Beginning of the 15th day of racing for the 74 crews, all classes included, still on their way to Martinique. The fleet of 43 Class40s, after a long descent due south towards the Cape Verde archipelago, has just turned right and started to cross, heading west, the 1,900 miles of Atlantic that separates them from Fort de France. The fleet, or at least more than thirty of its units, scattered as they passed the Sal Island mark in Cape Verde.
If the Franco-Martinican duo Jean Edouard Criquioche - Eric Baray (Groupe G2C La Martinique) is still taking advantage of the trade winds to choose the best way to pass, many boats at the rear of the fleet, Stormtech (Barkley - Schaffer), UP SAILING (Ursault-Poupon - Virat) or Polka Dot (Mehran - Owen) are caught up in the desperate calms that are languishing across the Atlantic, where traditionally a powerful north-easterly trade wind blows. The leaders, but also the bulk of the pack now oriented due west, still led this morning by the tandem Carpentier - Santurde (Redman) have gone far south to seek pressure. Emmanuel Le Roch and Pierre Quiroga (Edenred) are now at 10° North, where the first signs of the doldrums usually appear!
Redman continues to make progress as a transatlantic pioneer. He is progressing on the razor's edge, spurred on by Jonas Gerckens and Benoit Hantzperg (Volvo), but also to windward by the surprising Guidi in third, the Mourruau-Fantini tandem, closely followed by two serious pretenders, Crosscall (Ducroz - Sinea) and Croatia Full of life (Kostelic - Antoine), and to leeward by the class tenors, Banque du Léman (Koster - Gautier) and Project Rescue Ocean (Tréhin - Denis). And what can be said about the huge investment to the south made by Edenred over the last 48 hours? Ranked 15th, 75 miles from the leader in terms of distance to the finish, this morning with the Vikings of LaManche#EvidenceNautique (Jossier - Loison), they are one of the fastest in the fleet, only 45 miles behind the leader on the West-East side. We can clearly see that with less than 2,000 miles to go, the battle is raging at all levels, exacerbated for many by the fear of food and energy rationing, but also by the hope of finally seeing the trade winds swell up in front of the bows, and provide the valiant Class40s with the beautiful days of surfing on the swell that they have come to seek.
News from Kito: approaching Madeira
"We've been parked for 24 hours. Not a breath of air and swell. Hard on the nerves, which have already been put to the test for 2 weeks. But, for a few hours, we have found wind coming from the south, not very strong nor very regular, but it feels like we are going very fast. It is nice on the deck, the moon is full. We try to imagine the best route to reach Gibraltar. It's not easy with our handicap at the front... This route should put us not far from Madeira on Sunday, which will leave us a possibility of pit-stop in case the weather forecast becomes more unfavorable. The weather forecast is pretty good for the next 5 days, so there is no reason not to take advantage of it, except that a little break would do us a lot of good. We'll see what the mood is..."
Quotes of the day:
Nicolas Lemarchand - Thimoté Polet - Entraide Marine
"What an exceptional Transat Jacques Vabre! Despite the fact that it is exceptionally long, it remains exceptionally interesting and rich in lessons. We are still very happy to be here. We are oscillating between the soft spots, a real Tetris but it's fun.We have calculated the food and water, we have no right to make mistakes, the timing is perfect."
Thibaut Lefevere - Free Dom
"We should have a more sustained NE trade wind than the boats in front, which would allow us to sail a direct route at the beginning, whereas they had to dive to the SOUTH to get some wind and therefore extend their route. With a bit of luck this transatlantic race will give us the opportunity to tickle their bows again. We must also remain vigilant and contain the boats that are chasing us and that will not do us any favors. The transatlantic race is likely to be long because there is little wind in the middle and we will have to find the right way. We expect to arrive around December 2-3, which means 26 days at sea. We are far from the 18 days announced before the departure. We have 24 days of food and water."
Marie Riou - La Boulangère Bio
"Small problems. We hit something that blew the starboard rudder. Fortunately it was the "fuse", an easy to change part that broke, the rudder blade and all the associated system are intact. We only slowed down the boat, the time to repair the broken end. On board everything is going well. Today we took the time to check the quantities of fuel and food and we were satisfied to see that we will not miss anything until the finish (except a little chocolate... the anguish!) We are in the leading group, it's nice and our competitors are formidable, they do not let go a meter. At the same time, a new battle has started: the one of the seaweeds. We have been bothered by the subject today and it should not get any better on the road."
Morgane Ursault-Poupon - UP SAILING Unis pour la planète
"D14. The days and nights follow each other...Right now, it's a magnificent full moon that is accompanying us. It is a festival of colors and atmospheres, each evening and each morning invariably...And what is great is that the light of the moon illuminates the night so well that we do not need headlamps to steer. The rhythm is routine. The rhythm is routine. We make watches of 2 hours at night, because the tiredness is more painful than the day: one which steers, the other which sleeps. We exchange a few comments on the conditions and then we alternate without dragging. During the day, the watches are a little longer depending on our state and what we have to do on the side: there are the hours in front of the computer trying to extract a weather file from this damn satellite connection which is quite susceptible... then we launch routings and we refine the trajectory. There are the sail maneuvers, around which the naps are fixed. For the moment, there are not too many repairs, the boat is going very well (well, we do not come back on this story of spi... There are also the meals (ha ha ha, do we really need to talk about it?) that we usually take in between, no need for a big ceremony to put hot water on an umpteenth freeze-dried food... And then sometimes, there is a small toilet based on wipes, the great luxury!"
Pierre Louis Attwell - Vogue avec un Crohn
"The last 24 hours have been pretty productive for Vogue with Crohn's. Overall, we are not doing too bad even if nothing is done and we will have to wait until we are well clear of the islands to know if our strategy is paying off. The good news of the day is that we have "put the blinker on the right", that is to say that we are no longer going south but west to reach Martinique. In fact it is not significant of much but mentally it feels good!
Enguerrand Granoux - Exploring Tech for good
This is it! We passed the island of Sal in Cape Verde! Let's go for the big crossing, blink right, let's go to Martinique! This morning a small flying fish had fallen asleep too long on the deck, it did not seem in great shape. We released it among its own kind and so we had the right to a ballet of thanks all day long by its colleagues! Today the most important thing was the heat. Here we are well inside, here it is very hot, from now on not to finish like the fish, our objective is to find freshness on board. No more waxes and boots, we discover the navigation in swimsuit - t-shirt. Next island will be Martinique!
Anna Beaugé - Milai
"It is indeed very hot, and fortunately, the gybe on starboard allowed us to be in the shade of the sails. We are starting our route towards the west, in a wind that has weakened in the second part of the afternoon, we will probably have to go west, a little south, west and again a little south, and this for a good thousand miles!
Seaweed rod broken then repaired today and validation of the method of passage knot rope to free the keel of sargassum ... essential."