Barcelona World Race update.
Passing closer to Madeira and sailing a little faster through the night, Michel Desjoyeaux and Francois Gabart on Foncia have halved their deficit on Virbac-Paprec 3's Jean Pierre Dick and Loick Peyron.
Last night Foncia was 26 miles behind and this morning it is cut to just 13. As the breeze clocks more NE'ly and lightens, for what will be a downwind passage towards the Canaries, today will be an interesting one as the leading duo line up. La Palma the most westerly island, is 140 miles almost dead downwind of today's course and so the passage round or through the islands could be critical.
Certainly the Foncia duo have shown no fear for getting too close to islands, passing just 1.6 miles off most westerly point of Madeira yesterday evening.
This morning at 0500hrs (UTC) the leading five boats have passed the latitiude of Maderia. And as the leaders slow a little, we could see more compression as Mirabaud and Estrella Damm continue to catch miles.
Jean Le Cam (FRA) has often displayed a preference for the easterly option down this part of the Atlantic and with President he and Bruno Garcia (ESP) have been especially fast since yesterday afternoon, diving almost due south they have made 33 miles on the leaders during last night.
From being 0.4 of a mile off Mapfre, this morning the President men have gained 33 miles ahead on the Spanish duo through having taken this direct routing.
It has been a decent night too for Boris Herrmann (GER) and Ryan Breymaier (USA) restoring Neutrogena to sixth, while 'les red Cow-Boys', Groupe Bel's Kito de Pavant (FRA) and Seb Audigane(FRA) are up to eighth, catching Dee Caffari (GBR) and Anna Corbella (ESP) on GAES Centros Auditivos. Yesterday's pack of five is now reduced to four, with a 40 miles lateral separation between Groupe Bel in the SE and the girls in the NW.
And of the group of four behind Pachi Rivero (ESP) and Tonio Piris (ESP) on Renault ZE Sailing Team have found top gear and have gained 10th place. All of the fleet are now through the front and heading south.
The transit of the Canary Islands will be instructive. Usually the west is preferable, avoiding the wind shadows of the mountains. But this time, on what is considered quite a low, more easterly routing, they lie directly on the path of, certainly, the top half of the fleet. South of the Canary Islands the trade winds are now well established and when the leader hit they will have every chance to extend again, so the pressure is really on over the next 24 hours to make sure that each of the duos reach this acceleration zone ahead of their rivals.
Barcelona World Race website