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Into a big Thursday for IMOCA leaders

After breaking out of the ridge yesterday evening, gybing at around 2000hrs, The Transat CIC race leaders Charlie Dalin (MACIF Santé et Prévoyance) and Yoann Richomme (Paprec Arkéa) are now well into the building SE’ly winds on the next low pressure system which has now seen speeds rise back to around 20kts.



 Extending into this new, stronger breeze they have opened out more margin on the chasing pack at the same time converging a little more with Paul Meilhat (Biotherm). Ahead they have a day of tough, hard sailing in winds over 30kts and 3-4m seas as they pass the race’s half way mark on this legendary course from Lorient to New York. Britain’s Sam Davies (Initiatives Coeur) is having an excellent race so far, very much in line with her performances last year, in fourth, just one mile or so ahead of the Vendée Globe winner Yannick Bestaven (Maître CoQ V).


And Germany’s Boris Herrmann (Malizia-Seaexplorer) is up to fifth even after making a small mainsail repair yesterday. The intensity of this race, as expected, is unlike has ever been seen on previous editions of this race and the ability to maintain a high level – looking after boat and skipper  - as the fatigue builds will be key between here and the finish, attributes that both Sam and Boris have as two of the most experienced racers in the fleet have built up. Davies first raced this course in 2008 on The Artemis Transat on her venerable Roxy on the race won by Loick Peyron on Gitana 80. She was fifth then and followed into Boston by none other than…..Yannick Bestaven.


It is a bitterly disappointed Clarisse Crémer who is heading to the Azores for a technical pitstop after discovering an issue with  the J3 bulkhead on L’Occitaine en Provence. She is sailing in safe mode, making around 6 knots this morning with about 520 nautical miles to make almost due south to the Azores where she will meet her technical team. Swiss Justine Mettraux (Teamwork-Team SNEF) took a 70 minutes penalty last night for an engine seal infringement on the first day.  


Seasick Koji Japanese skipper Kojiro Shiraishi is getting back on terms on DMG MORI Global One. Koji is one of a handful of skippers modulating their pace to make sure of finishing to ensure Vendée Globe qualification. He usually suffers badly from seasickness but it sounds like it has been worst this time, certainly the juddering motion of the foiling IMOCA slamming seems to make it worse harder for his body to find an equilibrium.


“Feeling much better now with the seasickness gone. I ate my first hot meal today! It's good for the mind and body.  Either way foiling boats are super hard for an old guy like me. And seasickness is making it worse. The next few days we are first going around the next low pressure from the north and then gybing along the ice zone. It looks like the end will be slow close to NY without much wind but we will see with more accurate forecasts as we get closer to the USA.”


Among the daggerboard boats the tussle between adversaries Benjamin Ferré (Monnoyer Duo for A Job) and Tanguy Le Turquais (Lazare) with Tanguy on top this morning about 15 miles ahead. They are well into the IMOCA fleet, close to skippers who have had or continue to have technical problems like Nico Lunven (Holcim-PRB) with no bowsprit and Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée) who has had various issues and also really needs a finish.


Britain's James Haryada (Gentoo Sailing Team) has a small issue in an excllent 20th place, "All is well but we’ve got a foil problem on the Port side, so I’ve lost the hydraulic rake control. I’m still yet to figure out exactly what’s broken but I think it’s an internal seal, which I’m not going to be able to fix out here. The other thing is that the top bearing is really loose, so I’ve had to suck it up into the boat. I haven’t needed it over the last few hours so it hasn’t been too bad but I think it’s going to be one of those things that I might not have the port foil for the rest of the race now, which isn’t great. Other than that, there are a few small jobs that I’ve got to get done today. I’ve got to time this gybe as best as I can which is going to come up here in the next few hours basically as the breeze builds a bit and swings a bit further right. Otherwise, all is good, I managed to get some rest last night as well just got to pick gennaker up at the moment but we’re cruising along nicely. It’s a little bit lighter than I was expecting, it’s only 9/10 knots of breeze where I am, which is a little bit fo. I thought it was going to be a bit windier than this. It’ll be good to gybe and head south, it’s a little bit cold up here."


In Class 40 there is just two miles between leader Fabien Delahaye (Legallais) and Ian Lipinski (Credit Mutuelle) the top two skippers whilst Italy’s Ambrogio Beccaria (Alle Grande Pirelli) is third at about 12 miles behind. They are just entering the ridge which the IMOCAs went through yesterday and so are likely to have a slower Thursday whilst – like the IMOCA skippers did – taking time to give their boats a thorough check.

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