The pair of IMOCA 60s which have shared the lead of the Barcelona World Race since the demise of pacemaker Hugo Boss remain stuck together, only a handful of miles apart as they ease through the lighter winds at the edge of the South Atlantic high pressure system and now relish the fast sailing ahead into the Southern Ocean.
Cheminées Poujoulat, Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam, lead Guillermo Altadill and José Muñoz on Neutrogena by nine miles. The Cheminées Poujoulat duo have repositioned themselves on the inside of the curve as they descended round the ridge of high pressure, and into the stronger NW winds which will strengthen for them.
Neutrogena found Cheminées Poujoulat ahead this morning when it got light. Altadill and Muñoz had requested to use ghost mode and disappear from the tracked view of their rivals and the public for 24 hours. But it appears that a technical problem means the fleet could still follow Neutrogena’s positions via the position reports sent to the boats.
As the ‘ghost’ mode did not work as it should have done for Neutrogena, an apology was sent to Altadill and Muñoz and options for redress are being considered. The Neutrogena team have correspondingly lodged a protest.
“When you try something different you are never sure if it will be the right, but what is sure is you don’t want the other one to do the same. That is why you propose this mode.” Said Altadill this morning, “Sometimes you can do a move and it will be wrong and you don’t want them to know. You try. You have two options. You do something different or you stay with him. It was working OK, at the beginning of the night we were sailing higher and sailing fast. But the point of the race at this time is the small decisions how to go around the high, or sail lower.”
If the two very similar Farr designed IMOCA 60s get into the pre-frontal NW’lies at the same time a close an exciting race in the big south might be assured. Both 2007 launched boats of the same design have already been successful in their own right. Cheminées Poujoulat has been more modified more recently and has never finished lower than twice in the two round the world races it has completed, winning the Vendée Globe in 2008-9 as Michel Desjoyeaux’sFoncia and then second in the 2010-11 Barcelona World Race.
Altadill and Muñoz’sNeutrogena won the Route du Rhum in 2010 as Véolia, lead the 2008-9 Vendée Globe for a long period as BT, was sailed to second in the Transat Jacques Vabre by Altadill and Alex Thomson who took the boat to third in the last Vendée Globe. They should be evenly matched for speed in the south.
While the two leaders were slightly slowed in the lighter airs, so Anna Corbella and Gérard Marin had caught up miles on GAES Centros Auditivos. Now they are computed have lost today and are now 80 miles behind in terms of distance to the finish.
Renault Captur have had their problems which account for their slower speeds over the last 24 hours. The lashing at the top of the mainsail was giving way yesterday at dawn and they had to drop the sail. According to an e-mail account from the boat today as they did this the mainsail dropped and two cars pinged off lifting track screws. A more careful inspection was required and revealed other screws were not 100% secure. Jorg Riechers and Sébastien Audigane report that they expected to have everything fixed and be back up and fighting imminently.
There was cause for celebration at 0740hrs UTC this morning when Spirit of Hungary passed the Equator into the Southern Hemisphere, another triumph along the way for Nandor Fa and Conrad Colman. The duo emerged from the Doldrums earlier and are into the well established, stable SE’ly trade winds which should allow them several days to recover after their slow, frus trating doldrums passage.
Speaking from Hugo Boss this morning, 110 miles from Salvador de Bahia, Alex Thomson confirmed that the failed furler had been back to the manufacturer for checking and non-destructive testing prior to the race, and that even in hindsight he considers there is nothing more he could have done in terms of preparation to avoid the mechanical failure which caused Hugo Boss to abandon:
“That part has been back has been back to the supplier in the months leading up to the race to be serviced and checked.” Thomson said, “ The material it is made from is the right kind of material to be used. I think we need to get this broken piece back and looked at by a metallurgist and start an investigation. I don’t really see how we could have made sure this piece would not have broken. We are talking about a metal bar which is 22mm in diameter. And the piece had been Non Destructive Tested two months prior to the race. So I am not sure th at there is anything else we could have done.”
Alex Thomson (GBR) Hugo Boss:“We had put in a really good effort in until then. We had been first to the Straits of Gibraltar, first to the Equator, first through the Doldrums. We had exerted a measure of control over the race. We felt we were dominating it. Looking ahead we could only see a possibility for us to extend. I felt we were doing an excellent job, I thought Pepe and I were making really great decisions. That really adds to the disappointment. It is particularly poignant given that we were doing so well and were pleased with our performance.”
“Both of us would like to come back and do it again. But at the moment it is just about concentrating on getting the boat to land, getting it tied up safely and secure, find out what happened, learn from it and move on. Obviously for me we have a brand new boat in build, this is what most people would perceive as a negative situation, I think in many ways it is hard not to view it negatively and I feel very negative at the moment, but the positive is that I will be able to spend more time than I would have done in the final design and the build and set up, so there is a positive from all this. I think I will be looking forwards to wading in to all that when I get home.
Guillermo Altadill, ESP Neutrogena:“It is very light for the last two hours and we see Cheminées Poujoulat three miles in front of us. We were a bit surprised this morning when we see him because we did not get his position report. I think there was a mistake with the system of tracking. We never seemed to have been in ghost mode. It was the other way about. They were in ghost mode. They knew where we were. Last night we had some clouds, we played the clouds really well and we were ahead of them for a few miles and then he saw this thing, he changed his sails and come up to us.
“When you try something different you are never sure if it will be the rig ht, but what is sure is you don’t want the other one to do the same. That is why you propose this mode. Sometimes you can do a move and it will be wrong and you don’t want them to know. You try. You have two options. You do something different or you stay with him. It was working OK, at the beginning of the night we were sailing close and sailing fast. But the point of the race at this time is the small decisions how to go around the high, or sail lower.”
On the abandonment of Hugo Boss:
“Alex and Pepe are good sailors, they were doing a fantastic race and have a good boat. It will be quite different now. They were favourites, they sail really smart, and for sure if carried on they would have been a few miles ahead of us and looking good for the Southern Ocean. But unfortunately this is a mechanical sport, it happens. We miss them as well.”
Willy Garcia (ESP) We Are Water:“ We have been here once before racing to Salvador in the Mini in 2003 that is one of the reasons for doing this race, discovering new experiences and new seas.
“For us it is a bit complex because we are not experts about this zone, and in meteorology. But to be honest the high is very powerful and very south, probably we will have to go very west and south.
“We Are Water is a great boat and has been very well prepared considering there was so little time to prepare it. We have a lot tools and have fixed some things. I hope we can fix everything that we break.”
Standings at 1400hrs UTC Saturday 17th January 2015
ABD: Hugo Boss (A. Thomson – P. Ribes)