Part of the appeal of the Retour à La Base is the chance to sail solo in race mode in conditions which are akin to the Southern Ocean. Were it not December on the Bay of Biscay you could call it a ‘warm up’.

Suffice to say the final miles and days of this unique 3.500 nautical miles solo race from Martinique are delivering what was hoped for. The leading trio are racing to Lorient, where they should all finish today, in winds of 30kts and five to six metre seas. Leader Yoann Richomme (Parec-Arkea) should finish late afternoon and had 150 miles to the finish at breakfast time this morning. Very soon he will reach that point where the finish line is closer to his bow than second placed Jéremie Beyou(Charal) is behind him. And meantime Sam Goodchild (FOR THE PLANET) in third is just 20 miles behind Beyou.

 “It’s the leading group that has the toughest conditions at the moment,”  said Christian Dumard, the race meteorologist. “Yoann will still have strong winds, he hasn’t gybed yet.” Paprec Arkéa should pass “a small front in the middle of the day, a small shift in the wind”. According to race management, Richomme could finish “around 5 to 6 p.m.”.

Behind, the group led by Germany’s Boris Hermann (Malizia – Sea Explorer, 4th), made up of five skippers should finish late next night and until Sunday afternoon. A little further back Isabelle Joschke (MACSF, 9th) and Romain Attanasio (Fortinet-Best Western, 10th) lead a group which will find itself in front of the front. “They are going back towards the North because they are going to have wind, with gusts of 30 to 40 knots tonight with SW’ly wind,” explains Dumard. They are expected during the day on Monday in Lorient.

Finally the daggerboard boats are also going well in the SW’ly wind, on starboard tack. They are also moving back to the North, their wind should ease. Some are positioned a little further north, like Antoine Cornic (Human Immobilier, 25th). Also note that Louis Duc (Fives - Lantana Environnement) went slowly downwind at the Azores. His small gennaker was torn, he had to climb the mast to the J3 sheave. And the other good news is Sébastien Simon (Groupe Dubreuil), who had stopped for a while on the island of Flores for electronic problems has resumed his race.

Jean Le Cam, fighting the good fight

Having left Martinique last Wednesday, Jean Le Cam is currently making less than eight knots heading north. The skipper of “Tout Commence en Finistère – Armor lux” is racing upwind. He has 15 to 20 knots from the North-East. “On the same section, the rest of the competitors were reaching with a more easterly wind, 70° TWA,” confides Christian Dumard. The position of the anticyclone, currently more at the level of Bermuda, explains this fact. Jean therefore advances close hauled upwind. He has at least seven days still to race to make the finish line on his new boat.