Light airs are colouring the Irish Sea and in these conditions some gaps have opened up between the leaders and their pursuers. At the head of the fleet the battle is raging between MACIF and Maître CoQ. Behind the two Verdier-VPLP designs that were a driving force throughout the 2012 edition of the Vendée Globe, Alex Thomson is managing to keep his Hugo Boss poised for attack.
At 0930 GMT this morning, the frontrunners were still over 200 miles from the finish in Plymouth. Aboard MACIF, François Gabart and Michel Desjoyeaux are endeavouring to contain the highly incisive Jérémie Beyou and Christopher Pratt. Less than a mile separates the two leaders.
In third place, 6 miles shy of the leader, Alex Thomson is just a few boat lengths ahead of Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) and the final podium is likely to be decided between these four.
Things will be more difficult for their pursuers, held in the clutches of a zone of calm offshore of the Fastnet Rock. In fourth place, Vincent Riou and Jean Le Cam (PRB) are already thirty miles astern of the leaders. They’re struggling to get around the rock, as are Marc Guillemot and Pascal Bidegorry (Safran). Meantime Jörg Riechers and Sébastien Audigane (Mare) are bringing up the rear. For them, this Fastnet Race is essentially a trial run prior to the 2014 season. For them it’s a question of learning as many lessons as they can from this initial confrontation, with a view to preparing their steed for the Barcelona World Race at the end of 2014.