Safran, 2nd as approaching the Doldrums
"You could say that things are going well, other than a big squall yesterday evening that sent the boat over on its ear… I got out of it cowboy style. There was 17 knots of breeze which suddenly shot straight up to 30. This obviously meant that I had too much sail up and I was forced to ease the sheets and helm for three quarters of an hour, whilst the squall passed over, by driving a course at 40° to the route. That enabled me to continue on my way again though, without touching the sail area, and there we have it, all's well aboard." At noon, Marc Guillemot had the clear voice of a sailor not unhappy with his lot. And understandably so. Not only was Safran in 2nd position at 13:00 UTC, 5 miles behind the leader Yann Eliès, but he'd also gained himself some W'ly separation from the leading pack. Marc Guillemot confirms: "The option I chose to slip along with two nights ago seems appealing, as I haven't lost out on distance in relation to the others, but I've also managed to get a slight W'ly separation for the next section, so I'm pretty happy…".
The Doldrums as Justice of the Peace
Whilst the trade winds have clocked around to the South-East at around twenty knots, Safran is rapidly devouring the miles: "At the moment I'm making 17.5 knots of headway and conditions vary between 16 and 19. The automatic pilot is doing it's job at the helm and that's a good thing because it's pretty wet up on deck and the pilot helms very well, doubtless better than me in these conditions" describes the skipper of Safran, who crossed the Equator overnight. As a result, Marc Guillemot is back in the Northern hemisphere once again, but for him the Justice of the Peace goes by the name of the Doldrums, an inter-tropical zone of convergence, which the leading boats were already starting to feel the effects of this afternoon. "The Doldrums will no longer mark the barrier between the South and the North but rather the equator. We should get there by the end of the day", is Marc Guillemot's estimate. "The primary objective of my course is initially to track down a more favourable wind on the other side, and secondly, to position myself well in order to negotiate the depressions which are on their way over from Newfoundland… all that is for the longer term though, so we have time to see it coming".
No troubles aboard
As regards the skipper, all is well in this regard too: "I've finally been able to recuperate a bit, which is just as well, because between the Jacques Vabre and the start of this race it was tight… I'm in good form now though, no worries". Clearly motivation is going to be a godsend as the fleet prepare to do battle with this infamous Doldrums zone from this evening onwards, whilst keeping a careful eye on their little friends from the leading wagon (Generali, Gitana Eighty, Brit'Air, Groupe Bel, Ecover, Foncia). "I'm on a par with the majority of them, but I should have a good 100 miles of lateral separation from Michel Desjoyeaux' Foncia", specifies Marc. Two very different ideas from the top two in the Transat Jacques Vabre, adding a little more spice to a race which is already pretty hot…
Monday 3rd December 2007
All's well for Marc Guillemot in the Transat Ecover B to B. Safran has set aside a W'ly separation for itself, synonymous with its potential for attack, whilst holding onto 2nd place behind Yann Eliès (Generali). The beginning of the Doldrums is scheduled for this evening.