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Leaders Low On Options As Big, Slow Transition Beckons

Published on 14/09/2021

In the Celtic Sea some 20 nautical miles south of the Fastnet rock it is a world of greyness as Xavier Macaire (Groupe SNEF) and Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan) tack upwind at the start of their passage back towards France. The Stage 4 leaders are less than a mile apart, Macaire with a small advantage. Since they rounded in the small hours of the morning, Dolan just ahead passing his native rock, they have tacked back down the rhumb line.

The main group is to their west, now almost 15 miles of lateral separation, led by Pierre Quiroga (Skipper Macif 2019). It will be fascinating watching as the new N’ly breeze was forecast to come in from the west. There is a high pressure ridge down the middle of the course and that promises a big slowdown. Everyone is working on a strategy while waiting for the first weather report of the day at 9am. Xavier Macaire explains the situation.

Xavier Macaire, Stage 4 leader, said this morning : “It’s going well. We had a slightly damp, wet night with the passage of the Fastnet still very impressive even in the dark. I’m happy to have got round the rock and to be heading for Saint-Nazaire. We had a light south-south-easterly wind at 10-15 knots, not too much sea and not too foggy. It was rainy and wet. We are on the way back but it will be difficult because the weather situation is complicated. You have to manage the strategy with the passage of a front and then a shift of the wind, I still have a southerly wind of around ten knots, there is a crossed sea. We are between several weather systems and there is a swell. It’s not impossible to sail when there is wind but it won’t be when the wind is all over the place. The ridge is going to happen. I had a good spell at the start of the night, and I managed to find some time to rest. I have recovered well, I’m really making sure I rest so I’m in a good position and motivated for the rest of the leg. I don’t see anyone at AIS anymore. There was Tom Dolan just ahead of me at the Fastnet and Pierre Quiroga behind, but I lost them. I tacked early. I’m not sure what’s going on on the other side, I’m making my way, although it’s not easy because you don’t know too much what’s going on.”

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