As they climb north temperatures are dropping for the fleet leaders of the Retour à La Base who today are focused on the transition through the high pressure system this evening and tonight and then looking towards the first low pressure system which they should get to tomorrow, lifting them in the westerly breeze to be downwind.

Whilst Nico Lunven(Holcim-PRB) has moved up to second behind Jéremie Beyou(Charal), the leader, notably Lunven, who is on his first solo race on the boat, is keeping the same high angle as the leader and is about 20 miles behind, whilst Sam Goodchild(FOR THE PLANET) is sailing a few degrees lower and quicker. Louis Burton seems content to sail lowest in search of speed.

Goodchild reported this morning, “It’s all going well, it was not an easy night with quite a bit of a sea state and not very stable winds, it was quite strong. We had 23-24kts at one stage and now it is dropping again, so I am constantly trying to trim the boat, the sails to keep the speed up and not lose miles, so we keeping busy. The good news is that the temperature has dropped we lost 5-6 degrees in the last few hours and that makes life on board a bit easier. We are coming into the transition zone, probably overnight tonight, and so it is not looking too complicated to get through, just the choice of picking the right moment to change sails and find the way to get north into the new wind, but not getting too far north to be lined up for the strong wind and strong sea state coming in, so looking to not be too greedy and look for too much wind too early. So it is about finding the right balance between wind and sea state, so it is going to start getting light this evening and tomorrow morning we should be into the westerlies, all good on board. Solo has been good so far as there has been no sail changes since leaving Martinique, so it has been a good way to get into it, with a long straight leg, forcing myself to find sail settings which are allround – to allow me to go to sleep – and just trying to find the right balance, I have had some good rest so not too tired.”

The northbound drag race has allowed skippers to settle in to their solo routine without too much activity beyond keeping the boat fast and in the right direction. The speed test has been good for Japanese skipper Kojiro Shiraishi(DMG MORI Global One) who is holding nicely in 12th place.
He reported this morning, “The boat is going well. The boat condition is really good. The change to bigger foils and the bow remodel is working well, lucky we’re in conditions where we can show the full potential of the refitted boat. Last night, the sea state wasn’t too good so I reefed and was sailing J3 1reef. I will soon have the J2 up again. The shore team did a good job preparing the boat.  But as usual I’m feeling seasick and I’m not 100% of my abilities but I’ll do my best to keep pushing hard.”

Meteo outlook from Christian Dumard

“The competitors will continue to head north in order to go around the anticyclone,” explains Dumard, the race meteorologist. “They will then get to the edge of the first depression and be lifted and lifted as they get to the north side of the high pressure and then during the day of the 4th (Monday) they get into the first of the Low pressures.”
Dumard explains that it will be up to the skippers where they want to set their level, but notably tha as the second depression comes through it will be the sea state which will be up to 5m which will cause the biggest problem.

In 23rd this morning, Conrad Colman NZL (Mail Boxes ETC) might find a moment to celebrate his 40th birthday today, “That is me into the Roaring 40s (40th birthday today), well it certainly feels like that. The holiday is over as we have gone from sailing upwind with blue skies and 20-22kts of wind yesterday to now, just before sunrise, it does not feel like a squall – just a very dense band of wind, up to 33kts – so reef down and furled J2 and set the J3 and it has really sunk in that this is going to be a tough race. As I said before my turning sheave box blew up on the J2 and J3 sheets and now I have this complicated system where I have rerouted them around the roof, that was a bit janky so I transferred to the Code 0 sheets and that just means so, so much work. I’ll see how it goes. That takes a lot of energy I think it might be tough to remain competitive because each manoeuvre just takes so much more work. That’s a disappointment. But happy birthday to me! The sun set on my youth last night and now I am into ‘old man’ mode. It is my fifth birthday at sea. I remember in 2014 when Charles Caudrelier turned 40 he had just been named skipper of the Dongfeng team, and I thought ‘when I turn 40 I’d like to have an ocean racing programme’ and here I am.”