The longest day
Yann Guichard has been out of luck during this sixth day at sea. Since daybreak the skipper of Gitana Team has been battling with the calm conditions reigning this Friday under squalls generated by a tropical front. It’s an unexpected situation but one which has caused Gitana 11 to lose a lot of miles in relation to her three direct rivals. Indeed, all the others had already traversed this particular weather phenomenon and have been enjoying steady downwind conditions since the start of the day.
The Atlantic certainly has a few surprises up its sleeve in this ninth Route du Rhum. With the top three making nearly twenty-five knots, just seven knots is the most Yann Guichard was able to make at the 1500 hour GMT ranking! The penalty is final with over one hundred and fifty miles lost to Francis Joyon in a matter of hours, despite still being ahead of him this morning… The cause is associated with a tricky passage through a front, beneath a line of squalls, which was blocking both the breeze and Gitana 11. However, midway through the afternoon, the situation, though still complicated, seemed to be improving and the solo sailor was slowly powering up again. However, Gitana isn’t out of the woods yet.
A great deal of uncertainty in the West Indies
“Midway through this Friday afternoon, Gitana 11 is still making headway beneath the stormy squalls of the front, which have really slowed her down over the past few hours. The wind is struggling to make a clear shift round to the NNE, whilst Francis Joyon passed through this barrier without mishap in the early hours. Yann Guichard should himself be clear of the zone in a few hours. The way out lies within ten miles, but any miles made to the West are hard to win as the wind is very light beneath the squalls… It’s slightly reminiscent of the Doldrums! Once through to the other side, the downwind breeze will kick in again, initially pumping out 10-15 knots, then 20-25 knots for the whole of tonight and all day on Saturday. Idec and Gitana 11 didn’t follow the same trajectory yesterday as each of them were hoping to best exploit the weather conditions in relation to the potential of their boats. For the next stage of the race, it’s possible that there may be a reshuffling of the cards as it’s forecast that the tradewinds will die out from Sunday evening across the whole of the Caribbean arc: light to virtually inexistent E’ly wind is due on zone. Further to that, the shifting of a tropical storm which is set to become Hurricane Tomas will add to the uncertainty of the final outcome. However, Franck Cammas’ considerable lead should mean he is less subject to the vagaries of this phenomenon” indicated Sylvain Mondon, Gitana 11’s router this Friday, from the offices of Météo France in Toulouse.
From Saturday evening, leader Franck Cammas will have to deal with more erratic winds. After that it’ll be Thomas Coville’s turn to resolve the dilemma of the final trajectory: the zone of calms forming offshore of Pointe-à-Pitre won’t make things easy for anyone... This is especially true given that the Route du Rhum course calls for competitors to round to the West of the island of Guadeloupe and hence pass very close to the mountains of Basse-Terre, where the final mark before the finish is laid. The battle between the first four ‘ultimate’ trimarans isn’t over yet then, with the leader a little over 1,300 miles from the finish this evening.
Ranking for the Ultimate Category on 5th November at 1500 hours GMT
1- Groupama 3 some 1,338 miles from the finish
2- Sodebo 260.6 miles from the leader
3- Idec 309.4 miles astern
4- Gitana 11 some 453 miles astern
5- La Boite à Pizza 905.2 miles astern
6- Défi Cancale 1,121.8 miles astern
7- Saint-Malo 2015 some 1,158.1 miles astern
Retirement- Côte d'Or II
Retirement- Oman Air Majan