With less than 800 nm to sail to the finish of the 2018 Route du Rhum he French sailor François Gabart is on course not only to win the ULTIME class but to smash the outright race record.
Gabart, at the helm of the maxi-trimaran MACIF, is now within a day-and-a-half of finishing the 3,542-nautical mile race, and could break the existing seven-day, 15-hour record by as much as 19 hours.
On the sixth day of racing in the Route du Rhum, British skipper Alex Thomson is still leading the fleet of IMOCAs.
In the trade winds, he is being chased by three skippers, Paul Meilhat, Vincent Riou and Yann Eliès. It looks like being a fascinating battle right up to the finish in Pointe-à-Pitre.
If the trade winds aren’t too strong, we’ll be seeing a race where speed is everything between these first three (Thomson, Meilhat, Riou).
For the moment, there are still 2,000 miles left to sail and we may not have heard the last from Boris Herrmann up north, who defiantly remains close to the Great Circle route.
For Thomson, Meilhat, Riou and Yann Eliès, there is little they can do before Herrmann gets down with them sometime on Sunday night.
In the Class40 fleet, the leading bunch is following the IMOCAs south towards the Canary Islands before the skippers turn west under the Azores High.
Yoann Richomme on Veedol-AIC continues to set a fierce pace ahead of second-placed Phil Sharp on Imerys Clean Energy who is around 70 miles behind.
“I have a lot of work to do to catch up, but I’m hungry for it.” says Sharp, “Leaving the mad weather behind I’ve now being able to settle into a good eating, sleeping and strategy making routine.”
New Multi50 leader Armel Tripon on Réauté Chocolat, has a 196 nm lead over Vauchel-Camus.
Camus’s rapid pit-stop in the Azores sees him back racing and up to second, after repairing the mainsail track on his mast and replacing the mainsail headboard car.
In the Rhum Multi division Pierre Antoine on Olmix remains the runaway leader.
Behind him Loïck Peron on Happy, a sistership of the small trimaran that won the first Route du Rhum back in 1978, is now up to sixth place as he heads towards the latitude of Cape St Vincent.
In the Rhum Mono class, Sidney Gavignet on Cafe Joteux leads by 276 nm from Sébastien Destremau on AlcatrazIT – FaceOcean.