Hugo Boss reaches Port Stanley
Exhausted but still determined, Wouter Verbraak admitted from the sunny, still sanctuary of Stanley in the Falkland Islands today that he and co-skipper Andy Meiklejohn went through some dark hours when they battled through two long non-stop days of painstaking work trying to repair damaged sails while aboard their IMOCA Open 60 Hugo Boss at anchor in Adventure Sound, trying to keep alive their shared dream of making their circumnavigation an unaided one.
Soon after tying up in Port Stanley, Wouter Verbraak reported: "When we were making repairs in the bay to the south of here we were really just faced with an impossible task and we were just talking away saying impossible things take a long time, impossible things take just a little bit longer, that is what we kept telling each other, and doing lots of hand stitching. It is impossible to think about the hours we spent hand stitching, but we came to the realisation that we did not have the materials to do a proper repair. We unfolded more and more sails and discovered more and more damage, which was devastating. For us this race is all about first the competition, but secondly also making this a non stop race, so that is why we made such an effort to not make a technical stop, so to be faced with the facts that we had to, is devastating. We were absolutely devastated. We are absolutely gutted after working for 48 hours straight without sleeping. We were exhausted. It was not a fun place to be.
"We spent the night in the outer harbour on a mooring to sit out some pretty strong northerly winds, this morning there was no wind and so with the great help of the locals here, we have motored into the inner harbour and now alongside the commercial dock, we have the facilities to start making repairs.We have Ross our technical shore manager flying in tonight. He will have with him a whole bunch of materials we can use for fixing the sails: mainly glue, and lots of film and patches. We have pretty much all the sails to repair, it is a manufacturing flaw, we have holes and parts of the film which need repairing. We are not sure how long it is going to take but at least 3-4 days working away here repairing sails.
"It is a number of sails, we have to make sure that we can actually get to Barcelona without making another stop, at least just a one stop race, not a multiple stop race, and as everybody knows the Atlantic is not your Mediterranean light winds sailing. We want to make sure we do a brilliant job, and make sure that we at least we leave here with a lot of sea-worthy sails. We are going to work hard and we have some good local people who have been helping us already. We will probably end up using the church as a sail loft. So they have kindly asked us to move out of the sail loft on Sunday, but we will continue either side. We have just got alongside the dock and we are just going to go to the office of the agent. We had some pizza yesterday which was amazing yesterday after all the freeze dried food, we are very much looking forwards to a proper cup of coffee in a few minutes.
"It is an amazing place. There war of the early eighties is still evident, with the graveyards and warning signs for minefields. The community – I am from Norway in the very north – and the community is a remote place with a very basic infrastructure, but none of the city glamour. It is clearly a very tight knit community, the customs officer knew the guys we are working with, it is amazing how friendly people are and how they try to do all they can to make our technical stop efficient and make us welcome.
"The mainsail track we still have to do. When we tucked into the bay for a non-technical stop we decided that was not the highest priority. But the good news is that Ross [Daniel, technical shore manager] is bringing the special glue and taps and equipment for it with him and as we have a very favourable window today with sun and no wind, as soon as Ross gets here we will go up the rig and make that repair. Meanwhile today we will offload the sails, we have a shed five metres from the boat where we can do some initial work. We are going to make this stop as short as possible, as efficient as possible and make it worth our while. We have a planning meeting in a couple of minutes and then it is back to work to try and get going again.
“We have pretty much all the sails to repair - it is a manufacturing flaw, we have holes and parts of the film which need repairing. We are not sure how long it is going to take but at least 3-4 days working away here repairing sails. It is a number of sails, we have to make sure that we can actually get to Barcelona without making another stop, at least just a one stop race, not a multiple stop race, and as everybody knows the Atlantic is not your Mediterranean light winds sailing.”
The duo paid a great tribute to the support of the local community who have already been pulling out the stops to help the Dutch-Kiwi duo. “We will probably end up using the church as a sail loft. So they have kindly asked us to move out of the sail loft on Sunday, but we will continue either side of their worship.”
Official confirmation came this morning of the retirement from the Barcelona World Race of Dominique Wavre and Michèle Paret, the Franco-Swiss duo on Mirabaud following their dismasting.
Yesterday evening, following the constant monitoring of their progress under jury rig by the MRCC authorities, the couple had a welcome visit from an Argentinian Navy’s Drummond class combat ship A.R.A. Granville and an army plane which were on exercise in the area. The ship was some 14 miles away and set course to rendezvous with Mirabaud which was spotted for them by the plane. A RIB was then sent across to Wavre and Paret with 150 litres of diesel fuel for them which should allow them to make safe passage towards Mar Del Plata.
The couple and the organisers of the Barcelona World Race have extended their thanks to the MRCC and the Argentine military personnel for their help and professionalism.
In the Doldrums with the goalposts moving
In the lead, progress has been mixed for both Virbac-Paprec 3 and Mapfre. The French duo who top the standings, Jean-Pierre Dick and Loïck Peyron, have not yet really hit the stop-start progress and the really typical Doldrums conditions. Peyron confirmed that not only have they not had the worst of the conditions, but the axis of the convergence zone is moving north with them.
Peyron said: “We are still going very slowly and this is just the preamble to the Doldrums. We have not really got very far. It is not a great situation but we are not too unhappy, and in fact we had a relatively regular night. We are getting up towards the Doldrums now, but in fact it goes north with us. That will change. It seems the more west we go the less there is the chance of getting trapped under the clouds with less wind. And in fact we are not really seeing Doldrums type clouds on top of us yet. These should start to darken during today.”
Second placed Mapfre have still been making decent progress in light southeasterly tradewinds, still making 27 miles again back on the French leaders this afternoon.
Xabi Fernandez reported: “We are getting there bit by bit. What happened yesterday was just some flaky light winds, it was a little calm that we expected but not really Doldrums and in fact during the night we have been going okay, making 12-13 knots and going north nicely, very calm and content. And so we just hang on to see how long we can keep going, pushing on up. We have pulled back some miles to Virbac-Paprec 3 but it in a little while we will reach that are which we really can do little about, but I believe that for them, at the moment, their worst but is about to start. Right now we have enough to do just keeping the boat moving well.”