Thierry Martinez / Sea & Co

Cheminees Poujoulat...alone

Neutrogena hoping to hang on to second after pitstop in Barcelona World Race

Wednesday February 11th 2015, Author: Helen Fretter, Location: none selected

With their long time rivals Neutrogena now heading to make a short pitstop in the south of New Zealand to repair their engine starter motor, Barcelona World Race leaders, Cheminées Poujoulat is left on its own in the Pacific.

In fact Stamm and Le Cam sailed their highest 24 hours run of the race yet to 1230 UTC this afternoon at 482.5 NM. But the sudden feeling of fighting on alone has hit long time pace makers Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam, neither of whom are strangers to such mechanical failures. Indeed they were quick to empathise with their challengers' enforced pitstop.

Neutrogena announced early this morning that they were diverting to Invercargill in the very south of New Zealand, 540 miles to their northeast, after they could no longer get their engine to start. Unable to charge their batteries using their primary source, the prudent decision was taken to make a pitstop to replace the faulty part.

The Neutrogena team plan to take full advantage of the technical stop, a mandatory minimum of 24 hours, to ensure their IMOCA 60, leaves ready to take on the second half of the 23,455 mile course in top shape.

Skipper Guillermo Altadill estimated it would take them 40 hours to reach the haven. Accordingly, 5 West, the Gosport-based team which manages the Neutrogena campaign for this race, has put together a small technical team which will be on the dockside to meet Altadill and Munoz. A technical specialist was leaving the UK this evening armed with the appropriate spares.

5 West's director Stewart Hosford emphasised:  "This is precautionary and we feel the safest course of action for Guillermo and Jose."

Assuming the fix is made within the minimum 24 hours, it is estimated the pitstop will cost Neutrogena an additional 40 hours or between 350 and 400 miles of extra distance sailed compared with the direct route if they had carried on. Their target will be to leave ahead of third placed GAES Centros Auditivos, which was 1100 miles behind when Altadill and Munoz diverted at around 0300 this morning.

The race leaders Stamm and Le Cam commented: "The current conditions are very tough and it is difficult to imagine continuing with serious problems like those that Guillermo and José are experiencing. The Pacific Ocean is huge. There really is a minimum requirement to be able to sail safely. If you don’t have any power, that is not the case. I know that full well and I can tell you that Auckland Island isn’t really the ideal place to carry out a pit stop. It must have been hard for them to come to this decision, but it is clearly the right one. We’re really sorry for them, but there’s still a long way to go and we know how determined the Neutrogena crew is. We can be certain that they will get back in the race raring to go, once they have solved their problem. We wish them all the best for the coming hours as they make their way to New Zealand."

Stamm, in particular, knows to his cost the problems associated with trying to make repairs at Auckland Island, one of the options Altadill mooted. Faced with a battery charging issue during the last Vendée Globe he stopped there and inadvertantly received mooring assistance which disqualified him from the solo non stop race which has strict rules disallowing outside help.

Cheminées Poujoulat passed the theoretical midpoint of the race at 0021 UTC this morning, 11,720 miles from the start and the finish. They passed south of New Zealand's South Island today making 19 knots.

The misfortune of the second-placed boat in turn ignites hopes for third placed Anna Corbella and Gerard Marin that they will be able to get much closer to Neutrogena. The Spanish pair were sailing southeast, parallel to the exclusion zone at around 16 knots. A spectacular double rainbow proved a welcome moment of wonder in the deep south for Corbella and Marín.

Sixth placed round the world rookies Aleix Gelabert and Didac Costa on One Planet One Ocean were preparing for their biggest winds forecast yet for tonight, with 50-55 knots gusts expected.

Gelabert reported: "Now we have 20 knots of wind from the west. And for the next 24 hours we expect a low pressure will pass over us with an associated cold front and we expect that tonight will be a difficult night with winds to 40 knots, maybe gusts to 50-55. So now we are resting and waiting, resting and preparing the boat for these weather conditions in the next hours.

"We feel safe sailing in the north of the exclusion zone. We know that Marcel and Race Management have been working a lot of time about the ice limit to be safe. If it is possible there are some growlers coming out of the exclusion zone, we had a warning last night from race management about this situation, that there may be a possible growlers in our route and so we changed our course a little bit just in case. There is no need to put ourselves at any additional risk. We are in contact with race management and are very confident about this. There is no problem.

"Our boat is a 14 years old boat which is a bit different in design from the new boats. If I could I would make the back of the cockpit open so that when you have a lot of water it goes out easily. I would make a roof as well which would allow us to drive without being wet and without feeling the freezing winds out of the south west. That is a dream for us. But here we are with our coachroof and so we dont think about it.

"We are thinking of Cape Leeuwin, yes, but it is four or five days away for us. It is very important to get to our second big Cape of the race, and it will be an honour to get there, and it will be a big day. And then Cape Horn is the next one!"

On Spirit of Hungary, Nandor Fa and Conrad Colman in seventh had a scare Tuesday when they hit a unidentified floating object. A composite repair was required to the rudder tie bar, but the Hungarian IMOCA 60 is back up to speed today.

Positions at 1400 UTC

1 Cheminées Poujoulat (B Stamm – J Le Cam) at 11477,5 miles to finish
2 Neutrogena (G Altadill – J Muñoz) +361,5 miles to leader
3 GAES Centros Auditivos (A Corbella – G Marin) +1511 miles to leader
4 Renault Captur (J Riechers – S Audigane) +1789,9 miles to leader
5 We Are Water (B Garcia – W Garcia) +2484,1 miles to leader
6 One Planet One Ocean & Pharmaton (A Gelabert – D Costa) +3434 miles to leader
7 Spirit of Hungary (N Fa – C Colman) +4081,7 miles to leader

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