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Breeze On For NY to Barcelona Teams

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  • Breeze On For NY to Barcelona Teams

    After a very tricky and tactical first day and a half, overnight the lead trio in the IMOCA Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona World Race has finally edged into the northwest side of the depression. With this life on board has taken a different complexion – no longer is it about hunting down and using the slightest breeze. The wind has increased, is more regular in direction, and most importantly at last this has allowed boat speeds to build too.

    The mixed Spanish crew of Anna Corbella and Gerard Marin aboard GAES Centros Auditivos continues to put in an impressive performance aboard their older generation IMOCA 60 and still leads this morning in terms of ‘distance to finish’. But at the moment the race is instead into the middle of the depression and in this respect Marc Guillemot and Morgan Lagravière aboard Safran are back in front.

    The aim of this tactic is for it to act like a slingshot - to sail into the northwest quadrant of this relative static weather system in favourable (and fast) northerly winds and as they pass the centre of the depression to the south and the wind shifts into the east or southeast, they will then tack and exit the depression to the northeast.

    To make best use of this Safran split further to the south than GAES – with Hugo Boss in between - and because of this is has managed to get into the better breeze, earlier, than her rivals. Now seeing around 20 knots of wind from the northnortheast, Safran’s boat speed is up to 16.1 knots – an unimaginable pace compared to what the boats have been seeing since the start! However at present Hugo Boss is even faster –16.4 knots.

    Meanwhile Neutrogena has dropped back, now some 50 miles behind, her deficit on the race leaders having doubled overnight. Part of this is down to her not having yet arrived into the bigger conditions being generated by the depression, or does she have some problems on board that her crews is keeping secret about?

    Generally today the crews will be ‘battening down hatches’ (as they used to say on old ships) in preparation for the gale force conditions they will be experiencing this afternoon and overnight as they near the centre of the depression.


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    Spirit of Hungary officially retires

    Nandor Fa, Skipper of Spirit of Hungary, announced at 1200 hrs New York time today his regrettable decision to have to officially retire from the IMOCA Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona Race.

    His new boat was put to the test for the first time on the transatlantic crossing from Trieste to New York where he and co-skipper Marcell Goszleth arrived only last Saturday 31st May at 1000 hrs. The boat now needs some repair and maintenance time to get back into shape for Nandor's ongoing sailing programme.

    Nandor explained his decision, "I am terribly disappointed not to be racing with the other boats and skippers and to have to retire from this great race. From the start we took on a big challenge to get here in time with a totally new boat and we just did not have enough time to get everything done. There is no point in taking any risks at this stage - for us as sailors or for the boat - and so I know this is the right decision today - but its still a tough situation to accept. I am happy to have been here in New York with the event, it has given IMOCA Ocean Masters and Spirit of Hungary a great profile and platform to build on."

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    Posted on June 03, 2014

    Over the last 24 hours there has been a wholescale change of conditions for the IMOCA Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona Race boats are they head out into the Atlantic. From hunting down the slightest zephyr since the start, the leaders have dived southwest overnight, into a building breeze, forecast to reach gale force later today.

    From shorts and flipflops yesterday, the sailors are now into full thermals and foul weather gear, bracing themselves for a big afternoon and night time ahead of them.

    While the Team Neutrogena crew of Spanish offshore race veteran Guillermo Altadill and Chilean José Muñoz, have fallen off the pace of the front runners, 76 miles behind at 1200 UTC, only 2.2 miles separates the lead trio of IMOCA 60s them in terms of ‘distance to finish’.

    Technically the mixed Spanish crew of doublehanded round the world sailors Anna Corbella and Gerard Marin hold the smallest of leads aboard GAES Centros Auditivos.

    In reality the race is not to the finish at present. Instead it is to be first into the stronger winds en route to the centre of a depression lying to the leader’s southeast. In this tactical race the French duo of Marc Guillemot and Morgan Lagravière aboard Safran hold the advantage. On the water they are furthest south, some 50 miles south of GAES, and this positioning enabled them this morning to be first into the stronger breeze. And this has worked: At 12.00 UTC, Safran was averaging 16.3 knots compared to GAES’ 11.8. Marc Guillemot said that at the time Safran was beam reaching in 28 knots of wind, a bumpy sea her speed regularly into the low 20s.

    Part of the skill of shorthanded offshore racing is preparation, and encountering the depression and its big conditions is the something the crews have been anticipating since they left New York on Sunday. “I didn't want to get in the red zone before, so we didn’t hang around if we had to reduce sails, but nor were we in a hurry to do this too early either,” said Guillemot.

    Similarly on Hugo Boss, New York Times journalist Chris Museler reported that co-skippers Ryan Breymaier and Pepe Ribes yesterday carried out a complete survey of the boat’s health in preparation for today’s big conditions. “Pepe did an engine check and rig check and Ryan was checking running rigging looking for chafe.”

    Even so, in the building breeze, a number of technical issues have come to light on the boats. This has even extended to the immaculately prepared Safran: “We have had some serious computer issues last night and the computer is not working anymore,” admitted Guillemot. “I am setting up the new one, but I haven’t had any information about the other boats’ positions recently.”

