Tuesday, 24 November 2009

TJV: Day 15: Final week of the Transat Jacques Vabre - time to ration the diesel…

Sam Davies on the helm and enjoying the sun. Image copyright Artemis Ocean Racing.

by Artemis Ocean Racing media

Into the third week of the two-handed Transat Jacques Vabre, Artemis Ocean Racing and 1876 remain the only two boats to pass through the West Indies and into the Caribbean Sea, but they should do so later tonight somewhere close to St Vincent and the Grenadines: “We’re hoping for a little duel with 1876 but they are still miles ahead of us at the moment, but it is looking like they are quite slow and we are quite fast.

"Hopefully, we will close in on the miles and I think the way we are approaching the Caribbean we genuinely have more wind than their approach; so, hopefully, it will be to our advantage to catch up a little bit,” relayed Sam. “We’re working really hard because we see this as an opportunity to catch up or even overtake them if luck goes our way for once! It will be fun to have another boat to play with because for the whole race we haven’t really had the chance to line Artemis up against the other boats in fair conditions.”

Yves Parlier and Pachi Rivero on 1876 followed a radical northerly option all the way across the Atlantic before dropping south and approaching the Caribbean from the NNE; at the start of the weekend that strategy still looked good as they were ranked in 5th place but light airs this weekend have seem their boat speeds tumble and their position on the leaderboard, now in 8th place. “We are in good Trade Winds now so we’re doing some good miles,” confirmed Sam.

Artemis Ocean Racing has 1500nm to go to the finish in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica, expecting to arrive late Friday or early Saturday morning. Sam and Sidney make be looking forward to a some closer-quarter sparring but there is another potential hitch on the horizon: “We’re a bit tight on diesel so we are limiting everything we do,” said Sam. “Well, we’re more than ‘tight’ we are probably going to finish with no batteries and no engine. We reckon we’ve got three days of diesel left!” The Artemis duo will be rationing the diesel usage to ensure they have enough to get the weather and positions reports, otherwise they really will be sailing ‘blind’.

The two top IMOCA boats in the Transat Jacques Vabre have gone into ‘stealth mode’, electing to use their 24-hour blackout period in the final stages of the 4,730-mile race. At 0700 GMT this morning, the leader Safran had just under 200 miles to go, with Groupe Bel, 70 miles behind, taking a flier to the north in hope of more breeze. They are expected to finish later tonight or the early hours of this morning.

In the middle of the leaderboard, 40-odd miles separates 5th-placed W Hotels and Veolia Environnment, whilst Aviva play catch-up after a brief diversion to St Lucia to collect a spare part but there really is very little between these three boats in the final phase of the race.

Sam Davies: “The Trade Winds are rocketing Artemis towards the Caribbean and the fast, and sometimes, furious downwind sailing is exhilarating. I love the nights at sea, and last night was just magic... It was an “ipod” moment and so out came all the great ‘sing-along to’ songs!”

Artemis Ocean Racing
Transat Jacques Vabre

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