Gitana Eighty goes full throttle
With the high emotion of yesterday somewhat dispersed, Loïck Peyron has got back into his rhythm and is hot-footing it towards the coast of Nova Scotia this Wednesday. Less than 550 miles from the finish, the monohull in the colours of the LCF Rothschild Group was in the thick of the action this afternoon. The leader of The Artemis Transat, like his two pursuers, are likely to have to negotiate a fairly deep low, which will provide some lively conditions on the decks of the Imoca monohulls…

Since yesterday evening, Loïck Peyron has been continuing his route towards Boston accompanied by the skipper of PRB, the latter forced to abandon his boat following damage to its keel. Though the situation is proving a little tricky for the skipper of Gitana Eighty, it is just as awkward for his passenger, Vincent Riou, who is trying to organise the salvage operation for his monohull, whilst trying to be as discrete as possible. This current scenario was clearly a rather unlikely one just 24 hours ago, when the two men were battling over first place: “This cohabiting is changing my rhythm and my habits but it is also complicated for Vincent. He had a good night and was very well behaved (laughs from both sailors)! The poor old thing is trying to do as little as possible but I think it's fairly unsettling for him” admitted the skipper of Gitana Eighty, going on to say: “The few hours detour has put me on a slightly more N'ly course than the one I wanted to adopt, but it's not necessarily an issue for the next stage in the game.”

In the middle of the day, the wind was already beginning to fill the sails of Gitana Eighty. 25 knots on the anemometer and rather chaotic seas weren't enough to prevent the most recent of the Gitana fleet from slipping along downwind at over 15 knots: “The wind is really beginning to kick in again and it's coming at us from pretty much every angle. I've put in a reef in the mainsail and I'm under solent. However, with the wind set to fill in, it won't be long before I put in a 2nd reef and then hoist the staysail up forward.” Perfectly controlling his race, the skipper of Gitana Eighty is therefore preparing to reduce the sail area in order to take on the squalls and storms which will accompany the passage of the warm front. At the 1600 UT position report, Loïck Peyron was extending his lead, Armel Le Cléac'h racking up a deficit of 56 miles, and 136 miles for Yann Eliès in 3rd place.

In pole position in The Artemis Transat 2008, Loïck Peyron certainly isn't kicking his heels along the way, instead making good ground towards Nova Scotia. Not far off this Canadian province, the skipper from La Baule on France's Atlantic coast, will initiate his turn towards the finish: “The centre of the low is virtually dead ahead, or even a little further south, so I've ended up staying on a downwind point of sail and I'm slipping along nicely. The idea is to aim for the centre of this low. That should take me close to the coast of Nova Scotia. Once there I'll have to negotiate another depression centre, but it won't be as strong as the current one. There you have the programme for the coming days…” explained Loïck Peyron shortly before 1000 UT this Wednesday.

Tonight, the wind will climb progressively, reaching its height during the passage of the front. The anemometer should then skim 45 knots whilst the wind clocks round from the SW to the W… the whole lot coloured by storms. Work on a deck being constantly awash will provide the setting for this eleventh night at sea for the leading monohulls.

Ranking on 21st May at the 1600 UT position report
1. Gitana Eighty (Loïck Peyron) 550.8 miles from the finish
2. Brit Air (Armel Le Cléac'h) 55.7 miles
3. Generali (Yann Eliès) 136.1 miles
4. Safran (Marc Guillemot) 409.5 miles

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