Route du Rhum : First Multi50 awaited in Guadeloupe on Thursday
mercredi 12 novembre 2014 –
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The race times in this category were exceptional. Following on from the new record set by Loïck Peyron (7 days 15 hours 8 minutes and 32 seconds), all of the other boats crossed the line within 48 hours, with the final boat, Paprec Recyclage coming in after 9 days and 5 hours of racing. These incredible times, comparable to those achieved by the 60-foot Orma trimarans in the 2006 race, are down to weather that favoured high speeds. 85% of their race was carried out downwind, as after just 30 hours of sailing, when they passed Cape Finisterre, the giants in the Route du Rhum Destination Guadeloupe were able to speed along broad reaching. Five of the seven bettered the 2010 winning time of Franck Cammas on Groupama.
The red carpet is now being unrolled on the quayside in Pointe à Pitre for the Multi50s (5 solo sailors are racing in this category). Around lunchtime on Thursday (local time), Erwan Le Roux (FenêtréA-Cardinal) and Lalou Roucayrol (Arkéma Région Aquitaine) will be the first to walk along it. But in what order ? As they approach the French West Indies, the conditions remain rather tricky with occasional squalls lying in wait for the sailors.
Then there is the final 50-mile stretch around the island of Guadeloupe, where we already saw two major upsets occur in the Ultime category. Lalou Roucayrol is only 100 miles behind Erwan, who admits that he is not yet competely safe and that there could still be a nasty surprise…
There was a distinct difference in the consistency of the Trade Winds for different sections of the Class40 fleet over the last night. The leaders have had it tough with many squalls and wind shifts, working extremely hard to make best use of the changes in direction and pressure. Indeed the duelling pair at the top of the standings, Alex Pella and Kito de Pavant individually reported doing 20 gybes or more during the night. Pella still leads but had his vital morning nap cut short by the Media Call from Race HQ in Guadeloupe.
"It is all very good. We had a very strange night with a lot of clouds with very variable conditions, maybe I did 20 or 25 gybes, but now I am more downwind. There was a lot of rain. It was a bit of a tough night. I was trying to get some sleep until you called. But it is good to be ahead, it is really good for the motivation and my morale." Said Pella this morning.
Yannick Bestaven keeps himself in the match having had the best 24-hour run. On the new Tizh 40 which is an evolution of the Tyker 40 which won in 2010 in the hands of Thomas Ruyant, the MiniTransat and 2011 TJV winner Bestaven has made 30 miles back on the leaders and is chasing 20 miles off third placed Thibault Vauchel Camus.
Briton Miranda Merron in eighth this morning was slightly feeling the strain of competition today, wishing she had had more training time on the water, but still happy with her position.
"It is not very windy, 14-15kts but there has been a lot of gybing. That is using up a lot of energy. I am wondering whether to just go in a straight line for a little while. There were times when there was a bit too much wind for the autopilot and I had to bring down the kite. But all is well. I have boats to race around which is good. There have been these clouds and squalls which have affected the guys in front a lot, but we are here, and we will see what happens. "
For Rhum class, today is crucial because a ridge of high pressure has cut the fleet in half ! Behind the untouchable Anne Caseneuve (Aneo) the leaders are already at the latitude of the Canaries but the Azores high pressure is now extending from Morocco and speeds have dropped to less than five knots (sometimes even 1 kt) and the high pressure is still sliding south, extending its tentacles by a further 100 miles and that is going to redistribute some of the cards. Wednesday looked like a key day in the Rhum class.
They said :
Francois Gabart (IMOCA leader Macif) : "The news is sweet, I’m crackng on these last few days, just sliding along nicely. But I am still sailing in the squalls and through the nights I have slalomed between the clouds. The end of yesterday was pleasant with a long swell. The sunset was gorgeous. We are close to the rhumb and it is unlikely we will deviate from that too much. There are shifts and squalls to deal with. I can see the moon all the time and lightning flashes with no thunder and no clouds. I can feel the storms are not far away."
Erwan Le Roux, skipper of the Multi 50 FenêtréA-Cardinal : "The squalls are passing by a little bow, it is more stable now. Im on direct course and under big gennaker and mainsail. My next gybe might be at the end of today. There is still one more full night at seas, arriving early Thuraday. I have no major problems and just stay focused. I’m getting a bit further ahead but you never know."
Alex Pella, ESP, Class 40 leader : "It is all very good. We had a very strange night with a lot of clouds with very variable conditions, maybe I did 20 or 25 gybes, but now I am more downwind. There as a lot of rain. It was a bit of a tough night. I was trying to get some sleep until you called. But it is good to be ahead, it is really good for the motivation and my morale."
Miranda Merron FRA Campagne de France : "It is not very windy, 14-15kts but there has been a lot of gybing. That is using up a lot of energy. I am wondering whether to just go in a straight line for a little while. There were times when there was a bit too much wind for the autopilot and I had to bring down the kite. But all is well. I have boats to race around which is good. There have been these clouds and squalls which have affected the guys in front a lot, but we are here, and we will see what happens. click
Alex Pella is a superb sailor. I said before the start he is my favourite to win. Sorry to the others. Thibaut is a very good sailor with a brand new Mach 40. Kito obviously has done a lot of miles as has Yannick and they are having an excellent race. It is fun for me to watch it on the screen too for me. They are having to work extremely hard.
Halvard is surviving. He and JC got stuck between two clouds and seem to lose the boat in front of them and were caught by the boats behind. So I think they have been working really hard to hold their position. But he is doing better than his last Route du Rhum when his keel fell off. We have no private bet but whoever arrives first will prepare the finish for the other one. I have never managed to beat Halvard to date. If I do, and there are stil 1700 miles to go, then it will be great. But I also have to say that had I the boat that Halvard has with the problems he has had on board, then it is very likely I would have had to retire. I think he is quite tired."