Mike Golding wind the Artemis Challenge 2010 claiming the £10,000 charitable donation for the RNLI. The six round-the-world IMOCA 60 racers started the fourth consecutive Artemis Challenge at Cowes Week at 1000 BST today [Tuesday, 3rd August]. Joining the renowned round the world skippers were sporting stars Zara Phillips, Amy Williams, GMTV presenter Emma Crosby and former England rugby international Martin Bayfield as well as the Harry Potter ‘Weasley Twins’, James and Oliver Phelps.
Zara Phillips, racing onboard Artemis Ocean Racing, that finished 3rd overall said at the finish: “There was a really good atmosphere on board, we had a good team and we all worked really well together – it was easy for us as the crew know the boat so well. It’s great to finish on the podium but we thought that because it’s the Artemis Challenge and we’re on Artemis Ocean Racing so we thought let the others get in front!”
The boats set out on the 55-mile course round the Isle of Wight in a light south-westerly breeze and made good headway until coming to a standstill at the eastern point of the island before picking up the sea breeze which built steadily through the afternoon. The IMOCA 60s had a great reach from St Catherine’s to The Needles before hoisting their spinnakers for a high-speed dash to the finish line at the Royal Yacht Squadron. Mike Golding narrowly beat Roland Jourdain on Veolia Environnement by 10 minutes to finish in just under six and a half hours.
The sporting stars were not on board just for a joy ride and the skippers had them working hard. “Zara and I were a good team on the grinder, we thought we were way better than the boys! It was so tiring though and big respect to all the sailors – to think they sail these boats all on their own around the world is absolutely amazing. It was a great team effort but I still feel like I’m floating around!” said Amy Williams. Martin Bayfield who crewed for Dee Caffari, the only yachtswoman to have sailed solo around the world in both directions, was also put to work on the grinder although Dee let him steer for a while: “Dee was very gentle and very kind, and very polite about my steering!”
The £10,000 charitable donation by Artemis Investment Management will be made to the RNLI.The Artemis Challenge has become a popular fixture at the UK’s biggest yachting regatta offers a great mix of sporting competition and celebrity glamour. Mike Tyndall, Chief Executive, Artemis Investment Management commented: “It couldn’t have been better Artemis Challenge. After a few years where the wind has been a bit light, we had a proper breeze, almost had a restart halfway through the race when the breeze collapsed, then we had good breeze and a great romp home.”
Position / Entries / skippers / charities:
1st Mike Golding Yacht Racing / Mike Golding / RNLI
2nd Veolia Environnement / Roland Jourdain / Plan 3rd Artemis Ocean Racing / helmsman Simon Hiscocks / Kids Company
4th Gaes Centros Auditivos / Dee Caffari / Toe in the Water 5th VE1 / Ryan Breymaier & Boris Herrman / Chemo Outreach Project
6th Toe in the Water / Steve White / RNLI
After a ‘disastrous’ start to the Artemis Challenge yesterday due to an issue with their spinnaker, British yachtswoman Dee Caffari and her crew aboard GAES Centros Auditivos fought hard from the back of the fleet to secure fourth place in the annual IMOCA 60 sprint around the Isle of Wight. As the first woman to have sailed solo non-stop round the world in both directions, Dee is no stranger to fighting against the odds but was delighted to have assistance on this occasion in the shape of her crew which included former England and Lions lock, Martin Bayfield.
On reaching the dock, Dee said:
‘Despite our disappointing start we had some brilliant racing out there and fought really hard with all three of the boats ahead of us.’
The fleet initially made good progress on the 55 mile course in a light south westerly breeze giving GAES Centros Auditivos an opportunity to re establish themselves in the race. However, the front runners all came to a standstill at Brembridge Ledge on the eastern point of the island due to a lack of wind. As the sea breeze picked up the crew were forced to tack several times to stay out of the strongest tide as they cleared St Catherine’s Point and it was at this stage that Mike Golding Yacht Racing took the lead and the race positions were established.
‘We had a great sail to the Needles and after our hand break turn back into the Solent we hoisted the spinnaker. The strong winds and good boat speed made for some exciting sailing to the finish, all of which helped hook Martin into a new sport. We are sad that we didn’t win a pot of money for Toe in the Water but everyone onboard had a great time out on the water which is what Cowes Week is all about.’
The Artemis Challenge at Cowes Week was won by Mike Golding aboard Mike Golding Yacht Racing, a close second went to Roland Jourdain on Veolia Environnement with Artemis Ocean Racing skippered by Simon Hiscocks completing the podium. Fourth was Dee Caffari onboard GAES Centros Auditivos with VE1 and Toe in the Water taking fifth and sixth place respectively.
Later this year, Dee will be taking part in the Barcelona World Race onboard GAES Centros Auditivos with her Spanish co-skipper, Anna Corbella. They will be the only all-female crew taking part in the race that leaves Barcelona on 31st December 2010.
Dee and Brian completed the two-handed Transat Jacques Vabre race from Le Havre, France to Costa Rica onboard Aviva. The first week of the race saw the fleet battle through some extreme weather conditions and subsequent damage to boats forced four Open 60’s, including fellow British sailor Alex Thomson, to retire from racing.
Dee and Brian had their fair share of problems but were able to replace a lost wind instrument in a becalmed period. Generator issues meant that both sailors had to hand steer for the majority of the time as they were without the pilot, however, a speedy pit stop in St Lucia for a generator part enabled them to get powered back up and stay in the race. Towards the final stages, the duo raced hard to finish in 8th position from an original fleet of fourteen IMOCA Open 60 yachts that started the transatlantic race 19 days ago. In the last few hours of the race Aviva experienced very light winds making for a frustrating and protracted finish into the port of Limon.
