TJV – Patience is a virtue…

With a lead of 150 miles and only twice that distance, 300 miles, to the Martiniqufinish line of the Transat Jacques Vabre, it is hard to imagine victory going to anyone other that the ULTM race leaders Banque Populaire XI (Armel Le Cléac’h and Sébastien Josse) They have been quickest all day, often averaging speeds of 35kts but they need to be patient and remain focused to finish their 7400-mile long Transat and what has been totally crazy, always on the edge fortnight of racing.

The Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre Village opened its doors this morning at 0930hrs local time in Fort-de-France with visitors keen to welcome the first A boats. For the IMOCAs, they are going to have to wait until 18th November at least to know whether the route via the North or South has paid off with their finish expected next Saturday. As for the Ocean Fifty multihulls, they are expected to reach Fort-de-France on 17th. Finally, the first Class40 boats are expected to finish on 22nd.

ULTIM: Victory within reach for Banque Populaire XI

On a direct route towards Martinique, Armel Le Cléac’h and Sébastien Josse will be able to see Barbados to starboard this afternoon and the mountain of Martinique before nightfall. They are expected to reach Diamant Rock, the final course mark between 1615 and 1700hrs local time, (2015hrs TU and 2100hrs UTC) with the final stretch covered in 45 minutes. 

In theory at least. With a lead of 150 miles over SVR Lazartigue, they are going to have to be particularly unlucky on Banque Populaire XI to miss out on this win. But weird things do happen. Recall that third placed Maxi Edmond De Rothschild the day before yesterday, when a UFO damaged the steering system aboard the Verdier designed boat. Since then, Charles Caudrelier and Erwan Israel have seen Sodebo Ultim 3 catching them thanks to their pursuers’ better average speeds. 

The gap between them has melted away from the 350 mile advantage and now the two Thomases (Coville and Rouxel) are only a hundred miles behind. Meanwhile, Actual Ultim 3 is still in the game and was the fastest of the three ULTIM boats, but they still have 900 miles to sail. Over the past 24 hours, Edmond de Rothschild covered 274 miles, Sodebo Ultim3, 424 and Actual Ultim 3, 474 miles.  

IMOCA: The first verdict on Wednesday evening

The big news today in the IMOCA class is the damage to Groupe Dubreuil whose mainsail was torn above third reef. Lying in second place Sébastien Simon and Spain’s Iker Martinez will have to wait for an area of calms behind the front tomorrow morning to be able to carry out repairs. 

They will then probably see Teamwork (Mettraux-Villion) make their getaway on the Northern route, which has now drawn some other competitors. is leading this group of IMOCAs with daggerboards along with the British foiler Medallia (Pip Hare-Nick Bubb), but they will have their work cut out against Monnoyeur Duo for a job, which had to go back to Le Havre after the start, but has managed a remarkable comeback. Benjamin Ferré and Pierre Le Roy’s IMOCA is by far the best performer in the daggerboard category. 

After the front tomorrow an area of calms awaits those who decided to stay north and it is going to require a lot of skill to deal with another front on Wednesday, which is likely to be rougher with 40-knot winds and 4m high waves. It is only once they have overcome this hurdle that the IMOCAs in the North will be able to head further south to see what gains they have achieved. 

“If they manage to do what is shown in the routing, they may well be 300 miles ahead when they get back with the leaders in the South” according to Christian Dumard, the race expert for the race. It will be on Wednesday evening that we will have a clearer idea of the outcome. For the moment, it is hard to see how the Southerners led by Paprec Arkea (Yoann Richomme-Yann Eliès) will get away from the wind shadow of the Canaries and what they will be able to do downwind in the trade winds.

Ocean Fifty: A clear leader in tame trade winds

It looks less exciting in the Ocean Fifty class with Solidaires en Peloton keeping their two rivals in check with 1800 miles to go to the finish. Well positioned between the two chasing boats and the finish, Thibault Vauchel-Camus and Quentin Vlamynck have not made any mistakes, but will have to manage their efforts to the finish, as behind them, the two other Ocean Fifty multihulls are keeping up the pace and occasionally going on the attack. Viabilis was indeed by far the fastest of the three trimarans over the past few hours.

Class40: Amarris, alone against the world
The Class40 fleet split in two after the Canaries. Amarris (Nebout-Mahé) is in the lead on the starboard tack heading south at speed followed by a small group led by Alla Grande Pirelli (Beccaria-Andrieu). They hope to pick up stronger trade winds to the south of Morocco. With their gybes, the leader will meet up again with the Southerners, who will start to move westwards, so the rankings will become much clearer in the next 36 hours. The Class40 boats face ten days of upwind sailing. Preserving their boat is going to be as important as the precise route they follow towards Martinique. 

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