Sébastien Josse: Conditions will become tougher.
After nearly three days' racing, the Mono60 Edmond de Rothschild has confirmed its position in the top trio in the Transat New York Vendée (Les Sables d'Olonne). The skipper has made up ground on leader Alex Thomson, who is now just 25 miles ahead of Gitana 16, whilst Jérémie Beyou, in second place, is sailing midway between the two, sailing a fairly similar course to that of Sébastien Josse. However, these three rivals have managed to stretch away from their pursuers. Fourth placed SMA is currently making headway some 100 miles shy of the head of the fleet.
The skipper of the boat fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild is managing to keep on the pace despite life aboard being very uncomfortable. The monohull is making headway in 25 knots of breeze, bouncing noisily across the sea with a degree of violence that is inevitably setting the nerves on edge. However, it's the same atmosphere for all the skipper's closest rivals, who are sailing in similar conditions. Sébastien Josse is making his way across the Atlantic in what he refers to as conservative fashion, making headway with caution, whilst keeping a watchful eye over the Mono60 Edmond de Rothschild.
Whilst the solo sailors try to carve out a passage between the Azores High to the South and a zone of low pressure to the North, Gitana 16 gybed at midday in order to hunt down wind closer to the centre of the low. The pace is quicker and more bearable too, but the sailor is preparing to contend with very sustained breeze tonight: We have 25 knots of wind and just recently we've been accompanied by a 2.5-metre running swell. Such conditions are more favourable for slipping along, which will come as welcome relief because, up till now, it's been really very difficult to sleep given how much the boat has been slamming. This lunchtime we put in a gybe at virtually the same time (the three lead boats) and for the next 500 miles we have more of the same. We're targeting the centre of the low. Conditions will become tougher over the course of the day and the wind will really pick up this evening. Everything's shipshape in readiness for the storm! he admitted this afternoon.
Indeed, the WSW'ly wind of 22-28 knots has gradually shifted round to the West, before clocking round to the WNW as it builds to an average of 28-32 knots, gusting to over 35 knots over the course of the day on 2 June. On top of that, the iceberg exclusion zone under Newfoundland is within close proximity and must be avoided. As such, this tricky section promises to be very important for the next stage of the race. The skippers will have to manoeuvre well and manage the equipment and the physical stresses, which isn't always easy on these increasingly extreme machines.
Transat New York - Vendée, position report on Wednesday 1 June at 15:15 GMT
1 - Alex Thomson - Hugo Boss (UK) 2,063.6 miles from the finish
2 - Jérémie Beyou - Maitre Coq (France) 17.9 miles behind the leader
3 - Sébastien Josse - Edmond de Rothschild (France) 25.5 miles back
4 - Paul Meilhat - SMA (France) 99.9 miles back
5 - Vincent Riou - PRB (France) 129.8 miles back
6 - Tanguy de Lamotte - Initiatives Cœur (France) 149.5 miles back
7 - Kojiro Shiraishi - Spirit of Yukoh (Japon) 206.2 miles back
8 - Fabrice Amedeo - Newrest Matmut (France) 238 miles back
9 - Conrad Colman - 100% Natural Energy (New Zealand - USA) 868.5 miles back
10 - Jean-Pierre Dick - St Michel-Virbac (France) 869.8 miles back
11 - Yann Eliès - Queguiner-Leucemie Espoir (France) 875.1 miles back
12 - Pieter Heerema - No Way Back (Holland) 901 miles back
13 - Morgan Lagravière - Safran (France) 928.6 miles back
Retirement - Armel Le Cléac'h - Banque Populaire VIII