Route des Princes - Leaders expected to pass Gibraltar

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Looks like there is going to be a late Atlantic lunch for the leading Route des Princes teams on Leg 1.From Valencia to Lisbon,the teams should pass Gibraltar later this morning ready to take on a complicated high pressure ridge which will protect the Bay of Cadiz and beyond that the corner of Portugal, Cabo St Vincent. Sidney Gavignet and the crew of Oman Air – Musandam have managed to build their lead back out to 22 miles over Yann Guichard’s Spindrift over the night hours, swapping during the night from a position offshore of their pursuers to now be north and west of them. But while the breezes still have held up well for the leaders, albeit changeable in strength and direction and so requiring constant attention on deck, the leaders are still making relatively slow progress towards the exit door of the Mediterranean. Having already won the point bonus at Benicarlo, Air Oman-Musandam are on course to also add the available extra point awarded at Gibraltar. Always upwind, Oman Air- Musandam have been making between 14 and 18 knots but their VMG – their net speed achieved in the direction of the course – is closer to nine knots. At 0800hrs this morning CET Gavignet and crew had 28 miles to make to Gibraltar. In third place Sébastien Josse’s Edmond de Rothschild are +47 miles behind the leaders and Virbac-Paprec 70 is +52 miles behind in fourth. Meantime the Multi50’s continue to battle in close contact with one another, between the Spanish and Moroccan coasts in 15-18 knots of W’ly wind with relatively flat seas although the marine traffic on the approach to one of the world’s busiest shipping highways is intensifying all the time. Arkema - Aquitaine Region (Lalou Roucayrol) now leads Actual (Yves Le Blevec) by just over half a mile and FenêtréA-Cardinal (Erwan Le Roux) is just over 12 miles behind the leaders. Up ahead the 180 miles passage across the the Bay of Cadiz, along the Algarve coast to Cabo St Vincent looks even more complex, and potentially slow with another compression of the classes possible. 'It looks slow and difficult. We don’t really know how we will manage this bit.' Warned Yves Le Blevec this morning from the Multi50 Actual. So also a strategic question has to be addressed first by the leaders on Air Oman-Musandam, whether to work the coast and try and use the sea breezes or to stay further offshore, closer to the centre of the high pressure ridge and hence probably lighter winds but in so doing be able to better use the rotation of the wind direction around the high and so make fewer tacks. 'We have not yet decided what we will do,' confirmed Gilles Favennec from Oman Air-Musandam. Ranking at 0800hrs CET (0600hrs TU/Z) Multi 50 1. Arkéma - Region Aquitaine, Lalou Roucayrol, 318.72 miles to finish 2. Actual, Yves Le Blevec, + 0.58 miles to leader 3. FenêtréA - Cardinal, Erwan Le Roux + 16.62 miles to leader MOD 70 1. Oman Air - Musandam, Sidney Gavignet, 317.27 miles to finish 2. Spindrift, Yann Guichard, + 22.28 miles to leader 3. Edmond de Rothschild, Sébastien Josse +47.23 milles to leader 4. Virbac - Paprec 70, Jean-Pierre Dick, + 52.27 milles to leader Ultime 1. Maxi 80 Prince de Bretagne, Lionel Lemonchois, 342.81 miles to finish Yves Le Blévec (Actual): 'We are now approaching the Strait of Gibraltar. There are a lot of things we need to be careful about, especially maritime traffic. There are a lot of shifts and changes in the wind but we are doing our best. We came to a bit of a transition in the night was not too favorable for us Lalou (Arkema-Aquitaine) got back at us The fleet is closely grouped and we follow the AIS permanently, it's nice there is this tension between us. The goal for us was to keep in the middle in the Alboran Sea as much as possible and largely the others did the same. If one of them went closer to Morocco and Spain we would have been worried. The wind has picked up, we have around 18 knots and it is nice that the sea is flat. In the strait, there will be a little less wind but now we have wind that suits us and that can go fast. We should get into the Strait late morning, so local time between 10am and noon. The bonus points are part of the game but most of all we just want to open more of a gap After the Strait, the wind will be weaker and the beginning of the Bay of Cadiz will be difficult and slow. ' Gilles Favennec (Musandam Oman Air): 'We are getting towards Gibraltar, we have a good pressure and all is well on board. We are not far from the Multi50s. From the beginning we have been in front really since Benicarlo, we managed to keep the wind a little longer than others. When it has dropped, it was still five to six knots so we always have kept going. But we will have to go straight across the high pressure ridge and that will be difficult. We are pleased to have points Benicarlo and have taken the lead but there is a lot to think about now. Getting out of the Strait and across the ridge will be difficult. We have not yet decided what will be best. We sail in a W’ly wind, it is a local effect of the Strait of Gibraltar. When we get to the ridge we will have two choices: play close to the high to get the rotation of the wind or go near the coast and look for the heat and the night breeze.' Route des Princes