Thursday, 12 November 2009

TJV: Slamming waves for Sam and Sidney as they go into ‘survival mode’ having sustained some damage

Artemis IMOCA 60 after the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre 2009. Image copyright Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images.

by Artemis Ocean Racing media

As expected it was a rough night onboard Artemis Ocean Racing with 30+ knots but there is worse to come today and tomorrow, depending on how the low moves and how quickly Sam and Sidney can get south away from the worst of the storm. The fleet has split into two distinct in the north and south groups, Artemis Ocean Ocean is with the southern group including Akena Verandas, DCNS and 4WHotels heading south/south-west.

As the north-south divide increases so does the number of miles from the leader, Sam and Sidney are ranked 9th this morning at 0700 GMT, 140 miles behind the overnight leader BT. On board Artemis the winds were still very shifty during the night, and gusting to over 30 knots , but the wind should now settle a little in terms of direction in the West and begin to increase to over 35kts later today and by midnight tonight SW winds of 45-50 knots with more in gusts will come through.

If there is a good side to the current conditions it is that the forecasts have been reasonably accurate, in terms of wind direction, and the timing of the changes in the wind speed and direction. All the sailors will be hopeful that the forecast is wrong about the peak wind speeds later today as conditions are forecast to be significantly more than they would prefer.

Sam Davies on Day 3 of the 2009 TJV aboard Artemis. Image copyright Sam Davies/Artemis Ocean Racing.

The low pressure zone is making its presence felt for the Transat Jacques Vabre fleet, with Artemis Ocean Racing experiencing 35-knot gusts and slamming waves overnight.

In Wednesday’s 1330 GMT rankings Artemis Ocean Racing lies in eleventh place, but the fleet has now spread out into two main groups – BT leads a northerly group, while Artemis is part of another pack just south of the rhumb line. Foncia continues on their extreme southerly route, but Hugo Boss in the north has been joined by 1876, who have been in ‘stealth’ mode for the past 24 hours but have now unveiled their position.

Artemis Ocean Racing is still being pummeled by 30-knot plus winds and rough seas, and the team are sailing in ‘safe mode’ - 3 reefs in the main and staysail - through the potentially boat-breaking conditions which have already resulted in some damage.

Sidney Gavignet on Day 3 of the 2009 TJV aboard Artemis. Image copyright Sam Davies/Artemis Ocean Racing.

“Last night the boat was banging pretty hard, after each wave. There was one bang probably a little bigger that the other ones, after the bang I saw the runner was loose, I looked at the mast to see if something was broken up there but nothing was broken. But I saw the main was eased as well and I realised that the reef line had broken, in fact we didn’t break the reef line but the attachment point on the boom, and the runner was loose because the deflection block just flew over,” explained Sidney.

The team put in a third reef and re-led the runner onto a different winch while they made repairs. “Since then we’ve repaired everything and we’ve kept the third reef in so we are a little underpowered but we’re sailing without the full power in the keel to go a little slower in the waves and to keep the boat in one piece.” The damage is by no means terminal but indicates the brute force of these storm-force conditions and there is little doubt that this storm will create more havoc amongst the IMOCA fleet before it is done.

Artemis Ocean Racing
Transat Jacques Vabre

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