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Transat Paprec, Day 18 - Transat Paprec title going down to the wire

by Transat Paprec 17 May 17:55 BST 17 May 2023

The 1994, second edition of the two-handed race across the Atlantic which is now the Transat Paprec was famously won by French sailing legends Jean Le Cam and Roland Jourdain by just 63 seconds. After 20 days and 20 hours of racing between Lorient and Saint Barthélemy, Le Cam and Jourdain pipped Bertrand de Broc and Marc Guillemot by the tiniest of margins.

This Transat Paprec, the first to be raced in 'mixed doubles' format, looks set to deliver a truly nail biting finale which, if it does not see as close a finish between first and second as 1994, this edition, the second edition ever to be raced in Figaro BENETEAU 3 one designs is shaping up to have the closest finish yet between the top five.

With less than 350 miles to go of the 3890 mile course, there is still nothing between the top three. And after 17 and a half days of racing, the top trio are still mostly within visual sight of each other in the same way they might be during a training day race in Brittany.

Most observers who know the race, the title rivals and have an understanding of the weather forecast for the final 48 hours consider victory will be won or lost on the final approach and circuit of the island of Saint Barths.

Since this Wednesday morning Corentin Horeau and Pauline Courtois (Mutuelle Bleue) have been credited with a steady lead, but one which has never been as much as one mile ahead of Lois Berrëhar and Charlotte Yven (Skipper MACIF) in second. And just half a mile behind them- in terms of distance to the finish - are Gaston Morvan and Anne-Claire Le Berre (Region Bretagne-CMB Performance). In truth the top three are racing side by side at virtually the same speeds.

But, fastest this Wednesday evening has been Le Havre native and former 470 Olympic campaigner Guillaume Pirouelle racing with Sophie Faguet and carrying the flag for the Normandy area on Région Normandie. They are less than 10 miles from the pacemakers and seem to be doing well with a position to the south, to windward of the peloton.

From Région Bretagne-CMB Performance Gaston Morvan reported earlier today, " It's pretty intense right now. We are between the squall systems, little storms, it's hard to keep the boat moving forward. And on top of that there is weed, sargassum.. We are trying to give it everything we can. We know that it's going to come down to small details, that it's going to be very tight between three boats, even more. And they will come back at us from behind too. "

Coach at Pôle Finistère Course au Large offshore training centre Erwan Tabarly sums up, "It's a real speed race. You also have to negotiate squalls and clouds well and keep trimming your boat properly. Two days before the finish no one really has any kind of lead. The mindset comes into it too. Wanting too much to control or watch too closely what others are doing, you can forget to just take the best route. You have to stay true to your plan, go your own way without giving in to the others. Even if they don't stay stuck in light winds around the island, the boats are very close and you can be overtaken during the passage round of the island, it has happened before. You can stay stuck for a few minutes by going around the tip at Colombier. It never lasts long but it can be enough to get passed by a boat. Victory can be won there. It's less tricky then, going down to the line."

Top five at 1700hrs BST Wednesday 17 May 2023

1 Mutuellle Bleue (Corentin Horeau/Pauline Courtois) 353.2 nautical miles to finish
2 Skipper MACIF (Loïs Berrehar/Charlotte Yven) + 0.9 miles
3 Région Bretagne CMB Performance (Gaston Morvan/Anne Claire le Berre) +1.4 miles
4 Région Normandie (Guillaume Pirouelle/Sophie Faguet) + 10.2 miles
5 Cap Ingélec (Camille Bertel/Pierre Leboucher) + 12.9 miles

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