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Transat Paprec, Day 17 - High tension, match racing to the finish?

by Transat Paprec 16 May 16:54 BST 16 May 2023
5th placed Cap Ingelec, Pierre Leboucher on the helm - Transat Paprec, Day 17 © Cap Ingelec

With just over 500 nautical miles to the Saint Barths finish line what looked set to be a three cornered fight for victory might yet open up to surprise attacks from the mixed doubles duos in fourth, fifth and sixth.

Since Monday evening the 3890 miles race from Concarneau has had a new leader. Gaston Morvan and Anne-Claire Le Berre (Region Bretagne-CMB Performance) gybed north around 2000hrs and profited from extra breeze to take a narrow lead. And as second placed Lois Berrëhar and Charlotte Yven (Skipper MACIF) and Corentin Horeau and Pauline Courtois (Mutuelle Bleue) in third have both attacked with hitches to the northwest this afternoon, Morvan and Le Berre have seen their lead grow by nearly five miles today.

The leading trio are sailing into softer breeze and as they do so this has allowed Guillaume Pirouelle and Sophie Faguet (Région Normandie) to claw back more than seven miles since yesterday. The fourth placed duo from the north of France are at around 20 miles from the leaders and going faster as are fifth placed Camille Bertel/Pierre Leboucher (Cap Ingélec) who have closed to 26 miles behind from having been more than 50 miles adrift yesterday.

Match to the finish Morvan and Le Berre are out of sequence with the chasing duo but seem to consider attack as the best form of defence.

"Going north on starboard is an investment on the non-making gybe and it is not an easy angle to sail on but there is a reward in terms of the angle coming back." Suggests Yann Chateau the assistant race director who says no lead will be safe as the race closes the final miles when the breezes look set to be lighter, shifty with squalls and gusts under the clouds.

"Skipper MACIF and Mutuelle Bleue are very close but they need to focus on closing down the leaders who are quite proactive and prepared to try stuff. The other two are following each others. And there is a light airs ridge coming up which will see the leaders slow and more compression from behind." Says race director Francis Le Goff.

"Given the tiny gaps between the competitors, the winning difference could be down to a cloud which can stop the boats or allow them to accelerate. It must be stressing them out. We are seeing a great race at the front and there will be a match until the finish line", enthuses Le Goff.

Top five at 1700hrs BST Tuesday 16th May 2023

1. Région Bretagne CMB Performance (Gaston Morvan/Anne Claire le Berre) 556.8 miles to finish
2. Skipper MACIF (Loïs Berrehar/Charlotte Yven) + 7.5 miles
3. Mutuellle Bleue (Corentin Horeau/Pauline Courtois) + 7.9 miles
4. Région Normandie (Guillaume Pirouelle/Sophie Faguet) + 22.1 miles
5. Cap Ingélec (Camille Bertel/Pierre Leboucher) + 24.2 miles

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