Thirty-two miles separated Edmond de Rothschild from her pursuer Oman Air – Musandam this Saturday at 1600 GMT. However, it comes as no surprise to Sébastien Josse that there is so little between them, as he explained this lunchtime: “Given the upcoming weather conditions, it’s highly likely that the two boats will bunch up again over the next 24 hours. That’s how it goes. You just have to grin and bear it and stay focused and clear-headed for the end of the race.”
Indeed the weather situation is far from simple. Itajaí has to be earned and Sébastien Josse and Charles Caudrelier will have to negotiate a set of tricky and particularly strategic zones before they make it to the Brazilian city. “There’s a big low, which has formed over the Brazilian coast and is heading off on a merry-go-round into the Deep South around Antarctica. Associated with this low is a substantial cold front, which is breaking up the Saint Helena High and is stretching out as far as the coasts and the bay of Rio. To the south of the front, there’s no wind and it’s very stormy,” explained the router for the Edmond de Rothschild duo.
The numerous squalls currently rolling about offshore of Brazil certainly aren’t making life easy for the leaders and may well cost them dearly. Early this afternoon, the Edmond de Rothschild duo were dramatically slowed beneath one such squall, which largely explains the miles conceded between the 1000 GMT ranking and that of 1300 hours.
After 10 days of racing and what has been a more than steady pace since the start, the fatigue is all-pervasive aboard the 70’ trimarans. This lunchtime, during the daily radio session with Press HQ in Paris, Sidney Gavignet’s voice left us in no doubt of that. “The chaps are keeping to the rhythm set by their boat,” Sébastien Josse admitted, before being called up on deck by Charles Caudrelier. And yet, with the end of the course drawing nearer, the suspense promises to be thrilling, albeit a testing time for the sailors.
Today’s routing is still indicating an ETA in Itajaí of Tuesday morning, but from his HQ in La Rochelle Antoine Koch was keen to emphasise the lack of reliability in any predictions until such time as the cold front taking shape in front of the two Transat Jacques Vabre scouts is in their wake.
Ranking on Saturday 16 November at 1530 GMT:
1 – Edmond de Rothschild (Josse-Caudrelier) 928.80 miles to go /27.60kt average over 2 hours
2 – Oman Air-Musandam (Gavignet-Foxall) 31.75 miles behind the leader /28.40kt average over 2 hours