From Madeira to the Canaries, the 45 Class40 yachts share the same problems of crossing volcanic islands, with their corollary of high peaks responsible for significant downwinds, traffic, and all kinds of site effects. In the West, in the East, in the middle ? Cogitations are running strong and some are already congratulating each other for the smooth passage to the enchanting shores that we promise to visit one day. Thus, this morning, Belgian Jonas Gerckens (Volvo) is reaping the benefits of the fire he has been keeping alive for several days in the form of an excellent western option. He glided along last night at a good pace between La Palma and Gomera and climbed onto the third step of the very provisional podium. His two predecessors Redman (Carpentier - Santurde) and Banque du Léman (Gautier - Koster) also signed the good option of the night, close to the eastern coast of Tenerife. This morning, they lengthened their stride and took full advantage of the slowing down of their opponents scattered across the width of the archipelago, stretching the elasticity of the gaps in their favor, now more than 80 miles between the seven historical leaders (including Crédit Mutuel - Lipinski-Pulvé) of this exciting 15th Transat Jacques Vabre.
It's a wave, a surge, a flow, an irruption. No, we're not talking about the Cumbre Vieja volcano, but about the arrival of a fleet of 45 Class40 boats in the Canary Islands. Between Lanzarote to the east and La Palma to the west, inside and outside the islands with their high volcanic peaks, each one is choosing its route, depending on its direct opponents, the wind expected in the area, but also, already, depending on the best route envisioned towards other equally enchanting islands, those of Cape Verde, the next key target for the Class40s, who will be tacking the island of Sal before heading for the West Indies. But until then, each story personified by each duo continues its course, more adventurous in the North, for the sailboats which, from the latitude of Lisbon to that of Gibraltar, are taking advantage of beautiful gliding conditions, and for significant gains on the road, like the 246 miles covered in the last 24 hours by the Magré family, father and son, whose Mach 40.4 E. Leclerc Ville La-Grand is finally getting some dividends from this option to the west of the ridge chosen in the wake of Serenis Consulting (Galfione-Péron), which has also been well paid with nearly 300 miles sailed and a gain of 6 places in the general ranking!
With a delta of more than 750 miles in latitude between the leaders and the tail of the pack, the weather conditions and developments are no longer the same depending on whether you are enjoying the last breeze of the Portuguese trade winds, or whether you are throwing yourself with appetite into the Canarian trade winds sweeping the shores of the Western Sahara. The warm desert wind plunges the leading protagonists into a sense of well-being that is a precursor to the tropical delights to come. However, in addition to the happiness of an idyllic sailing experience, each duo feels the tension of the competition, as the proximity of the competitors exacerbates the desire to align themselves with, or even surpass the performance of their neighbor. It is difficult to calmly chart your course when the AIS constantly sends back the throbbing echo of an approaching opponent.
Madeira for some, the Canaries for others, Cape Verde already in the minds of the leaders, before the desolate solitudes of the Atlantic, the Class40 Transat Jacques Vabre offers magical island scents.
Quotes of the day :
Nicolas Jossier - La Manche #EvidenceNautique :
"Everything is going well on board, the little friends came back into contact in the second half of the week, and the game is going to become difficult against the new scows. But we're going to defend our place in the leading group dearly, let's face it. We just dropped the oilskins... summer is starting!"
Anne Beaugé - Milai :
« All is well on board of Milai, as everyone we imagine, we have more and more heat. Does everyone have so many squalls too? They are starting to populate the sky and play with our route. A huge one, a mountain, with its black chimney, crossed 1 hour ago... Otherwise, we are writing to you from the Selvagem Islands -Wild Islands-? two small rocks, Portuguese? Don't worry, we don't plan to stop there, but we would have seen them during the day, to have a small view of these curious mounds. There is still 901 MN to Cape Verde, and a depression that blocks the end of the road, grrr.... "
Cedric Chateau - Seafrigo - Sogestran :
"End of the weekend! No technical incidents or exotic maneuvers to deplore this weekend! Don't worry, it's not only in technical approximation that we have a low level, we also defend ourselves in approximate strategy! Because yes, in ambush of our technical setbacks, we did not expect to be so much out of line on the tactical options. The balance sheet is therefore quite heavy this weekend with quite a lot of ground lost on the whole of the fleet which is close to us. We are trying as much as we can to reposition ourselves in the fleet from our west positive according to the strong variations in the direction of this North-East flow which is pushing us towards Cape Verde. Answer soon... Apart from that, everything is going well on board, we're trying to get the machine moving, to control the fatigue points, to feed ourselves correctly, the atmosphere is good, the understanding perfect (yes yes) but to perfect this "idyllic" setting, we'll have to move up a few places !"
