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Transat CIC, Richomme takes the lead in the IMOCAs, Lipinski and Delahaye neck and neck in the Class40s

The legendary Transat CIC, originally known as the Ostar, is living up to its reputation. The skippers have been facing tough conditions since the start and fatigue, the chilling temperatures on board, the lack of sleep, as well as the inevitable technical problems and breakages, are putting sailors and boats to the test as the leaders are passing the race’s half way mark on the iconic course from France to the USA. With less than 1,600 miles to go, Yoann Richomme (IMOCA Paprec Arkéa) has taken the lead of the fleet. In Class40, the four leaders, led by Ian Lipinski (Crédit Mutuel), are locked in a tight battle.



© Romain Marie


The pace is picking up for the IMOCAs, who have finally hit the much awaited downwind conditions and are speeding towards New York, where the finish of The Transat CIC could be as early as next Monday. The front-runners are negotiating yet another low-pressure system, with south-westerly winds in excess of thirty knots and a very rough and uncomfortable sea state. 

 

In very demanding conditions the two-way battle at the front continues, with Yoann Richomme (Paprec Arkéa) taking the lead over Charlie Dalin (MACIF Santé et Prevoyance) in the latest rankings. Behind the leaders, Samantha Davies (Initiatives Coeur) has made a strong comeback and is now fourth, just a tiny one and a half mile behind Damien Seguin (Group Apicil) while German Boris Hermann (Malizia Seaexplorer) is fifth and within fifty miles to the leaders, despite having to make some repairs yesterday. Swiss Justine Mettraux (Teamwork-Team SNEF) who took a 70 minutes penalty last night for an engine seal infringement on the first day, and has therefore lost some ground,  is now sitting in 10th position some 90 miles back. "I chose to take my penalty last night in the ridge of high pressure. I tried to find a moment when there wasn't too much wind and when my rivals weren't going too fast so I wouldn't lose too much ground. For the moment, I'm pretty happy with my race and the battle with my competitors. The conditions have been tough for us from the start, and that's still the case. Mostly, I'm concentrating on keeping myself and the equipment safe and sailing well.

 

Japanese skipper Kojiro Shiraishi (DMG MORI Global One) has been recovering from seasickness and has since been keeping a steady pace, with the goal of finishing to ensure his Vendée Globe qualification. Shiraishi is 18th, one position ahead of Italian Giancarlo Pedote who had to deal with some technical hitches on his IMOCA Prysmian.

Britain's James Haryada (Gentoo Sailing Team) has also reported some small issues but has managed to keep 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 think it’s an internal seal, which I’m not going to be able to fix out here. I think I might not have the port foil for the rest of the race now, which isn’t great”. Swiss German Ollie Heer (Oliver Heer Ocean Racing) is 26th.

 

The top Class40s are getting across the ridge which the IMOCAs went through yesterday, but are still keeping good average speed and are probably taking time to give their boats a thorough check.

Less than two miles separate the new leader Ian Lipinski (Credit Mutuelle) and Fabien Delahaye (Legallais) who have been switching places over the last two days in an unrelenting fight for the top spot. They must, though, watch out for Italy’s Ambrogio Beccaria (Alla Grande Pirelli) who made a comeback and is now third at a bit more than 9 miles behind and for early leader Nicolas d'Estais (Café Joyeux) in fourth. Italian 2023 Class40 champion Alberto BONA (IBSA) who opted for a more southern route, is trying to find a better angle to catch up and reduce the gap of about 67 miles. The only female skipper Amélie Grassi (La Boulangère Bio) is safely keeping her sixth place ahead of the former Vendée Gobe winner Vincent Riou (Pierreval - Fondation Good Planet) on his new, single rudder Verdier design.


In the Vintage class, Patrick Isoard has put more miles between his Uship pour Enfants du Mekong and  Rémi Gerin’s FAIAOHAE and is about to cross the 2,300 miles to the finish line point.


Over the last 24 hours race control were informed of more damages and abandons.

Clarisse Crémer is heading to the Azores, about 500 miles away, for a technical pitstop after discovering an issue with the J3 bulkhead on L’Occitaine en Provence.

In the Class40 fleet Goulven Marie (QWANZA) dismasted in the early hours of today, following the official retirement of Quentin Le Nabour (Bleu Blanc Planète Location), Axel Tréhin (Project Rescue Ocean) has hit a floating object and Aurélien Ducroz (Crosscall) reported a broken stay, both are assessing the situation with their shore teams.


Up next…

According to Race Director Francis Le Goff, "The leaders are well in control of their positions but the margins are very small. On the other hand, there's a bit of lateral separation. It's interesting because Paul Meilhat (Biotherm), among those further south, still has a card to play. The IMOCAs are in the strongest downwind conditions at the moment, but the frontrunners are starting to get out of it. The wind should ease a little, and everyone is going to have to put up some extra sail, make some manoeuvres and take a good look at the boat before the final stretch.If there's no significant split at the end of this area of strong winds, the last part of the race promises to be very interesting, as we don't really know what's going to happen on the last day and a half and there could be some light airs before they reach New York”. Concludes Le Goff.


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