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The dilemma of the approach

The next conundrum the leaders of the IMOCA class will have to tackle is whether to cut through or circumnavigate the Cape Verde archipelago.

Screen capture Squid software
Screen capture Squid software

The next conundrum the leaders of the IMOCA class will have to tackle is whether to cut through or circumnavigate the Cape Verde archipelago.

In an episode last night that was strangely reminiscent of the tribulations of the Doldrums, Safran (Marc Guillemot and Pascal Bidégorry), Maître CoQ (Jérémie Beyou and Christopher Pratt) and Cheminées Poujoulat (Bernard Stamm and Philippe Legros) fell into a windless hole that was as unexpected as it was extensive, causing them to lose a bit of ground.

The biggest loser in the group was certainly the Franco-Swiss crew who, already caught up by Maître CoQ and Safran, then had to let slide their second place to the benefit of MACIF (François Gabart and Michel Desjoyeaux). With a very slight westerly separation in the wake of the powerful yellow and black IMOCA 60, MACIF doesn’t appear to have been slowed at all and is now just thirty miles or so shy of the leader PRB (Vincent Riou and Jean Le Cam), which is slightly to leeward.

The next obstacle lying across the bows of the leading pack of five involves the negotiation of the Cape Verde archipelago. The routing software seems to indicate a way through the middle of the islands, which are theoretically more direct but also somewhat riskier given the potential wind shadows caused by the surrounding landforms. As such the objective is often to slip between the islands to the north-west of the archipelago.

This passage, as our photo shows, (screenshot using Squid software) appears to enable the boats to drop down into a zone where the breeze isn’t very disturbed. The other option is to distance oneself from the archipelago, at the cost of a series of gybes, which presupposes a greater distance to travel, as well as a shift across to the west, synonymous with a better approach towards the Doldrums that are generally less active in this direction.

 Christophe Favreau


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