Competitors in the 10th edition of the Route du Rhum might have their final destination, Guadeloupe, in their sights, but there remains a final hurdle before crossing the line – navigating the island’s tricky entry point which includes the famous Soufriere volcano.
Route du Rhum race director Gilles Chiorri said: “There will surely be tactical choices ahead – choices that could take the skippers far out to escape the front part of the island. It adds a lot of miles to the journey but you can be assured of winds. Otherwise the skippers can stay on the direct route and then hope for cross winds.
‘‘I think we’ll be on a rather tight path because it should not be forgotten that there is a buoy in Basse Terre, therefore a compulsory turning point.
‘‘The Soufriere volcano is very high, the terrain is vertical. It’s where the first boats will pass by. There will be very little wind, very irregular and there will be a lot of work to maneouver the boats.”
Franck Cammas, 2010 winner of the Route du Rhum, was impressed by how leader and favourite Loick Peyron has tackled the race so far.
The Frenchman said: ‘‘You need a lot of luck in this race, but you also have to navigate it well, you can’t take your eye off the weather, that’s it.
‘‘Loïck Peyron sailed the first 24 hours of the race very well, after that it was easy for him. Being in front he sailed through a narrow passage under the Azores which allowed him stretch his lead at that time.
‘‘But we should note that he hasn’t made an error yet and I don’t think he will now because he’s a clever sailor, he knows this type of boat perfectly.”