The Charente-Maritime/Bahia Transat 6.50 fleet has slowed down off White Cape (Mauritania), within 300 miles of the Cape Verde archipelago, shuffling the cards cards again for both the Protos and the Series.
La Charente-Maritime/Bahia Transat 6.50 2011
The Series fleet is now led by the inseparable duo of Gwénolé Gahinet (455 - Asso-Watever gwenolegahinet.com) and Pierre Brasseur (552 - Voile Océan). Spread in longitude across 200 km, 13 competitors are sailing within twenty miles of one another. There is a similar situation for the Protos with Sébastien Rogues (716 - Eole Generation, GDF SUEZ) retaining his lead.
Danger comes from everywhere for the leaders, both in Protos and Series and the gaps have melted away. Sébastien Rogues (716 - Eole Generation - GDF SUEZ), still faithful to his leeward route seems to be in control of the situation; he continues gibing unconcerned about his immediate rivals and despite the threats coming from at him from both sides. Four boats are sailing windward, ready to take full advantage of the expected wind increase from the east, in order to shift between Rogues yellow and white Proto and the Cape Verde archipelago's mark.
Lucas Montagne (618 - ONG Conseil) has made a great start with wisdom and rationality. He is windward of the fleet and with him are three terrific sailors, Guillaume Le Brec (667 - OCCAMAT / ADT), Thomas Normand (787 - Financière de l'Echiquier) and yesterday's leader Bertrand Delesne (754 - Zone Large). They are all playing a subtle game of 'successful gybes' toward the obligatory Cape Verde Islands passage mark. But danger comes from behind with the return of two very great leaders of the first leg, David Raison (747 - TeamWork Evolution) and Jorg Riechers (753 - Mare.de).
Nearly 220 miles in longitude separate the British Pip Hare (743 - The Potting Shed), the eastern most of the fleet and the Dutchman Robert Rosen Jacobson (602 - NED602) who is further west. A fierce battle is raging in the middle whilst first place is exchanged randomly, according to the very unstable weather and wind. Maximum concentration is required with the slightest slackening costing precious places overall. Davy Beaudart (674 - Innovea Environnement) has paid the price for his boat problems and is relegated to 14th spot.
As the Cape Verde passage approaches the fleets have to position themselves in order to benefit from a good wind angle and to sneak between the islands of the Archipelago. Have the supporters of the West option gone through their rough patch? Is Eric Llull (566 - Noble Cocoa), closer to the direct route, going to overtake the supporters of the Centre option led by the duo Gwénolé Gahinet and Pierre Brasseur?