Madeira in the line of sight
The first forty-eight hours of racing in this Route du Rhum Destination Guadeloupe have been in line with the weather forecasts: namely full-on and wet. Whether it was in the English Channel, during their negotiation of the Bay of Biscay or, more recently, on rounding Cape Finisterre and heading along the Portuguese coast, the solo sailors have had to contend with strong winds and a particularly difficult sea for man and machine alike. However, the exit door isn't very far away now, which Sébastien Josse referred to during the radio link-up at noon. Indeed, the passage around Madeira will mark a change of speed, where the race will be able to fully assert itself once again. The author of a very fine first section of the race, the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild is helming his steed at pace, which means that he has remained in contact with the class' large multihulls in the leading pack. At the 1500 GMT ranking, the trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild was lying in third position some 69 miles shy of the lead.
Sliding under the Anticyclone
Well before leaving Saint Malo, one thing seemed to be a given in the scenario of this 10th edition. Indeed the southerly course, that of the tradewinds, stood out as the obvious choice for the Ultimes. As such, the seven trimarans still competing - Sodebo Ultim' having had to retire following a collision with a cargo ship on the first night - have all dived down the Iberian peninsula and are currently making towards Madeira: “Today's objective was shared by everyone: to gain ground to the South on a course towards Madeira. Given the wind shadows caused by the islands, we aren't likely to see anyone straying off the track on passing the archipelago,” explained Antoine Koch.
Once around the Portuguese archipelago, the Multi70 Edmond de Rothschild and her adversaries won't yet be in the north-easterly breeze characteristic of the tradewinds, but the entrance won't be far off. At that point, we'll see the multihull's course bend round to tackle the Atlantic crossing to the West Indies, along the south-eastern edge of the Anticyclone.
Gearing up for an improvement
Given the conditions encountered during the start to the race, communication between the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild and the shore are limited to the bare essentials. In this way, the boat's call book is primarily composed of the number for HQ in La Rochelle housing Jean-Yves Bernot and Antoine Koch, who provide the weather routing for the trimaran with its five arrows. For the rest of the time, the solo sailor is fully devoted to getting his steed making headway; alternating between the helm and manœuvres and allowing himself a few moments of respite under the cuddy so as to eat and sleep.
However, the virtually monastic' life imposed by the breezy conditions and heavy seas should soon be in Sébastien Josse's wake. The stormy system, with its squalls and instability are over and forgotten are the raging seas and the swell of over 5 metres in which the boat has been quite simply manhandled the passage of the Portuguese archipelago, on tonight's schedule, will mark a change of rhythm: “Conditions will become more manageable over the course of the afternoon. Already, once he is abeam of Cape Saint Vincent, and more so at the latitude of the Straits of Gibraltar, as the sea will become flatter and the wind will gradually become calmer. However, it isn't really until midway through tonight that conditions will be easier to manage At that point, another race could begin,” concluded Antoine Koch.
Extracts from the radio link-up with Sébastien Josse, contacted late morning this Tuesday by Press HQ:
“Things are going pretty well and the big conditions are behind us: we're still inside the system but the way out is imminent. It'll be a welcome change. I'm trying to do what's needed to stay in the match. We'll see how things pan out after that. The conditions continue to be boisterous as we're still in the stormy system with large cumulonimbus, big seas, a 4-metre swell and 30 knots of wind. I'm sailing under three reefs and ORC The protective cuddy in the cockpit has come away but I'll reattach it later on. I'm helming a lot. The next stage will involve getting out of this messy sea! I'm waiting for the wind to lift and ease, then we'll hoist more sail aloft. This morning I'm making the most of the time to get some rest, given that we're sailing downwind: it's more practical than sailing close-hauled.”
Ranking on 4 November at 1500 GMT
- Banque Populaire VII (Loïck Peyron) - 2,778.00 miles from the goal
- Spindrift 2 (Yann Guichard) - 67.14 miles behind the leader
- Edmond de Rothschild (Sébastien Josse) - 69.20 miles behind the leader
- Prince de Bretagne (Lionel Lemonchois) - 115.58 miles back
- Idec Sport (Francis Joyon) - 122.05 miles back
- Paprec recyclage (Yann Elies) - 126.50 miles back
- Musandam Oman Sail (Sidney Gavignet) - 135.54 miles back
Abd - Sodebo Ultim'