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Pace picked up under kites off Vendee coast, Bonafous in charge

As a grey dawn broke over the Vendée coast this morning some 55 miles out to sea the 31 Figaros are making good speeds in 15 knot NW’ly winds, the fleet making a good descent of the Bay of Biscay now. After yesterday sailing close to the Finistere rocks to extricate themselves from the clutches of an anticyclonic ridge now they are gybing downwind towards the turning mark which is just less than 100 miles in front of them which they should reach this evening, between 2100hrs and midnight.

Élodie Bonafous (Quéguiner-La Vie en Rose) is holding firm at the top of the fleet. She is going well, having led now for the best part of 24 hours and is on good company the top ten to Guillaume Pirouelle (Région Normandy) are within a 3-mile radius. Ireland’s Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan) is sixth.

As for the three main contenders for the final podium of this 54th edition they are all close on the water, the advantage being held by GC leader Basile Bourgnon (Edenred) and third placed Loïs Berrehar (Skipper Macif 2022) are within 1.3 miles of each other. And second overall Corentin Horeau (Banque Populaire) is 1.3 miles behind them.

Leader Élodie Bonafous (Quéguiner - La Vie en Rose) said this morning, “It’s going pretty well and the ranking is pretty good. But you have to be careful because the race track is wide in the Bay of Biscay and I don't really know where my rivals are. I managed to rest. I am under a big spinnaker; and the wind picked up enough to add the genoa. I slide along well at an average of 8.5 knots. By VMG gybing to get to the mark in front of us we try to stay in phase with the wind to make the approach.

I see a good part of the fleet to benchmark myself, but I don't know where some of them have gone, I imagine them more in the east. But my speed is pretty good and that’s nice.

It has never happened to me to be in the lead for so long, it’s nice. Despite the pressure, I manage to do things methodically, without being influenced by my position. We should keep this wind steady; but the big question I have about the upcoming weather is whether there will be any thermal breeze effects on land to play with during the day.”

Third placed overall, Loïs Berrehar (Skipper Macif 2022) said : “I slept well last night, and it’s not bad compared to last night when it wasn’t at all the same atmosphere; and yesterday after going through the rocks, I was really burnt out. We are progressing in a well-established northwesterly flow, gybing downwind. Let's say that it's easier to go on autopilot and make your life on board, than when you're in the flow and your progress depends on the slightest puff. It's nice to take out the spinnaker, it reminds me of the Transat (Paprec, which Loïs won.) We still have gybes to do, good positioning in the wind variations too; it's nice. Above all, I try to get the right tacks, and to play my game as best as possible to get to Arcachon as quickly as possible. I look at the chart of course, and at my rivals who are sailing well; but no more than usual. We are still far from the finish, I try not to think about the general classification. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, but we should be able to get to the next mark by the end of the day today.