Transat competitors see temporary weather improvement

An improvement in the conditions for the Transat Jacques Vabre crews presents an opportunity to gain some respite but also to press on hard, keeping on top of the changeable breezes, as the seas drop slightly. IMOCA Open 60 fleet leader Seb Josse on BT spoke this morning of the difficult swell dropping back from six and a half metres to four metres and a more useful wind on 20-25 knots which he expects to drop a little further to 15-20 knots.

The night on BT may have been uncomfortable and tiring but was still better than the preceding one and Josse and Jeff Curzon still hold a steady lead of just over 12 miles over Marc Guillemot and Charles Caudrelier on Safran. All of the 13 remaining IMOCA Open 60's are now lined up for a long starboard tack and speeds are quite even across the fleet. Foncia, the southernmost boat, is now running a course early this morning which is almost parallel to their most northern rivals and has lost a further 20 miles on BT since early yesterday evening, now 244.5 miles behind. 1876, Yves Parlier and Pachi Rivero, held on furthest north yesterday before tacking.

In fourth place British skipper Mike Golding, sailing with Javier Sanso on Mike Golding Yacht Racing, has not had to look far for problems. Through the demanding weather conditions they have been sailing with no instrumentation and still continue to have pilot problems, presently running their emergency back-up autopilot system. The duo have been forced to remain extremely vigilant, ready to spring back into the cockpit and hand steer at the very first signs of pilot malfunction. Sanso reported this morning that they remain in good fettle, but are weary with the continual stress: "The thing is that even in these conditions now it is not possible to go scrabbling around looking at tiny wires to get to the root of the trouble. It will have to wait until we get a little further south." said the co-skipper from Palma, Mallorca. The respite is temporary before a bigger system comes through tomorrow.

With Cardinal FenetreA pit-stopped and Prince de Bretagne heading in to Vigo to assess their options, the Multi 50 class is reduced in numbers for the moment, but the competition remains engaging. Consistently in front Escoffier and Le Roux have not suffered any obvious problems and lead by a more comfortable 85 miles again now, with Crepes Whaou abeam of Lisbon this morning, just to the south and east of Foncia. Only question mark is over the Roucayrol/Alfaro duo on second placed Region Aquitaine Port Medoc who were heading north-west again very slowly this morning. Whether this is a strategic move or a problem, time will tell.

Date Added - 12-Nov-2009

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