Sunday, 29 November 2009

TJV: Day 19 - Artemis in Puerto Limon Friday night!

Sidney making silhouettes with his hands against the sunset. Image copyright Sam Davies/Artemis Ocean Racing.

by Artemis Ocean Racing media

“We’ve only got 120 miles to go now, and still have some good wind in our sails”, said Sidney Gavignet when we finally managed to reach Artemis at 11:30 GMT today. “Sam is sound asleep, I’ll let her rest as long as possible because I feel good, and she’s prolonged her last watch to make my life easier!” Expecting to be in Puerto Limon tonight, Sidney was glad to point out, “we won’t be very far behind the 5th crew in terms of elapsed time, which is positive and puts things into perspective even though the end result is obviously not what we had hoped for.”

Still forging ahead under autopilot and spinnaker despite the expected “park-up”, Artemis is making good progress towards the finish line as the crews that went into hiding yesterday have emerged after some excruciating hours of windless navigation. When we spoke to Sidney this morning, only 40% of the fleet was moored in the Puerto Limon harbour, and knowing that Artemis would only be a few hours behind the 5th-placed boat (which turned out to be W Hotels, only 5 minutes in front of Veolia!) understandably lifted the spirits up on board.

“The last three days have been very hectic”, commented the French sailor, “we’ve had a pretty good wind and sailed under spinnaker, which means a lot of steering… and painful bottoms as well (...) we’ve both been very tired, at some point we had more than 30 knots so there were long hours at the helm.” The helming position could use some improvement according to Sidney, and the crew’s back and neck have suffered during that last part of the course. “But we’re still very happy with the boat”, added Gavignet, “even if we can improve it. Finally, we are in less wind now and the pilot is working for us, still under spinnaker. As I speak, Sam is making a good recovery - she gave me three hours on the last watch, which was fantastic, and I’m going to give her as much as she needs. It’s a good moment aboard Artemis now, only 120 miles from the finish. We’re looking forward to Costa Rica!”

Looking back on a tough but rewarding crossing - Sidney’s morning email...

4.00am - one more, the 20th since we left Le Havre I think. Under autopilot, Artemis sails towards the moon. Bodies and minds are tired - bruises, muscular ache… it’s been a hard one! But the mission is almost accomplished, and Puerto Limon is now only a few hours away.

In terms of performance, it’s not exactly what we had set off for, but our sport is a complex one, the machines require a lot of preparation and set up, and at the end of the day a race remains a race. That’s the law of the sport. Our bags are now heavier with the added experience, we’ve accumulated nice stories along the way, a few mishaps too, but above all three months of beautiful complicity. We started with a blank page, and this adventure will remain one of the best episodes of my career as a sailor.

Thank you Sam for all your smiles, your many “always ready”, “let’s go”, “it’s OK”... and that one single “If I was allowed, I think I’d cry” you uttered last night. Get a good rest to set sails again on the oceans, where your life is.


Artemis Ocean Racing
Transat Jacques Vabre

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