While the three Multi50s and top eleven IMOCA fly in the trade winds off the Canary Islands, those trailing and the first Class40s are either approaching or in the area of high pressure. After a pause yesterday, the gaps will go back to increasing again throughout the day before stabilising tomorrow when the entire fleet will sail in the same weather system.
For the Class40s, this weekend also see the end of a stretch of upwind sailing that has lasted more than five days. They can put their tee-shirts on, watch the stars and be pushed by the elements; act 2 of this 14th Route de Café begins.
One westerner was celebrating this morning. Nothing is ever lost or gained in offshore racing. The northern and western gap that had seen Crédit Mutuel between fifth and tenth place in recent days is now paying off. Yesterday, Ian Lipinski and Adrien Hardy were in overdrive on their brand new rounded bow Class40. They were exactly one knot faster (10%!) than Aïna Enfance and Avenir, and took the lead this morning, much to their enjoyment: "We’ve probably a little more wind and freedom in our trajectory,” Hardy said. “Our shift (west) was a long-term investment. It’s a good result, but above all now a whole other route begins, it’s the end of one section, the beginning of another. We’ll finally be sailing with the nose out (of the water), with the elements, it's much more fun!”
But Goodchild also made up ground on Aïnaand was just 2.8 miles behind at the 09:00 UTC.
Like everyone at the front of the Class40 fleet, Crédit Mutuel will start to slow down at the end of the day as they approach the high-pressure system, but should be back in the tradewinds probably tomorrow night. The whole question is whether the scenario currently unfolding for the IMOCA will be duplicated. For the Class40 too, the lateral shift is important: more than 160 miles separate Credit Mutuel and Crosscall Chamonix Mont Blanc, the most easterly Class40 who’s sailing on a similar track to Made In Midi.
The six IMOCA who had attempted the western option entered the ridge of high pressure last night. When they leave this afternoon or in the evening, the entire fleet will finally be sailing in the same weather system after the huge gap during the first six days. And contrary to what you would think yesterday given the weather files, the westerners, Maître CoQ IV particularly, looked much less sluggish in the high pressure this morning, but all are dropping into single figures now. There looks like being a general regroupment with the boats led by Groupe Sétinnorth of Madeira, where we also find Time for Oceans, La Fabrique, La Mie Câline Artisans Artipôle and Campagne de France. Like a new beginning. At the end of the high pressure ridge, their gap to the leading pack should be around 300 miles, but there will a contest to the end and quite a lot of changes in rankings to come between the fifth and twentieth place.
At the front, the leaders are in the trade winds, which has decreased a little but still remain well settled off the Canaries. Charal continues to stretch a little from Apiviaand both are detached from their direct pursuers. Charal seems to have a clear advantage in speed as evidenced by the spectacular overtaking of Apiviasent by Yann Eliès in a video yesterday. Jérémie Beyou and Christopher Pratt are not sparing their foils or their energy, with multiple manoeuvres helping them angle to the southwest, well aware that the order of entry into the Doldrums next week is decided by each shift. Less dominant upwind along the coast of Portugal, they now seem a step up from their competitors and are making their foiling choices talk.
Image: IMOCA: Charal on the charge, regrouping behind