The latest race news from the race

An upside down leaderboard?

An upside down leaderboard?

It has been more than 24 hours since the IMOCA fleet split, with two-thirds of the skippers heading south along the Iberian Peninsula, while the rest are heading west to the Azores archipelago. While the Multi50 and Class40, the race this morning is much more readable, it’s much harder to know which way up to look at the IMOCA leaderboard. Is Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss in a better position than Samantha Davies on Initiatives-Cœur?


IMOCA: PRB the new leader

The western group may have split in two themselves with a group of five IMOCA around 44°N committing themselves further west, while a group of five behind them have tacked south. The 08:00 UTC ranking put the front five of this western group, which included the British duo on Hugo Boss in 19thplace in the 29-boat fleet, 125-140 miles behind. Will their bet pay off?

The rest of the fleet passed the border of Galicia and Portugal in the night and are now pointing at Lisbon. 

In both the west and the south there has been some readjustment, with the four older generation boats, upgraded with foils, Bureau Vallée II, Maître CoQ IVMalizia II Yacht Club de Monaco and Prysmian Group exchanging positions ahead of the northernmost boat, Hugo Boss. But they have compressed as Bureau Vallée II, Maître CoQ IV and Hugo Boss all tacked south in the night. 

These five must grit their teeth and not just because the sea is becoming more formidable around the new low-pressure system. Their average speed and angle of approach to the finish are much lower than those in the south. Over the last 24 hours, the leaders sailed 3 knots faster toward the finish than the western group. 

Leading since Ushant, Charal, has been overtaken by PRB, knitted a masterstroke on the tip of Galicia, tacking just a mile away from the coast as they threaded the TSS (Traffic Separation Scheme) at Cape Finisterre. Britain’s Samantha Davies (Initiatives-Cœur) third overnight, has slipped back to fifth, but only 11 miles separate the front five. America’s Charlie Enright (11thHour Racing) is only seven miles behind in sixth.

Weaving by Muros as if about to join an afternoon regatta, Kevin Escoffier and Nicolas Lunven, came out adroitly under the TSS and reeled in Charal and Apivia after coming back from the open sea. “We were doing some sightseeing in these very pretty parts of Galicia this morning,” Nicolas Lunven said this morning. “The night was still tiring with a small front with 25 knots and some manœuvres. We’re starting to feel the sleep deficit since the start and we really hope the next 36 hours will offer calmer sailing conditions.”

Class40: Aïna and Leyton winning war of attrition

The race in Class40 looks like a war of attrition. The fleet of 23 boats (Beijaflore became the fourth boat to abandon this morning) is much more homogenous, with only Crédit Mutuel, which opted to go a little further west and which for the moment does not look very successful. At the front, Aïna Enfance et Avenirhave maintained their four-mile lead over Leyton. Each one is progressing upwind at under 8 knots as cautiously as one descends steps covered in ice. And you have to hold on as Pierre Leboucher explained this morning: “The sea is much harder when you go south because you get it on the bow. It hits hard and permanently wet. We sleep in our oilies on the soaked beanbag, but we see that the sky is clearing up.” Some recently launched boats, such as the newest and only Manuard mach 4, Banque du Léman,are suffering from the pace imposed by the fastest duos and have slipped back to tenth, over 60 miles behind. And they are not out of the woods yet. There will be 48 hours of weaving through the fronts of this huge low-pressure system.

Multi50: An uncompromising Solidaires!

Solidaires en Peloton ARSEPis making no mistake on the route south, on which it has shown the way for the last 48 hours. Every hour, Thibault Vauchel-Camus and Frédéric Duthil are widening the gap on their two pursuers. But don’t believe that life is calm on the road upwind for trimarans. “We had up to 30 knots and we were leapfrogging about in the pitch black without any chance of helming,” Thibault said this morning. “Now, it’s starting to calm down happily and the day will be devoted to tidying up. We must really rest today because when we’re on the edge of the ridge of high-pressure, we will have to be on the lookout to attack, like dogs on the hill.”

The trimarans are pointing at Cape Saint-Vincent  and they will make a last tack today at the edge of the high pressures system that is coming from around Gibraltar. The wind will be weaker and less stable, but the sea should be flatter, with a promise of trade winds in about 36 hours for the fastest boats in the fleet.