Sunday, 18 January 2009

Vendée Globe 2008-9 Update

Roxy with spray flying over her bow at sunrise. Image copyright Sam Davies/Roxy/Vendée Globe.

by Véronique Teurlay and SailRaceWin

Jury Decisions on Redress for PRB and Brit Air

PRB arriving in Puerto Williams, Chile, in tow from the Chilean navy. Image copyright Chilean Navy/Vendée Globe.

The international jury has made its decision concerning the redress requested by Vincent Riou (PRB) and the redress claim for Armel Le Cléac’h (Brit Air) for the rescue of Jean Le Cam.
Armel Le Cléac’h is awarded 11 hours for taking part in the rescue of Jean Le Cam. These eleven hours will be subtracted from his final finishing time.

Vincent Riou, in third place when he was called to the rescue of Jean (taking into account that Jean was already out of the race following his capsize), will be ranked third equal in the Vendée Globe with the competitor, who finishes third.

Jean-Pierre Dick reaches Auckland

"I've just reached Auckland after more than 1800 miles (3333 km) of sailing in the Indian Ocean with a damaged rudder. It made the sailing very tricky. After my second rudder broke on 31st December 2008 following a collision with a UFO, my goal was to take my boat to a safe harbour. So now I have done that, even if it feels very strange being here in New Zealand. 13 days ago, I was racing in the Vendée Globe, and now I'm stepping ashore on the other side of the world, where the boat was built."

Sail Woes for Dee Caffari on Aviva

Delamination of the mainsail on Aviva. Images copyright Dee Caffari/Aviva/Vendée Globe

"It is the stuff nightmares are made of. I woke from my slumber and saw a slow boat speed and immediately dropped the ballast tank. I couldn't decide if south was better than heading east, but one thing was for sure, I couldn't actually head the direction I wanted to go in. "I went on deck to take a look around. The dawn was just breaking so it was light enough to see everything. I was looking at my mainsail, which has been a concern for the whole of the Southern Ocean, and I noticed some more sail flapping in the breeze. My shoulders slumped and as I continued to look I realised with horror that it wasn't the layer that is blowing away daily but the layer on the good side of the mainsail. In fact the only layer of mainsail left! I cursed, gybed quickly and dropped the mainsail to the third reef. I grabbed my sail repair kit, which is now running extremely low, and spent an hour patching the tear in the cloth. With the forecast set for the winds to increase and knowing that moving the sail up and down cannot be good for the cloth I have elected to remain at three reefs and keep my fingers crossed. If it can just get me to the Atlantic then I can choose a route with no scary wind and nurse my sail home. My biggest fear now is will the sail last the final big blow from the Southern Ocean depression before I turn left? So miles won and miles lost, the important thing for me is to stay in the race."

If Dee Caffari is able to finish the race then she will be the first woman to have sailed around the world in both directions single-handed.

Norbert meets Raphaël in the south Pacific Ocean

Norbert Sedlacek in the south Pacific Ocean. Image copyright Norbert Sedlacek/Nauticsport Kapsch/Vendée Globe

"In the last few hours I had a great situation finding Dinelli in the middle of the South Pacific. We got contact with iridium and then later with VHF and came very close to make some pictures and videos. It is really sensational how the different situations are developing in an adventure like that. Raphael and I will see that we sail the southern Pacific together, then after Cape Horn maybe Raphael will stop to do some repairs. So in the end it was one of the most beautiful days during the race and I am very very happy about the date with Raphael and wish for the day when we have a drink in les Sables together to talk about this great moment!"

Bilou (Roland Jourdain) finishes his repairs

Images of the damage to Veolia Environnement after hitting a whale. Images copyright Roland Jourdain/Veolia Environnement/Vendée Globe.

Two and a half days after a chance encounter with a sea mammal, Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnement) has finished repairing the damage that was done to his boat, in particular to the mast bulkhead. Roland Jourdain contacted by his shore team today:

"I'm pleased about my night and this final piece of work using bunches of battens from the mainsail, which I stuck together to form a solid bar, and then stuck onto the bulkhead at the foot of the mast to consolidate everything. It should be as solid as concrete to ensure we get home, unless there is something I haven't seen of course. Now I'm going to have to get the speed back up. I'm going to try to clean up a bit, as there's dust everywhere. It makes you itch all the time. It's hell!"

Roxy (Sam Davies) has an attack of the cling-ons, and a visit from a fighter jet

Roxy suffers an attack of the cling-ons from a veritable forest of kelp. Images copyright Sam Davies/Roxy/Vendée Globe.

