First Transat B to B finishers

Victory for MACIF skipper Francois Gabart in his first solo IMOCA 60 race

Thursday December 15th 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Early yesterday evening the organisers of the IMOCA 60's Transat B to B announced that they would be shortening course at the safety gate due west of Vigo, Spain.

And so it was that last night at 23:11:30 UTC newbie IMOCA 60 François Gabart claimed first place on board MACIF in a time of 9 days 9 hours 11 minutes 30 seconds. This was an impressive result for Gabart in his first ever singlehanded IMOCA 60 race.

Gabart was followed across the line at 02:08:10 UTC this morning by Armel Le Cléac'h on MACIF's sistership Banque Populaire and then by 2004 Vendee Globe winner Vincent Riou on PRB at 06:30:20 this morning.

Mike Golding on board Gamesa looks set to take fourth place, with 50 miles to go to the west end of the finish line at 0630 this morning, while Marc Guillemot on his titanium-keeled Safran will follow in fifth and Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss in sixth, who at 0630 had 176 miles to sail to reach the line on his current course. Meanwhile Virbac Paprec 3, now with her jammed genniker halyard released is approaching the line from the southwest as is tailender Louis Burton on Bureau Vallee. For those approaching from the northwest the strenghening southwesterly wind is already up to 35 knots.

Yesterday Mike Golding reported: “Right now about 22-25 knots of breeze, but some very, very big rolling swells, so good surfing conditions. Not quite enough breeze to make maximum effect, but it gets us going every now and again. I have gybed. There are two ways when you are on your own. You either tack or maybe you even gybe traditionally, pull the mainsheet on the centre line, prior to that you have to make the decision to gybe, then drop all the stack, which is quite a big job in itself, centre the mainsheet, wind away the headsail and gybe the boat through normally, or alternately wind away the headsail and pull a little jib out and tack the boat. In our situation with only four winches in the cockpit it is a little bit tricky to gybe classically. I tend to prefer the chicken gybe.

"The sea state isn't that bad at the moment. It has been like that but the boat is quite good, she will lift her bow, she is pretty good.

"To manage myself I always use the three golden rules which are sleep before you are tired, eat before you are hungry and wrap up before you get cold and that seems to work for me. But it is very dangerous if you move into any one of those three areas, hungry, tired or cold. It is quite difficult to get yourself out of that. You have to do something to get yourself physically out of it, so it isn't ideal for a solo sailor to get overly tired. Naturally, I feel tired, right now tired, but not tired that I can't function. I try not to get to the stage where I'm too quiet. I try to sleep before I reach that point. I don't get there, it doesn't happen. When to eat is always a problem. We have a lot of freeze dried food and pasta. The pasta is fine, but the freeze dried is pretty rancid, it is very difficult to find a good supplier. On top of the pasta, I have energy drinks, hydration drinks and recovery drinks, sports drinks that just help me to completely stay alert.”

Louis Burton reported: “I can see 30/ 35 knots up ahead on my GRIB files. I actually had a technical issue yesterday evening. I was reaching in 15/ 17 knots, under full mainsail and staysail when I noticed that the furler at the bottom of the staysail stay had exploded. With the staysail stay being the main stay supporting the mast up forward, it was action stations straightaway to avoid dismasting. As such I positioned myself with the wind astern of the boat and spent 4 hours manoeuvring in a bid to dump the staysail, put a new stay system in place with the help of a halyard, and that enabled me to secure the mast support. I had to try to sort it all out on the deck at night and I was a bit perturbed as it's a sail I used all the time. As a result I'm sailing even more tentatively now.”

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