Friday, 13 November 2009

TJV: Caffari and Thompson stick with the leading pack in the Transat Jacques Vabre

Dee Caffari and Brian Thompson. Image copyright Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images.

by Kelly Russell

Demanding conditions and the loss of a wind instrument have made for a testing fourth night onboard Aviva for Dee Caffari and Brian Thompson. The British duo is, however, still within the leading pack of the IMOCA Open 60 class due to their determination and team work.

With the strong winds and difficult conditions set to last for the next 48 hours, Caffari and Thompson will need to draw on their combined experience to make the best of the situation until they can safely attempt to execute a full repair.

Harry Spedding, Aviva Ocean Racing Campaign Manager added:
“Last night Dee and Brian were racing in over 40 knots of wind and big Atlantic swell. Just before dusk one of the two wind instruments at the top of the mast was literally flicked off with the force of movement. The other instrument has been playing up. Of course any boat can be sailed without these instruments, but it makes racing a whole lot harder.

“Dee and Brian would have been relying on the instruments to ease the decision making on both course and sail choice. With the Wind Direction showing, a tactical shift in the wind can help to make gains towards the finish; with the Wind Speed showing the choice of sail is made obvious. With neither of these two things working Dee and Brian will be relying much more on their experience to make the decisions of sail choice.

“When one of the two people onboard is resting, the other is on deck. When they are not driving the boat they are trimming the sails, and when they trim the sails for speed the autopilot will drive. Normally this would be set on a Wind Angle setting, so that the boat remains on a course relative to the wind. With no wind instruments the pilot can drive the boat on the compass setting, it is just less efficient.

“Dee and Brian will today try and make a patch up that will last the next few days. However they will not be back up to speed for a couple of days, when the sea state may drop enough to allow one of them to go to the top of the mast and effect a proper repair.”

The 10h00 race ranking positioned Dee Caffari and Brian Thompson, onboard Aviva, in sixth place, 57.8 miles behind race leader BT.

Dee Caffari and Brian Thompson’s latest diary entry received on 12 November 2009 at 0825 GMT:

“It is difficult to write today as it is so bumpy. We have been through many squalls of 40 knots in the last night-time hours. We were waiting to tack when the time was right like so many of our little group we have found ourselves sailing with. We knew it was right when we saw a little shift and also in the position reports everyone else had also tacked, now we just needed a window of opportunity, that was a light patch to do our manoeuvre in.

I was grateful there are two of us because nothing seems so bad with two. 35 knots saw us tack and that was the last we knew about the wind as we no longer have a wand at the top of the mast. Ignorance is bliss and without the numbers the squalls were not as bad. The pitch dark squalls had some clear skies between them and we struggled with the stars through the cascades of sea water stinging our eyes. We were struggling to see stars from vessel lights or maybe we are just a little fatigued.”

Aviva Ocean Racing
Transat Jacques Vabre

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