the long way

the long way

Our heartfelt congratulations go out to Roland "Bi lou" Jourdain aboard Veolia for sailing a brilliant Route Du Rhum and winning the all important transatlantic event back-to-back.  The skill that made his two-in-a-row possible over all-star fleets helps explain why the French love this diminutive Breton so much, while his routing and boat prep speaks volumes about the stellar job that his Kairos team did to get ready for the event. If you missed them (and some 30,000 of you didn’t!), you can join the nearly 30,000 who watched our interview with Bi lou just before the race or a couple of hours of pretty cool race start footage from aboard one of the team RIBs here (Part One) and here (Part Two).

Meanwhile, Anarchist ‘jfranta’ reports on some not-so-good news for the only US entrant in the event.  Share your thoughts here.

"My good friend Etienne Giroire joins the elite club of ocean going multihullers that have turned turtle in mid ocean. Yesterday, early morning, he was hit by a squall while sleeping and the boat was turned over. He is OK. Saved himself, 2 apples, and some water in the liferaft. Lost everything else. Survived about 8 hours in the liferaft until picked up by a French freighter on its way to Guadeloupe. Etienne spent an incredible amount of effort getting he and his boat ready for this adventure and my heart goes out to him on the loss of his boat and his unfinished adventure. But tis better to have sailed and lost than not to have sailed at all.

FYI, If you Know Etienne, he is a genuinely good guy and if you don’t know him you should as he will certainly enhance your life as he has mine. He had no insurance other than Liability and he has a struggling small business (like all sailing businesses these days). If you want to help you can go to his website and buy a Mastclimber or any of his other great products. http://www.atninc.com/index_en.php.

John Franta, Colligo Marine

And finally, our esteemed ocean racing analyst Rail Meat sums up the Class 40 fleet as they make their final approach to Pont-A-Pietre:

A relatively quiet 24 hours for updates from the fleet. Two weeks into the race, and I am sure some of the skippers are getting emotionally ready to be in port, with the promise of ice, air conditioning, cold beer and a comfortable bed. You can see it in several of the updates that did get posted in the last 24 hours where the skippers talk about bathing and cleaning up their boats. When you are stuck in the cycle of trying to squeeze every fractional knot of speed out of your boat, updates to home take a lower priority.

The back half of the southern portion of the fleet has paid a steep toll for their routing choice. They have been stuck in the ITC for an ungodly amount of time, and while only two are still suffering I have to wonder about the food, water and fuel situation for the guys who spent so much time making little headway. It will be interesting to watch this set of boats later on this week.

Up at the front of the pack, this cell of high pressure is still the major feature that needs to be dealt with in order to start drinking rum. It still sits between the northern fleet and the island, and still promised to move east in the coming day or so. The difference is that it now looks like it will move a bit south as well, good news for the northern pack and bad news for the boats like Goss who remain south. Goss has picked up some miles in the past 24 hours, but it does not look to be enough. He needs to hustle in the next 24 hours in order to skim below the high as it moves east. If he makes that push, then he should have reasonable breeze the whole way in, although he is going have to gybe down the track.

In the northern pack, Trousell continues to chew away at the miles and is firmly in second place now. Jorg has taken advantage of his slightly more southern positioning as well as Noblet’s damage to his forestay to leverage himself into third. Ruyant spent the past 12 hours putting a tack into the south while the trio hot on his heels continue to tack north. If I were Thomas, I would probably tack back now to cover them, although he may want to carry on a bit more to cross with Trousell and then cover Trousell. With the forecast this morning, my best guess is that the northern pack will indeed pancake into light air in the last 50 miles of the race, but it looks like the new breeze will fill in from the north and favor those that are in the north west corner of the approach. It does not look like the windless conditions will persist long enough for Goss to meet up with the northern pack in the last miles, but I am betting he will close the gap by a fair amount.

One additional damage report in the past 24 hours, and another big one. Noblet’s forestay is attached to the stem by way of lashings and those parted. Probably all that slamming in a race that has been uncharacteristically upwind. He almost lost the rig, but manage to put the forestay on in time. I would think that he should be able to lash the forestay back in place, but he seems to be talking about sailing with only the Code 0 and the innerstay sail. Given the prediction of relatively light conditions, the Code would be the sail to go with, but it can’t fly in much more than 9 knots and the inner staysail really only comes into play around 18 knots or so. So if he sees winds between 9 and 18 knots, he is going to miss the use of his Solent (Jib).

Also, Dimitry has now been in port in the Azores for a 18 hours or so. I hope he is able to resume racing, although he has to have some concerns about being the aft most boat in the fleet by a wide margin at this point. Dimtry has posted here in SA in the past, and it hurts to see him with the challenge of these damages.

We did pass one milestone. As of today, more than half of the fleet has reported damage that has made it to this inventory. In the case of three boats, this damage forced them to drop out. In the case of several others such as Stamm, Colman, or De laMotte it has meant the difference between being a contender at the front of the fleet or having to focus just on finishing.

The complete damage reports are here