The Macif trimaran has now passed the half-way mark, and is ending her southerly route round the Azores anticyclone. She is now heading towards New York, where she is expected on Tuesday. Still in the lead, a short distance ahead of Thomas Coville, François Gabart is expecting the finish to be tense.
A close fight
They have been together since they left Plymouth last Monday! François Gabart and Thomas Coville both chose to go south round the Azores anticyclone in a game of cat and mouse. In the last two days François Gabart has been in the lead, favoured by a slight gap to the south. ‘The further you head away from the high-pressure, the quicker you make headway and the more wind you have’, he explains. This battle with Thomas Coville is reminiscent of the one he fought with Armel Le Cléac’h in the last Vendée Globe: ‘Every time I race and one of my friends is at close quarters, I think about it. It’s super training for long-term stress management. Right now, the boats are less than two hours distance. Naturally, it’s tiring, but that’s what racing is about! When you are running a marathon with Kenyans in the same race, you know that it’s going to be difficult. On the other hand, it’s great incentive. Now, I must sail as best I can and not make any mistakes, to keep Thomas behind us till the end.
Macif is dry!
The Macif trimaran has been able to surf on its foils these last 48 hours in the Azores anticyclone, showing its full potential. ‘It’s extremely enjoyable, since the sea is quite calm, there’s a good breeze and the temperatures is ideal. The boat really flies in these conditions. There’s nothing in the water, the leeward float is dry!’ The skipper has taken advantage of this to stock up on sleep with a view to the last days of racing.
‘I sleep as much as possible, since I know that there’s still a lot of work to do. I’ll probably need to manoeuvre a lot, the wind will be fairly changeable and I will have fewer opportunities to rest.’ After five days of racing, the skipper is in fine fettle. ‘I feel really great. My muscles have really toned up and my arms have become accustomed to turning the winch. I even wonder if I’m not in better form than at the start! I spend a lot of time doing small jobs and optimising the boat so that it can reach its top potential by the end of the race.
Finish in New York on Tuesday?
The MACIF trimaran has been sailing downwind since she left the Channel. This will change this Saturday, as she finishes sailing round the Azores high-pressure area. She will accelerate gradually, the more she is steered in the direction of New York. ‘We are going to hit strong wind as of this night and we will continue on a long port tack (wind coming from the left) which will bring us closer to New York. Then we will encounter a talweg – a low pressure area facing strong wind. We will need to beat to negotiate this. The end of the race is fairly messy, with a good breeze, but changing direction constantly.’ The finish in New York, expected on Tuesday, will probably be quite difficult.
If everything goes well, we will be 150-200 miles from New York, but the wind is expected to drop totally at the end. This means that we could just as easily finish at the end of the night as on Tuesday evening. It’s going to be difficult, with quite a lot of manoeuvring. We will need to fight! I’m probably going to be tired when I get to New York!’
13:00 hour ranking, Saturday 07 May
1 – Macif at 1,457.9 miles from the finish
2 – Sodebo 43.33 miles from the leader
3– Actual 218.60 from the leader
by Service presse trimaran MACIF