The latest race news from the race

Sharp and Santurde back in front as whole fleet face close contact battles

Sharp and Santurde back in front as whole fleet face close contact battles

As with the two Ultime that finished yesterday, there is nothing between the three fleets still fighting it out in the Atlantic. In the Imoca, the leader St Michel-Virbac slowed down first overnight and gradually saw his lead melt. This is precisely what happened to FenêtréA-Mix Buffet, which lost 140 miles in 36 hours and saw Arkema seize first place by the exit. But St Michel-Virbac may have survived that fate, speeding up in the last two hours. The second group of Imoca and the Class40 currently passing Cape Verde will be keeping a very close eye on what is happening to those in front of them.

 

Latest ETAs

Ultime: Prince de Bretagne – Thursday, November 16, morning

Multi50: Leaders, Thursday, November 16 at 19:00 UTC

Imoca: Leaders, Saturday, November 18 at 11:00 UTC, 4th/5th, Sunday 19 at 19:00 UTC

Class40: Leaders, Wednesday 22

 

Class40: Cape Verde already

Just when you thought it could not get any closer, the lead group compress still further. Anglo-Spanish duo, Phil Sharp and Pablo Santurde (Imerys Clean Energy) took the lead back last night from V and B, with Aïna Enfance et Avenir edging into second. But as they pass the Cape Verde archipelago, there are just four miles between the top three and only 13 miles of lateral separation between them, with Imerys Clean Energy on the west and V and B on the east. “The wind is softening, probably because of shadow of the islands, but it meant a long detour with two gybes to move further away from them,” Antoine Carpentier on V and B said last night. Teamwork40 has made up 20 miles in fourth and is 53 miles off the lead. Just past the halfway mark of the race, Sharp and Santurde, despite their communication problems and disrupted weather files, do not seem to be giving anything away to the theoretically faster latest generation French boats.

Imoca: Another 24 hours in the Doldrums

St Michel-Virbac did not follow the last gybes by his pursuers yesterday afternoon, so they find themselves further east compared to SMA. That looked expensive overnight as the lead was halved to 28 miles. But the elastic of the Dodrums sometimes stretches both ways and in the last few hours SMA have dropped to 3.3 knots and the lead is back to 51 miles. Paul Meilhat, skipper of SMA thought last night that they would be out of the Doldrums in about 30 hours.

Still third, Des Voiles et Vous! can see in its wake, a line of five boats, separated by only 40 miles and waiting for a slip ahead of them to allow them onto the podium.

Multi50: Was it the Doldrums?

For FenêtreA-Mix Buffet, the meteorological equator was an archetypal example of what the Doldrums can do to a race - maybe. Arkema seized the lead and is now 43 miles ahead and still a knot faster. Lalou Roucayrol and Alex Pella have just taken 140 miles in 36 hours off Erwan Leroux and Vincent Riou. The strangest thing is that Arkema managed this on very similar track. The Doldrums can be extremely localised and random, with the skillful and lucky managing to jump from squall to squall but it could be that FenêtréA-Mix Buffet suffered silently with a technical problem. The two 50ft trimarans are now in a south-east trade wind with a 1,000 miles of racetrack left for the favourites, Erwan Le Roux and Vincent Riou to make a comeback.

Ultime: The lone boat

Stuck in the Doldrums yesterday afternoon, positioned well in the West, Prince de Bretagne is back up to speeds of 20 knots reaching in steady south-easterlies. Without a generator, and having to rely on their wind turbine just to give them a little bit of autopilot, Lionel Lemonchois and Bernard Stamm are definitely not going to be able to take advantage of any weather files precise enough to help them shorten the road to Salvador de Bahia. Thomas Rouxel (Maxi Edmond de Rothschild), paid tribute to Prince de Bretagne, which is unique in the Ultime class and has not really been helped by the conditions. Very low on the water (the central hull is that of an extended Orma trimaran), Prince de Bretagne is probably, with the Multi50, the wettest multihull to be on in the fleet. It still has 900 miles to the finish in Salvador de Bahia.