The Transat Jacques Vabre was the last of the races validated by IMOCA in the two year Open 60 season and Aviva’s result earned additional points for both Dee and Brian. Out of 33 skippers, Caffari was ranked 6th, in her first full IMOCA season, and Thompson 8th. The World Championship title was won by Marc Guillemot, skipper of Safran.
“To have finished 6th in the IMOCA rankings, alongside noted sailors like Michel Desjoyeaux and Marc Guillemot is an added bonus and makes me very proud of how much Aviva and I have achieved in the past two years.”
On arriving at the dock in Port Limon, Dee said:
“ The race was long and it was hard, in three different parts, the beginning and the stormy stuff, getting sorted out and then the finale in the Caribbean Sea. So it was very eventful, highs and lows. We have things to deal with and obviously a frustrating finish, but to be this close at the end of a race has been cool.
This is in a different league to my last Transat Jacques Vabre. Sailing with Brian has been great. He is cool and calm and you think: ‘ok this is fine and you get on with it.' So the intensity I have dealt with is much greater than I am used to. It was a much more enjoyable race than the Vendée Globe, and it was nice to be in among the people who were leading. The company I am keeping now is something I never even dreamed of. Now I want to carry on. I need to find the backing but I feel like I am growing at such a speed. This was a great race to do, you learn so much with the right person on board.”
Having now had chance to enjoy the creature comforts of dry land, like a shower, fresh food, a long sleep in a real bed and interaction with lots of people all at once, I have had chance to reflect on the race.
Having worked so hard and held such good positions during the race eighth place was disappointing at the time. The reality is that any of the four boats finishing with us could have finished in fifth and any order could have followed. We were in squall territory and it was a certain amount of luck for the final few miles. Even the conversations ashore with the other skippers and people involved in the race have all been talking about our huge gains at the end and also how fast we were at the start and during the big storm we all faced during the first week. This has off course made me feel better and I cannot deny I loved sailing Aviva again in a big race and it was great sailing with Brian. We had some problems to face and we did it all in a positive manner and had huge fun as well as the hard sailing together.
Now we are preparing the boat for the delivery home. Hannah Jenner and Katy Miller are busy helping with jobs on the boat to learn their way around as they will be joining James and Harry for the trip home. Let’s hope they will be home for Christmas. I know Aviva will look after them and I am confident that they will look after her well for me.
On arriving at the dock in Port Limon, Brian Thompson said:
“It was an interesting place to have the stealth play. There were light winds to the south on the more direct course, so people were deciding how far north to go, and we went a fairly direct course. It turned out there was a front which came through from Panama which gained us, we got through it early in the day and had clear skies for the rest of the day. Then we had nice sailing for the afternoon, maybe a little slower but we sailed less miles. But then we were next to W-Hotels and we thought it was Akena, but it was W-Hotels who had been 100 miles ahead. Then we were in constant squalls one after the other and were never becalmed until right near the end. They must have had the one squall which drove them all the way in.
It was a perfect, swashbuckling finale to bring the ninth edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre two handed transatlantic race towards its final conclusion. Marc Guillemot and Charles Caudrelier played the starring roles some days ago, Guillemot the hero of the Vendée Globe winning the top prize, but the final full day of racing proved a cliffhanger.
After over 5,300 miles and nearly 20 days of racing, when all four protagonists, scrapping over 5th to 8th places emerged from the cover of stealth mode at 1000hrs GMT/UTC (0400hrs local) this morning, less than eight miles separated fifth placed Veolia Environnement (Roland Jourdain and Jean Luc Nélias) from seventh placed Aviva (Dee Caffari and Brian Thompson).
And Akéna Vérandas (Arnaud Boissieres and Vincent Riou) was a further 15.1 miles behind the British duo
Having held fifth place for five days – since they broke into the Caribbean – the Spanish duo on W-Hotels, were never going to give it away easily.
Passed for the second time in the final 12 hours by Veolia Environnement, when the French duo rocketed off into the rainy gloom of yet another squall, on the strength of a sail change the Spanish pair just could not make in the gusty 25 knots breeze, they felt that they were destined for sixth.
But their determination never wavered.
The next squall brought them back to rescue their fifth, arriving like a spectre from out of the murk at 17-18 knots to haunt Veolia for the third and final time, just half a mile from the finish.
It was perhaps appropriate that the surprised Spaniards – on their own voyage of discovery, racing an IMOCA Open 60 for the first time ever – cemented their success arriving Puerto Limon, in the wake of their legendary forebear Christopher Columbus who sailed to the New World in here in 1502.
Ribes and Pella finished four minutes and 16 second ahead of their French rivals, exhausted but pleased to have taken fifth, in between two of the most successful IMOCA Open 60 racing skippers, Michel Desjoyeaux and Jourdain.
They had only sailed together for a few days before embarking on this race, and learned as they came down the track. Standing smiling in the torrential rain on the dockside they admitted to many mistakes and ‘beginners errors’ but they can be justly proud of their result in this highest quality field.
The Spanish were delighted. But there was disappointment for Dee Caffari and Brian Thompson on Aviva. At one point they were, according to Ribes, 100 metres away from Aviva.
