Runaway train

"Stoke her up and don’t worry about the signals." Rather like Casey Jones and his men shovelling on the coal until the furnaces are red, the two frontrunners are giving nothing away. Actual has made up some of her loss over Crêpes Whaou ! 3 and has clocked up an average speed of 17.7 knots over the last 24 hours. Taking into account the huge number of obstacles in the path of the multihulls, that means that their real average speed has been around 23-24 knots.

When will they finish? The two leaders are doing much better than initially forecast and their ETAs are having to be recalculated again and again… Initially expected to finish on Monday, it now looks like they could cross the finish on Sunday night or even during daylight hours on Sunday. It will all depend on the weather situation in the Channel: will the ridge of high pressure stretching between England and France allow anyone through in some light airs or will its tentacles engulf the leaders and hold them prisoner. If this happens, the race could come to a grinding halt. But if there is still a breath of air, the two leaders can hope to continue to achieve averages of around ten knots and set a record time. We should know a bit more about what is going to happen by tomorrow as we observe the behaviour of the high-pressure area over the Channel.

Enjoying it
Further back, there are also some good reasons to feel upbeat: on board Région Aquitaine Port-Médoc, Lalou Roucayrol and his crew are really enjoying themselves sailing in a trio, where they are alongside some skilled workers and are able to make the most of some good company. Loïc Féquet and the crew of Crêpes Whaou ! 2 are happy each day to talk about how they are understanding more and more about their trimaran and are not giving anything away to the leaders. But we can be certain at this point that they are praying for conditions to evolve at the front of the fleet and hoping that the wind will die away off the English coast. In the pack, they are still battling it out within sight of each other in some generous sunshine and excellent visibility, allowing them to appreciate fully the sight of the Danish islands. Erwan Le Roux (FenêtréA Cardinal) is still keeping Anne Caseneuve (Naviguez Anne Caseneuve) and Pierre Hingant (La mer révèle nos sens) at bay, but the gap between them is so narrow that surprises are possible. Further back still, they are having to find other sources of motivation and the desire to achieve a better time than on the outward leg is a powerful one for Hervé Cléris (CLM) and Etienne Hochédé (PiR2) who are still pushing their boats hard. As they await the boats’ arrival, the village in Saint-Gilles Croix de Vie is opening its doors again and the crowds are expected to take to the pontoons this weekend. It would all be rather perfect, if the day ended with the winners arriving.