Leading the way in the tradewinds
After setting sail from Gustavia yesterday afternoon (15:00 GMT), the Transat Saint-Barth - Port-la-Forêt fleet has set a course northwards to initiate its negotiation of the Azores High and hook onto a train of Atlantic lows, a change of system synonymous with a veritable launch pad on the route home. After a lively start in squalls that are so characteristic of the West Indies at this time of year, the six solo sailors* have managed to gently find their feet in this race thanks to a steady tradewind. Aboard the Mono60 Edmond de Rothschild, Sébastien Josse is firing on all cylinders, leading the way from the opening miles of the race. At the 16:00 GMT ranking, the most recent addition to the Gitana fleet has got a slight edge of 5.5 miles over SMA and over 31.8 miles in relation to Safran, respectively second and third after a little over 24 hours at sea.
Lively start amidst the squalls
During kick-off, the atmosphere offshore of the marina in Gustavia yesterday was somewhat bracing. With an average of 15-20 knots freshening to around 25 in the numerous squalls sprawled across the start zone in big seas suffice to say that it was quite a spectacle, with some sublime contrasts to bid the six solo sailors a fond farewell before their North Atlantic sprint. In these conditions Paul Meilhat got off to the best start followed very closely by Sébastien Josse. Indeed, the skipper of the Mono60 Edmond de Rothschild quickly gained the upper hand during the first few miles as the fleet headed towards St Martin and Anguilla. After a first night influenced by a steady tradewind, the pace dropped off a tad on the decks of the 60-foot monohulls from late morning and Sébastien Josse and his rivals were threading their way along, beam onto the wind at around 11-13 knots midway through the afternoon; conditions which remain somewhat pressured in solo configuration given the significant amount of trimming and the finesse and concentration required for piloting.
North vs South
Though the course for this Transat Saint-Barth - Port-la-Forêt is all mapped out, the quickest route in which to complete it is far from obvious. Indeed, as Sébastien Josse explained to us yesterday before casting off, the weather models are not in agreement and there are two very different major routes possible. In practical terms, the CEP model (European) indicates a course further to the South whilst the GFS (American model) predicts a passage a lot further North. In this way, the sailors will have to make a choice once they've negotiated the ridge of high pressure. Indeed, for the time being, it is this phenomenon that is of particular interest to the six competing solo sailors. In the coming hours, the wind is set to ease, with 10 knots or more becoming a rarity and the speeds observed at the 16:00 GMT ranking confirm this trend.
Ranking at 16:00 GMT - D+1
- Sébastien Josse (Edmond de Rothschild) 3,073 miles from the finish
- Paul Meilhat (SMA) 5.5 miles behind the leader
- Morgan Lagravière (Safran) 31.8 miles back
- Thomas Ruyant (Le Souffle du Nord) - 37.1 miles back
- Fabrice Amedeo (Newrest-Matmut) - 42.2 miles back
- Eric Holden (O Canada) 66.2 miles back
- Enda O'Coineen (Kilcullen Voyager) not polled
Gitana is placing at your disposal a cartography that is dedicated to following this transatlantic race: http://gitana-team.geovoile.com/saintbarthportlaforet/2015/. The positions of Edmond de Rothschild and its six rivals will be updated every hour. However, a position blackout will be observed between 22:00 and 04:00 GMT to let the strategic play have free rein!
* Seven sailors are competing in this Transat Saint-Barth - Port-la-Forêt. However, a few hours before the start, the Irish racer, Enda O'Coineen discovered a few engine issues aboard the 60-footer Currency House Kilcullena. His shore crew are pulling out all the stops so he can set sail from St Barths as soon as possible and thus follow the course traced by the six other sailors already on the racetrack.