The world is moving damned quickly; we just got notice from our old South African friends at Aerospective that Romain Attanasio is in Simon’s Town, fixing his rudder – and we’re able to watch it almost in real time. Romain is NOT out of the race as long as he receives no physical assistance; they say that every Vendee Globe skipper needs the skills of a boatbuilder, and we’re about to find out how good Romain’s are! The full aerial flyover video is over here.
Here’s a post from Romain’s better half summing up the situation for Attanasio:
A quick update on Romain’s situation. As you can see on the tracker he is heading towards Cape Town. He is aiming precisely for Simonstown (a military town in False Bay to the East of Cape Point.) We know it, as we visited the port during the 2014 Volvo stop-over, so geographically Romain will be able to recognise his landfall and find his bearings, and he remembers that there were moorings there. He is hoping to be able to catch a mooring, but will obviously be ready to anchor if necessary. Then the plan is to remove the broken rudders and asses the damage properly, which will probably involve swimming! At this time of year in Simonstown, it is around 25°C in the daytime and so this will help dry out his broken rudders. He needs to be able to make repairs to the least damaged of the two rudders, to make the blade watertight and vaguely streamlined so that it will not deteriorate further. He will also have to install his spare rudder, which is a delicate operation that will also involve swimming. The critical part of this procedure is to be able to not damage the bearings in the boat. And not be eaten by a shark, of course!
Romain has been assessing the performance and manouverability of his broken rudder and is positive that if he manages to follow his plan, he will be able to continue the race with one clean, new, rudder and one short, damaged but repaired, rudder. This may imply sailing a bit more carefully on whichever tack has the damaged rudder and he will take the weather into consideration when he chooses which side he puts the new rudder back into the boat on.
Romain has the laminating equipment required to make the repair, and has enough food to accept taking a bit longer than planned in the race. He is totally motivated to stay in the race and make this repair “unassisted”. I have notified this fact to the guys in Simonstown who have been very supportive and are passing the message around to “protect” Romain from any enthusiastic by-standers and keep people away from helping him! This is much appreciated.
A big thanks to everyone who has sent us messages, I have forwarded them all to the boat and it really has made a difference to Romain. I will keep you updated when I have more news.