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Day 9 Of Route du Rhum Offers Little Drama


  • Day 9 Of Route du Rhum Offers Little Drama

    [SIZE=18px]Update from Class 40 and OCEAN FIFTY today

    With the Class40 leaders past the halfway point, the skippers are now sailing in better conditions and it is time to take out the gennakers and spinnakers. Most of those who carried out pit stops in Ponta Delgada are now back in the race. That is the case for Axel Trehin, (Project Rescue Ocean), who was able to fit the mast offered to him by Matthieu Perraut (Inter Invest), who was forced to retire. South African Donald Alexander is into the Azores for a, hopefully, brief pitstop to source new batteries.


    Simon Koster (Banque du Leman): “Have we found the way out to the trade winds? In any case, for the first time in this crossing, I have the spinnaker up. But are these the trade winds? Not entirely, but we’re getting there. The seas are still quite rough here around the Azores, so it’s not easy to deal with. Neither for the autopilot, the boat or the sailor.”
    Antoine Carpentier (Redman): “The wind has finally gone around. We’re no longer upwind, but we are slamming in the residual swell. The seas should ease in the coming hours and then we can step up the speed. The leaders have been slow since passing the front, while the chasing boats are eager to catch them.”



    With 1200 miles to go to the finish in Guadeloupe, the Ocean Fifty fleet is back again in winds that are variable in strength and direction with squalls, calm patches and winds suddenly going from eight to 28 knots.

    Eric Peron (Komilfo): “We are in the trade winds with thundery squalls around us. The slightest cloud changes the wind. So we have to manoeuvre quite a lot. The wind is varying by 40?. We couldn’t see much during the night, as the moon has only just come up. The weather unit is helping us using satellite imagery. There will be another twenty hours like this. Our option didn’t pay off and the others are a long way ahead, but there is still the chance of a battle against Armel Tripon. Anything is possible, so we need to keep focused.”

    Armel Tripon (Les P’tits Doudous): “I’ve been stuck in a patch of light airs for an hour under a big cloud. It’s like the Doldrums here and I’m trying to find the way out. When there is wind, it keeps swinging around. I’m heading to the SE at 1.5 knots, which isn’t exactly pleasing. Once the sun comes up, I’ll be able to see a bit more what is happening.”


    The Ultim 32/23 podium was completed yesterday when Thomas Coville brought Sodebo Ultim 3 in to Pointe-?-Pitre in third, his fifth podium from five Route du Rhums. Next to come in should be Yves Le Blevec on ACTUAL Ultim 3 who had just over 550 miles to the finish this morning with Francis Joyon on IDEC Sport a further 100 miles or so behind. The final miles, just under 1400 for the OCEAN FIFTY and over 1500 for the IMOCA do look complicated, particularly through the next 24 hours as the winds continue to be very unsettled with big shifts in direction and wind direction. The net effect seems to be some continued compression, the so called accordion effect as the leaders are seeing some of their margins eroded as they drop south into the more unsettled winds. Quentin Vlamynck (Arkema), Charlie Dalin (Apivia) and Yoann Richomme (Paprec Arkea) also lost a few miles on the pack. And so after just over a week of racing the game is still wide open. Always, always remember this Route du Rhum-Destination course often brings a 55 mile sting in the tail with the passage southwards around Basse Terre if it at night.


    “We are struggling a bit at the moment. There are big clouds and quite a few squalls which sometimes push the wind up to 30 knots, but also light areas. The situation is not stable. Regularly, you have to manage big shifts of over 30 or even 40?, not always in the right direction. It is not easy. I have the impression that the others are going faster and more direct than me, ”commented Quentin Vlamynck leader of the OCEAN FIFTY class “I look at all the competitors. I try not to stray too far from their line. You have to be careful not to get trapped in your corner.”


    And in the IMOCA fleet constant leader Charlie Dalin has seen his margin eroded from 74 miles to 21 miles on his runner-up, Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut).
    “The wind is really not easy to read. On the water, there are big differences in angles and speed. At certain times, it puffs up to 20 knots and at others it drops to next to nothing It's not only related to the different squalls, it's also to the wind itself. It feels like we're doing everything upside down,” said J?r?mie Beyou (Charal) “You have to constantly listen to the boat and do the best you can with the wind. We are getting south as much by feel and intuition.”

    The Azores high, which they are crossing is, unusually, much more ridged than round and so forming a big, wide hurdle. “We don’t have the traditional “gull wing” effect. It's not settled. They are small patches of wind and it is not simple. It's not over no til it’s over. There are still a lot of gybes to do and the course is still long!” said Beyou whose patience, like that of his rivals, is being sorely tested.

    Class40 into the high

    Further back in Class40, the situation is rather different. Over the past few hours, most of the pack had to deal with yet another front, which although weaker than the previous ones, took some time to cross. “It was a long time coming and it took us a long time to get to the other side. We sailed upwind as best we could. As a consequence we ran through all the sails in less than an hour,” explained Yoann Richomme (Paprec Arkea), who is now pleased to be under spinnaker today for the first time in eight days of racing. “It’s nice to get some speed up. It takes time to get used to that. We had to deal with some squalls, reposition ourselves and pay close attention to be able to react when the wind suddenly got up again,” added the fleet leader, who like the Ocean Fifty and IMOCA competitors, is having to deal with variations in wind strength. “That often happens once you are sailing downwind.

    The gaps widen and narrow even more quickly,” said the title-holder, who lost around ten miles to Corentin Douguet (Qu?guiner – Innoveo), his nearest rival since they left the front behind them. “Our task in the next 24 hours is to gybe below the high-pressure system. The famous ‘gull wing’ move to allow us to get back on a course towards the SW with some transition zones to manage on the way out, which are not favourable for the leaders,” regretted Yoann Richomme. This may lead the chasing boats to close the gap adding to the suspense.



    And in the Azores, fraternity and solidarity

    There are fewer places, where the terms fraternity and solidarity mean more than at sea. In Ponta Delgada in the Azores, the skipper of the Class40 Inter Invest, Matthieu Perraut, has just shown us that. Forced to retire after hitting a UFO, the Breton sailor agreed to give his mast to Axel Trehin, skipper of the Class40 Project Rescue Ocean. The latter, who suffered damage to his spreader last night had been unable to repair his rig within a time frame allowing him to get back in the race. Three years ago, both sailors were competing in the Mini-Transat and eleven months ago, they trained together, at the Orlabay Centre in La Trinit?-sur-Mer. A week ago, they were competitors in the legendary transatlantic race, but now their aim is to allow Axel to finish his race.

    Key points
    -The Ultim 32/23 podium of this 12th edition of La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe is now known. It is made up, in order, of Charles Caudrelier (Maxi Edmond de Rothschild), Fran?ois Gabart (SVR Lazartigue) and Thomas Coville (Sodebo Ultim 3).

    Forced to retire following a violent collision with an UFO, Matthieu Perraut reached Ponta Delgada, in the Azores. On site, the skipper of Inter Invest and his team showed great solidarity by choosing to lend their mast to Axel Trehin (Project Rescue Ocean) so that the latter, faced with the breaking of a bar of arrow, can resume the race.
    -Emmanuel Le Roch (Edenred), who had made a technical stopover in the Azores, resumed his race shortly after 7 p.m. last night. K?ni Piperol (Captain Alternance) who had done the same following a leak in La Coru?a, should do the same this Thursday, November 17 at the end of the afternoon.

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