Route du Rhum: Lionel Lemonchois on Gitana making 27 knots behind Geant Print E-mail
Tuesday, 31 October 2006
Bénédicte Etienne:

The pace has picked up considerably since last night with the passing of a front heralding a propulsive north to north-easterly breeze: the Orma trimarans are now sailing at an average speed in excess of 20 knots and the two Gitanas have both taken up trajectories among the southernmost in the fleet.

The gloves are off! Since last night, speeds have been well and truly ratcheted up so that the averages are now oscillating between 16 and 26 knots as the trimarans head straight for the Azores archipelago. The reason for the change is a front from the north-west which is leaving a nice anticyclone in its wake: temperatures are going to drop significantly, but the wind will gradually rotate towards an easterly direction. What’s more, this turbo-charged situation looks set to last until Thursday and beyond! Consequently, there are no real strategic or tactical options on the cards until the archipelago is passed around Wednesday evening, but there are important positioning issues in terms of negotiating the low-pressure front which will take hold over the Azores in the coming days. The soloists need to take up a sufficiently northerly course to benefit from a stronger downwind flow, but stay far enough south to touch on the low-pressure front in order to slip more easily along the Azores anticyclone swelling up behind, to the south of Newfoundland… It amounts to a delicate balancing act that suggests the current positions of the solo sailors are far from set in stone!

Indeed, this Tuesday morning sees differences in latitude of over sixty miles between the new leader, Michel Desjoyeaux, who has opted for a very northerly trajectory, and Lionel Lemonchois (Gitana 11), who has stayed closer to the direct (orthodromic) route, as has Thierry Duprey du Vorsent (Gitana 12). In fact, the fleet of trimarans remains highly bunched and the difficulty for the competitors now is coping with the stress generated by the unrelenting speed. According to the weather info, the wind will remain abeam (north-easterly) while reaching twenty knots and more amidst the squalls, which means sailing with one reef (or two) in the mainsail and gennaker up for hours… not to say days! This is precisely where the difficulty lies, as all the single-handed trimarans go at the same speed in these conditions, but the skipper has to remain watchful round the clock. The leaders should cover over 500 miles on this second day of the race and the Azores archipelago should be rounded to the north from Thursday morning… Consequently, the problem facing the solo sailors is keeping up a mounting rhythm (gradual acceleration up to more than 30 knots) over several days’ racing, since strong leading winds are forecast… all the way to the finish in Guadeloupe !

Thierry Duprey du Vorsent (Gitana 12): “01 :45: everything’s going well, even if Monday was a bit testing due to the highly unstable wind force and direction, which meant that a lot of time had to be spent on the bridge. I’d expected the front to be a bit more powerful and I slowed down a bit too quickly… But at least it allowed me to have a siesta, which did me the world of good: now, I’m on the other side of the front and the wind should grow as the hours pass, allowing me to quickly slip onto the direct route towards the Azores!”

Classement Multicoques ORMA à 12h00 le mardi 31 octobre :
Place - Bateau Skipper - Latitude - Longitude - Vit. - Cap - Dist. But - Dist. 1er
1 Géant - Michel Desjoyeaux 48 32.00' N 18 05.68' W 18.8 280 2922.8 0.0
2 Gitana 11- Lionel lemonchois 47 18.40' N 17 06.08' W 24.6 269 2926.9 4.1
3 Brossard - Yvan Bourgnon 48 27.32' N 17 12.80' W 18.3 202 2952.2 29.4
4 Banque Populaire - Pascal Bidegorry 47 40.52' N 16 29.20' W 21.2 195 2958.8 35.9
5 Groupama 2 - Franck Cammas 48 10.84' N 16 36.48' W 19.5 261 2967.0 44.2
6 Sodeb'O - Thomas Coville 47 38.40' N 16 05.08' W 20.8 258 2972.7 49.9
7 Foncia - Alain Gautier 48 05.20' N15 37.08' W 20.3 264 3000.7 77.9
8 Orange - Steve Ravussin 48 02.32' N 15 16.20' W 18.1 261 3012.4 89.6
9 Sopra Group - Antoine Koch 48 19.88' N14 54.32' W 19.3 259 3013.8 91.0
10 Gitana 12 - Thierry Duprey du Vorsent 47 42.96' N 13 40.04' W 16.2 235 3064.5 141.7
11 Region Guadeloupe - Claude Thelier 48 06.44' N 13 49.20' W 19.8 262 3067.5 144.7
12 Madinina - Gilles Lamire 47 53.64' N 8 59.28' W 15.2 266 3245.7 322.9
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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 31 October 2006 )
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