Solid: this is the word that best summarises Alberto Bona’s performance so far. First of all, the choice of a smart start, that of a sailor who proposes himself as a leader, windward of everyone and able to keep a rudder in his hand with care, ready to turn before having to give way to the entire fleet, careful not to bear away too much, seduced by speed, and thus end up too close to his opponents, losing ground. Alberto and the Class40 IBSA held up; they raced and they showed what they are made of: that third place an hour after the start is a liberating scream, it’s sounding the charge after a long wait.
Then, something happened at Cap Frehel, something that made him lose some positions. Perhaps only the calm, or too much contrary current; we will find out when he has time to tell us about it, but it’s no longer important. Let’s rather address the current choices: last night Alberto, recovering up to the ninth position, in close contact with the leading Class40s, made his choice: West, towards the disturbance. To look for the wind, to throw himself against it. It would seem a careless choice, but this is what ocean navigators do: they look in the disturbances for the acceptable limit they can manage. In the night, a strong wind – around 25 knots – is a friend; it certainly beats and exhausts, but allows to run. Less friendly is the wave, because these flat-bottomed boats, so good at running, become fragile if they flap flat between two waves, also considering that getting off a wave is like jumping from the second floor to the ground: it’s not for the weak of heart.
Position: this morning Alberto had sailed about 10% of the total, exceeding the 300 miles travelled, and he should slowly come out of the front: the wind rises to the North, while Alberto descends to the South-West. He is tenth at the 7 o’clock check, close to the leaders, just 8 miles away: the relative positions between the crafts do not count, yet; there is still 90% of navigation to go.
Alberto had explained it before the departure: “By sailing close to the wind and gaining ground towards the south in the Bay of Biscay, we should find less prohibitive conditions to cross the first front”.
What’s there to expect? Certainly a few hours of rest after a heavy and difficult night, and then the first gaps, which will come over the long distance. Certainly, the programme still provides for a lot of close-hauling, with strong winds and rough seas. Today’s questions: exactly where and when to cross that front?
Waiting to hear from Alberto, lets’ follow the Class40 IBSA, watching over and over every mile of the journey.