Antoine Carpentier and his "precious" Pablo Santurde are finishing their penultimate night at sea this morning. Only one more "sleep", and their Redman will start the last approach maneuvers towards the Diamond Rock and Fort de France, where her arrival could be judged on Monday afternoon French time.
If the conditional tense is necessary, as it is for any regatta, this one is strongly tinged with certainty, as the two men have shown such mastery and control since their coup d'état on November 18. They are still resisting the inspired assaults of all the favorite protagonists of the event, and God knows there are many of them. But their ability to find the right wind in the weakest trade wind, to trigger gybes at the most judicious moments to block any attempt by their opponents to overtake them, has, day after day, chiseled the contours of a predicted triumph, stretching the fleet of their pursuers and ruthlessly skimming the candidates for their throne. This morning, 340 miles from the finish, there are only a handful of Class 40s still able to take advantage of the slightest twist of fate. Cédric Chateau and Jérémie Mion from Le Havre, especially known for their inshore racing skills, if they manage to hold off the Swiss of Banque du Léman (Gautier - Koster), are on their way to a formidable feat. Unless the Belgian-French Gerckens - Hantzperg (Volvo) manage to get on the podium. As we can see, if the last few miles are only beginning to remove some of the thrilling uncertainties of the Class40 race, it is only after the very last tacks that this Transat Jacques Vabre will deliver its verdict.
The impatience to see the West Indies approaching is becoming electric aboard the Class40s. For three weeks now, the 43 boats still in the race (only two withdrawals are to be deplored, those of Lenzi-Lanternes de Paris (Duchatelet - Renouard) and HBF-Reforest'Action (De Pavant - Gbick) have been battling in the most trying of conditions, with light airs, light trade winds, high temperatures and great efforts. All of them have earned their share of Martinique's paradise, from the leaders to the duos who are deep in the rankings, and who are fighting their own battles and personal challenges every day, more than 1,000 miles from the finish, sometimes within sight of opponents who are in the same situation as them, such as the trio Recycleurs Bretons - Navaleo of Le Borgne father and son, chasing the Canadians of Stormtech Mélodie Schaffer and Ryan Barkey, and Rennes Saint Malo - Rêves of Baptiste Hulin and Christophe Bachman.
Stretched out over 1,500 miles, the fleet is now lining up on a direct course for the leaders towards the West Indies. The time for options and shifts is over and it is with pure speed, almost on a single starboard tack that the duos are pressing the accelerator, without reserve and hungry, both figuratively and, unfortunately, literally. After 21 days of racing, the food reserves are exhausted for many and it is with an empty stomach but a happy heart that the Class 40s will reach the terra ferma.
To the organizers; add to the Ti Punch at the finish a few appetizers, as the clamour from the open sea is already rising: "Where are the poulardes? I am hungry! Where are the calves, the roasts, the sausages? Where are the beans, the deer pies? Let's eat our fill to forget this race! There are not some soissons with good drunk, a piglet, a roasted goat, some white swans well peppered! » (From the movie Les Visiteurs!)
Remontada: Jean Galfione and Eric Péron (Serenis Consulting) continue their amazing remontada; they are now in the top 10, in 9th position after a gain of 5 places in the last 24 hours.
Point Vintage :
Four Class40s deserve the vintage appellation, and are indulging in their own little personal challenge in the heart of the Transat. The venerable N°1, Terre Exotique, owned by Georges Guiguen and Morgan Pinson, is closing the gap after 21 days of racing, 1,150 miles from the leader Redman. The N° 30 UP SAILING Unis pour la planète of Morgane Ursault-Poupon and Julia Virat, is 250 miles ahead of him in 42nd place. The 44 SEC HAYAI of Dutchmen Frans Budel and Ysbrand Endt is 38th with 1,100 miles to go, and the 103 G2C GROUPE - Martinique of Jean Edouard Criquioche and Eric Baray are in 32nd place, now less than 1,000 miles from the finish.
Quotes of the day :
Manu Le Roch - Edenred
"Second last night at sea! I must admit that the fresh water shower is starting to be a dream on board! We are now on a direct course to the finish! Our ETA is scheduled for the beginning of the afternoon... an additional motivation not to arrive after 7 pm or risk spending the night at sea on board the boat! Then we attack! Superb final in any case to see so many Class 40 so grouped. One hand on the mainsail traveler ready to shock and the other on the spinnaker winch handle! Onward!"
Antoine Carpentier - Redman
"We're getting closer, we're getting closer. The tension is rising on board, we can't stand it anymore if the wind turns the wrong way or if there is less wind than forecast! We are on the lookout for the chart to know if our competitors have jibed or if they are going faster. Each pointing where we are faster is celebrated with a small war cry and, those where we are less fast, plunge us in a state of growing stress. How long it is going to last, we remember the afternoon of yesterday... we must hold, we must hold! Less than 30 hours of race... We have two meals each. We have water more than we need. 5 liters of diesel, which is equivalent to 5 good loads of batteries. I have three coffees left, and Pablo has 8 tea bags. As for clothes, Pablo doesn't have anything clean and I have one pair of shorts, a polo shirt and a T-shirt left."
Stan Thuret - Everial
"Every morning is the same.
Every noon is the same.
Every evening, every night.
The only earthly reference point. The time displayed on our dials is different for each sunrise and sunset.
But otherwise, we are static.
We move forward, even backward.
Each day the weather extends the course.
Each day the variations of the wind add a small dose.
A well organized torture.
But pushing this spinnaker is certainly a chosen ordeal. So we think about it and we accept.
We are lucky and privileged to make this crossing.
And in three days we will have almost forgotten everything."