Julia Virat - UP SAILING Unis pour la planète :
"I've been asked to clarify what our current pace means: "we're sailing downwind at 10 knots towards the SW with between 12 and 20 knots of wind" (I'm being a real smart ass now, but remember that I had no idea what all that meant a year and a half ago!) Downwind: it's when the wind pushes us from behind, instead of going up in its direction. Translation: the panacea. We move forward much faster, the boat hits less because the waves go in the same direction as us and it heels less so life on board is a little more comfortable. Sometimes, we even have the chance to "surf" on the waves, we feel the accelerations and it's pure happiness! Going at 10 knots (19 km/h), it's pretty cool. A cruising boat never goes that fast. We are far from the records of what a Class40 can do (around 30 knots for the most modern boats... I decided that I wanted to do that in my life after having experienced a peak of 28 knots on @Ian Lipinski's boat :-D), but it still gives you the feeling of going fast and the pressure in the sails is great, you feel that things are happening and there is work to do on the sails to gain 1 or 2 knots, it's motivating. In short, when I say: we are sailing SW at 10 knots under spinnaker, life is good !"
Olivier Magré - E. Leclerc - Ville- La-Grand :
"The weather forecast for the next few days is rather favorable for us, tomorrow the latitude of the Azores, Tuesday Madeira and Wednesday the Canaries. There is some uncertainty for the area between the Canaries and Cape Verde due to a bubble that looks like an easterly wave ... in any case, we hope it will pass without too much damage! The sailors are fine, the boat is nice to live on (or rather we are getting used to it!) and the morale is good! "
Calliste Antoine - Croatia Full of Life :
"Still under spinnaker in an almost light wind between 9 and 12 knots NW. Tomorrow afternoon, we will pass the Canaries. On board we have time to sleep, long naps of several hours, the nights are always long but the moon soon full illuminates us well in the first part of the night. We finally took out the shorts today! I began to repair our torn big spinnaker with the means of the board, we hope not to have to send it back. Pn is slowly gaining ground on Milai but the slightest mistake makes us lose several hours of work (textile shackle of tack which explodes for example) The engine is definitively out of service for this end of race, we remain on the solar panels and the hydrogenerator for the electricity on board. »
Simon Kervarrec - Samsic E. Leclerc :
"Today is Sunday, and Sunday is rest. So the program was sleeping in, brunch, aperitif, mami's roasted chicken, and tonight McDo was supposed to show the movie of the cineclub ! That's good ! It is straight in mode "a day without end". Well except the McDo we have almost everything ! Even Tom Cruise, who once again saves the widow and the orphan. Oh yes! And the aperitif was (once is not customary) without alcool ! "
Enguerrand Granoux - Exploring Tech for Good :
"So to tell you the truth, today was a great day due to two events! The first one being that we opened the "summer" compartment of our personal bags! And yes, we don't know what the weather is like at home, but here we can handle the breeze in shorts and T-shirt! The opportunity to wear for the first time sailing shirts flocked to the crew that we received on the pontoons before the departure! We add the silly thoughts "to put some sun cream" and "to rinse the solar panels" to our daily check-list... it smells good the south all that! The day was magnificent, we do not leave any more our spinnaker which is in position since the Finistère cape. Only the mainsail and my underpants have been in place for longer. A long swell pushes us and launches us in big melodious surfs! Melodious because the boat starts to sing in the acceleration of a soft high-pitched sound to which we are both addicted!
This morning we also took "the heavy" decision to go to the west. It doesn't seem impressive like that but for us it was a complex decision because we had decided since our last race to privilege tactics over strategy. We had been taught that unless you are 100% sure of your choice it is the best decision. The only time we made a strategic choice that was a little different from the others was on the Sables-Horta race. We had already set off due west and we had been told about it for a long time...so before trying again we tried to mature the decision with all the satellite means we had on board. I think that basically we have a little bit of an attacking side but we clearly lack experience. Finally, we are almost reassured because all the boats have finally left to the west... they are following us... the crazy ones..."
Frans Budel - Sec Hayai :
"Sunday was not a bad day. We didn't break anything, no repairs to do, just sailing and discussing the route to follow and how to improve our adrenaline management. A rather quiet day in fact. Oh yes, I also took a shower on the deck! I boiled some water and took a shower! The big moment of the day! We also called the house, to get some news and to learn that Max Verstappen finished second in the Grand Prix!"
Antoine Carpentier -Redman :
"My Pablo, my precious is the choice of the heart, but also the choice of performance and dedication. Since yesterday, the wind has eased, we thought we would have a little respite, but we didn't count on the whims of the wind, the wind has been very changeable in strength and direction (between 8 and 15 knots and in direction between north and 50°), in these conditions the choice of sails this Sunday was complicated. How to go to the Canaries and where to go to avoid being stuck in the wind of the islands? After many changes of sails which deprived us of a good sleep and a big "brain storming" we chose the spinnaker which allowed us to get back to the head of the fleet and decided to pass between Tenerife and Gran Canaria, like most of our companions on the road. There is always a competitor who stands out, I think of Volvo, who made us hesitate for a long time, they went west! We also passed between Selvagem Grande and Alto Island, two islands that look uninhabited, barely 100 nautical miles north of the Canaries. The moon is still shining on us, we are starting to see the clouds to the south, typical of the trade winds, it feels good to be surfing."