Cool as a cucumber
At present as the boats are still sailing upwind and the distance to finish readings (see page 3) don't indicate what is happening on the water: Jourdain has forged south on starboard tack while Ellen and Mike have stuck to the north closer to the rhumb line and at present there is around 100 miles separating them.
What is Jourdain up to? There is a theory that to the south the sea conditions may be less lumpy. It should be remembered that the conditions have been strong in this patch of Atlantic for more than a week now and the series of fronts that have been passing through, shifting the wind constantly between NW to SW and back again, have created a very confused sea state.
Golding believes Jourdain may have gone south hoping to get a more favourable windshift, but said this move clearly hadn't paid and they had been able to claw back some miles. "The outcome has clearly been a loss for him..."
On board Ecover Mike sounds calm and relax (like he normally does) and in contrast to Ellen MacArthur, said he's been able to get a lot of sleep while Ellen has only grabbed five hours since the start. After the headbanging ride of the last day Golding said the conditions had moderated: "We've got 25 knots true now and the sea has levelled out a bit. But it's been pretty gruesome".
Golding was impressed by Ecover's performance given the conditions: "especially considering we aren't supposed to be able to go upwind!" He added that they have learned a lot sailing the boat fully crewed. "I think that's paying off in the singlehanded arena". He says that Ecover can sail as fast to weather as Kingfisher and Sill, but just can't point as high.
On board Kingfisher the situation seems to be a bit tenser. "It has been a big night - went through the front and the wind was all over the place," Ellen commented from on board. "Talked to weather routers a lot about whether to tack after front or not... Meeno (weather expert) said “might need to tack but don't if you don't want to, carry on if you want”. At 2300 GMT last night wind cranked round about 30 degress under big cloud, carried on then 2nd cloud, 3rd cloud - up to one hour, and I waited on the same tack.
"Called Jean Yves (Bernot, weather router) to ask him should I hang on to port tack driving through fronts - should I carry on but going wrong way. Finally tacked over about 0030 GMT now going south again... Winds come back again from the original direction, and I’m only making 50' degrees off route - hardly on closing tack...not great.
"Three times through the front the wind went from 20 knots to 40 and once 45 knots. One minute you are wallowing around, frustrated to not have the right sail up, next you are on your side. Its really tough. I have not really slept again, pretty knackered now. And annoyed that I’ve lost some miles to Bilou [now 23 miles ahead, with Mike closed to 12 at 0700 GMT], I don’t think I’m sailing as well as I could though. I stayed on port tack for too long."
Bertrand de Broc who bravely retired from the Route du Rhum admitting that he was too frightened to continue, has held a press conference this morning.
"My decision to stop is a personal decision," commented de Broc, a two time Vendee Globe competitor and experienced multihull sailor. "It was not easy to take. After avoiding Franck Cammas’ overturned trimaran I spent 4-5 hours thinking and thinking, all the way to Ushant, I was over and over again thinking about my previous mishaps. Through out these hours, I never managed to get back into the race. I even passed a quarter of an hour head to wind to have time to think. We are sailing on boats that you cannot play with. So, you have to be able to be frank and say : I will stop because I do not want to screw it
"For me it is a brutal way to stop. This is also the end of solo racing for me. …. Even if it's possible that I one day could change my mind. However I am not criticising the boats or the ORMA Championship.
On page two see an update from Miranda Merron - currently lying in a remarkable sixth place - and on page 3, the 1200 position reports.