North or South - Difficult conditions lie ahead

Their strategies may be different but the unavoidable facts remain that the Transat Jacques Vabre fleet will have to deal with some difficult wind and sea conditions through Wednesday and Thursday as they encounter the first big Atlantic storm of the race. Crews on both the IMOCA Open 60's and the Multi 50's were preparing for winds which are forecast to exceed 40 knots at times and big seas.

Seb Josse, co-skipper on BT, the IMOCA Open 60 which has lead the fleet through the day, admitted this morning that there are no clear cut advantages between the more northerly routing which he and Jeff Curzon have been following, and that of the double Vendee Globe winning Michel Desjoyeaux on Foncia, who last night seized the opportunity presented to maximise his southing with co-skipper Jeremie Beyou, and split away from the southerly grouping.

Whilst Desjoyeaux told today's live radio chat session that his option was principally in search of a little relief from the worst of the forecast conditions, Foncia was still marching hard south, on the wind this evening, theoretically taking a loss in miles and placing in search of the longer term gain.

British pairing Dee Caffari and Brian Thompson on Aviva continued with their strong position, racing through the day in second place, sliding on the afternoon ranking to sixth with a 14 miles deficit to BT. Racing virtually alongside Kito de Pavant and Francois Gabart, only about 400 metres apart during the morning, Thompson highlighted the similarity in speed of the diverse designs before they tacked off to the north-west this afternoon, leaving the Mediterranean pairing, for the meantime, to a more southerly track.

The split in the fleet, such as it is, sees a group of five opting for a more northerly routing – mainly BT, Veolia Environnement, Mike Golding Yacht Racing, and Aviva – while the southerly cluster now comprises mainly Akena Verandas, Artemis and W Hotels.

Armel Le Cleac'h was forced to observe that perhaps he played his good luck cards in finishing second in the Vendee Globe after suffering no major damage as Le Cleach and his long-time friend Nicolas Troussel have been the first IMOCA Open 60 pairing to be forced to re-route because of damage. They took the tough decision to head for Concarneau very early this morning after a flailing headboard car ripped away 80cms of their mast track. 'The Jackal' – so named because of his ability to stay the course when others have faltered and pounce late in a race – said that they will make their decision on whether to continue or not as soon as the damage has been fully assessed.

First to play the stealth card – going into furtive mode – was Yves Parlier and Pachi Rivero on 1876.

In the Multi50 fleet Prince of Bretagne has been forced to head for La Coruna after also suffering mainsail mast-track damage, while Crepes Whaou still leads from the advancing Région Aquitaine Port Medoc.

Date Added - 10-Nov-2009

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