The technical team of SVR Lazartigue and skipper Tom Laperche are set to be joined in Cape Town on Friday by fellow ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE-Brest solo skipper Anthony Marchand and the Actual Ultim shore team after the Actual team made the decision early this morning to stop and remove the damaged port foil which Marchand suffered early yesterday.
But while the repair process for the SVR Lazartigue daggerboard and well seems set to be more protracted, Team Actual said today they expect the duration of their stopover to be the solo multihull round the world race’s mandatory 24 hour minimum.
Victim of a collision which damaged the port foil Marchand and his team had initially thought he could continue his race without stopping. But the foil has started to move around in the well and threatens the integrity of the float itself. Actual Ultim 3 is expected to arrive Friday and the foil will be removed as well as any other required repairs made. Doubtless Marchand will get a good sleep and then be able to leave when the 24 hours minimum is up. After Armel Le Cléac’h and Tom Laperche, Marchand is the third skipper to stop.
In a solid third place now Le Cléac’h is passing the longitude of Madagascar this evening and heading slightly north of east as he looks to avoid the worst of the big, messy seas behind a depression. He is some 2600 miles behind Charles Caudrelier, 1200 miles from Thomas Coville, and after losing Marchand who had been his ‘running mate’ since the Banque Populaire XI skipper emerged from his Recife stop, Le Cléac’h will be feeling very much alone as he scythes across the Indian Ocean. It is worth reflecting that both Le Cléac’h and race leader Caudrelier are very much in new territory racing big multihulls solo in the deep south. Le Cléac’h is the fastest in the fleet, at 31-33kts this evening and he looks set to have at least 48 hours of good speed.
Similarly, Thomas Coville is trying to find the right balance between speed and caution. Last night in a video, he explained what life was like aboard Sodebo Ultim 3. “ We have 34-36 knots of wind. I’m sitting here keeping watch. In my left hand, I am holding the mainsail traveller to allow us to accelerate or slow down, if there is too much wind. In my right hand, I have the remote control for the autopilot, just like on a small boat. You can hear the boat accelerating now! The gusts of wind and the waves hitting the bow. It’s impressive. We are playing around with phenomena, which may be dangerous and which we want to get away from. It’s right on the edge. I have put my headphones on to try to shut off the noise. I watch the movements, banging and vibrations. These little details help me to trim the boat. I don’t have much sail up with 2 reefs in the mainsail and that is plenty. With 35 knots in the night, you have to imagine how the boat is leaping around and pitching into the waves in front of the cockpit. It’s very wet and there is water running everywhere.”
Finally some well deserved luck
After a lot of work on board, Éric Péron in sixth is advancing at good speed and on a good route. The skipper of Adagio told us about the work he has done aboard. “On board, I have two engines. A small one, which is the generator and the main engine. I changed the tanks around as I had a problem getting them going, but now all is fine. I had my hands in the diesel yesterday. Fortunately I had some spare pipes. I had to siphon off the fuel, which when we are dealing with diesel isn’t nice. When I was doing that, I got some messages from my shore team, who were keeping an eye on me. I forgot to tell them I was doing some repair work. My router, David Lasnier, told me I wasn’t going very fast. True, as I also had a tarp caught up in the central rudder. The performance alarms hadn’t spotted that. During the night, I couldn’t see it either. I had to go backwards, which wasn’t easy to be able to set off again. We lost 10 degrees, and now it is only 20°C, but we are making headway at 25 knots under the big gennaker. Smooth sailing on relatively calm seas. Things are looking good and I should have 48 hours of peasant sailing.”
Out in front, Charles Caudrelier is dealing with what is being thrown at him. He went around the Mascareignes High via the south and admits experiencing some tough moments over the past 48 hours. “It took a lot of manoeuvres with very unstable winds going from 20-30 knots. I had to keep trimming. Sometimes, there was too much and sometimes not enough. We are sailing on 4m seas, but sailing along nicely. Ahead of us, there is an ice zone, which is annoying me. This will involve lots of gybes with wind shifts going from SW to NW. It looks like I will have a lot of changes of tack and gybes. In strong winds, there is no easy solution to do these manoeuvres. I hope it will be four or five. I have already done a lot. After that, it will be straight on, with a couple of tacks under Australia.” In four days, the leader of the ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE – Brest should have finished with the Indian. Next up, the Pacific, which won’t be that easy either. And in the meantime it seems possible that Caudrelier might have an eye on Francois Gabart’s 2017 passage record time from Ushant to Cape Leeuwin of 19d 14h 10min. Maxi Edmond de Rothschild had 645 miles to go this evening with an elapsed time of some 17d 5h but Caudrelier has multiple gybes to do.
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