Monday, 23 November 2009
Mike Golding Yacht Racing. Image copyright Marcel Mochet/AFP.
by Régis Lerat
In between the simple routine of just keeping their boats at maximum speed in the right direction, and picking their way as best they can, there is a certain quiet satisfaction underpinning the efforts of the top three duos in the IMOCA Open 60 fleet as these Transat Jacques Vabre leaders set themselves up to break into the Caribbean.
That is not to say that any of them have already accepted their position now will be the same when they cross the finish line off Costa Rica's Puerto Limon, but with the gap between leader Safran and second placed Groupe Bel grown by 20 miles to 81 miles early this morning, and the margin between Bel and Mike Golding Yacht Racing, in turn 82 miles, then each feels they have breathing space which they perhaps did not expect this morning.
Instead of the expected initial compression, in fact Marc Guillemot and Charles Caudrelier slipped away another 20 miles overnight on Safran, a gain which surprised Guillemot's co-skipper enough to wonder this morning if their pursuers had a technical problem.
But in fact Safran has just had more a little more wind.
Satisfaction, such as it is, aboard Mike Golding Yacht Racing comes from being back in something closer to full racing shape after British skipper Golding spent much of yesterday night dealing with an electrical charging issue which firstly meant they could not start the engine, which then developed so they had a complete power failure.
But for his hard day's night and recuperation yesterday Golding has remedied their problems and was pleased to be back in a more competitive mode early this morning.
Winds for the leaders are still very up and down, variable in direction. The leading trio have anything between seven and 12 knots this morning and winds will drop more at times as they approach the arc of West Indies islands
But the gap back to Michel Desjoyeaux and Jérémie Beyou has also opened another 20 miles to 290 miles between Mike Golding Yacht Racing and Desjoyeaux's Foncia. Golding said his preference this morning would be to have been a little more south, but given his problems yesterday that has not been possible.
Dee Caffari and Brian Thompson creep closer to fifth all the time, this morning getting to less than 17 miles of Veolia Environnement their slightly more southerly position has been beneficial to the British Aviva duo, but both were slowed to less than ten knots this morning.
Franco-Spanish duo Yves Parlier and Pachi Rivero are on good form this morning, making west at good speed in good breeze. On the quickest boat in the fleet just now, 1876 Rivero remarked that they will make their move south later today, but just 40 miles of DTF (distance to finish) separates fifth from eighth.
Mike Golding (GBR) Mike Golding Yacht Racing:
“We had a problem, a big problem. As the batteries got low the engine would not start, and so the engine start batteries had not been getting trickle charge and so the engine would not start. That created an earthing problem on the engine as well, and so with no engine…no lights, nothing at all. It was pretty dodgy for a while. The switchboard 12v charger has blown, we had a spare but it has blown as well, so what I had to do was lift one of the main batteries out of the bank and use it to start the engine, so that took up most of yesterday night and the boat was a complete tip after that. So yesterday was spent getting tidied and getting the boat moving again, so so far tonight has been relatively quiet. We had no electronics, no navigation, no electronics, and it was pitch dark and so trying to see the wheel compass is hopeless. So we have ended up where we are. I am not especially pleased…we are where we are, we should be further forwards, we should be further south, but we are where we are.
"I think there may still be some options and opportunities, but meantime we do need to make sure we get out of this light stuff. We probably haven't done the job we wanted to to get out of it, we are doing 10 knots just now and probably have eight knots of breeze.”
Charles Caudrelier Bénac (FRA) Safran:
“It is going very well. We are trying in a way to understand what is going on because we expected less wind but that is not so. There must be a reason why we have gained so many miles on Groupe Bel during the night, maybe they have some technical problems?
"We had a good night, between 10 and 15 knots, rolling along, and it makes good speed. We did two or three watches of three hours each and made no sail changes so it did not go too badly, and there are no clouds or squalls. But on the other hand the trade winds are broken down, and if there are no clouds during the day it will be hard because there will be no wind.
"We are 1500 miles from the finish and it is just great. We can still break things if there are stronger trade winds, and there will be many manoeuvres before we get there.
“The passage through the West Indies arc? Well it can make a big difference and we have already chosen, but we are not telling anything......”
Transat Jacques Vabre