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Brest Atlantiques - Midway mark

by Gitana 18 Nov 2019 23:48 PST
Maxi Edmond de Rothschild - 2019 Brest Atlantiques © Yann Riou / PolaRYSE / GITANA SA

Since passing Rio de Janeiro, the first official course mark, the Brest Atlantiques fleet has had to ride out some testing weather conditions for both the men and the machines over the past three days. Close-hauled and then on a reach in a sustained breeze of around thirty knots generating heavy cross seas, they've just had to grit their teeth at times.

However, aboard the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier have been able to rely on the airborne properties of their steed and their vast experience to make a difference. Just as they reach the midway mark in the race mid-afternoon this Monday, the two men are launching into their sixth consecutive day in the lead, over 150 miles in front of second placed Macif and more than double that in relation to Sodebo Ultim.

Gough Island checkpoint

"We were in a bit of a black hole for 2-3 days, I don't even recall exactly, with very heavy seas and a lot of moisture, but fortunately we're nicely protected on the boat! Things are better now and that's much appreciated", admitted Charles Caudrelier yesterday. Indeed, for the past 24 hours, the leaders in the Brest Atlantiques have been back in the sunshine and above all more manageable seas that favour speed. Aboard the latest Gitana, the two sailors were only too willing to make the most of these new conditions. Result: an average speed of 35.4 knots recorded yesterday between the 15:00 UTC ranking and that of 19:00 UTC! "The boat is slipping along on her own on flat seas at 35-37 knots, which is rather nice!", said Charles smiling. "It feels good to be making fast headway without the constant impact! Right now, it's a bit of a cinch really, but we've earned this short spell of pleasure", Franck admitted to Yann Riou's camera.

At these high speeds, the islands of Tristan Da Cunha and her closest neighbour Gough Island have quickly been ticked off and are now in the wake of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild. Indeed, the 32-metre giant left the latter to starboard last night at around 01:00 hours this morning. Six hours later, it was the turn of the crew on Macif to skirt the coast of this British Island lost in the middle of the South Atlantic at the gates to the Roaring Forties. "We're all converging on this point as the island also marks the upper limit of the ice exclusion zone put in place by Race Management after ice was detected in the vicinity by the CLS*", explained Franck Cammas.

Circumnavigating the high pressure

However, this course a long way to the South, with Gitana 17 making headway at 41 degrees33' South at the 15:00 UTC position report whilst the next course mark is located at 33 degrees South, can largely be explained by the position of the Saint Helena High, which is lower than usual. Indeed, this zone of high pressure, which is to the South Atlantic what the Azores High is to the North Atlantic, owes its name to the British island where Napoléon 1st was exiled and died in 1821. The island is situated at 15 degrees57' South and 5 degrees42' West, between Brazil and the African coast of Angola.

From a strategic viewpoint, the giant fitted out by Ariane and Benjamin de Rothschild is today being forced into a corridor between the high pressure system to the North and the imaginary line that marks the boundary of the ice exclusion zone to the South. This explains the series of gybes that Charles Caudrelier and Franck Cammas are having to put in, downwind, in order to avoid stumbling into the zones of calms on the one side and penalties on the other.

"The Roaring Forties aren't roaring very loudly, if at all", joked the sailor from Aix-en-Provence. "It's nice and calm, but it's not unpleasant to be able to take a bit of a breather, as we've had plenty of roaring since Rio. We're going to have to put in a lot of manœuvres because unfortunately we can't make a straight line course to Cape Town as we're having to circumnavigate a zone of high pressure via its southern boundary. That's not how things were supposed to play out on our travel documents, but the forties are nice too when they're like this! We're making the most of the calm conditions to check over the boat, do a few odd jobs and get some rest. There's still a very long way to go in this race. We've done 50% of the trip and we hope that the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild will behave just as well as she has done since we left Brest on 5 November", concluded the skipper.

* CLS means Satellite-based location and data collection system. CLS is a subsidiary of the CNES (National Centre for Space Studies), ARDIAN and IFREMER, which is an international company that has been a pioneer in the provision of monitoring and surveillance solutions for the Earth since 1986.

Ranking on Monday 18 November at 15:00 UTC

1. Maxi Edmond De Rothschild (Franck Cammas / Charles Caudrelier / Yann Riou) - distance to the goal: 6,814.8 miles - average speed over the past 30 mins: 22.7 knots
2. Macif (François Gabart / Gwenolé Gahinet / Jérémie Eloy) - 156.1 miles behind the leader - average speed over the past 30 mins: 21.9 knots
3. Sodebo Ultim 3 (Thomas Coville / Jean-Luc Nelias / Martin Keruzoré) - 360.5 miles behind the leader - average speed over the past 30 mins: 26.3 knots
4. Actual Leader (Yves Le Blevec / Alex Pella / Ronan Gladu) - 392.6 miles behind the leader - average speed over the past 30 mins: 29 knots

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