by Matthew Thomas
Now that they are in the trades and starting to approach the Azores High Pressure system, there is time to rest a bit, update friends and family and start the drying out process, and also send some email. This is what we received from Phillippa during the night:
“It’s very rough, it’s been blowing 30 knots all night and the seas are quite big and the boats are really wet. It’s very rough going, we’re looking forward to the end of this bit. Everything is okay with the boat, it’s a bit dirty and there’s stuff everywhere but, touch wood, we have no problems.
Yes we’re very happy, we only have very limited data so we haven’t looked at our positions, but if that is where we are then we are very, very happy and we will be even happier when we can see the sun. For the next six hours it’s still going to be very rough, we’re expecting the winds to still be blowing very strong into the night tonight, but overnight it will get lighter and it will go behind us. Hopefully we can find some downwind sailing and some waves to surf. I don’t think we’re going to see the sun tomorrow.
Wet! Everything is wet, absolutely soaking. The minute you go outside if you are steering you’re being hosed all the time. There’s water everywhere and both of us are soaking wet and have been for four days. Just very, very, wet.
We’re managing okay but yesterday we got very tired because we had a front pass over us that was unexpected. We had to do a lot of manoeuvres and sail changes, but today we’ve set the boat up to be a little more stable and we’re trying hard to take it in turns to sleep so that when this weather has gone we are strong and ready to put some sails up. So we’re managing okay.”
The Class 40’s have had it tough, but they always do. They simply don’t have the speed of the multi’s and IMOCA boats and have little option but to hammer their way through the depressions as they fight to get into the Trade winds. As the development class for anyone seriously wanting to move up into the IMOCA class, this is the ultimate testing ground.
Out front, the carnage has continued overnight and the Ultime ‘Actual’ has retired with a rig problem.
IMOCA 60s ‘SMA’ who were lying 4th have retired with keel damage, ‘Adoptunskipper.net’ have damaged a lower running backstay, ‘Bastide-Otio’ are in Cascais making repairs to their ORC Headsail and their Fleet Broadband system, ‘O Canada’ are heading to Vigo to repair their damaged mast track, ‘Hugo Boss’ are heading to NW Spain with technical issues, ‘St Michel – Virbac’ are on their way to Madeira with structural issues and ‘Bureau Vallée’ are having serious energy and charging issues.
Class 40 ‘Creno-Moustache Solidare’ are heading to La Coruna with damage to a stainless steel spreader root and ‘Eärendil’ is headed toward Lisbon.
Back on the race course, ‘Macif’ has slipped slightly ahead of ‘Sodebo’ as there two enormous tri’s match race past Cape Verde. ‘Banque Populaire VIII’ is still leading the pack of three IMOCA 60’s at the front and ‘Ceila Village’ is still out front in the Multi 50 class. “Le Conservateur’ is still leading the Class 40 fleet and has managed to add a few more miles separation between themselves and 2nd placed ‘V and B’.
For the leaders, the next big challenge is going to be the crossing of the Doldrums, that notorious area of light and fickle winds that can easily cost you the entire race if you find yourself in a hole and then have to watch your rivals sail around you.