Leaders near the finish of Transat Jacques Vabre

Having opened a further 15 miles on Groupe Bel which has pursued them hard more than the last week, there was an element of relief in the voice of Safran skipper Marc Guillemot this morning. While his co-skipper Charles Caudrelier snatched some well deserved sleep, Guillemot admitted that now, with some 90 miles in hand and with 240 miles to the finish line of the Transat Jacques Vabre in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica the pressure on them has lessened slightly.

In 2007 there was the pain for the Safran duo of actually being able to see the race winner up ahead in the distance.
These are the final miles that Guillemot, who had such an heroic Vendee Globe earlier this year, is savouring, on what he hopes is the brink of a great sporting win.
For the chasing pair, Kito de Pavant and Francois Gabart, on Groupe Bel there is the final throw of the dice, perhaps a realisation that their chances of simply powering past their rivals on the same course in the same winds, was not going to happen. Instead they have headed further north, in the hope of gaining more breeze and a more favourable wind angle in to the finish.

Meantime the Multi v IMOCA Open 60 Class battle is also nearing its conclusion as Franck-Yves Escoffier and Erwan Le Roux on the powerful, new Multi 50 Crepes Whaou! hunt down the leading mono Safran which was about 80 miles ahead on the same course. The red multi was a knot or two quicker at times in the fast, downwind conditions, but it will be a close finish.

British pair Dee Caffari and Brian Thompson completed their '007' mission off St Lucia when they slowed down for only minutes to collect a spare part for their generator system. Under cover of darkness they dropped Aviva's spinnaker rounded through the bay and slowed to receive the replacement control panel for their generator. Even their predicted losses proved accurate. The Aviva shore team expected to lose around 15 miles to Veolia Envoironnement. It was closer to 14. "It's cool, we are still in the hunt and it is game on!" Said an audibly pleased Caffari.

And for Spanish skippers Pepe Ribes and Alex Pella, there is the contentment of moving up to fifth on the standings and leading the pack of three with 71 miles in hand over Aviva and 42 on Veolia Environnement.

Date Added - 23-Nov-2009

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