It’s been hard not to get sucked into following every tactical move being played out on the waters of the eastern edge of the Atlantic right now after the 40-strong double-handed IMOCA fleet finally set off from Le Havre on the Transat Jacques Vabre to Martinique.
Even though the worst of storm Ciarán had subsided by the time the IMOCAs left Le Havre early on Monday morning, the first two days of racing took place in brutal conditions as the fleet headed out into the notorious Bay of Biscay.
As the legendary meteorologist Marcel van Triest explained, the teams faced an early decision whether to tough it out on a punishing northerly route, or take a slightly less risky southern course.
Either way, all the crews had to find a way to safely negotiate a hideous frontal system off Ushant as they exited the English Channel that was packing forty-knot head winds and vicious seas. Unsurprisingly after just 24-hours at sea there came a flurry of damage and injury reports – some of which resulted in early retirements.
After two days of rough going, yesterday the teams got some respite as lighter airs off the Portuguese coast gave them an opportunity to check on their boats and, in some cases, make much needed repairs.
This morning the leading pack – headed by French pairing Jérémie Beyou and Franck Cammas – were surging south towards the island of Madeira at 20+ knots.
Get your fix on the race tracker here.