Honey moon
It is now Lionel Lemonchois' last day before landing in Guadeloupe: Gitana 11 strengthened her lead during the night over her closest pursuer, Pascal Bidégorry. The finish at Pointe à Pitre is now anticipated for sunrise on Monday in the Antilles. As for Thierry Duprey du Vorsent, he is maintaining a good pace in a weakening and unstable northeast trade wind.

A full moon and still full value for his lead: Lionel Lemonchois has not let his pace or his guard drop. On the contrary, he has gained about fifty miles over Pascal Bidégorry, who has endured either gennaker problems or a less cooperative trade wind. The upshot of all this is that Gitana 11 has less than 450 miles to go to the finish at Pointe à Pitre, a sufficient margin (170 miles) to be able to sail in all serenity while checking the condition of the trimaran. There are no surprises on the cards for this last day of sailing on Sunday, courtesy of an east to north-easterly wind which is enabling Lionel Lemonchois to take an almost direct course towards the Pointe de la Vigie (the northernmost tip of Grand Terre) and to set about rounding Guadeloupe in full possession of his resources. Still with an average speed of over twenty-five knots, the blue trimaran should be able to keep up her pace over the last part of the course and can expect to complete the crossing in a record eight days! That's an average speed of almost 18.5 knots over the entire (orthodromic) route…

Lionel Lemonchois (Gitana 11) at 05:00 UT:

It's fantastic, magical even! The trade winds, a clear sky, full moon, tropical temperature, fifteen knots' breeze, the boat fixed between 20 and 30 knots… Who could ask for more? I'm 400 miles away from the northwest tip of Guadeloupe. But the unexpected can happen any time, so I'm being careful not to push too hard… But she's going on her own at the moment, 25-26 knots and I've had a job slowing down! I'm constantly playing around with the “zapper” (automatic pilot remote control) so as not to go too fast. I need to be patient now as it's going to be a long day! There are no weather surprises in store between here and the island: the wind's going to hold and maybe even get stronger with perhaps a small rotation towards the northeast. It may be necessary to plan a gybe to realign with the route.

I think Pascal (Bidégorry) had a few problems during the night. It's not normal for me to manage to get so far ahead of him in such a short space of time. He's sailing closer into the wind and slower, which suggests that what hindered us for a while on the last Transat Jacques Vabre has happened to him: he might have broken his gennaker halyard and it's not that easy to repair it all alone… I might be wrong, but I can't think of any other explanation. It's just not like Pascal to give up and fade away, especially at the end of the race! All being well, it's looking like I'll arrive on Monday… in time for breakfast! In any case, Gitana 11 is in perfect shape and so is her skipper…”

Thierry Duprey du Vorsent will enter the final third of the course this Sunday afternoon, but Gitana 12 was far from making hay last night: after getting a brief taste of the trade winds, the breeze went AWOL under black clouds creating windless zones alternating with incessant changes in wind direction. The white trimaran is in perfect nick but its skipper is growing increasingly tired due to the unstable conditions seen over the past two days, as Thierry is being kept constantly on his toes by having to adapt the sails and his course according to these weather variations.

Thierry Duprey du Vorsent (Gitana 12) at 06:00 UT:

“I've got mainsail and gennaker up but the wind keeps turning in all directions! I'm under a black cloud which has pumped up all the air … Having said that, Saturday was a good day: the breeze was 15-20 north-easterly, sometimes even east or southeast. I was able to take the direct route by hugging the ridge of high pressure. Since the start of the night, there have been cloudy spells which have turned everything on its head… In terms of physical condition, I'm ok but I need to sleep! I'm suffering from sleep deprivation but with these unstable conditions, it isn't really possible to rest… You have to keep adjusting all the time. But this first solo experience has been amazing! Yesterday was great: I felt like I was in the trade winds with sun, heat, and a nice breeze… All that was missing were the flying fish. And tonight, it's a full moon: it comes up while the sun is still there and when it goes down, the sun rises! It's day practically all the time… On the technical side, things are going well onboard Gitana 12, who is running like a dream, with no technical problems at all.”  

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