Today, a 13-knot wind and a 2-knot contrary current have been reported in the Channel. Alberto Bona was sailing this morning with the aim of reaching Ouessant as soon as possible. Yesterday, the departure of the race was exciting, with a start very close to the coast, in the most windward area of the starting line, where the Class40 IBSA had free space, so as not to be too near and covered by other boats. Emotion and determination therefore characterised the long-awaited start, with many false starts that will cost some skippers a penalty of 4 hours to be added to their final travel time.
Good speed, trajectory a few corners wider than its direct opponents, a very advanced position until just before arriving at Cap Fréhel, where the Class40 IBSA suffered a slowdown that made it lose ground: from the passage of the Cape onwards, Bona sailed around half the fleet, holding his position until dawn this morning, when he found himself sixteenth after traveling about 110 miles. The ranking is not yet significant, and consulting it would be useless for the moment: so far the trajectory was virtually obligatory; it will be only after Ouessant that we will begin to have a picture of the “weights” in play as a result of the tactical choices that each sailor will have to make individually.
The early morning check saw the Class40 IBSA out of the Channel, ready to make the first tactical choices with respect to the passage around the island of Ouessant, opposite Brest, a complex passage due to the presence of an off-limits area to the West. Most of the fleet of the larger vessels chose an option further North West, before turning again parallel to the Breton coast to the South, to ensure more wind than those holing up into the Bay of Biscay will find. Bona’s choice will be clearer in the afternoon, but it’s already evident that Alberto is not one to hold back: he is ready for the battle with waves and wind, which will reach about thirty knots, but will also be more “turned” towards the South, and so there will still be the need to tack.
The regatta, as expected, is really exciting, in all categories. The average speeds are good for upwind sailing, with Alberto sailing between 7.5 and 9 knots. Of course, each tack takes a great effort, both physically and in terms of time used to manoeuver, which slows down the pace, but this Route du Rhum has to be earned!
Just before leaving the port in favour of the tide, Alberto annouced: “I’m ready. Weather conditions are optimal, today as well as generally, in the coming days. I’m happy and excited, and I want to thank IBSA and all my team for the great work they’ve done these 11 months”.
In the meantime, the first dropouts have also occurred: sensational that of the Japanese sailor Kojiro Shiraishi and the Swiss Oliver Heer in the Class40, who collided opposite Cap Frehel. The impact was severe and caused damage to the boats, forcing both skippers to return home. An Ocean Fifty had also retired upon the start: the sailor had suffered a face and arm injury just before the start.