Solo Figarists Nick Cherry and Henry Bomby continue with Sailing Anarchy’s 2014 Route Du Rhum coverage, sponsored by Bruce Schwab Energy Systems. Please get in touch with the Vendee veteran to find out how his energy storage, solar power, and charging systems can benefit your cruising or racing boat today, and enjoy Nick and Henry’s latest analysis. Hit the thread for all the latest news, photos, videos, and analysis.
Big conditions meant a premature end to the huge ‘thank f*** they’re gone’ party for Route Du Rhum shore crew and race staff in St. Malo on Sunday night, just as it has for some 13 official abandonments on the race track. A further 20-odd boats are in less-dire-but-still-bad shape, headed to port or to find some shelter in order to fix damaged sails, rudders, and bodies. Obviously the weather has been heinous, with two solid fronts kicking the fleets in the face with gusts reported up to 60 knots and some nasty seas, especially rounding the corner at Brest. The most high-profile casualty has been Thomas Coville, who managed to prang a cargo ship in the night just in front of the TSS off Ushant. With closing speeds between the ship and trimaran of 40 knots, dark skies, and awful visibility, it’s a wonder that more of these guys haven’t hit anything. It’s yet another blow for the Sodeb’o campaign, which adds this failed attempt to something of a pile of them over the past few years. Coville may be one of the world’s best, but we wonder if he didn’t piss off an old gypsy woman sometime over the past decade…
Perhaps most worrying amongst the early dropouts are two keel losses/failures on the new Sabrosa Mk II Class 40 sisterships of Francois Anglouvant (picked up by a chopper from his capsized hull) and Marc Lepesqueux, who managed to fill ballast, drop sails and sail downwind to Guernsey. I’m no mathematician but the chances of both these guys hitting a submerged object seems pretty low, and we guess their design and build team (which included Anglouvant) is trying to figure out what happened right now, while thanking their lucky stars that no one was killed.
The decision by race director Gilles Chiorri to send the fleet off into this storm is refreshing in the light of so many big races being delayed in recent years. Many skippers – particularly in the handicap Rhum class – chose to do something we rarely see these days; they waited out the worst of the storm before going yachting.
All the fleets have spread out by now, but none more so than the Ultimes, where Loic Peyron is having an absolute blinder aboard BPVII, steadily pulling out a sixty mile lead over Yann Guichard on the Spindrift (who isn’t showing any signs of using his extra nine meters of length to catch up). Watching these guys go off the start was jaw dropping, with Coville looking picture perfect early on and Sydney Gavignet giving the spec fleet some ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ flying his center hull as he weaved through the spectator boats. We caught up with Sidney here; click the link for a video interview where we chatted about ‘Oh, Sheet’ release systems and weather routing.
Given that sailing a big multi alone is a full-time job, these guys are aiming not to go downstairs at all during the race. Yann Ellies on Paprec has a staff of three top guys holed up in a house in Brittany running a watch system looking at forecasts and on-board data basically playing a full-on version of the virtual race game. He’s planning to have Skype messenger on 24/7 and regular sat phone calls, leaving him free to ease sheets off one of these bollard/cleat arrangements at any time. Whatever you think of shore-based routers they are here to stay, and this race pits the best weather guys against each other across the Ultime fleet.
Francois Gabart is, once again, showing why no one has been able to touch him for the past couple of years; 30 miles over Jeremie Beyou in a sistership and 50 over Marc Guillemot aboard Safran. Vincent Riou and Tanguy De Lamotte are all but out of this race with mainsail track issues and rudder damage respectively. These guys are in for a fast crossing with few passing lanes; look for Gabart to continue to push his lead right through the finish line.
True to form over the last couple of years, Seb Rogues in GDF Suez is leading the way as the 40s reach down towards Cap Finisterre. There’s been a definite split in this class, with the first fifteen or so boats who made it out of the channel in good shape having put some serious miles on the B fleet of stragglers as they get into better and better breeze.
Fifty First Dates
The prize for most dropouts goes to the Multi 50 fleet, where currently only six out of eleven starters are left in the running, with the three favourites occupying the top spots. On the dock some of these boats looked like they might be better off in a museum than a storm and it seems that maybe Neptune agreed!?
Looking ahead at the weather, things are starting to calm down for the big trimarans and IMOCA fleet, and with the Azores high still located quite far north, these skippers should be able to sail a fairly direct route for the next few days before the wind drops a little and goes further aft. Then it’ll be lots of gybing to line up their approach to Guadeloupe. The slower boats will have to negotiate another (hopefully less violent) front toward the end of the week, which could create some lanes for some of the early losers. We’ll keep you posted.
