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Bermudes 1000 Race: Game on once more at the Azores mark!

by Bermudes 1000 Race 14 May 15:20 PDT
Fabrice Amedeo (Newrest – Art & Fenêtres) © David Branigan / Oceansport

With this Tuesday heralding the midway point in the race for the majority of the skippers competing in the Bermudes 1000 Race Douarnenez Brest, perhaps the most significant development today is the incredible turnaround on the racetrack cause by the fleet approaching the virtual mark situated to the North of the Azores.

Sébastien Simon (ARKEA PAPREC), who was leading the fleet with a 40-mile bonus in relation to his closest pursuer at daybreak, has slowed dramatically to the point that he's actually becalmed in the area surrounding the waypoint, conceding half his lead already. Worse still, Sam Davies (Initiatives Cur) and Boris Herrmann (Malizia), who had been lying in second and third place since the start, have been overtaken by Yannick Bestaven (Maître Coq), whilst Maxime Sorel (V and B Sailing Together) and Giancarlo Pedote (Prysmian) have closed to within five miles of their sterns.

We were expecting the accordion effect to come into play as the fleet approached this famous waypoint at the Azores and that's exactly what we've had! In the first instance, the leader of the fleet, Sébastien Simon has seen his lead ebb and flow on two occasions, extending to 50 miles at one point and then shrinking to 20 miles, before ebbing away again in the area surrounding the virtual mark at midday today. The reason for this is that he's caught in the clutches of a zone of light airs and has been struggling to get more than three knots out of his boat.

Meantime, his rivals have continued to make headway at an average of between eight and 10 knots. The upshot of this is that the skipper of ARKEA PAPREC, who rounded the compulsory passage mark at 14:45 hours, is now 'just' two hours ahead of his direct rival. And though he was expecting that to be Sam Davies or Boris Herrmann, in the end it's Yannick Bestaven who's hot on his heels.

In fact, the latter gained an edge after opting for the outside lane, enabling him to benefit this afternoon from a more favourable angle in relation to the wind than his rivals. These same adversaries had banked on a lift which, sadly for them, is a bit late making its presence felt. Consequently, there's be a muddling up of the leaderboard and a massive bunching up of the troops. As such, there was a flurry of activity from Maître CoQ, Initiatives Cur, Malizia, V and B Sailing Together and Prysmian as they all passed the waypoint within the space of an hour. So, it's game on once more tonight with 870 miles left to go to make Brest. This long stretch should be played out on port tack virtually all the way to the finish, starting out with a reach before switching to a beat in a NW'ly breeze of between 13 and 18 knots.

Technical issues but great motivation

The battle may be raging at the front of the fleet, but it's no less feisty towards the tail end, even though some slight glitches have put in an appearance. Most notable of these are lashing problems on the mainsail head for both Denis Van Weynbergh (Eyesea) and Damien Seguin (Groupe APICIL). The former has managed to install a system enabling him to hoist his sail up to the second reef whilst, for now, the second is envisaging several solutions including making a stopover in Portugal (it's worth noting the race rules permit a pit stop for a maximum duration of 24 hours).

For his part, Fabrice Amedeo (Newrest Art and Fenêtres) has had to deal with the loss of his J3 and the associated stay, which means he can no longer tension up either his Code 0 or his gennaker, so he'll be compelled to sail under-canvassed for the second half of the race. "When the tack of my J3 gave up the ghost, the sail was slapping against the mast and I didn't manage to recover it. The problem is that it's a structural element so it's now impossible for me to put the mast under any pressure from a bigger headsail. I'm disappointed because, despite the little preparation I've done since launching her, I felt like I was on top of things and in harmony with my boat.

However, these setbacks have only made me more determined. Right now, my objective is to finish this race as honourably as I can", commented the skipper-journalist. It's a goal shared by Pip Hare (Superbigou) who has managed to effect temporary repairs on her gooseneck.

Position report at 17:00 hours:

1. Sébastien Simon (ARKEA PAPREC) 858.5 miles from the finish
2. Yannick Bestaven (Maître Coq IV) 21.3 miles behind the leader
3. Sam Davies (Initiatives Cur) 26.2 m
4. Boris Herrmann (Malizia II Yacht Club de Monaco) 29.5 m
5. Maxime Sorel (V and B Sailing Together) 30.2 m
6. Giancarlo Pedote (Prysmian) 31.5 m
7. Fabrice Amedeo (Newrest Art et Fenêtres) 69.2 m
8. Clément Giraud (Envol by Fortil) 71.3 m
9. Damien Seguin (Groupe APICIL) 72.2 m
10. Stéphane Le Diraison (Time for Oceans) 77.8 m
11. Arnaud Boissières (La Mie Câline Artipôle) 83.7 m
12. Manuel Cousin (Groupe Setin) 113.1 m
13. Miranda Merron (Campagne de France) 152.5 m
14. Alexia Barrier (4myplanet) 169.3 m
15. Ari Huusela (Ariel II) 209.4 m
16. Pip Hare (Superbigou) 217.2 m
17. Denis Van Weynbergh (Eyesea) 241.6 m

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