The capricious Saint Helena High Pressure System had considerably reduced tactical options for the frontrunners during the past 8 days, and predicting the fleet’s movements from one position update to the next was a full-time job. On the water, it took determination and confidence in these troubled times, and in hindsight the comments Sébastien Josse made on Wednesday take their full meaning today: “I’m happy to be where I am now, but I won’t say more.” Obviously, the man had a plan, and it was the right one!
Having spent too much time upwind – a point of sailing where IMOCA monohulls are particularly uncomfortbale and suffer when they hit waves – Sébastien has finally been able to ease the sheets, benefiting from the long-awaited westerlies, and is now going towards the ice gate at 13 knots. Loick Peyron is very close behind, and one can only be amazed by the intensity of the fight these two have been putting on since… Madeira! Often threatened, as it has been the case in the Doldrums notably, under tremendous pressure, Josse and Peyron never failed and displayed an incredible level of tactical lucidity, holding on to their lead even in the most twisted situations.
If the leading duet managed to break away from its pursuers, third-placed Yann Elies being some 40 miles behind, BT as well as Gitana Eighty have to remain cautious since in the North, weak winds still prevail. The same lazy breeze caught Jean Le Cam, who lost a whopping 80 miles in 24 hours. As the 10:00 GMT position report showed, Sébastien gybed to the South East to keep his boatspeed up, and it would not be surprising to see him and Loick engage in a gybing battle in the coming hours. It was crucial to be the first to put the Saint Helena side effects behind, and Sébastien did just that, placing BT exactly where he wanted thanks to an amazing strategic finesse. It’s probably safe to assume that his Wednesday comment is also valid for today: happy where you are, Seb? Yes, we thought so…
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