The mandatory passage mark for the Class40s on their way to the West Indies, prefigured by the island of Sal in the east of the Cape Verde archipelago, has totally revived the race, which until now has been dominated by a hermetic club of half a dozen boats, who were still being promised final victory.
Incidentally, coordinated with the arrival of the Class40s, the break in the north-easterly trade winds over the archipelago, greatly disturbed by the high pressures has not only favored regrouping, but has scattered the fleet according to the sometimes radical route choices made by the duos to cross the Atlantic. The result this morning is the astonishing disintegration of the fleet between the heart of the archipelago and the south, where the duos are looking for stronger winds, even if it means lengthening an already interminable route. The rankings have been turned upside down and the gaps have exploded, like the loss recorded this morning by the third-placed Volvo (Gerckens - Hantzperg), 53 miles behind the leader of the moment, Redman (Carpentier - Santurde), whom he was ahead of only 36 hours ago. No one is talking about the direct route this morning, except for the duo Mourruau-Fantini de Guidi, who are jubilant about their second place, or Ducroz-Sineau (Crosscall), who are also totally revived by this Cap Verdien hullabaloo.
Still in the lead despite the enormous pressure exerted by the competition, the Franco-Spanish duo Antoine Carpentier - Pablo Santurde (Redman) chose race tactics rather than route strategy; "We thought about it and said to ourselves that we were going to put ourselves between the pack arriving from the North and the finish, it's more a question of marking the fleet than a strategic choice. It's hard to say which route will pay off the most..." explained the skipper of Redman, with a certain fatalism. The weather files, so often imprecise in this part of the world, in their indications of wind angle and power, nevertheless encourage the majority of the Class 40s to dive south, on an improbable route towards the equator and approaching the doldrums. Odd for a fleet that is supposed to be heading directly west, in the trade winds and towards the West Indies. But the trade winds are taking a long time to build up again and the short-term prospects are hardly euphoric for the duos, who are well into their 14 days of intense racing, with a lot of twists and turns and weather headaches. With more than 2 000 miles to go, the dreams of long downwind rides in the trade winds are fading, and Carpentier even mentioned this morning that there could be some upwind episodes to come!
Still spread out over a little more than 700 miles in latitude, between Redman in the lead and Terre Exotique (Guiguen-Pinson) at the end of the race, the fleet is now experiencing a certain compression of its various gruppettos, with the stragglers clearly seeing this crossing of the archipelago as a way of getting back in touch, as the Jean Galfione - Eric Péron (Serenis Consulting) tandem could attest to, as they slipped under the island of Maio this morning in 21st position. For all these protagonists, the drastic choices of route to the West or South constitute unhoped-for chances to come back, or not, in contact with the front guard.
Where we talk about orcas, rationing and... pirates !
Seb Audigane - Entrepreneurs pour la planète
"The boat is fine, not to mention the electronics, the orcas haven't eaten a rudder yet and the pirates, well, they'd better watch out. I'm just being clever, but this morning a sort of large, tampered zodiac turned away and headed towards us, influencing its course as we went along. I saw it coming two or three miles away and immediately thought it was behaving oddly. He approached within a mile and followed a little timidly but surely then let go of the throttle and disappeared as he was merged with the horizon and the waves. I wouldn't be surprised to see him appear again at night but I think we could lose him because Entrepreneurs for the Planet has put the turbo. We are going at twelve fifteen knots in the surf. Like all good competitors, the food has been calculated as close as possible but not as bad as possible which means we will be very hungry and thirsty when we arrive."
Quotes of the day :
Victor Jost - Exploring Tech for good
"Tomorrow we will pass Cape Verde on the Transat Jacques Vabre! It's this sentence that may seem insignificant but little by little it reminds us of what we are doing! It seems at the same time so normal because we have been preparing this for a long time, and at the same time completely huge and disproportionate. We will surely realize a little more when we will see these islands after a few days without seeing the land! And then it will be the last straight line.... Heading to Martinique! Apart from the future, our day on Friday 19th started in light airs, very light airs were even forecasted by the files on our route! So all night long we worked to make the boat go as well as possible! We were a little bit lucky because a small net of air accompanied us all night long. Now we are looking forward and our goal is to try to catch up with a new group just ahead!"
Vicitan - Didier Le Vourch
"Everything is going well on board. We are happy to be in Cape Verde and to gybe soon. Unlike others, we took a LOT of food...We even have fresh food (radishes, carrots) and cold cuts (Grisons meat, butter, ham, etc.)and a LOT of chocolate!"
Stormtech - Melodie Schaffer
"We had a day and a half of strong 18-25 knot winds. Ryan and I didn't nap during the day to really push the boat and make gains with the right winds. We also wanted to save energy, as we are still having problems with power generation, so we didn't want the autohelm on too much as that is the biggest energy draw. Helming a boat and keeping control while riding the waves is a lot of fun, but it requires full attention. We both have blisters on one of our hands from the many hours we spend at the helm. We had the opportunity to take a nap on a day off, which makes all the difference. The generator is cooperating today, so it is producing power for us, which is great. As I write this, we are moving at a reasonable speed again. In the next couple of days, we'll be rounding the Cape Verde Islands."
Redman - Antoine Carpentier
"One more day under the clouds! We're raging about not having any sun! No sun, no or little charge thanks to the solar panels, no charges, no electronics, no electronics, a lot of bar, a lot of bar big energy expenditure and no we don't have much food. As a result, it turns into physical but also mental fatigue! In short, it's not a party! Well, the wheel is going to turn eventually... We should be out of the deviations of the last island of Cape Verde during the night, after we thought it was going to be easier but the last loaded files make us go upwind at a time, yes upwind! We even had to change tack! We are so far south that we find ourselves in the doldrums! We saw our first sargassum and that's not a good sign, it's the beginning of the troubles!"
Calliste Antoine - Croatia full of life
"The passage of Cape Verde was complicated, a scattered fleet with many potential options, not the same wind as Project Rescue Ocean although it passed at the same place 30mn before us. Very grey on the whole. Small mid-course party, kalva (Karver calva), chocolate, canned pear, luxury meal! (next party for Ivica's birthday). it's very hot and humid, no more possibility to sleep inside during the day."
Antoine Magré - E Leclerc - Ville-La-Grand
"Quite a productive day aboard E.Leclerc VLG with now less than 200 nm to the island of Sal and at the current speed (between 11-12 knots with peaks at 15-16), we should arrive at the waypoint in the middle of the day tomorrow! (today)). What's also good is that the trade winds have picked up again and so it looks promising for the future, even if as for the mini, we'll probably have to go very south to keep the wind. »
David Sineau - Crosscall
"Passage to the Cape Verde Islands. We are fighting with Aurelien Ducroz to stay in the game despite our spinnaker damage. And there's no shortage of matches, as the weather in this Transat Jacques Vabre is complicated... and slow! We're starting to look at the water, food and energy reserves, which should be fine, but without any extra food!"