When it started I said I did not understood why all were following the direct route when it was obvious that there was no wind there and why so few choose to go North, were there were good wind all the way.
It seems that it was the organization that suggested that course, afraid that on the North the wind was too strong.
I had suggested that the best course was to going up till about Madeira latitude and then come down...fast. It seems that the guys from the Knierim 65 are following this thread because they had done just that and are already drinking beers in Santa Lucia when some are still near Cabo Verde.
They did not only went fast as they beat the record of this Transat. It seems that the time I have been following races had teach me a thing or two in what regards routing
It seems that many were afraid of the high winds they could get on that course but they never got more than 30k gusting 40, downwind and for not much time. Most of the time it was 15, 20K downwind. Certainly not conditions for a small boat but most 45ft boats, even cruising boats, would not have any problem with those conditions, providing the crew had a minimum of experience.
They could also went North and not going as high as Madeira latitude and having wind all the way, but less strong wind, with a max over 20/25K downwind. Most of the few cruisers that went North chose that option.
Why had the organization put them on that no wind and upwind course? I guess they knew that there was a lot of inexperienced sailors on that rally and they didn't want to take any risk and I agree with that. But I do not understand why more experienced sailors did not went North. Some went, but i am sure that many experienced sailors keep up with the organization recommendation even if they should new that they would get a very boring and slow transat.
To understand better the situation look here, they have a much better wind information and for 3 days:
Cartographie | Mini Transat 2013 - Douarnenez / Lanzarote / Pointe-à-Pitre
The boats on that direct route have no wind and then they will have head wind. Only in 3 days from now they will get better sailing conditions. The guys on the North are coming down full speed to escape stronger winds on the North and will have not any problem with a decent routing. I hope the boats have enough water and food because for some of those that chose the traditional route, it is going to be a loooong transat.
Regarding boats that are doing well, the main spot has to be for the Knierim 65. We had already talked here about the smaller Knierim but not about this one. I will get to it later but for now I should say that it is a new Design and one from Marcelino Botin. Yes the Spanish NA is one of the names that come high on this year's Transats: the fastest 40class racer, the Fastest boat on the ARC.
Definitively Botin got it right in what regards designing boats for a Transat and in two counts: Solo and Crewed. Congratulations to him with special relevance because the Knierim 65 was always ahead (and in about the same course) of the Russian VOR70 that arrived 2nd and at a considerable distance
As negative performance the one of the Gunboat 62, the big performance cruiser cat, that did not went as North as the two that already arrived, risks to be beaten also by two big and beautiful performance cruisers, a Southern wind 72 and a Nauta 78.
Again, as usually, the Marten 49 is doing a great race among the big yachts, going side by side with a Baltic 78.
The first 40ft boat is as usual a Class 40 pursued by a X 50, both doing a great race but no better than a wauquiez 45 that follows both. The first 40ft performance cruiser is a Pogo 12,50. That cruising Pogo 40ft is battling with ...a racing TP52
. Besides the Pogo, the fastest 40ft performance cruisers are several First 40 (and 40.7), but at a very considerable distance.
On the real small performance cruisers going very fast and surrounded by much bigger boats, a Sunfast 3200, a Pogo30, an older and smaller Pogo 8.50 and a first 36.7.
Also doing a great and fast transat, A Dufour 45e, a Grand soleil 43, a Dufour 40.
Some other cruisers (not performance cruisers) going fast (and this one will put a smile on my friend Smack
) a Belgian Hunter 36 (that have the balls to head North for wind), an American Southerly 42RS, a Van de Stadt Moorea 45, a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 42, a Dufour 385, a Dufour 375 , two XC 45, a Bavaria 40 and a 42, an Amel super Maramu, a Southerly 110, a Dufour 425, a Bavaria 36, a Benetau Oceanis 411, a Bowman 42 and a Dufour 34.
This year we can also see a very poor performance from the Cats. Strangely no one among them went North for getting downwind medium to strong wind and they found themselves in weak conditions and many times upwind. The results were the expected and this year many big cats are being outsailed by smaller monohulls.