This atypical zone is proving to be a real lottery for the solo sailors in The Artemis Transat 2008. A ridge of high pressure lies in their wake and now they're preparing to tackle some new calm zones blocking the way over the coming hours. Indeed, the leader, Sébastien Josse, is already feeling the effects of them, as his speed at the latest position report and his diminishing lead bear witness. A phenomenon which is benefiting the skipper of Gitana Eighty, positioned just 11 miles astern at 1600 hours.
At night all the cats are grey…
The skipper of BT, who pulled off a great move last night, benefited from the passage of a ridge of high pressure to get away from his pursuers. At daybreak, Loïck Peyron was holding onto 2nd position but had a deficit of around thirty miles on the leader: “Although conditions are very shifty and random as a result, the North-South positioning had a big part to play in last night's action. You had to be attentive and spend a lot of time on deck. I don't know how many gybes I made - around ten I think – to extract myself as best I could from all the obstacles dotted about Gitana Eighty's course.” The solo sailors know only too well that this 4th night was just a taste of what's to come over the next 24 hours: “the wind is beginning to ease gently but that's nothing compared to what's ahead. The evening will be complicated once again!” indicated Loïck Peyron.
Wearing on the nerves, this situation requires maximum attention from the skippers. As an experienced sailor the skipper of Gitana Eighty knows what a considerable asset it is to remain lucid. With this in mind, the skipper has spent the whole day benefiting from the more stable conditions in order to rest and eat well. After a start to the course which Loïck Peyron himself concedes did not exploit the true potential of his boat, he is now right into his racing: “I wasn't exactly on the pace over the first few days, but now it's all going really well. There's plenty of work on deck but everything is really working in sequence now aboard Gitana Eighty.”
The black-out to begin on Friday evening
On Friday at 1800 UT, the sailors and the public alike will make themselves familiar with the latest positions of the fleet in The Artemis Transat, prior to a day and a half with a complete position black-out. Indeed, the organisers of The Transat will not reveal any positions for an entire 36 hour period. This initiative, guided initially by a slight nostalgia as regards sailing in times gone by, will spice up the battle currently being played out in the North Atlantic. Naturally this black-out will be reminiscent of the first editions of this transatlantic race (formerly-Ostar) where the winner only found out about his or her performance once the finish line was crossed.
On Sunday morning, at the first position report of the day, at 0600 UT, we'll learn the new hierarchy and in particular the choice of courses adopted by each of the racers in the final sprint to Boston.
The idea greatly appeals to the skipper of Gitana Eighty: “I think this black-out is a very good thing and an excellent idea by the organiser… To be honest I'd rather a 15 day black-out (laughs)! The last data (positions, headings and speeds) will be very important, as they'll be our last link with our little playmates. I really like the notion that anything's possible…”
Ranking on 15th May at 1400 UT
1. BT (Sébastien Josse) 1,859 miles from the finish
2. Gitana Eighty (Loïck Peyron) 11 miles from the leader
3. PRB (Vincent Riou) 18.9 miles back
4. Generali (Yann Eliès) 25.8 miles back
5. Foncia (Michel Desjoyeaux) 34.8 miles back
6. Brit Air (Armel Le Cléac'h) 79.4 miles back