After a fast stretch over to the Cotentin peninsula (Normandy), both trimarans spent the night tacking upwind and manoeuvring as the squalls came over. By the small hours of the morning, the fleet was close to the coast of Brittany facing a wind veering west. No choice but to get into the race from the word go ! No sooner had the starting shot been fired off the cliffs of Sainte Adresse, than the Orma multis found themselves sprinting off west at more than 30 knots towards Barfleur, then the Raz Blanchard. Luckily, the waves kicked up by the change in tide were not that bad after all. Then came the time to choose the exit route out of the Channel. Thierry Duprey du Vorsent and Erwan Le Roux (Gitana X) opted to tack through the Channel Islands exploiting the wind shifts and the ebbing tide. Frédéric Le Peutrec and Yann Guichard (Gitana 11) preferred to pass on the inside, leaving Guernsey to port before making for Breton coastline.
By 11h00 on Monday morning, Gitana 11 was making way to Camaret via the Four Channel between Ushant and Le Conquet. Frédéric Le Peutrec and Yann Guichard had to sort out a problem with a mainsheet. This pitstop should not last more than an hour which will not have any effect on their race. For Gitana X, the start of this transatlantic race is rather promising as Thierry Duprey du Vorsent and Erwan Le Roux are keeping up with the leaders on a southbound course in the Four Channel to get into the Bay of Biscay as soon as they can. Two other trimarans have suffered damage. Brossard has had to retire due to major damage of the central hull on a level with the mast step. She is heading towards the coast of England at reduced speed. Sodebo has broken her main halyard, forcing her to call in at Cherbourg for three hours.
Monday is likely to be a little easier before a new front arrives on the scene. A cold front associated with a very stiff low. Winds should shift from a 15 knot westerly blow to a 20 knot southerly by the end of the afternoon, veering again violently to a south westerly in excess of 40 knots around midnight. The gradual increase and shift mark the arrival of strong winds in the Bay of Biscay. This particular cold front will give rise to very active squalls and a sharp rotation in wind direction from SW to NW. Precisely the type of conditions multihulls detest – chaotic seas, pyramid waves, cross seas and stiff winds. After picking their way through SW winds with two or three reefs in the main and a small jib upfront, the teams will have to change canvas as they pass Cape Finisterre which is very dangerous indeed – shipping, fishing boats, coastal effects, the swell being compressed over the continental shelf. Conditions are rife for a highly changeable scene at the start of this Jacques Vabre Transat…
60 ft Multihull Rankings - 9h44 (French time) :
1. Orange Project
2. Groupama 2
5. Gitana 11
6. Gitana X
7. TIM Progetto Italia