Caterham Composites to stop for repairs
Arriving in Itajaí early yesterday morning, to take fourth place in the Transat Jacques Vabre's IMOCA 60 class, Cheminees Poujoulat skipper Bernard Stamm's emotions were slightly mixed. After his many problems in the last Vendée Globe and having had to retire from the last Transat Jacques Vabre, the Swiss skipper was pleased to have finished with his powerful Juan Kouyoumdjian designed IMOCA 60 in great shape, having had no technical problems during this race. But after having led and then losing out on the entrance to the Doldrums, there was certainly nagging post race elements of ‘what if’ or ‘if only’ regrets evident in his dockside summary.
“We were able to fight it out without really sustaining any serious technical problems," said Stamm. "We were able to race at full capacity, except for yesterday when the rudder fuse went. Our fourth place is down to us, not the boat. The boat behaved well. Down the Portuguese coast in the stronger winds we were able to really use its potential and we found ourselves in the lead. It was a bit more complicated for the approach to the Doldrums in the unstable winds but really there is not much to say other than Philippe was a bit unhappy about the lack of comfort on board."
The next arrival in Itajaí is expected to be Gilles Lamiré and Andrea Mura's Rennes Metropole/Saint Malo Agglomeration, the Irens-Cabaret design previously called Prince de Bretagne. At the latest sched, the boat had 258 miles to go to reach the finish, the French crew taking a more offshore route with the finish being dead downwind at present from Cabo Frio.
Meanwhile the remainder of the IMOCA 60 fleet has this morning passed Cabo Frio and is on the final leg to the finish. Over the last 24 hours, Louis Burton and Guillaume Le Brec's Bureau Vallee has extended her lead over Vendee Globe veterans Bertrand de Broc and Arnaud Boissières on Votre Nom Autour du Monde from 11 miles to 22 at the latest sched. The wind has veered slightly more into the east for this group and they are steering a course closer to the finish. Bureau Vallee is currently 370 miles from the finish where she should arrive tomorrow morning.
The Class 40 leaders are now sailing down the coast of Brazil having passed Salvador de Bahia overnight. The occupants of the podium in this class have been looking assured for a while now but the order remains up for grabs. Sébastien Rogues and Fabien Delahaye's GDF Suez remains out in front but their margin has closed from 106 down to 86 miles in the last 24 hours, with Spain's Alex Pella and Pablo Santurde on Tales Santander 2014 still holding second, having overtaken Jörg Riechers and Pierre Brasseur's mare yesterday morning. These two boats remain close but the Spanish boat has added 14 miles on her rival over the last day.
Delahaye commented: “It’s going well for us, we are sliding along great. But you really have to pay attention here even with his lead. We are at the latitude of Salvador de Bahia under the Code 5 in 20-25 knots of wind and there is more wind than the files suggested at the moment. We are one of three boats to hold the same averages for a while. The finish into Salvador will be a bit tricky. I think we will arrive very late Saturday night or in the morning. We’d like to get in in the day, but it doesn’t matter as long as we are in before the others.”
Designer of Tales Santander 2014, Marcelino Botin, commented: "When we have heard from the guys they are saying how tough it is now. It should be champagne sailing right now, but they are having to work very hard. We are happy to see the boat is fast. Certainly looking at the averages over the race so far it looks the quickest boat. It is faster when the wind is up and upwind. They are going well, but for sure the stop to repair the rudder cost them.”
While the wind remains in the east, over the next 24 hours it is forecast to back into the northeast putting them dead downwind. However another front is developing between Cabo Frio and the finish towards the end of the week which will provide a last roll of the dice for the Class40s.
A gaggle of boats continues to jockey for fourth place with 20 miles between Watt & Sea Région Poitou Charentes, SNCF-GEODIS and Groupe Picoty.
Behind Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron on ninth placed Campagne de France have dropped back a little on Christof Petter and Andreas Hanakamp's new Humphreys design, Vaquita, however Mike Gascoyne and Brian Thompson on Caterham Challenge have dropped a place to Louis Duc and Stéphanie Alran's Phoenix Europe, now down to 11th. Gascoyne and Thompson have signalled they will make a pit stop into Recife tomorrow to repair their mainsail, which was torn off the Portuguese coast. Their repairs to date held up until a couple of nights ago. They expect to take 8-10 hours to make the repair.
Brian Thompson reported Caterham Challenge: “We are sailing along with three reefs in the mainsail now and actually making pretty good time towards Recife. We should be there in the early morning on time to repair the mainsail there and then carry on to Itajaí. We have 18kts of wind so even with three reefs in we are making nine or ten knots. We repaired it originally after tearing the mainsail almost all the way across at the third panel from the top. We did it before Madeira and lost 36 hours doing it just trundling along with the Solent up and the main completely on the deck. And since then we have sailed 2,500 or 3,000 miles. We dropped it about five times for more repairs and almost made it but the night before last we had a squall to 27 knots and that was just a step too far. So now we need to get it to a real sailmaker to get it fixed and get going. Hopefully we will be in and out in about 8 to 10 hours. As we get close to the coast the winds will be lighter so maybe there will be a bigger loss. But it will be a pit stop where we aim to get out ahead of the group of boats which are about 120 miles or so behind and we can race them to the finish.”