Above: ORMA tri positions and weather at 1644GMT and below similar for the leading Open 60s. Images courtesy of Expedition Navigation Systems

Above: ORMA tri positions and weather at 1644GMT and below similar for the leading Open 60s. Images courtesy of Expedition Navigation Systems

Snakes and ladders

The trimarans may be into the South Atlantic, but the monohull fleet are still in the Doldrums in the TJV

Tuesday November 15th 2005, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic

Positions at 1644GMT

Pos Yacht DTF DTL VMG Lat Long Spd Crs Spd Crs 24 hr
inst 4hr aver run
ORMA 60 tris
1 Banque Populaire 1991.5 0.0 15.4 0 33.56' S 19 15.80' W 17.1 175 16.0 173.0 262.5
2 Géant 2038.6 47.1 14.1 1 07.20' S 20 59.88' W 15.3 169 16.1 169.0 266.1
3 Gitana 11 2068.1 76.6 14.2 0 54.84' N 19 01.96' W 12.3 180 13.7 187.0 239.9
4 Gitana X 2537.3 545.8 19.1 9 38.96' N 19 35.35' W 20.8 182 20.3 185.0 335.7
ABD Orange Project                    
ABD TIM Progetto Italia                    
ABD Brossard                    
ABD Sodebo                    
ABD Groupama 2                    
ABD Foncia                    
Open 60s
1 Virbac-Paprec 1119.2 0.0 9.6 2 36.76' N 28 34.88' W 12.0 180 11.7 184.0 245.9
2 Sill et Veolia 1137.5 18.3 10.3 3 04.56' N 28 48.36' W 12.3 190 12.2 182.0 231.5
3 Bonduelle 1173.0 53.8 11.3 3 28.60' N 28 17.52' W 12.0 180 11.8 185.0 273.7
4 Ecover 1202.9 83.7 12.9 4 34.00' N 29 26.64' W 14.0 177 14.5 182.0 282.3
5 Skandia 1203.6 84.5 12.9 4 40.88' N 29 42.04' W 12.3 188 14.3 190.0 313.9
6 Pro-Form 1211.6 92.5 14.0 4 30.80' N 28 56.84' W 17.6 166 14.2 179.0 317.1
7 UUDS 1688.5 569.3 14.7 11 49.12' N 25 46.96' W 15.9 183 14.9 190.0 282.2
8 Mare Verticale 1972.8 853.7 12.7 17 22.52' N 27 10.44' W 13.2 184 12.2 183.0 225.4
9 Maisonneuve-Région Basse Normandie 2190.9 1071.7 6.5 19 47.76' N 23 00.88' W 5.4 230 6.6 226.0 100.2
10 Galileo 2663.7 1544.5 10.5 27 45.44' N 21 15.88' W 8.3 202 9.9 203.0 229.3
ABD Cheminées Poujoulat                    
NL Roxy                    
50ft multis
1 Crêpes Whaou ! 1286.9 0.0 17.0 4 48.32' N 26 30.36' W 19.3 200 18.0 185.0 358.4
2 Jean Stalaven 2453.0 1166.0 3.5 23 43.04' N 20 56.08' W 4.7 162 6.2 174.0 159.4
3 Gifi 2538.0 1251.1 7.0 26 15.80' N 23 47.68' W 8.1 232 6.4 217.0 178.2
ABD Négocéane-Donneurs de vie-Branec IV                    
ABD Acanthe Ingénierie                    
NL VictorInox                    
Open 50s
1 Gryphon Solo 2173.0 0.0 9.2 20 09.20' N 24 50.04' W 10.0 246 8.6 229.0 165.8
2 Artforms 2463.4 290.4 5.2 25 36.68' N 25 59.20' W 8.3 253 6.5 202.0 195.0
3 Top 50 Guadeloupe 2511.4 338.4 6.8 23 56.04' N 18 58.88' W 9.0 234 7.2 236.0 109.1
4 Polarity Solo 2559.9 386.9 6.7 26 44.40' N 24 06.60' W 8.3 226 5.9 198.0 188.4
ABD Défi Vendéen                    
ABD Adecco - Etoile Horizon                    
NL Vedettes de Bréhat                    

This afternoon finds the 60ft trimrans fully out of the Doldrums and for the lead two boats, across the Equator. The front runners are now fully into the southeasterly trades of the South Atlantic and at the latest position report race leader Banque Populaire sailed by Pascal Bidegorry and Lionel Lemonchois had 553 miles to go before reaching the turning mark at Ascension Island.

