Seldom has it been so exciting. The Open 60s "Virbac-Paprec", "Sill & Véolia" and "Bonduelle" race towards Salvador as the top three of the Transat-Jacques-Vabre field. The three monohulls crossed the equator yesterday and meanwhile the blue Open 60 with Jean-Pierre Dick and Loick Peyron on board has taken the lead on the home straight. The trio is expected in Salvador on Saturday afternoon. It is uncertain whether there will be large trimarans coming from Ascension or a "small" trimaran that is currently sailing parallel to the multinationals.
It could be that, for the first time in the history of the race, a 50 foot tri will take the victory in terms of sailing time. Because the newly built "Crepes Whaou", on which the father-and-son team Franck-Yves and Kevin Escoffier push as if there was no tomorrow, sails like from another planet. He comments on his son's first crossing of the equator: "Unfortunately, it wasn't time to pop the corks in Kevin's honor. But we will make up for it!" The leading Open 60s and "Crepes Whaou" still have to sail around 900 nautical miles to the finish. 900 miles, which could give the Orm60 Tris enough time to overtake the boats on the direct route. "Banque Populaire" leads the Orm60s. The sailing duo Pascal Bigédorry and Lionel Lemonchois still has a distance of 1,688 miles to cover. Ellen MacArthur, who sails together with Roland Jourdain on "Sill & Véolia" and adds something like a nation ranking to the Jacques Vabre finish, is combative, although her boat is in second place and the crew are only hoping for a last minute turn can: "The end is only at the finish". One of their opponents, the reigning Jacques Vabre winner Jean-Pierre Dick, however, sees it differently and does not show the tension of the leader. Since the boats are on the home straight south of the Doldrums, according to Dick, "relaxation is finally the order of the day".