"Well, yesterday evening was hard work! I was just thinking that now the upwind work has started, things will become quieter - I may even get bored.... That was a mistake to think that, because just as I picked up my book, Roxy lurched and slowed instantly from 10 to 8 knots.... So, I got out my endoscope to inspect what "cling-ons" we had picked up, and discovered that we had been attacked by a forest of giant Kelp! I spent an hour doing back downs (after four years of Figaro I'm good at that) but to no avail. The kelp was probably as long as Roxy as the branches trailed beyond the transom (from around the keel!) I managed to wrestle a bit of it off with the boathook and my hands (disgusting!) So, I realised that I may have to take an earlier bath than planned to free us from our "cling-on"! I stopped Roxy by dropping all the sails - the first time since the two months of the race that Roxy has stopped! I waited to see if this would clear the kelp and had another look with the endoscope - Yes! The forest has gone - thank goodness - no swimming for me today. So, after a lot of exercise (and 2 hours of down-time), I got Roxy up and running again - kelp-free and 2 knots faster! I was totally knackered, I managed to eat an 800 calorie meal, a bar of chocolate and drink pretty much an entire bottle of water! Hopefully today I will not have so many adventures - in fact I am actually quite looking forward to being bored..."


"Since Cape Horn, we keep having islands spring up right in our path! The closest one was a little tiny island 30 miles South of the Falklands called Beauchene Island. We actually had to swerve to avoid it, and I passed about a mile and a half to leeward. It was a bird-heaven, and Roxy was surrounded by all kinds of sea birds, and passing to leeward of the island was a smelly mistake as it smells of bird poo! I even had a duck (or what looked like a duck) flying round Roxy. It was so funny because it was trying to do what the albatrosses do and play in the updraft of Roxy's sails, but the duck doesn't glide, she had to keep flapping her wings, and she nearly ended up crash landing on the foredeck! I guess Lucky would have been happy to find a real friend on board! I was down below and I heard a really scary noise - like the daggerboard was breaking - and I shot up on deck to see what it was.... and there, zooming past my head was a fighter jet! Maverick and Goose came to see me! The jet did a couple of circles around Roxy, really low altitude, to say hi... they must have seen me in the cockpit so then they sped off in front of Roxy and gave me a show-off display by doing a vertical climb terminating in a barrel roll right in front of us! As you can imagine, the little girl in her pink boat stood there wide-eyed, HUGE smile, totally bewitched by these Top Gun heroes who just made her day!"

Is the Professor's work done?

Sunset from Foncia. Image copyright Michel Desjoyeaux/Foncia/Vendée Globe.

Michel Desjoyeaux leads by over 450 miles and confirmed this morning that he feels he has done a good enough job to win this Vendée Globe.

He has no plans to sail especially conservatively, but what happens now will be down to luck. While the Doldrums ahead look quite wide and active, so they should remain the same for second placed Bilou, Roland Jourdain.

With a ‘classic’ weather situation in the North Atlantic, mainly westerly airflow, he should regain the Vendée Globe course record, despite it being a longer course and him re-starting 40 hours after the fleet.

Vincent Riou’s record of 87 days 10 hours, 47 minutes looks certain to fall.

Latest news from the front-runners:

1st: Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia): Busy tidying up inside. Mathematical calculations don’t mean that much as you have to consider other elements, so he was right the other day about his lead over Bilou of around 400 miles. Doldrums look more complicated than usual. Has been getting satellite info directly. Thinks he will be slowed a bit but should get through. Strong winds after the Doldrums. Should have a westerly flow in North Atlantic, so an arc to the west. Not a lot to do in terms of strategy. Needs to remain concentrated, but no complex situations to worry him. ETA 1st or 2nd Feb.

Main problem since being in the lead is the pressure to stay in the lead, but doesn’t feel increased pressure now. It’s lasted a long time already so is getting used to it. There is the possibility of not winning, but everything is fine on the boat.

2nd: Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnement): Squally weather and calms as if he was in the Doldrums. Thought he’d got out of those conditions at yesterday. Can see Mich Desj getting away. A bad Sunday. “ As long as there’s life, there’s hope.” It’s going to be tough as distance is growing, but there are the Doldrums, which may slow Michel down. In it until the finish and racing as if he can still win. Wind up to 30 knots in squalls, then very light outside of them. Hot out on deck doing manoeuvres. Sea temperature 26°C - Air temperature 29.1° this morning. A couple of rainbows in sky as sky seems to be clearing. Some flying fish. The hunting season, as far as Desjoyeaux is concerned, is open until early February.

Vendée Globe

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