For the trimarans it is a case of sailing into more breeze and as a result the rich are getting richer with Banque Populaire having put on another 10 miles over second placed Geant in the last 24 hours. In the early hours of this morning, the 'banker's put in a tack to the east which may also have helped them. From them Ascension is on a course of 161 so at present they aren't quite laying it, still, having averaged 16 knots upwind over the last four hours a few more miles shouldn't present too many problems.

Bidegorry explains their strategy: “I found that there was a tendency for the wind to be more easterly, so we decided to put in an easterly tack and it turned out okay. We’re happy with our routing, we’re in a great position, and really just focused on sailing our own race, rather than trying to play tactical games with the other two.”

Hugues Destremau on Geant explained earlier why they are persisting with their Southerly tack: “We thought a lot about tacking along with Banque Populaire to the east, a good chance to reposition in relation to Gitana 11 too, but we decided not to as we weren’t totally clear of the Doldrums, which could be moving south again.”

Meanwhile amongst the wreckage of broken trimarans that lies behind them, TIM Progetto Italia crew Giovanni Soldini and Vittorio Malingri were picked up by the supertanker Cape Bari at 1900GMT last night, and are ultimately bound for the Gulf of Mexico. Soldini reckons the chances of salvaging his trimaran are slim, the starboard float was smashed by the mast which broke into three pieces, and it’s unlikely that the skippers will be transferred off the tanker before reaching Mexico in another 10 days.

"The ship came to us from upwind and we carried out a superb manoeuvre," reported Soldini. "They threw us a line and we inflated the life raft to float to the stern of the ship. We had no problems climbing aboard. We are sailing towards the Gulf of Mexico which will take us 10 days or so. I don’t believe we can recover the trimaran. The starboard hull exploded after the mast hit water and the mast itself is in three bits and has done a good deal of damage.”

In the 50ft multihull class the new van Peteghem Prevost designed trimaran Crepes Whaou! sailed by Franck-Yves and Kevin Escoffier reported today that their stop/start night was more because they hit a whale in the middle of the night while travelling downwind at 19-20 knots under large gennaker. They had to stop for two hours to repair the crack along the daggerboard case and the small leak which was coming into the boat as a result. They were very lucky not to have dismasted the boat in hindsight given the speed they were travelling when they came to an abrupt halt, and are glad that the structure has not been otherwise affected.

In the Open 60 class Virbac-Paprec has once again extended on Sill et Veolia over the last 24 hours from 7.6 miles to 18.3 miles. Is the Farr-designed Virbac simply faster or is it the weather or the Loick Peyron factor? Peyron, one of the most successful 60ft trimaran skippers of all time is saiing with Jean-Pierre Dick as it is believed he wants to do his own Open 60 campaign...

At between 7 and 10°N the Open 60s are still very much in the Doldrums zone and the weather charts show another zone of Doldrums forming at 4°N. Only to the south of this will be boats pick up the southeasterly trades marking their entrance to the South Atlantic. The biggest winner over the past 24 hours has been Jean le Cam and Kito de Pavant who 24 hours ago were a lacklustre 87 miles behind Virbac but this afternoon have closed them down to 53 miles.

Loick Peyron on Virbac-Paprec was brief about their strategy on the satellite phone today: “We’ll have to reposition ourselves and head more on the direct route before Sill et Veolia so we can cover them.”

Meanwhile Kito de Pavant on Bonduelle was in fighting spirit: “We hope we can really threaten the leaders and the upwind leg ahead will be good for us. It looked better to be in the east rather than west but we’ll see tomorrow. We’re quite well rested after a magical night so we’re ready for the squalls we can see ahead.”

