They’ve all been to the school of patience. When you’re a sailor, a racer, you have to know how to play with what mother nature offers you and remain inspired even when she gets on your nerves. Everyone’s keeping an eye out for the moment where the NE’ly breeze will finally kick in, which will be a sign that the much awaited tradewind is beginning to blow and that they can begin slipping along.
Hunting down the wind shift by getting some westerly separation seems to be bearing fruit. Behind the leader Armel Le Cléac’h, whose lead shrinks by a few miles at every ranking, Paul Meilhat was first to move up into second place, before the skipper of the five-arrow stable took it off him a handful of hours further down the track.
In a close-contact race worthy of a confrontation in the bay of Port-La-Forêt (Le Cléac’h, Josse, Meilhat and Beyou within 19 miles of one another), it is good to keep a steady head with the rankings and above all be patient. Indeed, it’s a particularly close fought match that isn’t about to come to an end any time soon.
However, the important thing this evening is to be nicely positioned before putting pedal to the metal. Indeed, though the situation is in line with the forecasts, the tradewind isn’t very far off now and there will likely be a gybe to put in over the course of tonight. At that point, the speedo will really start spinning and the front runners will begin a part of the course that is generally synonymous with good average speed before the next tricky section, the Doldrums.
That’s why it’s important to be in the right group as the leaders will be able to lengthen their stride and any miles gained here will be hard to make up. Aboard Gitana 16, the skipper is naturally satisfied with his position this evening and is ready for a run that has been very hard fought.
Ranking on 9 November at 17:00 GMT
1. Armel Le Cleac'h (Banque Populaire VIII) 23,471 from the finish
2. Sébastien Josse (Edmond de Rothschild) 13.7 miles astern of the leader
3. Paul Meilhat (SMA) 15.8 miles astern
4. Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ) 19.2 miles astern
5. Morgan Lagravière (Safran) 22.2 miles astern
6. Vincent Riou (PRB) 22.5 miles astern
7. Jean-Pierre Dick (St Michel - Virbac) 25.2 miles astern
8. Yann Eliès (Gueguiner - Leucémie Espoir) 32.8 miles astern
9. Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) 33.3 miles astern