CAP INGELEC, CAMILLE BERTEL, PIERRE LEBOUCHER - Transat Paprec 2023 at sea
Transat Paprec, leaders Morvan and Le Berre under pressure
Gaston Morvan and Anne-Claire Le Berre remain resolute leaders of the Transat Paprec holding a cushion of around 2.8 nautical miles but they have seen their margin halved since yesterday.
And as the trade winds ease very slightly the tail of the main peloton is also gradually losing touch with the top four mixed doubles duos. There are 12 miles between Morvan and Le Berre on Région Bretagne-CMB Performance and fourth positioned Guillaume Pirouelle and Sophie Faguet on Région Normandie, but then there are a full 18 miles back to fifth and sixth.
The ENE'ly trade winds are now at 12-15kts and the rhythm on board is all about keeping fast, sleeping and eating, trying to allow the teammate as much sleeping time as possible whilst maintaining maximum focus all the time.
The Courtois sisters, Pauline and Julia, are both in the fight. In second Pauline is racing with Corentin Horeau on Mutuelle Bleue whilst Julia is seventh, co-skipper with Maël Garnier on AGEAS Ballay Cerfrance Baie de Saint Brieuc.
"Saint-Barth is still a long way off," stated Julia Courtois flatly during the radio session this Thursday morning. They are well over half way but still have just under 1500 miles to sail with an ETA in Saint Barths around the 19th or 20th May.
But the pace is steady and the miles come relatively easily. The lead group were averaging just under 10kts through the early part of the day, downwind under gennaker.
On fifth placed Cap Ingélec Camille Bertel explains, "Since we have been in the trade winds, the pace has calmed down a bit and it feels good. We manage to have a good night's sleep and catch up on fatigue".
The guest of the 'Mag de la Transat', this Thursday lunchtime, sent good vibes to the Courtois sisters. It was their mother Christine Courtois who is a vice-president of the French Sailing Federation and is charged with promoting diversity.
She smiled, "I'm a little bit addicted to the tracking, every hour or so I can't help but look at the rankings. Having two daughters in the middle of the Atlantic is a bit stressful bit so too it is a source of great pride. What they are doing I would never have done. I know they have what it takes and that they are enjoying it".
Top five at 1700hrs BST Thursday 11th May 2023
1 Région Bretagne CMB Performance (Gaston Morvan/Anne Claire le Berre) 1496 miles to finish
2 Mutuellle Bleue (Corentin Horeau/Pauline Courtois) +2.4 nms
3 Skipper MACIF (Loïs Berrehar/Charlotte Yven) +4.8 nms
4 Région Normandie (Guillaume Pirouelle/Sophie Faguet) + 12.3 nms
5 Cap Ingélec (Camille Bertel/Pierre Leboucher) +30.1 nms
Morvan and Le Berre are holding on to a margin of around 8 miles and are racing in 15-17kts of trade winds closest to the rhumb line. They are most to the south of the leading group.
Le Berre admitted today "Here we are, downwind in the tradewinds, this is why we do this race, it's what is all about, what's not to like?"
It is close in the group behind the leaders in second are Skipper MACIF (Loïs Berrehar / Charlotte Yven) at 8.4 miles, third are Mutuelle Bleue (Corentin Horeau / Pauline Courtois) at 9.4 miles behind the leaders and fourth Région Normandie (Guillaume Pirouelle / Sophie Faguet , 4th) at 12.3 miles.
"After the slightly delicate, challenging passage of La Palma, life on board just gets better and better, confided Sophie Faguet from fourth place: "We are trying to recover our strength and keep our brains in gear".
Behind, Race for Science – Verder is 200 miles from the race lead. But morale on board is equally good, as explained by Édouard Golbery, joined this morning on the radio session. " It's going very well, we manage to fix all our problems and to find the right speed for the boat. It took us some time," he explained.
For them there is simple satisfaction of still being in the race after breaking bits and pieces before La Palma, not least the tack line of their gennaker.
"When you break stuff you get more and more tired we had to do some bucking bronco stuff on the bow to repair the tack, redo the lashings...", says Edouard. "And it is hard to really get sleep because last night there were so many windshifts, gusts and squalls."
Top five at 1700hrs BST Wednesday 10/05/23
1 Région Bretagne CMB Performance (Gaston Morvan/Anne Claire le Berre) 1711 miles to finish
2 Skipper MACIF (Loïs Berrehar/Charlotte Yven) +8.4 nms
3 Mutuellle Bleue (Corentin Horeau/Pauline Courtois) +9.4 nms
4 Région Normandie (Guillaume Pirouelle/Sophie Faguet) + 14.6 nms
5 Cap Ingélec (Camille Bertel/Pierre Leboucher) +26.2 nms