Roland Jourdain on Sill et Veolia sounded exhausted in comparison - he and Ellen had evidently had a tougher night: “It’s better now we’re more or less out of this mess. We got pretty stuck and thankfully we’re moving again, our spirits are a bit dented, Virbac-Paprec is sailing a bit faster in lighter airs, they took out 7-8 miles from us in two hours! So it wasn’t our lucky day. And Bonduelle has had a boost over in the east.

"It’s tough in here, when you think everyone must be going through the same thing, but then they’re not when you see the polls," Jourdain continued. "The wind is stabilising from the ESE, we should get into the new wind in a few hours but Virbac-Paprec will have got this before us. We’ll have to wait another 24 hrs to be completely out of here. We’re both exhausted after being on deck pretty much all night, and it’s now really hot, we haven’t adapted to the heat yet. Ellen was talking to me earlier and I just fell asleep listening to her! But she really is impressive on the water, the energy she has and the way she manages things, she’s truly exceptional!”

While the lead trio may be on their way out of the Doldrums in more stable conditions, the trio of boats out to the west led by Mike Golding's Ecover seem to be making the best progress. Ecover, fifth placed Skandia sailed by Brian Thompson and Will Oxley and sixth placed Pro-Form with Vendee Globe veteran Marc Thiercelin and Solitaire du Figaro winner Eric Drouglazet on board have made huge inroads into their distance to Virbac over the last 24 hours - 125, 161 and 170s miles yesterday, 83, 84 and 92 behind today. Despite this Mike Golding and Dominique Wavre will be feeling the pinch with the 2000 generation Skandia just a mile astern of them.

Golding explained his strategy: “We’re in this position because we’re down on speed due to two problems. Firstly, our inability to deploy Code sails as we have no furling since the tack line broke the other day. Secondly, the damaged rudder is slow, no matter what we do. So we pushed over to the right (West) to see if it will pay, but it’s not been a critical factor in the outcome. But the fleet hasn’t really closed up so much, more in distance than in time. I'd expect us to be in the Doldrums for about another 24 hours. We have started seeing the signs of the southeasterlies but nothing consistent and settled. The squalls have been between 10 and 37 knots and I think we are getting through okay, making miles in the right direction."

For the second day in a row the position of Anne Liardet and Miranda Merron on board Roxy has failed to come through, and it is thought they have lost seventh place to UUDS. "The past day is almost not worth recording, but here is a brief summary anyway," reported a frustrated Merron. "While not obvious, it turned out that there was NO wind beween the islands of Santiago and Fogo, where we spent many hours with the sails slatting in the swell. It drizzled on and off, and the boat is covered in fine dust brought by the rain, and is filthy. We did see Fogo, shrouded in mist, and it is spectacular. The volcano rises straight up from the sea to a height of nearly 3000 metres. Well, that was the highlight! The wind direction is not ideal, so not sailing a good course either. Our Sat C terminal has had a meltdown, so we are not receiving position reports either. Will see what tomorrow brings!"

In the Open 50 monohulls Gryphon Solo sailed by American Joe Harris and Josh Hall may still have a commanding lead, but their old rivals on Artforms with Kip Stone and designer Merf Owen are now attacking from the rear and have moved into third place now 285.7 miles behind. After the crippling weather suffered by Gryphon Solo and Vedettes de Bréhat (De Broc / S. Escoffier) over in the east of the race course for the best part of yesterday, the Artforms and Polarity Solo (Metcalf / Finn) have knowingly avoided that side of the course and gained considerable miles by sticking to a wsterly route in anticipation of passing the Cape Verde Islands well offshore.

Ryan Finn, the rookie on board Polarity Solo, has had his eyes opened by this race: “I’m learning so much about the weather here as the clouds in the Atlantic are so different compared to the cloud formations in the Pacific or off the American coast. We’re keeping a close eye on Artforms and learning a lot from them, they know what they’re doing! It’s an amazing race to be a part of and I’m pretty humbled by the other skippers’ performance…”

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