As the group of leaders dives straight down towards Itajaï, the rest of the IMOCA fleet is preparing to cross the equator.
Having sailed over 4,400 miles, there is bound to be a sense of fatigue colouring the head of the IMOCA fleet. In the absence of any short-term options, progress is tough-going on a beat in a consistent tradewind and chaotic seas, with tired bodies, noise, increased vigilance due to the proximity of the Brazilian coast, synonymous with a greater risk of collision with fishing boats and uncharted platforms… the pressures are all-pervasive… and yet now is not the time to take the pedal off the metal!
For Vincent Riou and Jean Le Cam (PRB), 20 miles astern of MACIF (Gabart/Desjoyeaux) at the 1230 GMT ranking, it’s all about concentrating on boat speed and biding their time. As they await the passage of a front offshore of Rio, which could reshuffle the cards, it’s a straight-line course to the finish line.
The same is true for the pursuers (respectively Maître CoQ, Safran and Cheminées Poujoulat), who are now some 200 miles behind the leaders, but they’re finally in the same wind conditions.
Some 630 miles back, Louis Burton and Guillaume Le Brec (Bureau Vallée) crossed the equator early this morning and have a solid hold on sixth place. Here too the last five IMOCA 60s are stretched across 200 miles but they’ll all be in the southern hemisphere by tonight.