Sailing head to wind can sometimes be fun but never that much fun for long. It is even less pleasant when the sea is short, the wind is steady and the sea freezing cold. Frédéric Le Peutrec and Yann Guichard have nothing to complain about on that score. It's the opposite really. They are in stifling equatorial heat which also takes its toll on one's physical shape. The trimaran is pile driving through the ocean, the rig shudders each time the boat comes into contact with the sea and the guys on board have to resist the shock as each wave sweeps past, sending packets of spray across the deck, further marking the expressions on already salt-stained faces. Not to mention the flying fish whistling past the helmsman! An idyllic décor under the tropics but another kettle of fish for those in the full throes of a yacht race.
Gitana 11 did not manage to gain ground on the leader Banque Populaire overnight as the pair Bidégorry-Lemonchois used the situation to their advantage to offset their position ahead of Frédéric Le Peutrec and Yann Guichard. The difference in relation to Ascension Island is not that great, just 60 miles or so, but it is going to be tough to make up that loss before reaching the famous island. Afterwards, there remain some 1400 miles to run downwind, a fast point of sail and one which suits the blue trimaran. On the other hand, Géant has once again lost ground on Gitana 11 which is still reaping the benefits of her easterly option.
As for Gitana X, the situation is altogether different. Thierry Duprey du Vorsent and Erwan Le Roux are not hoping for one thing, the chance to sail upwind. Paradoxical ! Since Tuesday evening, they've been stuck in a zone which is rather too calm for their liking since reaching the Doldrums. That said, they are still making good speed and should never the less be out of trouble as it were by the end of Wednesday afternoon. Gitana X has hugged the coast of Africa since stopping in the Canary Islands but will never the less have managed to gain a hundred miles on the leading threesome!
Frédéric Le Peutrec (Gitana 11) at midday on Wednesday:
« As you can no doubt imagine, we're close-hauled! It makes for a rough ride but we're doing our best not to stress the gear and not push the boat too hard. We've got between 18 to 22 knots and choppy seas. Time to keep a low profile, not push your luck and try to sleep as the end of the race is likely to be pretty lively. After the long climb up to Ascension Island, it is now time to start the long slide downwards towards Bahia. There are two gybes to come and one or two possibilities to do something smart in the last couple of hundred miles.
If everything goes as expected, Banque Populaire should pass the island roughly five hours head of the rest of the fleet and we will be sailing within sight of Géant. »