Having crossed the Artemis Transat Musto race gate (Cape Race longitude) yesterday at 22:42 GMT, Loick Peyron, captured the Musto Newfoundland Trophy. Now with Vincent Riou on board, from his abandoned PRB, he is heading into what will be the fiercest gale of the race.
They're simply expecting to take a beating - the leaders of The Artemis Transat, whilst sailing fast in reaching conditions, are keeping busy preparing their boats for the gale.
Calmly and very professionally, both Loick Peyron on Gitana Eighty and Armel Le Cléac'h on Brit Air, have planned their sail reductions, carried out an overall check-up and are already witnessing a serious wind increase. The contrast could not be stronger with the second pack, desperately waiting for some breeze in order to cross the ice gate. '0 knots of wind and 0 knots of boat speed', reported a laughing Sam Davies on Roxy this morning!
Now leading the race, Peyron has to cope with the new 'lifestyle' imposed by the presence of Vincent Riou, whom of course cannot take part in any manoeuvre. The jury of The Artemis Transat is currently working to determine Loick's time allowance. The wind is now south for the leading boats which are sailing a direct route to Boston at around 13 knots, and could reach the finish line Friday night (550 miles to go).
Armel Le Cléac'h's Brit Air is already facing Force 7 winds - officially denominated 'near gale' - and has switched into low-profile / wise seamanship mode. 'I have 28 knots of wind, increasing from the West - rather tough today, so I'll put the racing aside for the next 20 hours, to concentrate on the preservation of the gear. I took two reefs in when the wind was blowing 23 kts, usually you'd wait more but I anticipated. There will be more sail reductions to come, maybe we'll go as far as sailing under mainsail alone to let the worst of the gale pass.'
Armel, a cautious sailor by nature, is also completing his Vendée Globe qualifying passage during The Artem is Transat, and understandably does not want to take any risks.
Strategically speaking, as Jean-Luc Nélias pointed out in his morning analysis, 'The rescue of Vincent Riou and the passage of the ridge yesterday evening induced a 50 mile separation north-south between Gitana and Brit Air. We've already looked at the fact that such a separation provides the opportunity for an attack, and if we look at the animation we can see the two boats arriving at the same time in Boston! IMOCA 60 - Positions - DTF - DTL - at 06:00hrs 22 May
1 Gitana Eighty 526.0 0.0
2 Brit Air 586.9 60.9
3 Generali 659.9 133.9
4 Safran 935.0 409.0
5 Roxy 1004.5 478.5
6 Akena Vérandas 1020.7 494.7
7 Cervin EnR 1024.3 498.3
8 Aviva 1075.6 549.6
9 Spirit of Weymouth 1176.8 650.8 Class 40 - Positions - DTF - DTL - at 06:00hrs 22 May
1 Telecom Italia 1245.8 0
2 Mistral Loisirs - Pole Santé ELIOR 1302.3 56.5
3 Beluga Racer 1303.6 57.8
4 Appart City 1307.9 62.1
5 40 Degrees 1342.9 97.1
6 Fujifilm 1356.6 110.8
7 Custo Pol 1363.7 117.9
8 Prévoir Vie 1378 132.2
9 Groupe Royer 1388 142.2
10 Groupe Partouche 1388 142.2
11 Clarke Offshore Racing 1440.9 195.1