There are now just twelve solo sailors in the running in the Imoca class for this 13th edition of the race. Indeed, at the end of yesterday afternoon, Michel Desjoyeaux was forced to announce his withdrawal from the competition following impact with a whale. This encounter at over 10 knots of boat speed damaged the starboard daggerboard of his monohull and the skipper of Foncia preferred to turn round and head back to his home port in Brittany.
Aboard Gitana Eighty last night, Loïck Peyron spent more than two hours making 0 knots of boat speed and watched powerless as Sébastien Josse stretched away from him again in no time at all. This yoyoing proved hard on the nerves as the skipper from La Baule on France's Atlantic coast described: “It was a storm of nothing last night! No wind, seas like a millpond and the sails flogging every which way… I alternated between little siestas and checks of Gitana Eighty, trying to make headway as best I could. We're all in the same situation though! The current conditions are extremely rare in this transatlantic route” said the double winner of the event, who has racked up no less than five participations in The Transat (formerly the Ostar).
Sailing this afternoon in a slightly fresher breeze again, the skipper of Gitana Eighty was preparing for the wind to back from the NW to the W and then the SW. A rotation in which Loïck Peyron and his rivals will have to change tack to sail upwind on port tack: “There aren't many tactical choices to be made at the moment but the point where each of us decide to tack will be important further down the racetrack" explained Loïck Peyron at the start of the afternoon.
Over the next 24 hours, the solo sailors will be looking to make as much headway as possible without asking themselves too many questions, but quickly their choices and little options will take shape. Naturally, it is at this precise moment that the organisation has opted to launch its position black-out. The timing has nothing to do with chance of course as, since the moment this idea came about, OC Events have been keen for this 36 hour black-out to coincide with a strategically important period in the race.
This evening at 1800 hours UT, Loïck Peyron will discover the final positions of his rivals prior to 36 hours of total silence. We'll have to wait till the first position report on Sunday morning to see whether or not the hierarchy has been upset!
Ranking on Friday 16th May at 1400 UT
1. BT (Sébastien Josse) 1,728 miles from the finish
2. PRB (Vincent Riou) 22 miles from the leader
3. Gitana Eighty (Loïck Peyron) 35 miles back
4. Generali (Yann Eliès) 66 miles back
5. Brit Air (Armel Le Cléac'h) 67 miles back