Off to windy start
A windy start indeed with 26 knots of S/SW wind at 15h00 today – one hour later Frédéric Le Peutrec and Yann Guichard leading the fleet, with Gitana X 9th ahead of Banque Populaire.

The ten strong ORMA trimaran fleet will have a rough ride out of the English Channel  for the start to this Jacques Vabre 2005 yacht race. The fleet set out towards Cotentin peninsula where a cold front will kick up winds of more than 40 knots ! Just after crossing the starting line, the multihulls were already topping speeds of more than 32 knots !

All fired up and ready to go, no choice but to get on with it. The trimarans are being « de-channeled », squeezed out of the funnel between France and England. Effects of the tide are still strong, the waves are powerful, breezes fickle to say the least as squalls pass overhead, not to mention the danger represented by the coast, shipping and fishing vessels. And the opponents of course. Keeping watch is essential. The whole fleet is experiencing a sea state which will continue to worsen as the two-handed crews sail down to Brittany. It is wet out there and the guys are being shaken about. Lots to keep them busy too with manoeuvres necessary to make sure they are correctly canvassed, winds changing from 25-30 knots to more than 40 knots. One reef in the main, then two, a staysail up front then a jib for stronger wind. Thierry Duprey du Vorsent & Erwan Le Roux (Gitana X) and Frédéric Le Peutrec & Yann Guichard (Gitana 11) need to be in great shape – the first miles are so important. Not only psychologically to be well-positioned in and up with the leaders, but also from a tactical point of view. Weather forecasts could not be clearer the leaders will always be advantaged and their advantage will continue to develop favourably as they will shake themselves free of tricky situations that much earlier than those further downfield. The accordion effect will be making itself felt over the first few days and is not set to change until the fleet reaches the Canary Islands, or perhaps not before the Doldrums…


Following the first blow off Cherbourg in a wind increasing to more than 35 knots, the trimarans will have to cope with a shift West, decreasing never the less to 15-20 knots. For the time being the choice boils down to either heading NW to Land's End or hugging the coast of Brittany and being sheltered from the rough seas also sticking to a direct course. First dilemma, first option in the approach to the Atlantic for dayrise on Monday. Once that is over and done with, a new low  will force the sailors into having to make yet another strategical choice – head west to try and get ahead of the perturbation and be the first to latch onto the rotation of the wind  NW, or dive south for less wind, less sea and stay closer to the direct course down to Cape Finisterre. And between either extreme, there are a whole range of possibilities down to Madeira…

Rankings at 16H00 :

Gitana 11 – Frédéric Le Peutrec / Yann Guichard
Foncia – Armel Le Cleac'h / Damian Foxall
Géant – Michel Desjoyeaux / Hugues Destremeau
Groupama 2 – Franck Cammas / Franck Proffit
Tim – Giovanni Soldini / Vittorio Malingri
Sodebo – Thomas Coville / Jacques Vincent
Brossard – Yvan Brossard / Charles Caudrelier
Orange Project – Stève Ravussin / Yvan Ravussin
Gitana X – Thierry Duprey du Vorsent / Erwan Le Roux
Banque Populaire - Pascal Bidégorry / Lionel Lemonchois

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