Past the Kerguelens

But Stamm and le Cam are only making 6 knots in the Barcelona World Race

Saturday January 31st 2015, Author: Helen Fretter, Location: none selected

Cheminées Poujoulat has passed the Kerguelen Islands as Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam continue to lead the Southern Ocean charge in the Barcelona World Race. They were just over 300 miles north of the largest island of Kerguelen at 1400hrs this afternoon.

Despite being in the very centre of the Indian Ocean at nearly 44°S, Cheminées Poujoulat was sailing at just 6-7 knots as the lead boat entered a zone of high pressure which will see the southwesterly winds they have been reaching in head and fade, becoming more easterly and unstable.

Second placed Neutrogena, meanwhile, remains in stronger southwesterlies and has averaged over 16 knots over the course of this morning. Guillermo Altadill and Jose Munoz are currently around 185 miles to the northwest of Cheminées Poujoulat, and set to pass the Kerguelen islands some 18 hours behind.

However, the situation may complicate for the leading pairs over the next three or four days, with a tropical cyclonic system (formerly Diamondra) still potentially tracking across their course, with 50-55 knot winds.

Guillermo explained this morning:“We have some wind and some waves as well, so a bit of fast sailing, it’s very good.  When we thought about this Barcelona World Race our target was – and it still is now –to finish the race without stopping. That was the main goal for us. And the position is something we will see later on. When we’ve passed the Indian Ocean and the Pacific, and we turn left at Cape Horn, then we’ll start worrying about the result.

“But now we are more concentrating on keeping the boat fast, and in one piece, that’s the main thing. And to finish the race. Whatever happens later in the result is one thing we’ll worry about later on, but for now we are more concentrating on going fast and staying safe.

“We’re looking all the time at what happens in the next three days, because it’s going to be quite complicated. There’s a low pressure and a tropical cyclone which is going to star t to give us gusts, or the track will go to the east, and it’s going to be in front of us so we have to negotiate this low pressure in the right way because it’s going to be quite extreme conditions close to the centre. So the more important thing in the next few days is to navigate this high pressure and tropical cyclone.

“Everything is perfect [on board]. We are in a watch system on the boat, we are in a good routine here. Sail changes are good together, we chat about the strategy and how we have to sail the boat in the next few hours at each watch, so yes, communication is good. It’s perfect.

“More or less after this month, we understand how to communicate and how to work together so our manoeuvres are going good and really quick. And the boat is in good shape as well.”

Unseasonal sunshine

A second high pressure system also continues to make its impact felt for third-placed GAES Centros Auditivos, which is back up to 8-9 knots but has shed a further 75 miles to the leaders in the past 24 hours.

Anna Corbella and Gerard Marin’s losses are Jorg Riechers and Sebastien Audigane’s gains. Renault Captur has benefitted from around 1,000 miles of straight line fast sailing the past few days, and is now around 300 miles behind GAES Centros Auditivos, compared to over 500 miles at this point last week.

This is Riechers’s first race in the ‘Deep South’, and the Indian Ocean is so far giving him a fairly gentle introduction. However, this may be something of a false sense of security from the Southern Oceans, and Renault Captur will also begin to feel the effects of the imminent high pressure system shortly, and can expect boat speeds to slow in the next 24 hours.

Riechers commented: "It’s a little bit more grey than yesterday. Yesterday was bright sunshine and was warm, today is a little bit more grey. But we’ve got 17 knots of windspeed, 10 degrees of temperature, no waves, calm, it’s really pleasant!

[Is the South what you expected?] “At the moment, not really. Because everyone says it’s cold, it’s miserable, it’s big waves. And we had that at the beginning, I think it was five days ago, we had it a little bit like that, 5m waves and it was windy and a little bit cold. But after then it was more like sunny, it was warm, it was not like you expect the Indian Ocean to be. So I expect there will still come some tough moments, with big windspeeds, high waves, and all the subjects you’d expect in the Southern Ocean.

[What are your options to catch GAES?] “Going fast! Going as fast as possible, getting as many miles out of them as possible. To possibly overtake them one day, hopefully… maybe!

“At the moment we are gaining some miles on them, I think they are more stuck in the high pressure system than us, so this is a good time for us to get back the deficit and to reduce the gap between us and them.

“And afterwards we will see, I think afterwards it will be a really good boat race, with boat speed and boat handling and then the crew who pushes harder will come out on top, to my eyes. We’ve had nearly every problem you can have in the first two weeks so we’ve done that, and now we are – since one week – everything is pretty calm, so no big repairs, everything is working. No big f**k ups! So everything is pretty cool, and all the repairs we have done are holding up really nicely. So everything is good on the boat.”

Ram repairs

Spirit of Hungary in seventh suffered another set back when what initially appeared to be a small leak damaged the circuit boards which control the keel ram. Nandor Fa and Conrad Colman have been able to rewire the circuit to create a solution, and avoid a Cape Town pit-stop.

Colman reported: “No sooner had we rejoiced after finding a solution to our munched mast then the small leak I mentioned in a previous entry has made a mess with our electronics.

“Turns out water was able to get in through an electrical conduit and dribble onto the circuit boards that control the keel mechanism. On this type of racer, we have a huge hydraulic ram that pushes the four tonnes of keel fin and bulb through and arc of 80 degrees to make the boat more stable against the force of the wind. This ram is run by a powerful electric motor that is able to swing the keel from on side to the other, when tacking for example, in only a few seconds.

“With the expensive smells and a pall of smoke emanating from the control box we had to find another solution! I suggested rewiring the circuit to regain manual control over the electrical pump and with instructions from our technician back in Hungary (Koszi Peter) we again set to stripping wires with pocket knives and invented a new solution. Now, with one hand turning screw valves and one on the master switch for the hydraulic pump we should be able to drop the keel to the central position and pump it up to the other side when we need to tack or gybe.

“Far from becoming despondent about our floating workshop I feel emboldened and invigorated by our dail y capacity to turn curve balls into home runs.

“Almost forgotten in the midst of the our ‘oil up to the elbows’ moment is the fact that both Nandor and myself have set a new personal record for miles travelled in 24 hours. With Sam Goodchild I previously set this at 360 Nm not far from here in the Global Ocean Race and just now we ran off 374 miles. Considering that this time was spent working on the boat rather than pushing it attentively, we feel confident we will again better this before the race is over.”

Spirit of Hungary was this afternoon sailing at just over 16 knots, matching the average pace of the current fastest boat Neutrogena, some 2,700 miles ahead.

Positions at 1400 UTC

1. Cheminées Poujoulat (B. Stamm - J. Le Cam) at 15,469.6 miles to the finish
2. Neutrogena (G. Altadill - J. Muñoz) + 190.1 miles to the leader
3. GAES Centros Auditivos (A. Corbella - G. Marín) + 962.9 miles to the leader
4. Renault Captur (J. Riechers - S. Audigane) + 1,283.6 miles to the leader
5. We Are Water (B. Garcia - W. Garcia) + 1,900.2 miles to the leader
6. One Planet, One Ocean & Pharmaton (A. Gelabert - D. Costa) + 2,401.1 miles to the leader
7. Spirit of Hungary (N. Fa - C. Colman) + 2,901.5 miles to the leader
ABD Hugo Boss (A. Thomson - P. Ribes)

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