Maitre Jacques sustains damage
Big conditions on the Bay of Biscay have taken their toll with Loïc Fequet and Loïc Escoffier's Multi 50 Maitre Jacques sustaining damage to the front of their trimaran's starboard float at around 13:30 UTC.
Loïc Fequet reported: "We were making between 20 and 28 knots at 30 degrees to the wind. We heard a loud crack followed by a second and immediately saw that the starboard float was damaged, between its front and the crossbeam. There were 4-5m waves. We are on the way to La Coruna. It stops at the crossbeam which is the most reinforced part, but it moves a bit in the waves bit it is not getting worse at the moment. No one is hurt, the boat, well we will see. We are very disappointed, but the main thing is no one is hurt. Last night was hard but we saw gusts of 40 knots and big seas. There was no particular shock, but the boat is from 2005.”
They immediately dropped the mainsail and are currently only under ORC (a small headsail) alone. The two sailors did not set off their EPIRB or request help and are due into La Coruna, 130 miles to their southeast, early tomorrow morning.
Their path through a front in the early hours of this morning seems to have given the Vendée Globe winning duo François Gabart and Michel Desjoyeaux on MACIF the chance to extend their lead in the Transat Jacques Vabre during the third afternoon of racing.
Gabart and Desjoyeaux, widely held to be pre-race favourites, were quickest through much of a difficult Friday night and Saturday to build their margin out to 52 miles. And at the 1000 UTC position report this morning MACIF was sailing more directly towards the south with a noticeable speed edge over second placed Vincent Riou and Jean Le Cam's PRB with Cheminées Poujoulat sailed by Bernard Stamm and Philippe Legros holding third at just less than four miles behind.
Meanwhile the two MOD70s are entering much more favourable conditions, having tacked along the Cape Finisterre coast this morning, relishing the prospect of getting south into the northeasterly trade winds off the Portugese coast to reach speeds more normal for the high speed 70 foot multihulls.
Back in the Bay of Biscay the tough conditions will last until Sunday for the Multi50s and IMOCA 60s as the fronts related to a deep depression makes life particularly testing for the Multi50s. This is exacerbated by the wind shifts between southwest and west with more than 30kts average and much more in the gusts, the crossed seas make it very bouncy and unpleasant for the multihulls.
In the Multi 50 Class it is still Actual sailed by Yves Le Blevec and Kito de Pavant, which holds the overall lead, but Loic Fequet and Loic Escoffier's Maitre Jacques have moved up to second place, some nine miles behind the leaders, who won the class in 2011. Key for the Multi 50s has been their trajectory and timing to deal with crossing the front at the most favourable point, avoiding the worst of the winds and seas.
After their enforced weather halt in Roscoff last night and today the 26 boat Class 40 fleet will restart from 0300 early tomorrow morning. Starting in the order of finishing into the north Breton haven, Sébastien Rogues and Fabien Delahaye's GDF SUEZ start just under 20 minutes ahead of the Spanish duo Alex Pella and Pablo Santurde on Tales Santander 2014. They will head into strong northwestly winds initially with over 30-35kts to start with.
Caterham Challenge's Brian Thompson explained in Roscoff today: “Across Biscay we will be mostly upwind on starboard in about 20 knots of wind, but at the start and out to Ushant it looks like it will be windy with big seas, 30+ knots for sure then it will begin to drop away. To start with we will have winds north of northwest and so we should be reasonably fast and able to punch through. The race is to get out through the front which is kind of stalled at the moment. The longer it takes you to get through it the lighter the winds will be to the east of it, and so there is a rich get richer scenario, or a bit a of a double whammy for the later starters if you like.
“Across Biscay we will be mostly upwind on starboard in about 20 knots of wind but at the start and out to Ushant it looks like it will be windy with big seas, 30+ knots for sure then it will begin to drop away. To start with we will have winds north of northwest and so we should be reasonably fast and able to punch through. The race is to get out through the front which is kind of stalled at the moment. The longer it takes you to get through it the lighter the winds will be to the east of it, and so there is a rich get richer scenario, or a bit a of a double whammy for the later starters if you like.
"We have about six boats all starting within around 15 minutes of us and in all I think we will be in a ten boat pack or something like that, so it is great, really close racing, we are back in full sprint mode.”
His co-skipper and owner of Caterham Challenge added: “We were reasonsably happy with the first leg but got some fishing net, perspex and weed around the keel which Brian had to dive to get it off about two hours before we got into Roscoff, so we kind of reckon that cost us two or three boats, but whatever we were happy with the way we sailed the boat. For most of the time we were with the fast pack, so we were happy. It’s just a shame the first leg was not about 5,200 miles longer.”