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Foncia squeezes ahead of Belgacom as Fuji stops dead & Groupama makes a pitstop

Ecover retains a more tenable lead in the West over Sill

jeudi 8 novembre 2001Information Transat Jacques Vabre

Overnight, Fujifilm (Peyron/Mignon) has been trying to extricate herself from a dead wind zone in between the Canary Islands (Gomera & Hierro), while Foncia (Gautier/MacArthur) has squeezed ahead of Belgacom (Nélias/Desjoyeaux) by just 10 miles, as they both curved round the archipelago to the West. These two giant ‘Expresso machines’ are wrestling with each otherfor the lead now, with extremely tricky navigation between the Canaries and Cape Verde and 3594m to go.

Desjoyeaux (Belgacom) described the conditions this morning : "I’ve been out helming for 3 hours. The sea is pretty flat with a slight swell on which generates some surfing. We have a bit more wind than expected, even so we did slow up a little over night under the islands and had to hand steer a lot. We wanted to pass more to the West of the Canaries but it was hard to go in that direction with the wind."

Bad news for Groupama (Cammas/Ravussin), as the team has had to stop in Tenerife just for one hour at 0700hrs this morning to replace the starboard rudder which was ripped off from a UFO in the second day of their race.

Before the race started Michel Desjoyeaux, Vendée Globe winner, said that for the monohulls the run down to Cape Verde would be where the race would be truly fought out. The ‘clean machine’ Ecover (Golding/Hutchinson) still holds out a more tenable lead of 32 miles over Sill Plein Fruit (Jourdain/Le Cleac’h) to the West of Madeira. Further to the West is Bobst Group - Armor Lux (Stamm/Riou), threatening the leaders back in third place now. On the inside near the North African coast are two light fast boats, Fila (Laurent/Rufini) & SME-Négocéane (Sanso/Dumont), who may well come past this weak depression to the East better than expected.

"It’s complicated ahead," said co-skipper Hutchinson on Ecover. "We’re wondering if we have gone too far West. I think in the short term it’s not going to be favourable for us, but we want to retain the right hand side more or less so in three days we should be looking better !"

Le Cleac’h, his opposite on board Sill Plein Fruit, echoes : "We’re getting some rest in as up ahead we’ll have some stronger upwind conditions. We have to make a mast climb as well to check over the rig before we head into this weather and repair a small problem with a pulley."

Still with a phenomenal lead of 65 miles is Open 50 One Dream One Mission (Bennett/Larsen). The ‘yellow boat’ has gone to the East of Madeira, her nearest rival Saving (Le Youdec/Bacave) still able to choose which option to take around these islands.

In brief : Foncia has been awarded a quarter of an hour time penalty as a result of the infringement against Sergio Tacchini (Fauconnier/Proffit) at the top buoy just after the race start. Banque Covefi (De Broc/Bidegorry) has not yet left Lisbon after making a technical pit-stop there.

- Multihull Positions at 1500hrs GMT – DTF (nm)

- Postn Boat Latitude Longitude Speed Hdg DTF DFL

- 1 Foncia 26 40.80’ N 19 16.80’ W 18.0 186 3562.9
- 2 Belgacom 26 53.92’ N 18 54.60’ W 13.4 195 3573.0 10.1
- 3 Fujifilm 27 54.60’ N 17 33.04’ W 4.7 097 3630.0 67.1

- Open 60 Monohull Positions at 1445hrs GMT – DTF (nm)

- 1 Ecover 32 20.12’ N 19 54.44’ W 10.0 197 2950.0
- 2 Sill Plein Fruit 32 42.68’ N 19 17.16’ W 5.3 198 2982.8 32.8
- 3 Bobst Group Armor Lux 33 26.64’ N 21 07.76’ W 11.5 213 2990.7 40.7

- Open 50 Monohull Positions at 1445hrs GMT – DTF (nm)

- 1 One Dream : One Mission 32 47.16’ N 14 18.40’ W 9.4 196 3095.9
- 2 Saving 34 26.22’ N 15 00.66’ W 8.8 195 3160.4 64.5

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