La Charente-Maritime/Bahia Transat 6.50 - Quiet and calm conditions

La Charente-Maritime/Bahia Transat 6.50 2011
© Bateau accompagnateur La Blanche Hermine
La Charente-Maritime/Bahia Transat 6.50.

Whether they are at the tail end of the fleet, near the coast, in the middle of the pack or with the leading group, the indications of the escort boats are similar and are not surprising. The forecast conditions were for 'quiet or very calm', and they are indeed.


'Five to six knots wind from south / southwest. Moderate sea with swell. Blue sky.' (Luciole). 'No wind. Calm sea.'(Il ou Elle). 'Four knots southwest wind. Deep swell from the west. North-west cross-swell.' (Edulis). 'Deep swell from the west. Five knots wind.' (Pen Ar Clos). 'Sun, no wind, strong waves from the west' (Zidibule).

The 78 remaining contestants are searching for a little breeze. The pressure will come later; today's objective is not to be caught in calm zones and be waiting for hours to catch a gust. Everyone has more or less indicated a right turn.

Detour via west/northwest
Four, as at dawn, chose the option west / northwest: Bertrand Delesne (754 - Zone Large), Nicolas Boidevezi (719 - Défi GDE), David Raison (747 - Teamwork Evolution) and Aymeric Chappellier (788 - La Tortue de l'Aquarium - La Rochelle).

These four are chasing the Proto leading duo Jorg Riechers (753 - Mare.de) and Sébastien Rogues (716 - Eole Génération - GDF Suez) who had opened up a 23 mile lead during the night. The group has almost turned their back on the direct route for several hours now, shifting onto the 'most logical' southwest option. They lost some miles, but in the early afternoon, they seemed to have regained some wind by being more west than the leaders. Not much admittedly, but Raison sailed at 6.88 knots and Delesne at 6.86 knots, while Riechers was at 6.39 knots. Will this unexpected detour allow them to find Aeolus first? Time will tell if they were right.

Nevertheless, it is obvious that 'the northern' surf is faster and even if they are not on the direct route leading to Funchal (given the circumstances, it may be that some skippers even flirt with the Azores), they are moving in the right direction. Gently. Slowly.

Good deal for Llul and Guo
The night has been unexpectedly favourable for Eric Llul (566 – Noble Cocoa) who took control in the Series. The cocoa engineer had rushed west earlier than the others and has found (partly) what he had been looking for, sailing at good speed and according to the forecast. That enabled him to keep the pressure on one of the favourites Davy Beaudart (674 – Innovea Environnement) and on the veteran of the race Jean-Claude Guilloneau (473 – Zerline). Jean-Claude was grumpy the day before the start. He said: 'I do this Transat again to enjoy great surfs and now, they promise us no wind and beating… I do not like it.' But he is doing well so far.

Today’s sprinter is Chinese. The first ever Chinese skipper to take part in this race, Chan Guo (487 – Vasa) at the start, went for the North option and has stuck by that choice. Out of the game, he did not change one iota and made an incredible come back. He was twelfth at dawn then he was seventh at noon. But mostly, when the other boats were racing at 4.5 knots, he was sailing at 6 knots. Guo, has been very lonely over there in the North but now Pierre Cizeau (746 – Masqhôtel), Fabrice Sorin (781 – Cartoffset) and Benoit Mariette (599 – Odalys Vacances) seem to have made the same choice and are going to join the same route as Guo has taken.

Prototypes rankings on 29/09/2011 at noon (UTC +2) – 33 boats
1. Jorg Riechers (753 – Mare.de) - 917 miles from finish
2. Sébastien Rogues (719 – Eole Génaration – GDF Suez) - 923.95 miles from finish
3. Bertrand Delesne (754 – Zone Large) - 754.14 miles from finish

Series rankings on 29/09/2011 at noon (UTC +2) – 46 boats
1. Eric Llull (566 – Noble Cocoa) - 773.82 miles from finish
2. Davy Beaudart (674 - Innovéa Environnement) - 779.46 miles from finish
3. Jean-Claude Guillonneau (473 - Zerline) -780.38 miles from finish

Weather forecast by Météo Consult:
Today: High pressure on Germany to 1030 hPa remains stationary. Associated ridge extending from Madeira to the north of La Coruna. Active cold front and rain-driven storm at 12 UT along 19°W. This front slowly moves eastward this afternoon and tonight. It focuses on 18 UT along the 15°W and at 0 UT along the 12°W. In this situation very low wind conditions are near the Spanish coast and up to 30 miles offshore. At the front of the cold front the air mass becomes unstable and convective rainfall over time. The general flow is low to moderate southerly established. The swell southwest strengthens.

Tomorrow: The extension of the ridge extends into the Bay of Biscay along the 8°W. Behind the cold rainstorm front is still progressing towards the east, but very slowly. It focuses at 12 UT along the 13°W longitude and extends over 50 miles. Farther back, a stormy depression is growing at 12 UT to 1011 hPa by 40N/21W. It moves towards to the NE to position at 18 UT by 40N/20W and at 0 UT by 41N/18W.

La Charente-Maritime/Bahia Transat website