One day can make a big difference in The Ocean Race. In fact, just a few hours can turn what had been a winning hand into something doubtful.
That’s been the case for GUYOT environnement – Team Europe, who gambled on an easterly line-up for the doldrums and appeared to have made a big gain in the process.
But just a couple days after escaping the clutches of the light winds around the equator, the GUYOT environnement team found itself under a tricky, local weather event that has seen them sailing much slower than their opposition for most of Thursday morning (UTC).
While all of the fleet is slowing from the champagne tradewind conditions of the past 24 hours, none have been impacted more than GUYOT environnement – Team Europe who appear to have run out of luck in the east.
“We have had to make some big manoeuvres in the past hours. We changed the head sail from J0 and J3 to the J2 to sail with it for a few hours,” Sébastien Simon reported from on board.
“We are fighting, we are fighting for every mile,” added skipper Robert Stanjek.
According to Simon, the problem is the ‘long arm’ of the St. Helena High – an area of light winds directly between the fleet and Cape Town.
The St. Helena High is the reason the fleet is racing south so close to the coast of Brazil, rather than down the African coast or on a more direct, shorter route to Cape Town. The distance the high pressure system extends out from Africa into the South Atlantic changes constantly – at the moment GUYOT environnement appears to be on the edge of the light patch.
Although the tracker (as of 1300 UTC) is still showing a slender lead to Stanjek and his crew, that’s based more on their closer distance to Cape Town than the tactical reality of the race, where it appears Team Holcim-PRB, as the most southerly positioned boat, is the leading contender.
Come aboard Team Holcim-PRB for some tradewind sailing
Sailor Tom Laperche says his team is focussed on sailing fast and getting the most out of the conditions: “It’s good conditions to go fast in an IMOCA. We are reaching (wind across the side of the boat). The wind is still good, but it is decreasing a bit now. It is going to keep decreasing and shifting behind us. So we will be more downwind for the next days. It’s warm too!”
Every team in the chasing pack – Biotherm, 11th Hour Racing Team and Team Malzia – is hopeful that as the wind eases and shifts, so too does the advantage to those further west. The next 48 hours will reveal it all.
Get the latest positions on the race tracker
Check out the coverage on Eurosport
Leg Two Rankings at 1300 UTC – 2 February 2023
1. GUYOT environnement – Team Europe, distance to finish, 2986.5 miles
2. Team Holcim-PRB, distance to lead, 3.5 miles
3. Biotherm, distance to lead, 38.3 miles
4. 11th Hour Racing Team, distance to lead, 80.7 miles
5. Team Malizia, distance to lead, 168.1 miles