    On Hugo Boss, the cover for one of the water ballast tanks has blown out at the transom. According to Chris Musuler: “It isn’t able to hold as much water as we want in it now, nor can it keep the water out when we want it out - that is a problem we’re going to have to figure out how to address. And there is some water coming into the engine compartment, which is a concern. This is a long race so it is something we’ll have to work on.”

    Similarly on GAES, Gerard Marin said they had lost time with the mainsail down as they repaired a batten car fitting on their mainsail. As to their tactics in staying north compared to Hugo Boss and Safran, Marin added that in their oldest generation boat they had no choice but to choose a different route compared to their newer or better developed rivals. “We are sailing less miles - I don’t know if that will work for us, but obviously following them isn’t the solution.”

    While the boats are set to experience gale force winds this afternoon, conditions are set to abate a little this evening with the boats due to cross to the north of the depression’s centre in the early hours of tomorrow morning. With this the wind will veer through 180deg into the southeast and the boats will tack to exit the depression, still in strong winds. From the mental anxiety of the first two days, this is where the IMOCA Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona Race gets physical.

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  • #2
    Marc Guillemot Suffers Cracked Ribs In Straits of Gibralter: Safran Retires


    Posted on June 12, 2014

    Just as the IMOCA Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona Race entered its next critical phase at the Strait of Gibraltar, this morning there was a profound set-back on board Safran that has forced the race’s long term leader to retire.

    At midnight UTC Safran’s crew of Marc Guillemot and Morgan Lagravière was in the process of changing from their J2 to their smaller J3 jib while sailing upwind in heinous gale force conditions, 64 miles due west of Tarifa at the Strait’s western end. With the wind blowing 30-35 knots and the sea churned up by the wind-against-tide conditions, Guillemot severely injured his ribs during a fall.

    As Guillemot recounted: “There was a bad sea state and at one stage, on a big wave, the boat rose up, I rose up with it, and then the boat slammed back down and I crashed down into the side of the furling drum. Luckily Morgan saw what happened and he was able to come and help me, because I was doubled over in pain.”

    Following the incident, Lagraviere tacked Safran north to get away from the shipping lanes. Subsequently as they closed on the Spanish coast, Lagraviére – competing in his first ever IMOCA 60 race - spoke to the race committee to confirm that Guillemot’s injury was too great, he needed hospital treatment and they would be looking to make port. Safran officially suspended racing at 0600 UTC.

    After liaising with the race committee, Safran headed for Cadiz some 25 miles to her north where she pulled into Puerto Sherry, just after 1300 UTC. Following the assistance of Nicolas Marino, Director General of the Andalucia Sailing Federation and his team, in coordination the Puerto Sherry Marina, upon Safran’s arrival Guillemot was taken ashore and straight to hospital. At this point the extent of Guillemot’s injury is unknown.

    Prior to reaching Puerto Sherry Guillemot said that they had been in contact with a doctor in Quimper who had advised him on what medication to take and to lie down. “I have now managed to get out of my bunk - it’s still sore but feeling a lot better.”

    He continued: “What I will remember about all this is what a great race Morgan and I had. We worked really well together – made good routing and of that we can be really proud. Having to retire because of my injury – that hurts.” With Safran heading for port, the lead in the IMOCA Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona Race has now been handed to Pepe Ribes and American Ryan Breymaier aboard Hugo Boss. After putting in a long tack taking her across to the Moroccan coast this morning, at 11:30 UTC Hugo Boss was on starboard tack in gale force easterlies with some 20 miles to go to Tarifa at the westerly end of the Strait of Gibraltar. Hugo Boss’ media crewman Chris Museler reported that the boat was experiencing “a lot of pounding” but was otherwise sailing along nicely.

    On board Team Neutrogena, still 34 miles from Tarifa at 11:30 UTC, Guillermo Altadill said it was very noisy on board with all the banging and crashing as they also attempted to avoid the vast quantity of maritime traffic funnelling into and out of the Mediterranean. The round the world race veteran wouldn’t divulge whether he would be choosing the northerly or southerly routes through the Strait. “We will try to be on one of the shore coasts to get into flatter water with less waves and current against us,” he said, keeping his fingers crossed that the wind would abate by the time they passed through.

    Altadill praised the preparation of Team Neutrogena by their shore team and thought this was one of the reasons why they had managed to keep up with Hugo Boss.

    The Spanish veteran also expressed his sorrow at hearing of Marc Guillemot’s injury. He admitted that he too had some bruising – it was inevitable in big conditions such as those they have been experiencing – but his injuries were clearly not as extensive as the Frenchman’s.

    Bringing up the rear, at 11:30 UTC, GAES still had 93 miles to go before she reached Tarifa, where they too were expecting gale force conditions in the Strait. Anna Corbella expressed her sadness to hear about the incident on Safran. “Throughout the race we’ve been saying constantly that Safran was sailing an excellent race. They had done a great job until the incident. We wish Marc a speedy recovery.”

    These are sentiments shared by everyone involved with the IMOCA Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona Race

    - See more at: ~It's not the size of the website, it's how you use it! ~