An African low pressure system set to colour play
Having covered over 1,600 miles of the 4,350 that make up the route between Le Havre and Salvador de Bahia, the Josse-Rouxel duo has already sailed over a third of the course after just three days at sea. The weather conditions the leaders of this Transat Jacques Vabre have encountered thus far have certainly favoured their ability to slip along at speed and the sailors are lapping it up. Since yesterday evening and her passage abeam of the Azores, the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild has been slipping along the edge of the zone of high pressure and is now sailing in the trade winds of the northern hemisphere. This Wednesday 8 November, at the 15:00 UTC ranking, the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild has held onto her lead and is still being shadowed by Sodebo Ultim', which has repositioned itself to the west some 75 miles stray of Gitana 17.
Squalls along the southern expressway
The route leading to the equator is certainly quick, but it's rarely a long, calm river. The account of last night's adventures, as told by Thomas Rouxel at the official midday radio session, testifies to this: We're going fast but you don't get something for nothing. You have to be on top of things! We had a complicated zone last night. On the whole, there was a lot of wind, around 30 knots, and the associated seas were very chaotic, but we also got a pasting from a squall with rain and not much wind. This zone of light patches wasn't forecast on the routing and it put paid to our plans. In fact, we'd favoured a certain sail configuration, which didn't prove to be as effective as we'd imagined.
Increased lateral separation
Since Sunday and the start in Le Havre, the trajectories of the two leaders of this 13th Transat Jacques Vabre, namely the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild and Sodebo Ultim', have been virtually identical. However, this sailing in convoy came to an end 24 hours ago on passing the Azores archipelago. Indeed, today Thomas Coville and Jean-Luc Nélias are positioned further to the west with a lateral separation of over 100 miles in relation to the crew of Gitana Team. With the race having clearly turned into a duel since Prince de Bretagne suffered damage on Monday evening as the front rolled through, Sébastien Josse and Thomas Rouxel are keeping a close eye on the route adopted by their direct rival: Naturally, we're monitoring their position very closely! Their choice is interesting and in fact we too had planned to make a little more westing before we hit a zone of squalls. We'll see how things play out between now and tomorrow.
For the time being, the effects of a low pressure system between the Canaries and the Cape Verde archipelago are the sailors' main focus aboard the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild: Right now, we're more concerned by the negotiation of a low pressure system rolling across from Africa, which will bring with it light winds so our focus is on avoiding getting caught up by this zone. That's our priority at the moment, though naturally we're also beginning to look ahead as the Doldrums loom.
After three days at sea and over 1,600 miles already covered, life aboard is becoming organised and most importantly the two sailors are now benefiting from much warmer temperatures as Thomas Rouxel confirmed: We removed our boots and foulies yesterday. It's beginning to get pretty hot under our cockpit roof window.
Ranking at 15:00 UTC, Ultime category Wednesday 8 November
1 Maxi Edmond de Rothschild 2,771.3 miles from the finish, 29.7 knots over 1hr
2 Sodebo Ultim' 75 miles behind the leader, 30.3 knots over 1hr
3 Prince de Bretagne 563.04 miles, 25.6 knots over 1hr