21 November 2022

337 miles over the last 24 hours for Alberto Bona, who this morning, at the 7 o’clock check, was still sixth, but faster than the first four Class40s. On the same tack for days now, a little “higher” than the leading group, on the night between the tenth and eleventh day of sailing, Alberto turbocharged his IBSA, and if the wind assists him, today there will be a show.

It’s essentially a question of angles and intensity: the wind – even though it comes from the same “macro-direction” – has small variations in intensity and direction, which change continuously, and this contributes to creating the differences in speed and direction between crafts following the same course; these variables add up to the quality of the boats and the skill of the skippers who, tired after 11 days of navigation (seven of which upwind, with waves as tall as buildings), have to manage many things at once.

The weather is warm, finally; the boats sail at broad points of sail, on very long tacks, en route to Guadeloupe. The current issue is the switch between gennakers and spinnakers, the headsails that allow to run faster. Now the goal is to arrive quickly and spot the archipelago, compress the distance on the leaders, because the last part of the regatta consists of going round the island, where anything can still happen, if you are really close.

Therefore, finding a strategy to approach the adversaries ahead (and keep at bay those behind!) – despite not having many options, given the “single-tack” approach to Guadeloupe – is also Alberto’s task on the Class40 IBSA, closely followed by his “twin” Luke Berry, aboard the first boat of Sam Manuard’s Mach 5 series, built in the same shipyard as IBSA and launched a few months earlier. Alberto has to constantly look ahead and behind, where even Groupe SNEF, slowed down by a delamination of the hull a few days ago, is now running again. In front, the goal is Redman, in fifth position: her skipper, Carpenter, runs as fast as Alberto and is 16 miles away, presumably with the same wind, at least for the moment.

Calculations and counts, routes and landing forecasts – November 23 or 24? – and in the meantime also eating, sleeping, dealing with loneliness, navigating. What will this endgame hold?

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