Pointing the bow at the finish
Day 80 ½ Leader: North of the Azores
1500 HRS GMT. Rankings
1 . Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia) at 1090 miles to finish
2 . Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnement) at 791 miles from #1
3 . Armel Le Cléac’h (Brit Air) at 1141.7
4 . Sam Davies (Roxy) at 2209.7
5 . Marc Guillemot (Safran) at 2266.
6 . Brian Thompson (Bahrain Team Pindar) at 2446.1
7 . Dee Caffari (Aviva) at 2629.1
8 . Arnaud Boissières (Akena Vérandas) at 3293.5
9 . Steve White (Toe in the Water) 4149.9
10 . Rich Wilson (Great American III) at 5410
11 . Raphaël Dinelli (Fondation Océan Vital) at 7013.4
12 . Norbert Sedlacek (Nauticsport – Kapsch) at 7092.1
RDG . Vincent Riou (PRB). 3rd . 30 boats started.
IN SHORT WORDS
Passing through the Azores islands last night Michel Desjoyeaux is now pointing on course for the finish line in Les Sables d’Olonne where he is now expected some time between Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. His lead is now 791 miles on Foncia and after a quick night averaging 15.5 knots he as eased off as he encounters strengthening winds.
Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnement) is making improved speeds while Armel Le Cleac’h (Brit Air) is saving miles on the second placed boat, sailing 130 miles east of his track and effectively being able to cut the corner a little.
In fourth Sam Davies, GBR, (Roxy) should cross the Equator this morning and has gained a small, increased advantage over Marc Guillemot (Safran). She is now 56.5 miles ahead.
In sixth Brian Thompson, GBR, (Bahrain Team Pindar) is feeling the first effects of the Doldrums and has stuck at 1.4 knots this morning, although the Doldrums are looking quite straightforward.
Michel Desjoyeaux has his bow pointed at Les Sables d’Olonne and will soon have just three figures registering on his ‘distance to go’. But the Foncia skipper has a testing few hours ahead as winds strengthen and a front passes over him this morning which could assault him with 45-50 knots gusts and squalls.
Yesterday evening, Desjoyeaux made his way straight through the middle of the Azores Islands; sailing downwind 13 miles from the coast of the main island of Sao Miguel, which he left to starboard.
A night of high averages, between 15 and 17 knots leaves him 791 miles ahead of Veolia Environnement although this morning Mich Desj has slightly eased off. The strong winds are set to stay with him throughout the day, although will ease off slightly this afternoon. Clocking up daily distances of over 300 miles, he is now expected to finish on Saturday evening or Sunday morning.
Well clear of the gentler winds of the Azores high pressure system, Roland Jourdain has Armel Le Cléac’h on Brit Air only 350 miles behind (553 miles in a direct line). While he is making a better course, some 150 miles to the east and closer to the rhumb line track, Brit Air will be slowed as Le Cléac’h reaches the high pressure ridge today. Following Foncia’s route Veolia Environnement is heading for the Portuguese islands, but his wind angle will be much less favourable sailing on the wind this morning.
Sam Davies had 80 miles still at 0600hrs GMT still to sail to ease Roxy back into the Northern Hempisphere. She is making fair speeds and is gaining progressively from being able to sail a higher, more easterly angle although the advantage line was fluctuating with the rapidly changing conditions. She was 56.6 miles ahead of fifth placed Marc Guillemot this morning, sailing nearly three knots quicker than Safran which is hobbled in the light weather by a reduced mainsail area.
Brian Thompson has now made up around 600 miles in ten days on Marc Guillemot and Sam Davies and this morning is just 179 miles behind Safran, but unfortunately his chance of capitalizing still further are hampered by his slow speeds. Bahrain Team Pindar appears to be snared by a calm on the edge of the Doldrums and is making just 1.4 knots this morning, after a productive 294 miles 24h run, only bettered by Mich Desj who made 338.5 miles. Dee Caffari is catching fast, making 13 knots and is 183 miles behind Thompson.
Steve White in ENE’ly winds is back up to making nine knots making fair progress on Toe in the Water while Rich Wilson is on port tack in 25 knots of NW’ly breeze but should be set for a spell of rough weather, caught between two low pressure systems he is expected to see 50-60 knots gusts. And Raphael Dinelli and Norbert Sedlacek, AUT (Nauticsport Kapsch) have 25 knots SW’ly winds, 1049 miles and 1142 miles respectively to Cape Horn.