“ The arrival in New York will be difficult, and that is the least I can say.”
François Gabart has enjoyed a magic carpet downwind ride across the Atlantic in The Transat bakerly, but his progress to the race finish at New York has been slowed somewhat as he encounters light airs crossing the Gulf Stream.
This morning Macif, Gabart’s giant blue white and yellow trimaran, is just over 200 nautical miles from the finish line with the Frenchman’s ETA currently forecast for around 21:00 BST (16:00 EDT) this evening.
Speaking via satellite phone this morning, Gabart confirmed that the home straight will not be easy: “I’ve spent the last few hours with not very much wind. I’m still a little way off the finish line. The arrival in New York will be difficult, and that is the least I can say,” he said.
The light and fickle conditions have once again thrown the game wide open. Although Thomas Coville on Sodebo is still 64 miles behind Macif, under current conditions, anything could happen. Today the skippers continue to face a prolonged spell of light airs that could rock the rankings.
Behind the Ultimes, Gilles Lamiré (French Tech Rennes St Malo) still leads the Multi50 fleet, 227 miles ahead of Lalou Roucayrol aboard Arkema. The Multi50s are also feeling the effect of the lighter conditions, currently sailing at around 6 knots.
“This is a great race, I am really enjoying it,” said Lamire this morning, who is delighted that his choice of a more southerly route than Roucayrol is paying off. “I am trying to concentrate on what I am doing and I apply myself, because it’s hard. I tell myself that if I do everything right, it will continue.
“I am very happy with my trajectory,” he added. “The choice of this southern route has been carefully thought out, it was not obvious at first. But I thought the best route in the north would not avoid the (Ice Exclusion Zone) and the routing looked a little optimistic to me. But it’s true that I did not expect to be enjoying my deckchair in the sun, downwind and south of Azores – it’s amazing!”
At the head of the IMOCA 60 class, the top three boats Banque Populaire, PRB and St Michel-Virbac remain as tight as ever as they race past the western edge of the Ice Exclusion Zone, about 450 miles southeast of Prince Edward Island in Nova Scotia. With 934 miles to the finish, Armel Le Cléac’h on Banque Populaire still leads Riou by 32 miles.
In the Class40 race, the fleet is split between seven skippers following in the wake of the IMOCA 60s heading towards the Ice Exclusion zone, and Louis Duc (Carac), going it alone behind Arkema, 445 miles south of them.
Duc’s decision seems to be paying off for the moment, sailing at nine knots, compared to an average five knots by the northernmost boats who are running out of sea room up against the restricted zone. Currently Carac lies fifth overall, 75 miles behind the leaders.
But the battle in the north continues to rage with Isabelle Joschke (Generali-Horizon Mixité) now ahead of Thibaut Vauchel-Camus (Solidaires en Peloton-Arsep) by just three miles. British skipper Phil Sharp on Imerys is still third, 28 miles behind Joschke.