General squashing together and a fresh start at Ushant
Having got off to a fantastic start at the head of the fleet at 12:27 UTC offshore of Le Havre, Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier were leading the race as far as the north-west tip of Brittany. Focused and particularly determined to sail their own race, the duo on the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild linked together a series of manœuvres and sail changes in a bid to get the very best out of the five-arrow giant and sail a faultless passage to exit the English Channel way out at the front of the pack. Despite setting an impressive pace in the opening miles of the race, the sailors from Gitana Team could do nothing against the high pressure blocking the way into the Bay of Biscay. As such, overnight, as they rounded Ushant, the five Ultimes were within sight of one another, ready for a fresh start!
Showtime in Normandy

With a favourable NW’ly wind of between 15 and 20 knots and the perfect course orientation to express the true power of their machines, the seventy-nine duos in the Transat Jacques Vabre 2021 had a tremendous time out on the stretch of water flanking Normandy. Leading the way, Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier took off at high speed, completing the fifteen or so miles that made up the coastal course in 30 minutes, bound for the Antifer headland and then the cliffs of Etretat.

Current and light airs

Setting sail from Le Havre yesterday at 12:27 UTC, the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild made an efficient and relatively swift exit from the Channel on a beat with their sheets cracked off slightly. However, the pace set by Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier in the first few hours of the race was not enough to enable them to slide under the high pressure and be first to dive down into the Bay of Biscay. Indeed, light winds quickly enveloped the tip of Brittany causing the 32-metre to stall dramatically. On the inside track at Ushant at around 01:00 UTC last night, the crew on the latest addition to the Gitana fleet even had to revise its plans after initially intending to make for Fromveur, a narrow passage famed for its strong currents between the archipelago of Molène and Ushant. However, the maxi-trimaran came up hard against the tide and with little to no breeze it was an impossible mission… The decision was quickly made to head up around the north of Ushant instead. Of the five giants, the crew on Banque Populaire was the only one not to follow this trajectory, opting instead to gamble on an inshore route along the coast of Finistère. Naturally it will be worth keeping an eye on this interesting option over the coming hours!

For the five Ultime crews, the name of the game today is clear, even though the course to get there is a little less obvious. The idea is to gain as much headway to the south-west and Cape Finisterre as fast as possible without getting caught in the clutches of the high pressure. At the north-west tip of Spain, the promise of a steadier breeze awaits the sailors in the Transat Jacques Vabre.

Positions on Monday 8 November at 07:00 UTC

1.     SVR Lazartigue (F. Gabart / T. Laperche)
2.     Sodebo (T. Coville / T.Rouxel)  + 0.4 miles
3.     Maxi Edmond de Rothschild (F. Cammas / C. Caudrelier) + 1.4 miles
4.     Actual (Y. Le Blevec / A. Marchand) + 2.3 miles
5.     Banque Populaire XI ( A. Le Cléac’h / K. Escoffier) + 10.3 miles

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