Despite the latitudes, the SE’ly tradewind glide has temporarily been replaced as they pass through a front which is blocking the path to Guadeloupe and Pointe-à-Pitre for the solo sailors in the Ultimate class. However, rest assured that this phenomenon, stemming from a stormy low, will soon be in the wake of the maxi-trimarans, who will see the gradual re-establishing of the tradewind air flow from this afternoon.
After over 1,500 miles of velocity made good, Gitana 11 and Idec have been marking each other since yesterday afternoon, which we can testify to given the very different trajectories. Indeed the two sailors haven’t opted for the same logic in approaching the front, which is taking shape ahead of them.
Whilst Francis Joyon is favouring speed on a reach at 34° North, Yann Guichard is on an upwind tack at 32° North, a choice which is certainly forcing him to sail closer on the wind, but is also enabling him to display a better heading than his adversaries this morning. In such route options, you have to look at the intelligence of the sailors and their respective onshore routing teams: “each of them chose the route which is best suited to the characteristics of their boat. We are each very different from the others, so it’s not surprising that we’re not hunting down the same weather conditions” indicated Sylvain Mondon, Gitana Team’s meteorologist, before going on to explain the short term strategy set up with Yann Guichard to best negotiate this tricky zone: “We’ve opted to pass through the front further to the South so as to have less breeze than Idec, both on the way in and the way out of the phenomenon.”
In practice, on the race zone, this passage through the front translates into a freshening wind. In this way, the wind has been progressively clocking round to the right since yesterday, switching from SE to S then the SW this morning. Throughout this rotation, it has been rising in a crescendo: reaching around ten knots yesterday and then, shortly after 0400 hours this morning, pumping out close to 20 knots… and it’s not over yet. Indeed for Yann Guichard and Gitana 11, the strongest wind is expected during the actual passage through the front, which it is reckoned will take place at around 0900 hours GMT this Friday morning. The anemometer should then record an average speed of between 23 and 25 knots, gusting to as much as 30 knots potentially. Aboard the 23.50 metre maxi-trimaran, Yann Guichard is preparing to encounter rough to heavy seas. As such the ride over the next few hours won’t be the most comfortable of sensations and the speeds are likely to drop off considerably. However, the skipper of Gitana Team is on the attack and he’s racked up a good stock of sleep in preparation for the future headsail changes and reef taking!
Ranking for the Ultimate Category on 5th November at 0400 hours
1- Groupama 3 some 1,574.5 miles from the finish
2- Sodebo 297.5 miles from the leader
3- Idec 341.2 miles astern
4- Gitana 11 some 347.6 miles astern
5- La Boite à Pizza 792.7 miles astern
6- Défi Cancale 1016.1 miles astern
7- Saint-Malo 2015 some 1073.6 miles astern
Retirement- Côte d'Or II
Retirement- Oman Air Majan