They waited for the British pair to tack and, in the end, chose to do their own thing, gaining 15 miles in to the finish.
The British pair slowed in a final light zone, losing out to Akéna Vérandas in the last stages to finish eighth, just 27 minutes behind the 2004-5 Vendée Globe winner Vincent Riou and skipper Arnaud Boissieres.
Caffari and Thompson’s disappointment in losing out in the high stakes scuffle, which was largely carried out in torrential tropical rain and changeable winds, was obvious but Caffari reflected enthusiastically on how much she has improved since she competed in the last edition in 2007 as an IMOCA greenhorn.
All four boats finished within just over three and a half hours. 1876 was due to finish by around 1800hrs GMT and Sam Davies and Sidney Gavignet on Artemis later tonight.
Pepe Ribes, (ESP), W-Hotels:
“ The last 36 hours have been no sleep, no eating, nothing. We played the stealth card and so did everyone else at the same time. And when we played the stealth it was the first time that we saw a boat, with Veolia just crossing our bows, that was yesterday morning. Then since then we passed them once and then they passed us again, then we passed them again just half a mile from the finish line. I really don’t know what made the difference in the end. We went to the beach and then we saw Aviva, who were very close to us, only 50 metres away.
We went with Aviva to the beach and we waited for them to tack but they did not tack, and so we tacked and from there we were reaching really, really fast maybe 18-19 knots.
Then we saw a light and thought it was a cruising boat. We were sure Veolia were way ahead. In one of the squalls they managed to drop their spinnaker and put up their masthead genoa and go straight, so we had to bear away. So they left. And when we saw a green light we thought it was a cruising boat. I looked with the binos and told Alex and we could not believe.”
“ I think it is good result for us, very very good. We were not expecting such a good result at all. We did not know the level, and for me I thought between tenth and fourteenth and we finished fifth, so, fantastic. It is a good result for me, and I hope for Spain.”
“ I feel very, very tired. But we made many, many mistakes. At the beginning, not so much now. We made a lot of mistakes and lost a lot of miles. But we are going forwards.”
“ I think we were pushing the boat very, very hard and broke a lot of things. We were good together. We tried to share everything and learn about each other. He has a lot of strong points and I have strong points and it works well. He is more like an offshore sailor, more relaxed and I am more go, go, go. It is a good mix, I am always 100%. We pushed, I don’t care, I sail it like a Volvo boat, we keep pushing and I don’t care if the boat breaks.”
“But we made mistakes, it is double handed and it is new for us.”
Alex Pella (ESP) W-Hotels:
“ The boat is OK, but we broke a lot of small things, the spinnaker. We had problems with the pilots, sometimes they worked, sometimes they did not work. But we fived them with a spare compass, and they worked, and then two days later they did not. But the boat is nice and work towards the Barcelona World Race.
Pepe is a very good sailor. He has so much experience and pushes very hard, he has experience with the Volvo boats which helped, and I learned so much from sailing with Pepe.”
“ On the one hand he is a very methodical guy, very ordered but he wants to push all the time, to push hard.”
“ At the beginning of the race we had decided to go south, but then when we saw some going west, we said ok we try to catch this option but it was too late. In fact there was a time when we tried but we were too late. We went with the wrong option.
But we are here!”
“ Foncia and Akena went further south. We had a maximum of 50 knots in the third storm and big waves.”
“ I am really, really happy. We are hear to learn the boat. This is a training for the Barcelona World Race and here we are in Costa Rica, it is incredible….in between Foncia and Veolia. It is fantastic!”
Dee Caffari (GBR) Aviva:
“ The race was long and it was hard, in three different parts, the beginning and the stormy stuff, getting sorted out and then the final in the Caribbean Sea. So it was very eventful, highs and lows. We have things to deal with and obviously a frustrating finish, but to be this close at the end of a race has been cool.
This is in a different league to my last Transat Jacques Vabre. Sailing with Brian has been great. He is cool and calm and you think: ‘ok this is fine and you get on with it.’ So the intensity I have dealt with is much greater than I am used to. It was a much more enjoyable race than the Vendée Globe, and it was nice to be in among the people who were leading. The company I am keeping now is something I never even dreamed of..
Now I want to carry on. I need to find the backing but I feel like I am growing at such a speed. This was a great race to do, you learn so much with the right person on board.”
Brian Thompson (GBR) Aviva:
“It was an interesting place to have the stealth play. Ther were light winds to the south on the more direct course, so people were deciding how far north to go, and we went a fairly direct course. It turned out there was a front which came through from Panama which gained us, we got through it early in the day and had clear skies for the rest of the day. Then when had nice sailing for the afternoon, maybe a little slower but we sailed less miles. But then we were next to W-Hotels and we thought it was Akenas, but it was W-Hotels who had been 100 miles ahead. Then we were in constant squalls one after the other and were never becalmed until right near the end. They must have had the one squall which drove them all the way in.”
“Before, it was the English, now we have the Spanish! It was hard.! It was tough but fun, a great race for first place in this second group! It was intense with many challenges. We knew this course would be more varied in terms of the different weather conditions and that really was the case. We even had our small technical pit stop, we like them with Jean-Luc. That’s why I plan to make stages races. We would like to have played with the top of the fleet. The technical stop we could have done without. We did not think it would cost us. We were optimistic but saw time slipping.
Marco went very fast and I agree they went the right way, with the good options, but they went really, really fast.
