25 knots, 28 knots, 30 knots, 33 knots… the speedos are going crazy ! After a start in a moderate westerly breeze, the wind gradually veered east, gaining in strength from 15 to 20 knots. As the fleet closed in on the coast of Spain in the small hours this morning , the Venturi effect increased the wind still further to some 25-30 knots.
Erwan Le Roux on board Gitana X : « We are off the coast of La Corogne after having spent a great first night flying along with mainsail and gennaker up. After Groix, the wind turned gradually northwards before strengthening and veering east. We have overtaken Michel Desjoyeaux who overtook us afterwards but then we closed in on the fleet leaders. Before nightfall, we saw Franck Cammas hoisting his gennaker. Wind strength is picking up a little as we approach Cape Finisterre and boat speed is not far off thirty knots, in an easterly wind of 25 to 28 knots. We are pleased to be where we are just fifteen miles behind Michel Desjoyeaux who we overtook on Sunday evening. We have opted for a slightly more westerly course than the leaders, which is causing us to lose a little ground with regard to the distance to the finish. But we have made the decision not to hug the coast to be better placed when the wind shifts. AT the start of the afternoon, the wind is forecast to lighten, veering SE. Everything is fine on board. We have three guys up on deck and three off watch. »
A favourable situation for Thierry Duprey du Vorsent and his crew, who have succeeded in keeping up with the fast pace set by the leaders as soon as the starting shot was fired on Sunday afternoon. Gitana 11 was in an excellent situation before daybreak today. Frédéric Le Peutrec and his crew were progressing at almost 30 knots some 70 miles from Cape Finisterre which they should see very shortly. We haven't been able to contact the guys on board to have further information.
Around midday today, the weather should be changing very rapidly. An albeit sluggish low pressure system is slowly making its way towards the coast of Spain giving rise to southerly winds. Wind speeds are therefore likely to fall off quite perceptibly and the crews will have to start making their first tactical choices. Should they head out to sea a little (30 miles) to try and take advantage of downwind conditions and latch onto the shift west, or should they not take a short cut along the coast where they hope to have easier going seas and a zest of a thermal breeze before the perturbation makes its presence felt. This first transitional phase is and important one as it may give rise to major gaps in the distances between the boats.
Rankings – Monday 9th May 04h00 (French time) :
1-Groupama-2 (Franck Cammas) 2 254 miles to the finish
2-Banque Populaire (Pascal Bidégorry) + 8 miles from leader
3-Gitana 11 (Frédéric Le Peutrec) + 9 miles
4-Géant (Michel Desjoyeaux) + 12 miles
5-Gitana X (Thierry Duprey du Vorsent) + 25 miles
6-Foncia (Armel Le Cléac'h) + 37 miles