Sharp slowdown in the North, great determination in the South and a bubble of very little wind with Martinique at its centre. At the 3:00 pm (Italian time) check on Tuesday, November 21, with 490 miles to be covered by the Class40 IBSA to reach the finish line in Fort de France, all eyes are on the evolution of the weather, which materialized – almost as if a further twist was needed – a large pocket of calm, perhaps even deeper than expected. Groupe SNEF, in the lead after the “walk” to the North, slowed down, while still maintaining first place and over 100 miles of advantage, favouring the group in the South with Beccaria in the lead followed closely by Alberto Bona, currently fourth in the standings, but making a great recovery.
“The die has been cast”, declared Bona. “We have gone so far South that soon we will risk seeing the coast of Venezuela! Now we are en route to Martinique and what we can do is stay focused and maintain maximum speed in relation to the wind, while being careful to keep behind those who followed us on the Southern route”.
Keeping an eye on the rear-view mirror is in fact more important than ever in this race, since there is something else to take into account: indeed, the final result shall also include the time of the first stage, from Le Havre to Lorient. Alberto Bona was ranked eighth, 1 hour 52 minutes and 46 seconds behind the first; this means that to stay high in the rankings, the Class40 IBSA has to “pay” her delay to seven boats, and adds advantage over all the other boats in relation to their arrival time.
It is still time to look at the sea, because – again according to Alberto – due to the little wind the fleet will be closing ranks, and therefore everything “will be actually decided at the end, in the last miles”.
Meanwhile, in Martinique the weather conditions show very light winds. The wind is very weak near the finish line in the last stretch, after the wonderful Diamond Rock, which the boats must leave to the left in a scenic passage along the coast, which will certainly have an influence on the last miles of the race.
The arrival time also begins to materialise: probably between the late afternoon of November 22 and the early hours of November 23, Martinique local time.