by Matthew Thomas
Still working hard to get through the ridge and back in 7th.
It’s clearly been a tough night for the ‘Two Pips’ as they’ve kept pushing as the wind gods have kept them waiting for the better breeze to arrive. Right now it is starting to fill, but it looks like it’s also filling for ‘Groupe Setin’ who is currently 120nm to the east of the ‘Two Pips’.
Much further east and close to the African coast, ‘Zetra’ has managed to get into the new breeze and overnight has made huge gains on everyone and is now lying in 6th. Their strategy has clearly paid off and looks like it will continue to pay as the high pressure ridge is forecast to continue to trap both ‘Concise 2’ and ‘Groupe Setin’ for at least the next 48 hours.
Out front, Le Conservateur’ has simply broken away and is over 270nm ahead of the group of three that are now fighting for second place just north of the Cape Verde islands.
Looking at the weather though, it currently looks like there is a huge area of no wind or very light wind in front of ‘Le Conservateur’. However, looking across the forecast, it does look like there is good wind on the Brazilian coast and that it might make sense to turn early and attempt to cross the doldrums close to the Brazilian Coast.
This reminds me of the very first BOC race when Phillippe Jeantot did exactly that, he sailed west and crossed the doldrums close to Brazil, all the while turning in 200 mile days. Of course, it’ll be a big gamble, but get it right and you’re a hero, get it wrong and the rest of the fleet might have an opportunity to catch up. Only time will tell.
Out front, and closing on the finish at 24 knots, ‘Macif’ has broken away from ‘Sodebo Ultim’ and is under 1,000nm from Ataljai and leading ‘Sodebo Ultim’ by just over 200nm.
In the IMOCA class, the ‘Group of Three’ is still locked in mortal combat, match racing in sight of each other with ‘PRB’ still holding off the hard charging ‘Queguiner – Leucemie Espoir’ and ‘Banque Populaire VIII’.
‘FenëtréA Prysmian’ is still leading the Multi50’s and is just about to exit the Doldrums, while 2nd place ‘Arkema’ is about mid-way through.
Ocean racing today, for many teams, is a collection of short sprints fought minute by minute, but for the majority is a marathon event where you have to weigh complex weather options against each other. And while you’re often forced to play a localised game, you have to be ever mindful of the bigger game being played and make sure that you not only stay ahead of your nearby competitors, but also close in on the leaders.