Hunting down the tradewinds
Not all those competing in the Ultime category are in the same playing field. Though technically speaking this has been the case since Saint Malo, as it is an Open class with some boats up to double the length of others, yesterday’s performances were essentially linked to the weather. Indeed, a zone of light winds caused by the Azores High stretching out to the south-east has reshuffled the cards after the passage of Madeira. Solely the leader - Banque Populaire VII-, benefiting from its position at the head of the fleet, has been able to thread its way along and escape unscathed from this weak zone, which has slowed the progress of the other trimarans in their conquest of the west. Over the past 24 hours, Sébastien Josse has not spared any effort, multiplying the gybes in the squalls in order to extract himself from this shifty air flow and finally make it into the tradewind system. However, since mid-morning, the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild has been once again hitting speeds in excess of 20 knots, switching to pilot mode in the tradewinds.
Butterfly effect

Small differences and sizeable consequences! This handful of words sums up the scenario which played out yesterday after the passage around the Portuguese archipelago. Indeed the zone of light airs, lying ahead of the bows of six of the seven competitors in the Ultime class, has left its mark on the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe ranking. Similarly, it has played on the nerves of the solo sailors by only releasing them from its clutches in dribs and drabs: “The situation was complicated last night as the transition zone ended up moving forward with them. The exit was really close, less than 20 miles in fact, but Sébastien was chasing after it the whole night, with a lot of manoeuvres in the numerous squalls. Lionel Lemonchois managed to latch onto a small vein of breeze but Sébastien, who crossed just a matter of miles astern of him, had very different conditions. That’s how the weather pans out sometimes! You have to know how to remain philosophical and patient. There is still a long way to go and we still have some moves up our sleeves right the way to the finish,” pointed out Antoine Koch, one of the routers for the Multi70 Edmond de Rothschild. 

Slipping along at last

Since leaving Saint Malo some four days ago, conversations with Sébastien Josse had been rare and brief, kept down to the bare essentials. This afternoon, whilst the Multi70 Edmond de Rothschild was slipping along downwind, her skipper was able to take a little time out from his boat to share with us how life is aboard the Multi70: “Things are cool here!” gushed the solo sailor who sounded in great shape as he painted us his picture of the Route du Rhum: “The setting around me has changed a great deal. Last night, I was sailing through squalls with rain and virtually no wind. Now though, the wind has finally kicked back in and I’m making headway in the right direction, bound for Guadeloupe. The boat is slipping along nicely and another race has begun. We have glorious blue skies, the seas are ordered and the temperatures are already a lot nicer at 23° to 25°C. This morning, I was able to put on fresh clothes and have a bit of a wash… the first since the start. However, we’re making fast headway so foulies are still par for the course.”

Sébastien snapped up this opportunity to pass on a message to Julien Gatillon, the chef of the gastronomic restaurant, the 1920 (Domaine du Mont d’Arbois), which has specially created a set of vacuum-packed dishes for his crossing: “With regards food, anything better would be improper. I’m not likely to lose any weight on this transatlantic! Julien’s dishes are delicious… with my current preference being the fruit cake and the lamb stew.”

Though spirits are high, the numbers are significant. Indeed, the Multi70 Edmond de Rothschild has a deficit in relation to the leader of over 400 miles and around a hundred in relation to Prince de Bretagne, currently lying in 3rd. At the 1700 GMT position report, everyone, with the exception of Paprec Recyclage, appeared to have shaken off this transition zone and was finally sailing in a steadier north-easterly breeze. The racing can reassert itself.


Ranking on 6 November at 1700 GMT
  1. Banque Populaire VII (Loïck Peyron) – 1,691.3 miles from the goal
  2. Spindrift 2 (Yann Guichard) – 168.4 miles back
  3. Prince de Bretagne (Lionel Lemonchois) – 296.8 miles back
  4. Edmond de Rothschild (Sébastien Josse) – 405.5 miles back
  5. Idec Sport (Francis Joyon) – 432.7 miles back
  6. Musandam Oman Sail (Sidney Gavignet) – 455.3 miles back
  7. Paprec Recyclage (Yann Elies) – 608.7 miles back

Abd – Sodebo Ultim’


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