by Soazig Guého
In the Transat Quebec Saint Malo, the last 24 hours have been hectic for the 25 boats taking part and especially amongst the Class40 fleet where a big wind shift, together with some technical glitches, have reshuffled the cards among the leading pack.
A class40 at Percée
Yesterday's frontrunners on Mare sustained a broken bowsprit and have been forced to slow down, going from first to eighth, while their competitors managed to sneak past. As the wind went down due to a developing low pressure system, the fleet compressed and the distances have been reduced to only 21 miles between the new leader Fabrice Amedeo's Geodis and ninth placed US flagged Bodacious Dream skippered by David Rearick.
Most of the Class 40s are now approaching their final compulsory waypoint of Saint Pierre that they are expected to round later tonight. In the Open class Erwan Le Roux's trimaran FenêtréA Cardinal is still the undisputed leader followed by Erik Nigon's Vers un Monde sans Sida 132 behind and by the first big monohull, Italy's Vento di Sardegna skippered by Andrea Mura.
While overall race leader FenêtréA Cardinal is already well past St Pierre et Miquelon, sailing off Cape Race on the east tip of Newfoundland, and heading out for the 2,000 miles Atlantic passage, the rest of the fleet is left struggling against a small low pressure developing over the area west of St Pierre, causing light and variable winds.
As a consequence the Class40 fleet, lead until yesterday by Joerg Riechers' Mare, has compressed and the advantages have melted away.
Transat Québec Saint Malo course map - Transat Quebec Saint Malo 2012
So much that, at the latest position report, only 21 miles separate the new leader Fabrice Amedeo's Geodis from ninth placed American team on Bodacious Dream led by David Rearick and the first fifteen boats are all within a 25 miles distance.
Fabrice Amédéo's Geodis took the lead benefiting also from some radical options from his adversaries, like Aurélien Ducroz on Latitude Neige/Longitude Mer who briefly moved in first earlier today but has then opted for a more southern route to try and avoid the centre of the low, with its light airs. Amédéo followed by Stéphane Le Diraison on IXBlue, author of one of the best comebacks, are instead trying to escape from the east while German Joerg Riechers is bidding on the south.
Class40 Latitude Neige - Longitude Mer - Transat Quebec Saint Malo 2012
An option that, so far, looks to pay off thanks to a stronger westerly/south-westerly breeze that has granted Mare some gains on the leaders after the unfortunate incident that caused the red boat to lose the top spot. This is how American Ryan Breymaier explained what happened on board Mare in his blog:
'Just as night fell yesterday, we heard a funny pop; we bore away and looked around, only to find nothing. Unfortunately when we came back up and the bowsprit broke, it became quickly apparent that nothing was actually quite important. Two little pieces came unglued, allowing the ropes attached to the sprint to move, and thereby applying the uneven pressure which caused it to fail. We managed to go get the broken piece under the roof, cut the damaged section off the nosepiece, and off of the body of the sprit. Then we glued two pieces of fibreglass plate in place top and bottom. This morning, the bobstay and tack lines were re-spliced to account for the now one foot shorter sprit, and the kite reset.'
Yet, what happened on Mare was not the only damage to be reported, both Robert Patenaude on Persévérence and Georges Leblanc on Océan Phénix communicated to have exploded their spinnakers, some broken battens on Gilles Lamiré's Défi Saint-Malo Agglo as well as on Vento di Sardegna, some rudder issues on Benoit Pranaudeau's Transport Cohérance a halyard problems on Bleu skippered by Eric Tabardel and another broken bowsprit on Christophe Coatnoan's Partouche. Luckily enough none of the boats had to abandon racing, with only Transport Cohérance planning to make a technical pit-stop in Saint-Pierre et Miquelon.
To date, only two teams have gone past Saint-Pierre et Miquelon and are already on the route to Europe, the first one being Erwan Leroux's Multi 50 FenêtréA Cardinal who rounded at 22:30 CEST last night and Erik Nigon's Vers un Monde sans Sida, today at 14:00. But in a few hours the waypoint off the small port of St Pierre will no doubt be very crowded as the rest of the fleet is expected to pass overnight.
Interesting to note how the Italian 50' mono Vento di Sardegna, skippered by Andrea Mura has chosen a more direct route and could well overtake Gilles Lamiré's 60' trimaran Défi Saint-Malo Agglo that is forced to tack to get to the waypoint, as will possibly do some of the leading Class40.
Top three position report on July 26th at 13:40 GMT
1 - Fabrice Amedeo – Geodis – Distance to finish 2,192 nm
2 - Stéphane Le Diraison - IXBlue– 2,5 nm to leader
3 - Sébastien Rogues - Eole Generation - GDF Suez – 31,7 nm to leader
1 - Erwan Le Roux - FenêtréA Cardinal 3 – Distance to finish 2022,9 nm
2 - Erik Nigon - Vers un Monde sans SIDA – 132,5 nm to leader
3 - Andrea Mura – Vento di Sardegna – 179,7 nm to leader ( First Monohull)
Eole Generation - GDF SUEZ - Transat Quebec Saint Malo 2012
Transat Quebec Saint Malo website