The Transat Saint-Barth - Port-la-Forêt fleet left Gustavia just a week ago, on Sunday 6 December at 15:00 GMT. In the space of seven days, the atmosphere has completely changed on the decks of the seven competing monohulls! The Caribbean heat has gradually given way to the train of lows rolling across the North Atlantic and the solo sailors have had to exchange shorts and T-Shirts for fleeces and foulies. Whilst those favouring a southerly route are enduring their first low and are currently in the teeth of the system with winds of 40 knots, Sébastien has experienced a short period of calm as he approaches the Azores. The only competitor who has managed to hold onto a course further North, the skipper of the Mono60 Edmond de Rothschild is in a solid position at the front of the fleet in this return sprint across the Atlantic. Indeed, lying some 1,200 miles from the finish, he has stretched out a considerable lead, some 383 miles ahead of second placed Paul Meilhat at the 15:00 GMT ranking, and nearly 550 miles in front of Thomas Ruyant, who returned to the top 3 last night.
Transition to the South of the Azores
A week ago, before leaving St Barths, a perfect scenario was taking shape on the Atlantic Ocean with a potential race time bordering on 10 days. However, putting theory into practice is far from easy That said, after a week at sea, Sébastien Josse has amply kept pace with the routing. All's well! It's been calmer for the past few hours, but I held onto the wind for longer than forecast last night. I've been able to slip along with 20 knots of breeze on the beam and flatter seas and that's certainly due to the effect of the archipelago, which is giving me a bit of protection. I will be level with San Miguel by late afternoon. In the meantime, the wind is set to swing round from the North-East to East then to the South-East as it eases. Right now I'm on port tack and when the wind veers round to the East, I'll have to switch onto starboard tack. At that point, I'll begin one long tack to the finish, explained the skipper of Gitana. However, the 1,200 miles still remaining before Sébastien Josse can complete his first solo transatlantic race at the helm of the Mono60 Edmond de Rothschild and hence qualify for the Vendée Globe, promise to be bracing. Indeed, the fleet is set to make it back to Europe and the finish line off Port-la-Forêt, Brittany, on a single tack, pushed along by a new and particularly active low.
A boisterous end to the race
I'm sorry, but I'll be coming with bad weather! joked Sébastien Josse at midday, before describing the conditions expected this evening offshore of the Azores: I'm awaiting a low, which my rivals further South are already in the thick of. I'll be able to catch onto the wind at the leading edge of this system and hold onto it all the way to the finish, but it's going to be tough. After the tack, the wind will continue to clock round, but this time it will build in the process. 6 hours after the tack, I'll have 20 knots, then 25, then 30 knots about ten hours later. The worst of the low will be to the South-West with 35 to 40 knots according to the latest grib files, which is sure to equate to more true wind. The seas will be pretty heavy with a swell of over 5 metres expected. There's no doubt it's going to be lively.
Some 1,200 miles from the finish, and in the Bay of Biscay, whose reputation needs no introduction, the skipper of the Mono60 fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild intends to control his lead and carefully handle his steed.
Ranking on 13 December 15:00 GMT
- Sébastien Josse (Edmond de Rothschild) - 1,171.4 miles from the finish
- Paul Meilhat (SMA) 383.8 miles astern of the leader
- Thomas Ruyant (Le Souffle du Nord) - 545.4 miles back
- Fabrice Amedeo (Newrest-Matmut) 598.4 miles back
- Morgan Lagravière (Safran) 614.5 miles back
- Eric Holden (O Canada) 727.7 miles back
- Enda O'Coineen (Kilcullen Voyager) 739.9 miles back
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!