In the Transat Jacques Vabre, having crossed the final major weather hurdle, a stormy unsettled low pressure front, as they passed the entrance to the Bay of Rio earlier, Vincent Riou and Jean Le Cam on PRB had less than 340 miles left to sail of the 5450 mile course from Le Havre to Itajaí where the finish line for the IMOCA Open 60 class awaits them.
The vastly experienced duo, a partnership galvanised in the aftermath of adversities and tribulations, had a lead of some 98 miles over second placed Maitre CoQ (Béyou and Pratt) and are expected in Itajaí just after breakfast time, local, on Sunday morning.
Vincent Riou and Jean Le Cam - B Stichelbaut
If they can close out victory, it will be the first time that either have won their class over multiple Transat Jacques Vabre participations. Le Cam finished third in 2005 and fourth in 2001. Riou has never been on the podium, and might bring a series of disappointment to an end if he can win in the colours of his longtime Vendéen sponsors.
His retirement from the early stages of the most recent Vendée Globe followed abandoning the last Transat Jacques Vabre. The two long time adversaries became close after Riou rescued Le Cam who had spent 16 hours inside his upturned VM Materiaux in January 2009, 200 miles west of Cape Horn. Riou’s mast tumbled down the following day. Riou won the 2004-5 Vendée Globe ahead of second placed Le Cam.
Behind them the duel for second intensified as Jérémie Beyou – who won the last edition of this race, sailing with Jean Pierre Dick – sailing this time with Christopher Pratt took a very narrow lead, ten miles ahead of Safran (Guillemot and Bidégorry).
In Class 40 there are now 1100 miles between GDF SUEZ (Rogues-Delahaye) and 11th Hour Racing ( Jenner -Windsor). The leaders passed the equator around 16:00hrs UTC yesterday whilst behind, in the Cape Verde islands the British-American duo shaved Sal Island at the same time. Both are sailing in the trade winds but not in the same direction, SE’ly in the southern hemisphere and NE’ly at the Cape Verdes for 11th Hour which of course had to return to Lorient to fix a rig problem. And in the peloton of Class 40 the Doldrums are still very much affecting the majority of the fleet, only really the top five or seven boats have really escaped as of last night. Behind SNCF Geodis (Amédéo-Tripon) the winds are not well established yet.
And, really in the end, the ICTZ has been good for the leaders who have managed to open up on Mare (Riechers-Brasseur) who have lost at least 30 miles and in turn find themselves under pressure from the Spanish duo Alex Pella and Pablo Santurde on Tales Santander who are just twenty miles behind. In fact after the leaders there are five pairs racing head to head. The biggest fall has been that of Vaquita (Petter-Hanakamp) who have dropped five places and 150 miles.
It will become ever more difficult to challenge Rogues and Delahaye as the descend into a rich get richer scenario, increasingly favourable breezes on the long close reach 400 miles to Recife and the corner of Brazil, and beyond.
Vincent Riou, PRB: 'The conditions at the front were quite interesting. As well as the winds we had the unruly seas to deal with. Now we are going between 17 and 22kts and we will have to keep pushing a bit but we are happy with the way we are managing things, they will come back at us because they will have more regular conditions, but with our lead I think we can afford to go a bit steady.'
by Soazig Guého
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9:09 PM Sat 23 Nov 2013GMT
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