Yesterday morning it was hell. We waited for the wind from the east and north and had southerly. We saw a boat behind and managed to escape. Yesterday evening we saw it again and gybed away. In a squall we tacked and put five miles on them. And then this morning we were sitting all but still and a racing car arrived, someone so quick we thought it was a motor boat.”
“But our boat is OK, it went well but on the other hand it is not a new boat. Veolia has gaps compared with the new boats. We still go well and make results because I know this Mobylette but it is nevertheless frustrating.”
Jean-Luc Nélias, FRA (Veolia Environnement):
“We passed W-Hotels in a squall, but they negotiated them better. When we cam out from stealth, we realized we had made five miles on them, and then this morning we took another squall and got it back. From a result point of view we are not that happy. We could have battled it out with boats such as Mike Golding but the others are faster. It is nevertheless frustrating because out mainsail mast track was broken. The first reef has been very useful. But we are glad we got here. We laughed a lot with Bilou. It was a good adventure.”
Breaking the finish line at 11:41:44hrs GMT Friday 27th November (05:41:44hrs local time, Costa Rica) after sailing for 18d 22hrs 11mins 44seconds at an 10.41knots average for the theoretical course (4730 miles) since leaving Le Havre on Sunday 8th November, Spain’s Pepe Ribes and Alex Pella on W-Hotels took fifth place in the IMOCA Open 60 class in the ninth edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre two handed Transatlantic race. Ribes and Pella sailed a distance of 5790 miles at an average of 12.75kts.
W-Hotels finish 3 days 2 hours 49 minutes 34 seconds behind the winner Safran.
Breaking the finish line at 11:46:00hrs GMT Friday 27th November (05:46:00hrs local time, Costa Rica) after sailing for 18d 22hrs 16mins 00 seconds at an 10.41 knots average for the theoretical course (4730 miles) since leaving Le Havre on Sunday 8th November, France’s Roland Jourdain and Jean Luc Nélias on Veolia Environnement took sixth place in the IMOCA Open 60 class in the ninth edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre two handed Transatlantic race. Jourdain and Nélias sailed a distance of 5734miles at an average of 12.52kts.
Veolia Environnement finish 3 days 2 hours 53 minutes and 50 seconds behind the winner Safran.
Breaking the finish line at 14:50:12hrs GMT Friday 27th November (08:50:12hrs local time, Costa Rica) after sailing for 19d 1h 20m 12s seconds at an 10.34 knots average for the theoretical course (4730 miles) since leaving Le Havre on Sunday 8th November, France’s Arnaud Boissières and Vincent Riou on Akena Veranda took seventh place in the IMOCA Open 60 class in the ninth edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre two handed Transatlantic race. Boissières and Riou sailed a distance of
5823miles at an average of 12.73kts.
Akéna Vérandas finished 3days 05hours 58min 02s seconds behind the winner Safran.
Breaking the finish line at 15:17:12hrs GMT Friday 27th November (09:17:12hrs local time, Costa Rica) after sailing for 19d 1h 46m 12s seconds at an 10.33 knots average for the theoretical course (4730 miles) since leaving Le Havre on Sunday 8th November, Great Britain’s Dee Caffari and Brian Thompson on Aviva took eighth place in the IMOCA Open 60 class in the ninth edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre two handed Transatlantic race.
Caffari and Thompson sailed a distance of 5700 miles at 12,45 knots average .
Aviva finished 3d 06h 25min 02secs behind the winner Safran.
Looking surprisingly relaxed given the slow light winds which had slowed them through their final miles, Mike Golding and Javier Sanso fin ished the Transat Jacques Vabre on a perfect Caribbean morning, arriving into Costa Rica’s historic Puerto Limon – where in 1502 Christopher Columbus landed – to secure a hard won third place in race which winner Marc Guillemot had described as the toughest of his career.
Sailing upwind through the gentle, long swell in just a gentle breeze Golding and Sanso eased the IMOCA Open 60 Mike Golding Yacht Racing through the finish line in the early morning to be greeted by a large, colourful and noisy crowd. Mike Golding Yacht Racing finished at 8:59 in the morning, Costa Rica time, 14:59h GMT. Their time for the course from Le Havre is 17 days, 1 hour, 29 minutes and 38 seconds, finishing 1 day, 6 hours, 7 minutes and 28 seconds after the first placed IMOCA Open 60 monohull Safran.
The duo played their stealth card for the final stage of the race, a spoiler just in case there was any unexpected, major slow down in the final hours of the race, but in the end it was not needed as they never stopped moving through the last hours, trimming hard until the finish gun confirmed their success.
For Golding’s sixth Transat Jacques Vabre, it is the fourth time he has been in the top three, sailing three different IMOCA Open 60′s. But this was one of the toughest races, he explained on the dock. As well as two big storms which battered them through the second part of the first week, the duo struggled with a debilitating sequence of small problems which affected their ability to stay with the electric pace set by the leading pair, Safran and G roupe Bel.
But, given that their partnership was only forged a couple of weeks before the start, both were openly happy with their third placed finish.
” It is a good result for Javier and I. We were literally thrown together in the last weeks for the preparation before the race. So for both of us it is a good result. We had no training time. The boat has not sailed this summer, the shore time did a great job in the preparation in the time scale, but we just had not put the time in on the water. So you lok at Groupe Bel and Safran and you see two good boats, which are rightful first and second. They are well sailed, great teams and good boats. But we know in another world we could have done better but third for us is a good result,” commented Golding.
