While the leaders continue to amaze the timers, and while they are no longer counting the distance to the finish in hundreds of miles, the majority of the troops are just starting out on the second part of the race. For all of those still at sea, there is the risk of feeling plummeting morale when they announce the first arrivals in the bay at Pointe-à-Pitre. In the meantime, they need to keep on working hard.
Little by little, the leaders have increased the gap between themselves and the rest of the fleet. At the heart of the peloton, they know that the places of honour will be taken by the top names. It’s difficult for them, under these conditions, to maintain the same rhythm as the speeding boats at the head of the group : tiredness takes its toll, little scratches and knocks undermine performance of the equipment or of the sailors themselves, the desire to arrive, yet knowing that to be placed in the race, you need to rank highly in this stage. There’s no comparison between fighting for one of the top five podium positions, and aiming for fifteenth or twentieth place. It’s all well and good to set your own personal goals but it’s difficult to keep as motivated as those battling in the mad rush at the front. On top of this, there are the inevitable technical hitches that slow down progress.
Presence on board : the soft warning
Last night,Nikki Curwen (Go Ape ! Live Life Adventurously) activated her Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) and slightly modified her route to sail alongside Hervé Aubry (Ixina – Voilerie HSD). What did they say to each other? We will only know the answer when they arrive at the finish, but we guess that both of them have some concerns, given the average speeds in the last days. The route of the trade winds is rarely as quiet as we like to think. The sea can be affected by tropical waves generating a swell from the north- west that sets against the the windward sea, squalls and storms are more and more frequent as you progress towards the Caribbean. During ten days of sailing with a spinnaker, sailing in groups is a common occurrence. Nacho Postigo (Vamos Vamos) also activated his EPIRB button last night, to reassure others while he was going unusually slowly. Afterwards, the Spanish skipper picked up the race normally again.
Now and then in the Atlantic, the accompanying boats cross routes with the competitors. On board both boats, it’s a big event. For the solo sailor, it’s an opportunity to get up to speed on the news, and for the team of the ‘’sheepdog’’, it’s a break in the routine of the Atlantic crossing. In this way, Salam, in charge of watching over the rear of the peloton, was able to communicate with Chris Lükermann (CA Technologies) who told them he had torn his big spinnaker two days after the start, and that he had some concerns about his bowsprit settings. The German sailor was waiting for a storm to pass so that he could fix things, but the main message was that he was in good spirits, and his voice was clear.
The race leaders are far beyond these considerations. In both prototype and series, no-one leaves things to chance. In the prototypes, Frédéric Denis (Nautipark) lost ground to his competitors when he positioned himself on the southerly route. Behind him, Michele Zambelli (Illumia) chases, following him like a Genoese cuckoo. In second place for more than 2 miles, he probably dreams about a favourable route, taking the shortest line possible, and of taking the virtual lead in the race, if only for a few hours. In the series boats, Julien Pulvé (Novintiss) seems to be enjoying his leader’s easy chair. Has there been a small technical hitch for Ian Lipinski (Entreprises Innovantes) or perhaps a period of light calm, after nine days of sailing at full speed ? The Mini Transat îles de Guadeloupe likes to keep its secrets close. This is what also makes it all the richer when they reach land again.
Ranking 9th November at 6pm (TU+1)
Prototypes (Eurovia Cegelec Ranking)
1 Frédéric Denis – 800 – Nautipark at 791,6 milles from the finish
2 Michele Zambelli – 788 – Illumia at 8.8 milles
3 Luke Berry – 753 – Association Rêves at 16.3 milles
4 Ludovic Méchin – 667 – Microvitae at 17.4 milles
5 Clément Bouyssou – 802 – Le Bon Agent – Bougeons l’Immobilier at 30.9 milles
Séries (Ocean Bio-Actif Ranking)
1 Julien Pulvé – 880 – Novintiss at 940 milles from the finish
2 Ian Lipinski – 866 – Entreprises Innovantes at 10.5 milles
3 Tanguy Le Turquais – 835 – Terréal at 53,5 milles
4 Edouard Golbery – 514 – Les Enfants du Canal at 74 milles
5 Edwin Thibon – 721 – Cœur Fidèle at 91,5 milles
– Race Media