-Nick and Henry
UPDATE: DAMAGE REPORT FROM DAYS 1-3
Sunday 2 November
-9h00 : Luc Coquelin (Classe Rhum) hit by dive boat when at anchor, damaged bowsprit.
-13h15 : Jean-Édouard Criquioche (Class40) rig problems, starts at 1900hrs.
-15h00 : Ricardo Diniz (Classe Rhum) diesel problem and other issues. Arrived back in Saint-Malo at 1800hrs left Monday 1700hrs
-19h00 : Charlie Capelle (Classe Rhum) stops in Saint-Quay Portrieux to let worst of weather go, restarts Monday 0800hrs
-19h45 : Jean Galfione (Class40) strikes unlit buoy off Bréhat and damages hull. Arrives Saint-Quay Portrieux at 5h30 Monday, aims to leave 19h Monday
-20h15 : Giancarlo Pedote (Class40) sail problems heads for Roscoff. Arrives at 7h, leaves Monday 11h
-23h00 : Marc Lepesqueux (Class40) loses keel fills ballast heads to Guernsey under engine arrives 10h Monday Abandon.
-23h30 : François Angoulvant (Class40) loses keel, helicoptered off at 00h40 Monday to Brest. Abandon.
-23h35 : Loïc Féquet (Multi50) float damaged, towed by SNSM to l’Aber Wrac’h at 8h Monday. Abandon.
-23h45 : Thomas Coville (Ultime) hits a cargo ship. Damages main bow and starboard float. Arrives Roscoff at 11hrs Monday. Abandon.
Monday 3 November
-0h30 : Bertrand Delesne (Class40) has problems with sails halyards and headsails. Heads to Perros-Guirec then Roscoff. Arrives 9h, depart 13h.
-1h15 : Bob Escoffier (Classe Rhum) sail and rig problems. Heads to Roscoff, arrives 08h Monday. Aims to leave Tues 06h.
-1h45 : Thierry Bouchard (Class40) wrist injury, heads to Saint Malo. Arrives 16h Monday. Abandon.
-4h20 : Brieuc Maisonneuve (Class40) pilot problems, heads to Roscoff arrives 10:45 Monday.
-5h35 : Gilles Buekenhout (Multi50) breaks rudder, towed by SNSM to Roscoff arrives 16h Monday
-6h30 : Nicolas Troussel (Class40) twists ankle, routes to Brest arrives 15h Monday. Abandon.
-7h00 : Hervé de Carlan (Multi50) breaks daggerboard, heads to Saint-Brieuc.
-7h15 : Erik Nigon (Multi50) shreds mainsail, heads to La Rochelle, Abandon.
-8h10 : Pierre-Yves Lautrou (Class40) loses two wind vanes. Heading to Camaret. Arrives 17h Monday.
-8h45 : Alan Roura (Class40) water ingress, other varied problems. Heads to Roscoff, ETA 19h
-9h45 : Tanguy de Lamotte (IMOCA) rudder damage, route towards Brest since 1400hrs.
-10h00 : Vincent Lantin (Class40) various problems, heading to Camaret.
-10h10 : Patrick Morvan (Classe Rhum) various problems heading to Camaret. due 18h30 Monday
-10h15 : Alain Delhumeau (Multi50) dismasted, heading to Brest Abandon.
-10h45 : Julien Mabit (Classe Rhum) pilot and electronics problems heading to l’Aber Wrac’h. Arrives 14h00.
-12h00 : Bertrand de Broc (IMOCA) pilot problem and injured elbow. Heading to Lorient. Abandon.
-14h00 : Arnaud Boissières (Class40) crack on deck and other pbs heading to Les Sables d’Olonne. Abandon.
-15h00 : Philippe Fiston (Class40) technical problems. Arrived Camaret at 17h Monday
-14h00 : Benjamin Hardouin (Classe Rhum) arrived Roscoff to repair leak, plans to restart Tuesday 06h
-16h00 : Conrad Humphreys (Class40) arrives Camaret 16hrs sail problems, batten car damaged
-16h30 : Nils Boyer (Classe Rhum) arrives at Roscoff to replace life-raft
-17h15 : Vincent Riou (IMOCA) damaged mainsail track mounting, heading downwind slowly to repair.
Tuesday 4 November
-Afternoon: Pierre Antonie (Multi 50) lightning strike; holed. Airlifted to safety.