He added: ” In the scheme of things it was a pretty tough race, obviously we were going to be challenged from the outset. We looked at the southerly option and we came to the conclusion it was not a go-er in terms of competitiveness. The reality is it was downgraded but the reality was it was pretty horrible, but after that it was pretty fast and furious. We had some technical problems which hindered us a little bit more, but overall very pleased to be here, pleased to be third.”
They proved their tenacity, durability and experience when they weathered the second big storm, during which they had to constantly tend to the boat’s course due to limitations with their autopilot. They emerged from the storm in good shape and lay second for three days, but having lost both sets of wind indicators of f the top of their mast, they were compromised from there on in.
But, having lost his mast while leading the Vendée Globe which has then lead to a long re-fit for his IMOCA Open 60 which included updating the head of the keel, Golding has not sailed many miles with the re-fitted boat this summer.
For Sanso’s perspective he was delighted with the result especially after the storm shortly after the start and the electrical issues in the closing stages: “It was a pretty tough race and we are happy with the result. Certainly when I look back and remember being in Le Havre and looking around at the standard of the fleet, and all the rock-stars of the IMOCA Open 60 world, I am very pleased to be in here with this result. Yes, it is a little frustrating that we had our problems which held us back, our electrics, battery and engine problems, but in the end it is a good result to be proud of. It was tough in the big storm. I don’t mind telling you we were down bel ow for a time just ready for whatever was going to happen, lifejackets on, harnesses on, but the thing is it was so bad outside I don’t know what we would have done.”
Too late to play cat and mouse….. it seems like Safran – the super light, quick IMOCA Open 60 boat the sponsors like to call the ‘jet fighter’ – will have devoured Groupe Bel by the time that the Transat Jacques Vabre leader appears from under the cover of ‘Stealth Mode’ to cross the finish line off Puerto Rica this evening to take a well deserved, hard earned victory.
Both of the leading pair, Safran and Groupe Bel, pressed the stealth button in unison together to complete their final miles away from the public tracking system, but at eight this morning Marc Guillemot and Charles Caudrelier-Bénac were already champions elect, with a 90 miles lead and less than 200 miles of the gruelling 4730 miles course from Le Havre to the finish off Puerto Limon, Costa Rica.
While Bel was last seen tracking slightly north in search of some last minute bonus miles as the trade winds fold, Safran was steadily rolling down towards the finish line, on the verge of a significant triumph. Second in the last edition of the race in 2007 and an heroic third on the last Vendée Globe when Guillemot brought the wounded Safran the final 1000 miles with no keel, Safran has lead this race since Thursday 12th, before battling through the storm of Friday 13th.
Guillemot was predicting a slightly ‘sluggish’ finish in light winds, but could not see any obvious reason why their long time rivals Kito de Pavant and Francois Gabart on Groupe Bel should close that significant gap.
“We still have a few more gybes to go and the final 50 miles look like being rather sluggish, but the lead we currently have allows us to remain composed. The lead over Groupe Bel could be cut, but we’re certainly not going to give anything away now.” Guillemot told his team today, happy with the routing they have taken since leaving the English Channel 14 days ago,
“We know that we have left a smooth trail in our wake. As not everything can be done by the two of us together, on the weather it was Charles, who did most of the work picking up and analysing the data. Then, we took decisions together. We always agreed about them.”
And they have always pushed extremely hard:
“With one or two exceptions, we always sailed with the maximum amount of sail. That requires a lot of energy. It really drained our reserves to carry out these manoeuvres and there were many of them. If we do manage to win, it will certainly feel good, as we really gave it our all throughout this race.”
Built-in reliability has been one of the keys to the two leaders successes this race After being hobbled by gear problems, not least a damaged main sail mast track in the Vendee Globe, Guillemot reports that their only damage is to their big spinnaker and slight mainsail damage.
The battle for line honours, between Crepes Whaou! – the Multi50 – and Safran is in the balance. While Franck-Yves Escoffier was relishing the chance to beat the monohulls home, the three times winner of the Route du Rhum and twice winner of his class in this race, is keen to break the finish tape first.
Mike Golding’s power problems have continued and the British skipper and his Spanish co-skipper Javier Sanso have been unable to start their engine for the last 48 hours and so are running with next to no electrical power. Mike Golding Yacht Racing had acceded a few miles to fourth placed Foncia but still has over just under 200 miles in hand over the double Vendée Globe winner with 412 miles to go to the finish. Foncia has been consistently quicker, while Golding’s avowed intent recently was simply to get across the finish with his boat and the podium finish intact.
Spanish fortunes are both climbing and declining. Alex Pella and Pepe Ribes on W-Hotels are positively buoyant with their speed on the Farr design, making miles all the time on Veolia Envirinnement and Aviva. Adding more sail area, to the main and their spinnakers, is paying a regular dividend as is their hard driving style. Meantime 1876 was just emerging back into the trade winds again but has dropped to ninth
Franck-Yves Escoffier (FRA) Crepes Whaou:
“Yes we are still hoping to get in before the IMOCA’s, even if our chances are reduced a little, we are little quicker on a straight course, but at night we tend to take the foot off the accelerator. But we are always truthful that our aim, that is for sure. When it happens, whoever is first – us or the IMOCA’s – there will not be very much in it. We think we will arrive during the night (Costa Rica time) But a little mouse told us there will not be much wind when we are arriving so nothing is for sure. We have fed flying fish with Whaou Crepes, they seem to like them because they keep coming back to the boat.
