Édition 2023 20 November 2023 - 17h02

IMOCA’s streaming in....Class 40s’ light winds conundrum

While the IMOCAs will now continue to arrive in Martinique for the foreseeable future to complete their Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre race from Le Havre to Martinique it is the match at the top of Class 40 which is becoming more and more engaging.

Having led a northern option a few days ago the ex Figaro aces Xavier Macaire and Pierre Leboucher (Groupe SNEF) have seen their choice paying a dividend for the last 36 hours. They now lead the Class 40 race by 59 miles. But with a high pressure area moving in to effectively bar the route to Martinique with a zone of light winds, it is very unclear whether Macaire and Leboucher will come good, or whether a pack which has climbed even more north will circumvent the worst of the light airs will prevail when the new breeze is established. And southerly option led by Italian Ambrogio Beccaria and Nico Andrieu (Alle Grande PIRELLI) also still has strong possibilities. 

“There is still very little in it. At the moment the group in the north led by Credit Mutuel (Ian Lipinski and Antoine Carpentier) are on a big detour to the north, but they hook into a little low pressure which gives them a corridor to get south again as the trades re-establish themselves, them coming into the Antilles from the north. But there is not much to choose and for sure it looks to be a very close, grouped finish.” Suggests Christian Dumard the race’s weather supplier. 

Britons Alister Richardson and Brian Thompson (T’quila) are now in seventh, well placed in their southerly group, just needing to stay fast and patient to see how the final days of the race play out. 

Brian Thompson messaged today“Well we are in our last three or four hours of decent wind on this race, our last surfing. Then the wind will drop to around 12kts in about four hours time. And then it will be maybe 8-10-12kts until just before the finish. This light air is coming across the course and killing the trade winds for the last bit. It is all to play for now. At the moment we are still just surfing the waves and blessedly today just of sargasso weed today. We had a lot yesterday. We even dropped the kite yesterday and went backwards to clear some from the fin. At the top of the fin we try to clear it with a rope. But luckily since then we have not seen much. But, where we are going, there is 100% going to be a lot of sargasso weed. The tactics are interesting. It is a three prong approach with Groupe SNEF blasting it down the middle and hoping to sneak through. Up in the north they will go through a front and then get to the high pressure from the north. We hope to get in on the weak trade winds to the south of the high. I have done a few routings and Credit Mutuel only just wins at the moment. Group SNEF should get second and our group in next, but let’s see.” 

This afternoon’s IMOCA finishers will see Italy’s Vendée Globe racer Giancarlo Pedote and French counterpart Gaston Morvan finish in 11th, just after French duo Benjamin Dutreux and Corentin Horeau (Guyot Environment) 10th. The Italian skipper was due immediate medical attention on the dock reported to be suffering from a high fever and dehydration. Britain’s Pipe Hare (Medallia) is on course to take 12th this evening (local time).

Not far behind heading for 13th should be the first non-foiler, ex Mini650 racers Benjamin Ferré and Pierre Le Roy on Monnoyeur-Duo for a Job, sailing the well optimised IMOCA which won the Route du Rhum winner as SMA and which Crémer raced to 12th on the last Vendée Globe.