Day 2: Yann Guichard is on track at the start of this fast-paced Route du Rhum
  • Maxi Spindrift 2
November 4, 2014

The sailors are setting an astonishing early pace. With weather conditions described as “atrocious” up until this morning, the adrenaline is pumping at full speed. The fleet is visibly affected as a result, and a number of boats have already dropped out or are making technical stops. After a cautious start, Yann went on the attack and has since moved up from 6th to 2nd position. The leaders are already leaving southern Portugal in their wake, and Yann is around 60 nautical miles behind the race leader, Loick Peyron. He will now round the island of Madeira during the night.

The race began in challenging rough seas as the fleet left the English Channel and rounded the tip of Brittany. Yann rode out winds of 25-40 knots with violent squalls: "It's tough to set up the sails because it takes time, and you don't want to make a mistake. Manoeuvres are tiring on such a big boat as Spindrift 2, especially when you've hardly slept," he explained early this morning. "Everything is running smoothly so far. The boat is in good condition and I'm happy because I’m up there with the leader."

Conditions improving all the time

Having rounded the tip of Brittany in 6th place early on Monday morning, Spindrift 2 moved up to 3rd position in the Bay of Biscay, despite confronting 5 to 6 metre waves. Approaching Cape Finisterre, Yann overtook Lionel Lemonchois (Prince de Bretagne) to take 2nd place. In an area well-suited to high speeds, the wind allowed Yann to whizz down the Portuguese coast overnight. "I used two reefs all night, allowing me to catch the others," explained the skipper, who managed to hold it together despite gusts of 45 knots. "The boat is gliding over the water and we're improving. The wind will ease in three or four hours' time, at which point I think we'll all hoist some more sail.

Canvas and manoeuvers 

You can hear it in the sailors' voices that they haven't slept much since they left on Sunday. "I managed to get some kip this morning," said Yann. "We're closely bunched together and I'll have to keep up the pace. I'm very pleased with the boat and my ability to manage it despite the tough conditions." Like his opponents, he will have to perform manoeuvres to adjust the sails to the calmer conditions and sail at a fast pace downwind. Sail changes by a solo sailor always take a long time and use up a lot of energy. "I'll need to hoist some sail in three or four hours, which will make me lose some ground, but I hope to make it up pretty quickly," said the Spindrift 2 skipper.

Madeira already drawing near 
By early Tuesday afternoon, the leaders in the Ultimes class had already reached the same latitude as Cape Saint-Vincent. As announced before the start of the race, the competitors will now sail downwind, picking up the pace as they line edge of the Azores High, reaching the west of Madeira in two and a half days. Suffice to say these large boats notch up the miles at a rate that few boats in the world can manage. 

The island in the Portuguese archipelago rises to a height of 1,861 metres, creating a huge "wind shadow" to the south-southwest that can reach 100 miles out into the ocean. It is a difficulty the competitors must take into account, as they cannot afford to be held back by anything as they head west.

Ultimate class standings at 4pm CET: 

Location / distance / 4-hour average speed / 24-hour average speed 

1 – Banque Populaire VII, Loïck Peyron, 2759,6 nm from the finish, 28,9 nds/4h, 25,7 nds/ 24h
2 – Spindrift 2, Yann Guichard, 67,5 nm DTL, 26,1 nds/4h, 24,6 nds/24h

3 – Edmond de Rothschild, 69,2 nm DTL, 24,8 nds/4h, 21,9nds /24h
4 – Prince de Bretagne, Lionel Lemonchois, 115,nm DTL, 26,8 nds/4h, 24,1 nds/24h
5 – Idec sport, Francis Joyon, 123,61 nm DTL 25,8 nds/4h, 23, 3 nds/24h
6 – Paprec Recyclage, Yann Eliès, 128,28 nm DTL, 24,7 nds/4h, 20,7 nds/24h
7 – Musandam Oman Sail, Sidney Gavignet, 137,61 nm DTL, 25,5 nds/4h, 20, 9 nds/24h
8 – Sodebo Ultim’, Thomas Coville, Abandon


  • -See a map showing the position of Spindrift 2 on the Spindrift racing website. The map is updated every hour and the website is adapted to tablets and smartphones.
  • -Find out the latest weather forecasts and the latest news on Yann's race every morning.
  • -Read the latest newsletter every day at around 5pm CET (UCT+1), with everything you need to know about Yann Guichard and Spindrift 2, including the gap between him and his rivals, the events of the past few hours and the challenges that lie ahead.