Final gybe for Peyron

As there is disaster for Conrad Humphreys in the Route du Rhum

Saturday November 8th 2014, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Firstly the bad news: at 17:30 UTC yesterday British competitor and former Vendee Globe skipper Conrad Humphreys, racing the Class 40 Cat Phones, contacted the race committee of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe to report that his boat had dismasted.

At the time of the incident Cat Phones was 380nm east of the Azores sailing in 17 knots of wind under A3 and full main. Humphreys is safe inside the boat and he is monitoring the situation. The Race Committee contacted the CROSS (France’s Maritime Rescue Coordination Center) who are in contact with the British skipper to try to get him to the coast as soon as possible. Humphreys lost the entire rig over the side and so is now motoring east having picked up an extra 200lt of fuel from a ship. 

Meanwhile, incredibly, less than six days into the race, Loick Peyron and Maxi Solo Banque Populaire VII are at the latest sched less than 900 miles from the Guadeloupe finish line. With an ETA of Monday night, Peyron looks to be in the running to break Lionel Lemonchois' course record of 7 days, 17 hours.

Images courtesy of Expedition and Predictwind

Having been on a long leg up to the WNW, Peyron finally gybed at around 18:30 UTC yesterday just short of the layline to Pointe a Pitre. 124 miles behind him at the time, Yann Guichard on Spindrift 2 followed suit at around 22:30 on a track just to the south of the race leader.

Behind them, the marginally more manoeuvrable boats have instead have been heading more dead downwind to keep them in the strongest of the ENEerly breeze, although since around 0300 UTC this morning all are now on starboard, leaders of this second wave, Lionel Lemonchois on Prince de Bretagne and Seb Josse on Edmond de Rothschild's track some 170 miles further south than the leaders took.

Some 360 miles SSW of the main Azores islands, the lead IMOCA 60s and Multi50s are now in the same patch of ocean. Since the area of high pressure to their south has now all but disappeared, all have been taking the opportunity to get south away from the centre of the high (currently due north of them) and into stronger winds.

The race between the two IMOcA 60 front runners remains close with just 29 miles separating Francois Gabart on MACIF from Jeremie Beyou on MACIF's sistership Maitre Coq. Both gybed south at around 23:30 UTC last night, but are sailing relatively slowly, only making around 8 knots, while the boats behind, which dived south earlier are currently making 13-16. So we can expect to see some compression in this class over the course of today.

The closest battle though is between the two lead Multi 50s, with Erwan le Roux on Fenetrea-Cardinal just 12 miles ahead of second placed Lalou Roucayrol on Arkema Region Aquitaine at the 08:48 UTC sched, partly through having gybed back on to the northwest. Behind them, race favourite Yves le Blevec on Actual is also closing rapidly following his pitstop in Cascais. 330 miles behind the leader yesterday morning, he has reduced this to 211 at the latest sched.

The lead pack of Class40s is just approaching the latitude of Madeira this morning. The odd patches of high pressure around the race course seem to have hampered yesterday's race leaders Thibault Vauchel-camus on the new Mach 40 Solidaires En Peleton, while despite putting in a gybe to the south yesterday mid-afternoon for six hours, Kito de Pavant on Otio-Bastide Medical has performed exceeeding well and at the latest sched holds a 35 mile lead over Yannick Bestaven on the latest Guillaume Verdier designed Tizh40, Le Conservateur.

Solidaires En Peleton remains the furthest south of the Class40s (currently 180 miles west of Madeira) and at the 0948 sched was by far the fastest of the front runners having averaged 12.7 knots over the last four hours (more than a knot quicker than everyone else..)

Britain's Miranda Merron on Campagne de France continues to do an admiral job and has moved up to being firmly in eighth place (ie 45 miles ahead of ninth) and is currently engaged in a match race with Fabrice Amedeo on SNCF Geodis-Newrest.

Miranda reports: "Saturday already? Since yesterday morning, we've been sailing under a layer of gray clouds in winds of very variable strength and direction, with occasional rain showers. I hoisted the big spinnaker yesterday, just in time for a 'speed test' with Fabrice Amedeo. But we separated shortly after nightfall. There are a few hours when the wind increased to 24 knots, which is a lot for the big spinnaker... This is normally the limit where you have to watch out even when sailing doublehanded! And I need to remember that I am alone on board and I have to trim my own sail! I dropped the big kite without incident and replaced it with the medium spinnaker. This naturally had the effect of causing the wind to drop. Atmospheric pressure tells me that we are approaching the trade winds ... we must be in the right place!"

Just behind the lead Class40s Sir Robin Knox-Johnson on his Open 60 Grey Power continues to do well holding seventh place in the Rhum class, taking the most southeasterly route in this class. A great effort from the 75 year old living legend. 


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