Exit from the squalls
Less than 900 miles from the finish, in what is still a highly unstable weather context over the arc of the West Indies, Yann Guichard is still going all out despite the 230 miles which still separate him from his closest rival. After a week of sailing and a fatigue synonymous with the past intense days spent racing across the Atlantic, the skipper of Gitana 11 fully intends to savour what is likely to be the final forty-eight hours of racing prior to the finish.

Unquestionably a sailor can do little at the whim of the wind gods. Making reduced speed throughout Thursday due to the passage of a seemingly endless front, Yann Guichard and Gitana 11 also experienced a dip in pace yesterday afternoon as they traversed a vast zone of stormy squalls which are circling the edge of a zone of calms: “I must have traversed fifteen squalls since this morning, five of which were rather violent and under which the wind increased to up to 45 knots in the gusts. The worst of it though is that between each squall there was a total lack of wind. All of a sudden I found myself hoping for squalls and actually hunting them down!” admitted the skipper of Gitana Team at the end of yesterday afternoon.

In this way a good part of Yann Guichard’s seventh day at sea was spent in look-out mode. Indeed, in these particularly unstable zones, where the phenomena form but above all often develop too quickly or too locally for the satellites to decipher their secrets, only local observation enables the precious information to be revealed. This is why, for hours on end, the skipper of Gitana 11 was constantly describing the situation to Sylvain Mondon, his onshore router based in Toulouse. “The focus of Yann’s difficulty has been getting from one squall to the next to retain the minimum amount of wind and make headway as best he can towards the finish. This zone of squalls, associated with a zone of calms, was very extensive. And though Gitana 11 has traversed the zone for over 550 miles to get out of it, it’s worth knowing that it was a lot vaster than that. In fact, Thomas Coville, situated 700 miles to our West, has also had to deal with the cloud masses stemming from this phenomenon” explained the engineer from Météo France.

From this morning, the trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild should benefit from prevailing S’ly winds, kicking out around 10 knots of breeze… perhaps more, perhaps less: indeed that is the main question of the day as it’s the degree of intensity of this air flow which will dictate Gitana 11’s progress and that of his direct rival, Francis Joyon, this Monday. In these rather light conditions, Yann Guichard knows that he has a card up his sleeve given that his multihull is geared up for just that. This will be especially true given that this pattern of wind is set to last until the finish…

Franck Cammas bound for a title?

Positioned some 300 miles from the finish, Franck Cammas should logically take victory in this Route du Rhum – La Banque Postale 2010. According to the latest estimates, the skipper of Groupama 3 is expected to reach the finish over the course of tonight and Tuesday morning European time. The evening will only just be beginning on the other side of the Atlantic in Pointe-à-Pitre, where there is a 5 hour time difference with French time. However, prior to savouring the delights of a first victory in this legendary transatlantic, the skipper from Aix-en-Provence will have to get around the island. This 54 mile anti-clockwise tour will take him along the coast of Guadeloupe. This finish is always a moment which is greatly feared by sailors, both as a result of the proximity of the shores and the tendency for difficult weather conditions.

Ranking for the Ultimate Category on 8th November at 0300 GMT
1- Groupama 3 at 318.2 miles from the finish
2- Sodebo 302.6 miles astern
3- Idec 355 miles astern
4- Gitana 11 580 miles astern
5- Saint-Malo 2015 some 1,510.7 miles astern
6- Défi Cancale 1,518.9 miles
Not positioned - La Boite à Pizza
Retirement- Côte d'Or II
Retirement- Oman Air Majan
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