Top quality racing
5 days into the B to B Transat between Salvador de Bahia and Port-La-Forêt, Loïck Peyron, skipper of Gitana Eighty, has moved to the head of the fleet and is about to emerge from the doldrums. Travelling at 10 knots in a north-easterly trade wind, the labours of the last 48 hours have borne their fruit and there is fair weather on the horizon once more.

Billed as a qualifying event for the next Vendée Globe, this transatlantic race is unfolding as a top-flight contest. For the moment, the race is being fought out by the various rivals making up the leading group who have opted for either the northern route – like Loïck Peyron – or a more easterly trajectory – the choice made by Michel Desjoyeaux aboard Foncia.

Loïck Peyron commented on the situation in today's radio chat: “The conditions are a dream, just perfect for relaxing after last night, which can only be described as full on! As usual, the doldrums served up its usual cocktail of storms, squalls and windless zones and I was only able to get one or two few-minute bursts of shut-eye. Now I just want to head north as fast as possible and increase the lead over my rivals. I'm really happy with the last 30 hours or so. It's all gone swimmingly and I'm pleased to be negotiating the exit from the doldrums in this position. As expected, the sailing in this return/race is just as intense as in the Transat Jacques Vabre and there are still plenty of miles remaining. Over the days to come, we should be sailing close hauled and things should hopefully be a bit calmer, but vigilance will be my watchword. I've noticed that my pal Michel Desjoyeaux, whom I congratulate by the way on his well-deserved Sailor of the Year award, has plumped for an easterly course. Only time will tell if it's a gamble that pays off.

14:00pm ranking
Rang  Nom du bateau Latitude  Longitude  Vmg  Vit.  Cap  Dist.arrivée  Dist. 1er
1  Gitana Eighty  6 23.00' N  27 58.36' W  9.5  10.0  5    2776.90  0.00
2  Foncia 5 23.48' N  25 58.00' W  7.4  7.5  27  2791.80  14.90
3  Brit'Air  5 49.76' N  27 14.04' W  9.5  9.7 9 2792.40 15.50
4  Generali  5 52.16' N  28 01.36' W  9.7   13.0 339  2806.80  29.80
5  Groupe Bel  5 48.56' N  28 05.32' W 6.2  6.5  4  2811.50  34.60
6  Ecover  5 34.76' N  27 30.00' W 10.3  10.6  33 2812.00  35.10
7 Cheminées Poujoulat 5 23.60' N  27 02.68' W  12.4  12.5  12  2813.10 36.20
8  Safran 6 12.52' N  29 11.52' W  7.2   8.8  347  2813.70 36.70

Reminder of the Gitana Team's final positions in the Transat Jacques Vabre 2007:

Gitana 11 finished second among the 60-foot ORMA multihulls, on Wednesday 14 November at 22 hours 51 minutes 6 seconds (French time) after 10 days 9 hours and 49 minutes and 6 seconds' racing.

Gitana Eighty finished eighth among the 60-foot IMOCA monohulls, on Wednesday 21 November at 21 hours 33 minutes and 55 seconds (French time) after 18 days 7 hours 33 minutes and 55 seconds' racing.

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