Hot on the heels of Marc Guillemot's grey monohull, Gitana Eighty and Foncia are still engaged in a battle royal. This morning at 04:00, Loïck Peyron and Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant sneaked a few lengths ahead of Michel Desjoyeaux, but four hours later, Foncia moved back into second position. However, it now seems that Michel Desjoyeaux has opted to go it alone by taking a more easterly tack, close to the African coast.
But the night also proved very favourable to their direct pursuers, Groupe Bel and Ecover, as this morning, there are 5 monohulls all within 8 miles of each other. Such a situation was anticipated in the middle of the week by the skipper of Gitana Eighty: “There's a risk of the race starting all over again at the Canaries!” Even though Safran retains a slight advantage this morning, the pressure on her is building all the time and there's still a long way to go. Loïck Peyron declared this morning: “We're not making much progress and there's a real risk we'll be at sea for a while yet. Another 8 days minimum, or even 9!”
On board Gitana 11, the skippers have rediscovered their morale. The wind has come back after a somewhat tricky day yesterday that saw them lose a few miles, and the boat is again zipping along at 25 to 30 knots! The aim now is to make an optimum passage through the infamous doldrums, the last major meteorological minefield on the course. This area of intertropical convergence seems to stretch on and on forever, complete with disturbances, alternate squalls and windless zones that are often hard to anticipate but which should ideally be avoided.
Lionel Lemonchois, skipper of Gitana 11: “Here, the atmosphere's akin to endless yellow desert sands, but with flying fish! We've been making good progress since 04:00 today but we needed to after suffering from a dearth of wind yesterday. The boat's back to 100% again, and so is the crew. We're now keeping a close eye on the weather for the passage through the doldrums, which is the next important stage and can easily shake things up a bit!”