Full steam ahead
For the multihull fleet, it's a case of full steam ahead, propelled by a south-east trade wind towards Bahia, while the monohulls are still trundling along in the ocean of Cape Verde with almost 2,000 miles yet to cover. Groupama is expected to reach Bahia late morning and Gitana 11 should enter All Saints' Bay more towards the end of the day.

Gitana 11 currently lies 280 miles behind the leader Groupama, so Lionel Lemonchois's chief aim is now to keep in check  Pascal Bidégorry, who may be 100 miles further behind but still has every intention of scrapping for second place. On the reaching leg, both boats have clocked up impressive speeds consistently above 25 knots! Lionel and Pascal won this event together in 2005, so they know each other inside out and respect each other deeply, but both have a title to defend which, unless something pretty disastrous befalls Groupama, won't be coming their way this time. So now on board Gitana 11, the focus is on the rear field. The excellent progress made last night courtesy of a flawless path picked through the doldrums will have reassured the skippers, but they must maintain their concentration and watchfulness all the way to the finish line…

Lionel Lemonchois, skipper of Gitana 11 : “We've got a decent lead over Pascal, but I know him and the last thing on his mind will be giving up. He'll keep fighting to the last, so we have to be on our guard. I was thrilled to win with him two years ago but this time around I won't be  giving up second place to him! We're going well and the conditions are perfect for these truly amazing boats… »

No surprises among the monohulls, where the fleet is fragmenting around Cape Verde according to the options chosen. Gitana Eighty is following the path of Ecover on a more central route. The Peyron – Le Vaillant pairing is managing its race remarkably well, while finding time to hail the fine performance of Mike Golding, who has emerged in optimum fashion from the random conditions in which the fleet was sailing for a few days. “They've performed very well, so hats off to them. The boat is ideally placed to descend wind abeam,” remarked Loïck Peyron in the radio chat. Next up is the passage through the doldrums, knowing that the first to emerge after what is bound to be 3 to 4 days will then pick up the south-east trade wind and have one foot on the top step of the podium.

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