Safran neck and neck with the leader
«40 miles behind is peanuts!» a rather pleased Marc Guillemot told us on Wednesday after choosing an option off to the west. If we look at what is happening, you can clearly see that is true. Having got back on Thursday evening to within ten miles of the leader, who was then Loïck Peyron (Gitana Eighty), Safran is now back up at the front of the race, which at 14h was led by Yann Eliès (Generali)! As the fleet in the Transat Ecover B to B passed the latitude of Cape Verde and is now heading due north, still at high speeds (around 13 to 15 knots), Marc Guillemot and Safran are in the process of pulling off a masterstroke.
« A real jet »
We knew that Safran was a fast machine after her performance in the Transat Jacques Vabre, but this time, the grey and orange monohull is proving herself to be a real jet, as racers say. This fabulous comeback means that some psychological points have been won over the competition, who must surely be telling themselves that it is going to be a real battle having to face the pure speed of Marc Guillemot's boat for example in the forthcoming Vendée Globe…
Marc could not be reached at this morning's radio session. He had warned us that if he did not call between 11h and 11h30 (CET), it would be because he was too busy with the boat. That was probably the case today, as the leading boats got much closer together on the same track, to the point that Safran is possibly sailing within sight of Gitana Eighty! In a 20-30 knot breeze, which remains close to the axis of the boat, forcing the yachtsmen to heel over, the three sailors at the front are engaged in a magnificent battle.
Finishing by the fourteenth?
A little further back, we find Kito de Pavant (Groupe Bel, in fourth place 17 miles behind) and Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia, 48 miles astern). These boats managed to get away from the British yachtsman, Mike Golding (Ecover), in sixth place, who has dropped back to around a hundred miles from the leader – a gap, which is beginning to appear significant, even if there are still almost 2000 miles to race to reach Port-la-Forêt. The first boats are expected in a week's time, if a fairly strong SW'ly flow pushes them along towards Brittany as forecast.
It may be just an anecdote, but we learnt from the race organisers yesterday that Marc got hit in the eyes by a foresail sheet, and he explained during the radio link-up that he was unable to see anything for fifteen minutes after he was hurt. It certainly looks like it was not too serious, if the performance of Safran's skipper is anything to go by…
Friday 7th December 2007
What a race! This afternoon, on board his high speed Safran, Marc Guillemot is right up there with the leader, Yann Eliès's Generali, with only 0.8 miles separating the boats, while Gitana Eighty is a mere 1.2 miles behind. At the front, the fight that is taking place between this trio is quite simply amazing.