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Meilhat new leader as IMOCA fleet struggle to find new strong Northerly wind


Some 130 miles off the SW corner of Ireland the IMOCA leaders of the Transat CIC have been negotiating the unsettled winds around the centre of a low pressure which is moving slowly west. They are all seeking to break into the new, strengthening NW’ly breeze first, picking the best, fastest angle west towards New York.


And so it has been a second very active, busy night after the passage of a front yesterday, all the skippers already feeling tired after the passage of a first front which brought winds of more than 30kts.


New leader in the IMOCA fleet is Paul Meilhat on Biotherm. He and Nico Lunven (Holcim-PRB), among others, have profited from their choice of staying a little more south yesterday and last night, away from what have been the trickier, lighter and more unsettled winds and they are scored to be first and second this morning only 2.5 miles apart.


Being closer to the rhumb line course gives them a small advantage on the tracker whilst leader since the start Charlie Dalin (MACIF Santé et Prévoyance) and Yoann Richomme (Paprec Arkéa) have routed further north – by about 40 miles – and are fourth and seventh at 0500hrs UTC this morning. Their investment could yield a faster, more direct angle as they accelerate into this NW’ly which should build to 30-35kts.


Briton Sam Davies has profited too from being more south, with Lunven and Meilhat, and is fifth this morning on Initiatives Couer. “I had decided to position myself to the West to approach the small low pressure center to get around it” explained the skipper of Holcim-PRB. ”A northerly, northwesterly wind will come in and it will be very strong, up to 35 to 40 knots, It’s going to be invigorating all day today Tuesday.”


Among the other internationals Justine Mettraux (Teamwork-Team SNEF) has fallen back to 12t, Italian Giancarlo Pedote (Prysmian Group) is 13th Alan Roura (Hublot) 14th and Kojiro Shiraishi (DMG GLOBAL ONE) is 15th trying to shake off his seasickness and dealing with a few small issues on board, and Boris Herrmann (Malizia-Seaexplorer) has clearly struggled in the light and unsettled winds, making just 2-3 knots in the grip of the calm and is down in 17th.


Pedote said, “We have been negotiating the centre of the little depression and are now looking for the shift and should then be reaching and then a bit of stop and go as we get to a ridge, but voila that’s how it is going and plenty of weather before we reach the US coast!”


Top of the daggerboard, non foiling IMOCAs is Benjamin Ferré (Monnoyer-Duo for A Job in tenth.


In the IMOCAs there have already been three retirements, Arnaud Boissières (La Mie Caline) who had a problem with his port foil, Jérémie Beyou (Charal) with J2 headstay issue and Sébastien Marsset (Foussier) who has abandoned for medical reasons. He explaind that his decision was taken following a consultation with the race doctor. He was heading towards Port-La-Forêt.


In Class40 it is still tight but no so close as yesterday. There are eight skippers within 20 miles, six in less than 10 miles. The leading trio Nicolas d'Estais (Café Joyeux, 1st), Ian Lipinski (Crédit Mutuel, 2nd) and Fabien Delahaye (LEGALLAIS Team Voile, 3rd) are top


“The first night, the wind rose to 35, 37 knots, it was wet and cold but it went well,” reported Ian Lipinski. “It was a complicated first day,” explains Ambrogio Beccaria (Alla Grande Pirelli) who spoke of “maneuvers that follow one another and fatigue that accumulates.”


In sixth this morning Alberto Bona reported from IBSA: “It was a complicated first day with the passage of the front a lot of things to do, lots of manoeuvres, lots of sail changes, approaching the depression the wind was very, very unstable and so it was one thing after another, and the real thing was trying to find the right speed and set up for the approach of the depression, but after all that I am happy, the important thing was to pass it and be into the strong wind.”

 

Quentin Le Nabour has had to head back to Britanny. He was sailing under a large gennaker in manageable conditions when the bowsprit of his new Mach 40.6 Class40 Bleu Blanc Planète Location broke in two. After recovering the sail and bringing the boat to safety he is returning to assess his options.

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