When we get there I will be congratulating the Crepes Whaou designers, saying to Vincent, to Erwan, Kévin and the others, that we have been on a boat which is great. It is good and looks good, which is good because I wanted a boat which was faster and more powerful, and I think that goal has been met.”
Marc Guillemot (FRA) Safran:
“All is good on Safran. We decided to go in stealth mode. We thought about it while passing through the West Indies, then thought about it yesterday but finally we went for it today. I understand it can be frustrating for those on shore, but it adds a bit of spice. But it’s a card to be played and it would be stupid not to use it before the end. There was a difference of 90 miles and with 250 miles to go, I don’t think we needed it or it will help in any way, there no great gains to be made. I don’t think we need to worry unduly about big surprises, unless Kito and Francois expect a big surprise. For the moment we have not really looked too closely at the weather forecasts to the finish, we are happy to be just racing in and to trim the sails. We kind of saw this time coming a couple of days ago. And we don’t have to do too much to push the boat. We have not really thought about breaking the finish line. Over this race focus has been 100% on the sporting result, there have been no side adventures, since the start gun the focus has just been on getting to the finish. These boats are very demanding, they require a lot of hard work to make them go. The physical effort has been great and we are tired of all the manoeuvres. If Crepes Whaou! get in first, so be it, it won’t bother me. And it would be good for Franck-Yves and Erwan but what interests us is in getting in before Groupe Bel and the others. They are a different class and did a different course.”
Yves Parlier (FRA) 1876:
“We have finally reached the trade winds and now have a much better speed, but we have been through some areas of terrible calms for the last 24 hours. We have started to have really hot conditions; there is a lot of light but not a cloud in sight. Yesterday it was 35º inside the boat, and now it is 32 with no shade at all. We have water so there is no worry of being dehydrated. However for the connections and the screens the pilots are broken, and so right now I am at the chart table and trying to drive at the same time with the only pilot that is working still. I am lying down at the bottom of the boat, head up looking at then gennaker through one window and when I want to correct the pilot I have to move, but at least I am in the shade! Pachi has just had a short rest as he has spent a lot of time taking the pilots apart and trying to repair them.”
“We are not too surprised that we were overtaken as until just a while ago we were only making two knots. But the road is still long and we hope not to lose any more positions, and even try and win something!”
Pepe Ribes (ESP) W-Hotels:
“Things are going extremely well. It is downwind in the Caribbean Sea, spinnaker, shorts and beautiful sailing here today. We are a bit surprised by our downwind speed, the last five or six days. In the Istanbul Race we were able to keep up with some of the boat here but now we faster than them, so the changes we have made are paying off.
We have a new main, much bigger, 17 sq m, and we have changed to downwind Quantum Sails, and so little by little we are getting better.”
“We are pushing very hard, the others will be doing the same. But it is hard, 12 hours every day on deck, the secret to be fast is not to use the auto-pilot, to steer as much as possible, you have to steer.”
“I think we are OK, a long way to go. We are maybe 50 miles to leeward of Veolia and maybe 120 miles to leeward of Aviva and it is a downwind race. We are sailing fast and in a good position.”
“ We share everything. Normally Alex pulls the grib files when he is off watch, but at the moment I am doing the weather. And we are sharing everything, we share the helm and just keep changing. We have little problems with the batteries and so on, but I hope we will be able to sort it out and have no more problems.”
On a race which has a recent history of dealing close, tight finishes, the final miles of the Transat Jacques Vabre can be the most nerve racking. The finish line is all but in sight, the miles counting down with a pleasing whirr, but for Safran’s Marc Guillemot and Charles Caudrelier – who are seeking to convert the lead they have held for nine days – they still have no shortage of pressure, and it is likely to stay heaped upon them until the end.
And with less than 450 miles to go in this ninth edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre, the gap back from Safran to Kito de Pavant and François Gabart on Groupe Bel is just over 70 miles. In 2007 the Safran duo missed out, taking second just 54 minutes behind Michel Desjoyeaux and Manu Le Borgnan on the course from Le Havre to Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. In 2005 the winning margin of Jean-Pierre Dick and Loick Peyron was just 35 minutes over Roland Jourdain and Ellen MacArthur. This new coffee route course to Costa Rica may yet brew up an equally close finish.
Groupe Bel are an ever present threat, as they have been to Safran since they eased past Mike Golding Yacht Racing a week ago, Saturday night 14th, to install themselves in second place. A relatively stationary little low pressure trough has installed itself over the Gulf of Panama. That has contributed to some spicy squall activity for the two leaders today but so there is the distinct threat that the final miles in to the finish line off Costa Rica’s Puerto Limon will not be easy. This morning, in a blustery 30 knots, Safran’s co-skipper Guillemot sounded slightly slightly harassed and was certainly too busy to speak for more than a few snatched seconds.
Groupe Bel are but one gybe behind, but how much compression there will be in the variable, fluky winds which are predicted for the finish tomorrow (Tues) late afternoon or evening, no one is prepared to guess.
Safran crossed the longitude of Cartagena (Colombia) which was the finish for the Transat Jacques Vabre from 1993 to 1999, with a time of 13 days and 22 hours of sailing.
Underlining the evolution of the class ten years ago, the winner of the IMOCA Open 60 division took 19 days and 17 hours over the same course.
By comparison with the course record to Salvador de Bahia, JP Dick and Loick Peyron’s 13.51 knots in 2005 compares with the course average so far of Safran at 13.26 knots.
Safran had done 375 miles over the 24 hours to 1100hrs today.
