The noose is tightening
Whilst the solo sailors in The Artemis Transat 2008 attack their 9th day at sea, over the next few hours the leading Imoca monohulls will pass under the 1,100 miles to go barrier, which separates them from the finish. Benefiting from a new zone of light winds, now in its wake, Gitana Eighty has closed on PRB, the latter still leading at the 1400 UT ranking.

The sailors in the leading group have once again had to work their way through light airs in order to cross a ridge of high pressure from the Azores High and positioned over the route to the ice gate. However, after a morning coloured by light conditions, a welcome breeze returned to the race zone, as Gitana Eighty's boat speed has born witness since the start of the afternoon: “We've just got going again! However, conditions are still quite incredible… It's calm with a tempest of blue and 30°C on the deck of Gitana Eighty: you could also imagine you were in the Mediterranean. I've never experienced that in my previous four participations… I've never done this transatlantic race in swimming trunks before, particularly to the south of Newfoundland. All in all, our ice gate is appropriately named as, once you go through it, you're certain not to see any!”

The ice gate was added to the course for safety reasons by the race organisation, so as to distance the sailors from the numerous icebergs indicated to the south of the banks of Newfoundland. As a reminder, it is situated at 40° North and between 47 and 50° West. In order to respect this course mark, the sailors may choose to leave it to their north or cross it at one given point at least.

However, the light conditions encountered by the top trio have been far from relaxing, as they're already beginning to feel the effects of the next low, which is kicking up choppy seas: “The seas in which we're currently sailing aren't making our task any easier. This chaotic sea is testing for the gear, particularly given the slow speeds we've been racking up over the past few hours. It's not easy for the helmsman either" confirmed the skipper of Gitana Eighty.

Still in 2nd place at the 1400 UT ranking, Loïck Peyron was nonetheless managing to snatch back some precious miles from the leader. Positioned 31 miles astern of PRB last night, Gitana Eighty had closed the deficit to 24 miles this morning and just 15 miles midway through this afternoon: “this light weather is slightly inconvenient, but it's important for tightening the noose on the leader!” confided the sailor from La Baule on France's Atlantic coast at the start of the afternoon.

Now on port tack bound for the ice gate, the fleet is preparing for the wind to freshen this evening. Indeed, the protagonists in The Artemis Transat 2008 will have to weather another front with gusts of over 35 knots expected.

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