomorrow morning, by which time the depression has split into three parts. On the south side of this group of systems the winds are forecast to be 40+ knots by tomorrow morning and as the most easterly depression tracks into the English Channel by tomorrow night the GRIB file (and these normally under read) are showing 60 knots in the Bay of Biscay (see below). Even at the safety gate the winds are still 40-45. Yuck.

At the latest sched Gamesa is quickest in the fleet averaging over 16kts as they pass some 280 miles to the north of the Azores. Mike Golding's IMOCA 60 is up to fourth at the expense of Alex Thomson's Hugo Boss. Thomson has lost out a little since the gate was imposed, but Golding believes he will come back on the sprint from the gate to the finish.

“We have a mean wind speed of around 22-23kts, it is still a bit shifty and all over the place with gusts over 40kts which has been a little weird, it remains a bit a of a balancing act, mildly scary but not very stimulating from a strategic point of view," reported Golding this morning. "It was good when we were going up north, because there was a bit of everything going on, now it is straight line stuff pretty much. Still one of the downsides of the gate is that it is now looking like my gybe will come at the worst possible time, when the GRIBs [weather files] are showing 60 odd knots, so that is not going to be much fun.

“I can understand Alex being a bit pee’d off but to be fair when the gate was called the lateral separation was only 20 or 30 miles, but the trouble is on the leg after the gate Alex will fly the biggest thing he can fly and I am afraid I won’t. I want to get home with a boat under me.”

Latest Comments

  • 738272 14/12/2011 - 16:22

    wow !

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