While Mike Golding Yacht Racing and Foncia seem assured of third and fourth, the race for sixth to eighth remains the closest group of the IMOCA Open 60. While Pepe Ribes and Alex Pella now hold sixth place on W-Hotels, Dee Caffari and Brian Thompson were breaking away from eighth and the heat of battle to effect a rapid pit stop to collect a replacement generator control panel at a rendezvous off St Lucia. The British duo were just two miles short of Veolia Environnment’s seventh when they diverged north.
Golding confirmed to this morning’s radio vacs with Puerto Limon, Costa Rica that he feels sure that the leaders will squeeze up in the lighter, variable airs expected, but – he said – it would be unlikely to be enough for he and his Spanish co-skipper Javier Sanso to make any impact on the two leaders who are head by more than half of the remaining race track. Plagued by electrical problems, he is still on target for his fourth Transat Jacques Vabre podium finish in the six times he has raced in this Autumn classic.
Charles Caudrelier, (FRA) Safran:
“It has calmed a little since last night. It is calmer but no holidays. It is very demanding just now. We have so much to do, there is just one thing after another. I helm in shorts which is quite pleasant but you are soaked most of the time with water coming over the deck. We take turns doing things, I don’t mind from time to time being at the chart table.
It feels like we are getting near the end. You sleep little and make lost of moves..
Stealth mode? I don’t know if that is supposed to be funny, but for you it would not be funny now not to know who was leading now….!!”
Dee Caffari, (GBR), Aviva:
“It is all set up and we are now just trying to sail to St Lucia as fast as possible, these are great conditions to be sailing in and so we can’t complain too much and it should not cost us too much time, which is good because our competition is tough.
It was an incredible night to drive in, I kind of struggled. I kind of thought we would have lost a lot, and when we got our position reports it was one of our better nights….
It is full of surprises, but it just goes to show how hard we are all working. It is closer and closer.
We are trying to organize so it will be as swift as possible and not let us lose too much, especially in terms of our focus. We are so just trying to concentrate on boat speed all the time and the generator is just background.”
Mike Golding, (GBR) Mike Golding Yacht Racing:
“The gybes are quite interesting with a short sea, and quite a lot of wind. We are making good progress. We are still having to do quite a lot of hand steering which is quite tiring. At the one time we are massively overpowered and at the other we are hardly moving at all, so that is the only way to do it with no wind on the pilots.
We run trust watch system with no fixed timings, so we work as long as we feel we are alert and try and give the other person as much respect as possible, sometimes one guy is pretty tired then the other will know that and be feeling up for it and so give the other a bit more time lying down, and then when conditions get tough like just now then we are hand steering a lot then we maybe try and do three hour stints, but we have no precise watch system.
There will be a close up towards the end, as inevitably it will get lighter towards the finish, and that may well make for an exciting finish, certainly for the first two boats, and we might see some significant compression, right now with the conditions but with a large gap ahead of us and a similarly large gap behind us, then we are straight lining and trying not to break anything unecessarily.”
In between the simple routine of just keeping their boats at maximum speed in the right direction, and picking their way as best they can, there is a certain quiet satisfaction underpinning the efforts of the top three duos in the IMOCA Open 60 fleet as these Transat Jacques Vabre leaders set themselves up to break into the Caribbean.
That is not to say that any of them have already accepted their position now will be the same when they cross the finish line off Costa Rica’s Puerto Limon, but with the gap between leader Safran and second placed Groupe Bel grown by 20 miles to 81 miles early this morning, and the margin between Bel and Mike Golding Yacht Racing, in turn 82 miles, then each feels they have breathing space which they perhaps did not expect this morning.
Instead of the expected initial compression, in fact Marc Guillemot and Charles Caudrelier slipped away another 20 miles overnight on Safran, a gain which surprised Guillemot’s co-skipper enough to wonder this morning if their pursuers had a technical problem.
But in fact Safran has just had more a little more wind.
Satisfaction, such as it is, aboard Mike Golding Yacht Racing comes from being back in something closer to full racing shape after British skipper Golding spent much of yesterday night dealing with an electrical charging issue which firstly meant they could not start the engine, which then developed so they had a complete power failure.
But for his hard day’s night and recuperation yesterday Golding has remedied their problems and was pleased to be back in a more competitive mode early this morning.
Winds for the leaders are still very up and down, variable in direction. The leading trio have anything between seven and 12 knots this morning and winds will drop more at times as they approach the arc of West Indies islands
But the gap back to Michel Desjoyeaux and Jérémie Beyou has also opened another 20 miles to 290 miles between Mike Golding Yacht Racing and Desjoyeaux’s Foncia. Golding said his preference this morning would be to have been a little more south, but given his problems yesterday that has not been possible.
Dee Caffari and Brian Thompson creep closer to fifth all the time, this morning getting to less than 17 miles of Veolia Environnement their slightly more southerly position has been beneficial to the British Aviva duo, but both were slowed to less than ten knots this morning.
Battle continues in the middle order of the Transat Jacques Vabre
After successfully regaining sixth place yesterday and battling hard to maintain their position overnight, Dee Caffari and Brian Thompson onboard Aviva have narrowly lost out to 1876 in this morning’s polling.
The three boats currently in the middle of the fleet – 1876, Veolia Environnement and Aviva – are all positioned within 15 miles of each other and with over 2000 miles of the route to Costa Rica remaining, the battle for fifth to seventh place is set to continue.
