17 November 2022

Anything, but don’t go down the “mouse hole”, as the French say. This is what Alberto Bona must do now: dodge the calm that “closes off” and surrounds the trade winds. Bad weather is over, and the Class40 IBSA is heading 250 – but still tacking on, precisely to avoid the calm – and is pursuing the mirage of entering the trading wind.

Yesterday Alberto Bona got in touch. He told us that he is fine, he’s not giving up; and, in addition to what he’s saying, what we hear in the background is also news: the beating of the bow on the waves, thunderous and rhythmic, and this never-ending upwind that really puts to the test both sailor and boat. Endurance, therefore, is the keyword: IBSA is running – and very fast, at this morning’s 8 o’clock check – and maintains its seventh place, about eighty miles from the leading Class40s.

A bit of a horse race”, said Alberto, meaning that the tactic, given the particular weather conditions, is fairly obvious so far, so much so that there are no potential choices for any comeback coup de théâtre. Then, beside the technical notes, it’s time for some personal reflection: “Here in the ocean it feels lonely, but I know you’re rooting for me”.

The position is still north of the Canary Islands; the arrival is still approximately a week away: another seven days of navigation, but in completely different conditions from the past days. So far, the Class40 IBSA has sailed with great honour for 1,500 theoretical miles (going upwind, a boat covers much more ground); ahead of her there are still 2,000 miles which, once the calm has passed, should be directly “en route” with the finish, and in fast, carrying points of sail.

Taking a look at the general situation, yesterday was a very complex day for the Route du Rhum. Charles Caudrelier with his Ultim Edmond de Rothschild crossed the finish line,improving the course record of the race by almost a day. The joy for the victory was unfortunately toned down by the mourning for two people from the OC Sport team, organisers of the race, who died in an accident that caused the capsize of a boat.

Looking instead at the Class40s’ standings, out of 55 at the starting line, 13 have already formally withdrawn, another 5 are stuck in ports for repairs. So far, Alberto Bona – the rookie in this category – has virtually never gone below tenth place, with titanic winds and speeds: honour to IBSA!

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