We sensed it yesterday evening on observing the cartography: four of the top five competitors in the Ultimate category have opted for a S’ly course, diving down into the Bay of Biscay, whilst for now solely Sydney Gavignet seems to be favouring a trajectory closer to the great circle route (direct route). And among this foursome currently heading for the headland of Finisterre, three have opted to pass between Ushant’s Traffic Separation Scheme and the island of the same name. This was the choice made by Yann Guichard and Sylvain Mondon. Here it is worth noting that the TSS is a protected perimeter which takes the form of shipping lanes. Its aim is to keep the large commercial shipping away from the coast. For obvious safety reasons, taking so-called pleasure craft into these navigation zones is strictly forbidden.
As forecast, the first night for the solo sailors hasn’t been a restful one at all. Since the start, aboard the 23.50 metre maxi-trimaran, Yann Guichard has linked together a series of manœuvres with no less than seven gybes and a change of sail plan on rounding the island of Ushant. Such constant work enabled the sailor little respite. However, the skipper of Gitana Team, who has the most suited boat for this type of exercise as it is much more manoeuvrable than those of his rivals, has certainly come off the best in this very physical introduction to the race.
After the mild conditions at the start of the race, the solo sailors are now into the thick of the action as they pass the tip of Brittany: an established breeze of between 20 and 25 knots and above all big, short seas which aren’t very favourable for making rapid progress. Fortunately though, the fleet of the Route du Rhum 2010 are passing through the zone on the back of a big system. Indeed Yann Guichard and his playmates are arriving on zone behind a very active low, which has traversed the Bay of Biscay and will pass over France in the coming hours. This disturbed air flow led to 10 metre waves to the North of La Coruña yesterday morning, whilst the wind was gusting in excess of 50 knots…
Though the weather forecasts are holding true on the race zone, around 25 knots of breeze – 30 in the gusts – was hitting the fleet shortly after 0400 hours this morning, the wind is set to become slightly more intense, peaking at 33 knots. However, it is forecast that the N-NW’ly air flow will very rapidly settle down at daybreak. The trend observed at the first position report of the day, namely a Gitana 11 less at ease and less speedy than her rivals in these wind conditions and heavy seas, is set to continue for a few hours, before the situation is reversed with the calm conditions expected at around 0700 hours this Monday morning.
Ranking for the Ultimate Category on 1st November at 0400 hrs
2. Oman Air Majan à 5,5 miles
3. Groupama 3 à 31,5 miles
4. Idec à 36,4 milles
5. Gitana 11 à 43,3 miles
6. La Boite à Pizza à 77,3 miles
7. Défi Cancale à 89,5 miles
8. Saint-Malo 2015 à 105,7 miles
NL. Côte d'Or II