The 10h00 race ranking positioned Dee Caffari and Brian Thompson, onboard Aviva, in seventh place, 575 miles behind race leader Safran.
“We have just spent darkness coasting along in a dying breeze under a canopy of bright stars. Flat water and warm temperatures have made it an uneventful but also a wonderful night’s sailing.
As predicted we will be fighting light airs with those around us. If we can keep working hard and keep at the front of this little group then we will reach the stronger breeze about 36 hours quicker. It is amazing getting a grib file now for weather information and realising how far we have come because we are also getting the Caribbean weather too.
To play tribute to this particularly tropical theme we also celebrated shower day onboard Aviva. So now she and her dynamic duo smell of roses as you would expect.”
Franco-Spanish duo Yves Parlier and Pachi Rivero are on good form this morning, making west at good speed in good breeze. On the quickest boat in the fleet just now, 1876 Rivero remarked that they will make their move south later today, but just 40 miles of DTF (distance to finish) separates fifth from eighth.
Mike Golding (GBR) Mike Golding Yacht Racing: “We had a problem, a big problem. As the batteries got low the engine would not start, and so the engine start batteries had not been getting trickle charge and so the engine would not start. That created an earthing problem on the engine as well, and so with no engine…no lights, nothing at all. It was pretty dodgy for a while. The switchboard 12v charger has blown, we had a spare but it has blown as well, so what I had to do was lift one of the main batteries out of the bank and use it to start the engine, so that took up most of yesterday night and the boat was a complete tip after that. So yesterday was spent getting tidied and getting the boat moving again, so so far tonight has been relatively quiet. We had no electronics, no navigation, no electronics, and it was pitch dark and so trying to see the wheel compass is hopeless. So we have ended up where we are. I am not especially pleased…we are where we are, we should be further forwards, we should be further south, but we are where we are.
I think there may still be some options and opportunities, but meantime we do need to make sure we get out of this light stuff. We probably haven’t done the job we wanted to to get out of it, we are doing 10 knots just now and probably have eight knots of breeze.”
Charles Caudrelier Bénac (FRA) Safran: “ It is going very well. We are trying in a way to understand what is going on because we expected less wind but that is not so. There must be a reason why we have gained so many miles on Groupe Bel during the night, maybe they have some technical problems?
We had a good night, between 10 and 15 knots, rolling along, and it makes good speed. We did two or three watches of three hours each and made no sail changes so it did not go too badly, and there are no clouds or squalls. But on the other hand the trade winds are broken down, and if there are no clouds during the day it will be hard because there will be no wind.
We are 1500 miles from the finish and it is just great. We can still break things if there are stronger trade winds, and there will be many manoeuvres before we get there.”
“The passage through the West Indies arc? Well it can make a big difference and we have already chosen, but we are not telling anything……”
The small advantage, such as it is, is back with Marc Guillemot and Charles Caudrelier-Bénac as the moods turn tropical and the Transat Jacques Vabre leaders plough onwards towards Costa Rica. They have a spell of lighter 5-10 knots breezes to negotiate, but on board the leading trio of IMOCA Open 60′s, with Safran now under 2000 miles to go the finish line in Puerto Limon, thoughts during the long starlit nights and pleasant temperatures, are inevitably of a seemingly assured podium place.
Leading co-skipper Marc Guillemot of Safran said as much this morning:
“From now on the race will be played out between the three of us.”, he volunteered to the early morning radio vacs in Paris. Safran has re-built some small, but hard earned miles against the pursuing duo, 38.4 miles on sister-ship Groupe Bel while Mike Golding and Javier Sanso has successfully regained 20 miles since last night, and were 98 miles behind Safran and were 58 miles shy of second placed De Pavant and Gabart.
Aboard the leading boats there is the knowledge that every mile lost or gained may prove vital, but at the same time Guillemot emphasized how he and co-skipper Caudrelier Bérnac are trying to make sure they are mentally and physically rested as much as possible for the final push through the Caribbean. Forecasts for the final stage of the race show nothing by way of major meteorological potholes on the route in.
From Golding to fourth placed Michel Desjoyeaux on Foncia there are now 300 miles, the best part of 20 hours behind, while Foncia has really underlined their speed and tactical strength moving 89 miles clear of Roland Jourdain and Jean Luc-Nelias on Veolia Environnement.
The changeable conditions have tested 1876′s duo Yves Parlier and Pachi Rivero, as their variable speeds over the last 24 hours show, but their overall averages remain competitive and they hang on to sixth place.
The battle rages between Dee Caffari and Brian Thompson’s Aviva and their Spanish rivals on W-Hotels. The British pair have actually eked out another twelve miles, more than doubling their lead since yesterday night, which will give the two Vendée Globe skippers some satisfaction.
Meanwhile the stricken IMOCA Open 60 BT was on the verge of making it into the safe haven of Victoria in the Azores but a very difficult passage into the harbour there, in big seas and winds, still stands between the salvage team and the completion of a very long and difficult mission with the very waterlogged Open 60.
Marc Guillemot (FRA) Safran: “It is pleasant, we can spend more time outside on the deck and things are less frenetic, we go a bit more slowly. This enables us to get some fresh air, and work on the deck. All is well on the boat and nothing slows us, we are all under control. The ink is far from dry on this race yet, but my view is that tomorrow it will be all but done. We cover our opponents carefully, Groupe Bel and Mike Golding. If there are no breakages the race will be between the three of us, the others are too far back. But meantime the conditions allow us to tackle the second stage more rested.”