In Fort de France
Fatigue is starting to make itself felt but the final sprint towards Martinique does not allow any relaxation in the standoff between the leading crews of the Imoca class. The winner is expected during the night from Saturday to Sunday, around two a.m. Metropolitan time. “Morale is good even if we expect a very close regatta for the finale,” confides Yoann Richomme to Le Figaro, second in the race with his friend Yann Eliès.
At midday on Friday, the Paprec Arkéa duo was 57 miles behind For People of Thomas Ruyant and Morgan Lagravière (as of 1:00 p.m.). “There is the whole group behind who made a shift that was a little complicated for us to manage. We are happy with what we are doing, we have made good progress and we are going faster than a few days ago and this helps us to see contact with others a little more easily,” adds the navigator. “We may have had a small speed deficit on For People but we are ready for the final straight,” added his teammate Yann Eliès a little later during the morning session while Sam Goodchild and Antoine Koch completed the leading trio, 75.0 miles from the leaders.
The favorites are advancing in a pack in the south but the real threat perhaps comes from the north with Teamwork.net. Justine Mettraux Julien Villion are perhaps on the verge of winning their tactical match with the big names in the category thanks to their choice of a northern route taken early in the race. “It's difficult to predict what's going to happen and we're expecting a bit of everything in the end,” summarizes Yoann Richomme without wanting to say too much before evoking the daring race of Teamwork.net: “They're doing a nice race, it's a fairly sensible risk-taking insofar as they were already behind in the leading group with the backbone at Portugal which was not easy to pass. They probably didn't have the fastest boat going downwind so they were certainly more in a state of mind where they had nothing to lose.
The ranking is misleading. If Justine Mettraux and Julien Villion currently only occupy 7th place (at 242.8 miles), the positions will tighten as the fleet approaches the Antilles. “We see them always crossing in front of us so it’s going to make for a suspenseful finale. It will work out for them, they have eaten their black bread,” judges Yann Eliès.
But the Paprec Arkéa duo has no regrets about their southern option, which provides plenty of lessons for next year's big event, the Vendée Globe. “We have no regrets. We'll see how things work out again but it's certain that they didn't experience the same transatlantic experience as us... I think that a good part of our learning was done in the south with the leaders of the Imoca class. This is where we learned the most. We could have been to the north, maybe we could have won the race... I don't know.... But in terms of learning for the future, we are super happy with where we raced," concludes Richomme who was speeding at an average speed of more than 23 knots towards the Isle of Flowers, the end point of a wild transatlantic race.
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