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Transat CIC: 24 hours in and Dalin holds IMOCA lead

Yacht Racing Podcast

After a sunny, spectacular start, the 48 solo sailors taking part in the Transat CIC had to deal with the first windy and bumpy night at sea, crossing a front with 30 plus knots of wind and a rough sea state. According to the 4pm rankings, Charlie Dalin (MACIF Santé Prévoyance), Nicolas d’Estais (Café Joyeux) and Patrick Isoard (Uship pour les Enfants du Mekong) are leading in the IMOCA, Class40 and Vintage classes respectively.

Just over 24 hours have gone since the spectacular start from Lorient, after a rather eventful night with winds in excess of 30 knots and a particularly unpleasant sea state, and after having cleared the TSS exclusion zone at Ushant around midnight, the bulk of the fleet has emerged almost unscathed from the first hurdle on their route to the finish line in New York.

Conditions are now much more manageable for the leaders, who are heading northwest towards the southern tip of Ireland, where they should be able to take their next routing option.

Taking the lead in the IMOCA class right from the start was Charlie Dalin aboard his Verdier design (MACIF Santé Prevoyance). He has kept up an impressive pace since, and according to the 4pm position reports has nearly 16 miles buffer on his compatriot Jérémie Beyou on Charal and over 21 on Paul Meilhat (Biotherm). The first group also includes Nicolas Lunven on Holcim – PRB and Yoann Richomme (IMOCA Paprec Arkéa), within 25 miles of the leader.

In sixth and seventh position respectively are the first two female skippers, Britain’s Sam Davies (Initiatives Coeur) and Switzerland’s Justine Mettraux (Teamwork – Team SNEF), some 27 and 28 miles from the leaders. Reached on board this morning, Justine said: “I had some communications issues, no satellite connection and I couldn’t send or receive anything, but it’s solved now. Yeah, a busy night, tiring for me trying to get the boat to go fast, trying not to do any damage during sail changes. I will try to have some food and get some sleep to get ready for the next 20 hours that should be softer. So all good!”

As for the other international skippers Boris Herrmann (Malizia – Seaexplorer) sits in 8th place hanging on to the main group, while Italian Giancarlo Pedote on Prismyan is in 14th position some 44 miles back, and Japanese Kojiro Shiraishi (DMG MORI Global One) is 19th. In their respective races to make Vendée Globe qualification Britain’s James Harayda (Gentoo Sailing Team) and Swiss-German, Ollie Heer (Oliver Heer Ocean Racing) are in in 23th and 29th place.

In the 13 boat strong Class40, it is interesting to note that the race favorites are all in the top group with Nicolas d’Estais (CAFÉ JOYEUX) keeping just the slightest margin, one and half mile, on Ian Lipinski (Crédit Mutuel) and Fabien Delahaye (LEGALLAIS) and some five miles ahead of the Italian duo Ambrogio Beccaria (Alla Grande – Pirelli) and Alberto Bona (IBSA), who have been exchanging positions in the last few hours.

Although the first night was somewhat gentler for the Class40s, the situation changed this morning with the passing of the front. “As you can hear, things are different from yesterday. It’s bumpy,” said Ambrogio Beccaria (Alla Grande – Pirelli) in a voice message, referring to the loud noise in the background. “I didn’t manage to have any food, which is annoying. I’m used to eating well. I will have to try because I do not want to be short of energy. Last night was amazing, nice weather, an incredible moon. The pace is pretty tough, I have the impression that my friends are trying to head more north and I hope I’m not taking the bad decision, looks like I’m alone here. On the other hand we have moved out of the front”.

Keep pushing
The end of the day promises to be slightly more settled for the IMOCA boats and the Class40s, who will all have passed through the front by the afternoon. “The boats are heading north-west towards a tacking point to the north in search of a westerly shift. The seas should ease a bit. The skippers should be able to assess the state of their boats and what they’ll have to do to deal with what comes next. There’s going to be a bit of a transition period, but they’re still going to have to push hard,” explains Race Director Francis Le Goff, who adds that “according to the routing, there are probably alternative solutions to the south and not everyone is headed for the most northerly point, as was the case with the performance routing, which explains the lateral split in the fleet”.

A little further behind, the two Vintage boats, which will be on the southern edge of the low, will have a little less wind than the IMOCAs and Class40s had last night, and will be getting out of the front late this evening.

The sailors still at sea are now 46 following Jean Le Cam’s retirement yesterday (Tout commence en Finistère – Armor Lux) for personal reasons, while during the night, Arnaud Boissières (La Mie Câline) also informed the Race Direction that he was rerouting to Les Sables d’Olonne after suffering a failure on his port foil system.

Quotes from the boats

Boris Herrmann (GER) IMOCA Malizia – Seaexplorer: “The first night at sea was quite ok, at one point I was in sixth position, going well but then right at the end of the strong wind and bad sea state some of the others pushed harder. I felt it was pretty rough on the boat already so I lost a bit. I’m seeing Justine to the right and Maxime Sorel, the wind is lighter, 14 to 16 knots but a very bumpy sea state was the real problem last night. We went for the J3 and one reef. Nothing broke, all good despite some very hard impacts with the waves. Everything as forecasted, as the models were predicting.”

James Harayda (GBR) IMOCA Gentoo Sailing Team: “It’s super loud on board, the morning has been good but a bit nerve wracking. Obviously my goal is to finish this race to get the Vendée Globe miles in and sailing in 35 knots of breeze at 100° true wind angle is not the best way to do that. But there hasn’t been much of a choice. I have a couple of repairs to do later when the breeze goes down, but apart from that everything is under control. I think I will try and pass south of this next front coming, trying to stay in under 30 knots reaching and avoid the worst. Nice to be back here and I have a nice little battle with Lazare.”

Main image © RonanGladu / disobey. / Macif

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