The eighth Transat Québec Saint-Malo, memorable for the duration, intensity and unpredictability, is reaching its final, crucial and exciting chapter.
The Open Multi50 trimaran Vers un Monde sans Sida skippered by Erik Nigon
Erwan Le Roux and his crew on FenêtréA Cardinal 3 took overall line honours and smashed the Multi50 record. His main competitors are furiously duelling for second place.
Erik Nigon on his 'small' 50' trimaran Vers un Monde sans Sida is fighting hard against the bigger 60' Défi Saint-Malo Agglo skippered by Gilles Lamiré, after both rounded the famous Fastnet Rock last night and the two boats are neck and neck for the finish in Saint Malo, which they are expected to reach tonight at around 8pm. But their finishing order is still to be decided.
The all-Italian crew led by Andrea Mura on the 50' Vento di Sardegna is also sailing the final miles and pushing hard to meet their target of being the first monohull to reach Saint Malo, ahead of the very competitive Class40 boats, due in overnight or more probably tomorrow morning.
The Class40 fleet is certainly going to guarantee a spectacular and close finish with the leaders Halvard Mabire, Miranda Merron and Christian Bouroullec on Campagne de France, who have succeeded since yesterday to build a gap on their closest adversaries. All but one, as it seems, because the strong international crew on Mare, led by German Jörg Riechers is not giving up and hoping that the strategic move to sail lower will pay off.
The final judgement will only be known tomorrow afternoon...
If Halvard Mabire on Campagne de France has been able to get rid of all his adversaries and has now a more than comfortable advantage of 66 and 82 miles on Sébastien Rogues (Eole Generation-GDF SUEZ) and Fabrice Amedeo (Geodis) respectively, the most menacing of all Jörg Richers and his 'all stars' crew composed of Sam Manuard, Rémi Aubrun and Ryan Breymaier seem the only team able to threat Mabire's leadership. Their bold move to try and gibe earlier to stay lower and get a better wind angle on the approach to Saint Malo, has proved positive but their gamble has only partially paid as a right wind shift has levelled the game once again and Campagne de France and Mare are separated, according to the latest position report, just by less than 30 miles.
Miranda Merron and Halvard Mabire on Class40 leader Campagne de France
The finish will be as close as ever and the winner will be decided only tomorrow in the afternoon. Should Mabire have the best he would sign an historical double success in the classic West to East transatlantic race, after the triumph in 2008.
After having sailed almost in solitude for the best part of the Atlantic crossing, the two trimarans have finally converged and are living an exciting finish. Défi Saint-Malo Agglo and Vers un Monde sans Sida have been duelling for second place in the multihull Open class for the last two days. The two teams have rounded the last compulsory mark, the Fastnet Rock, last night and are quickly approaching the Brittany coast where their ETA is set for around 19:30 today. With less than 100 miles to go and a tiny gap between of 3.4 miles between the two boats, the suspense is guaranteed until the end. Despite Erik Nigon's move to the East to try and find more pressure, anything could still happen. After 11 days at sea, the show will be exciting for the spectators, but the stress must be huge for the exhausted sailors who have been confronted with high winds and choppy seas.
The situation must be similarly stressful for the Italian crew of Vento di Sardegna who have been constantly watching in their rearview mirror for the last hours and Halvard Mabire's comeback has forced Andrea Mura and his men to push even harder to meet their main objective: be the first monohull on the finish line. Having succeeded in gaining a good gap on the Class 40 after one week of racing, the Italians are fighting hard to keep it untouched. This duel too will be decided tomorrow, and only a few miles from the imposing walls of Saint Malo.
Ryan Breymaier's blog from Mare earlier today 'So, our gybe went very well yesterday evening. We ended up with lots of wind and a good angle on starboard gybe, and have been doing well ever since. Everyone was anxiously awaiting the position report this morning, and now an air of calm has settled over the boat, the only objective now to go as fast as possible in this drag race to the finish. We remain the most northerly boat; something that surprises us, we would have thought that Campagne de France would have gybed on our line. We did have the luxury of choosing when to gybe, and did so just after the last position report of the evening, giving us 8 hours of freedom. We certainly hope that he has to soak, thereby slowing, or even better has to gybe, giving us all the more distance. All this being said, they are sailing a great race, are still ahead, and this will not be over till we cross the line.'
Top position report on August 2nd at 13:40 GMT:
1 - Halvard Mabire – Campagne de France – Distance to finish 236,4 nm
2 - Jorg Riechers – Mare – 28,1 nm to leader
3 -Sèbastien Rogues - Eole Generation - GDF SUEZ – 65,6 nm to leader
4 - Fabrice Amedeo – Geodis – 83,8 nm to leader
1 - Erwan Le Roux - FenêtréA Cardinal 3 – Finished on August 1st 2012, at 07:56:05 – Elapsed time 9d, 14h, 21m, 5s
2 - Gilles Lamiré - Défi Saint-Malo Agglo – Distance to finish 81,4 nm
3 - Erik Nigon - Vers un Monde sans SIDA – 3,4 nm to leader
4 - Andrea Mura – Vento di Sardegna – Distance to finish 126,4 nm (First Monohull)
Transat Quebec St-Malo website