Juanpa Cadario: Route du Rhum, Groupama 3 lidera la flota

Route du Rhum, Groupama 3 lidera la flota

Foto copyright Yvan Zedda

Fuente info RDR

King of the motorway

In the clash of the giants that is the Ultime class of the 2010 Route du Rhum-La Banque Postale, Franck Cammas is looking increasingly likely to be crowned king, as Groupama 3 profits from another day of unchecked high speed miles down the trade winds motorway towards Guadeloupe

The big green tri devoured nearly 490 miles of Atlantic in the 24 hours to 1500hrs (CET) today. Groupama 3's lead is now up to the best part of 350 miles with just over 1770 miles to go, well ahead of a worthy three cornered fight as support billing, Sodebo, Gitana XI and Idec all within 30 miles variation of each other powering towards the finish at very similar speeds.

Groupama 3's 24 hour averages continue to be in excess of 20 knots, leaving Yann Guichard, solo skipper of the route record holding Gitana XI, in third to admit today that he is resigned to the battle for the remaining podium places.

Meantime after his rescue from his badly damaged Air Oman Majan yesterday evening, Sidney Gavignet is now on board the Turkish bulk tanker Kavo Alexander heading for either Gibraltar or Malta. He is expected to disembark either in Gibraltar, Saturday or Malta. Tuesday, depending on the ship's refuelling itinerary. Oman Air Majan's shore team are heading for the Azores to evaluate a salvage mission.

In the IMOCA Open 60 class it is a buoyant Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnement), the Farr designed former BT and Armel Le Cléac'h on Brit Air, a Finot Conq design, both of three years vintage which currently top a fleet which contains no fewer than three new designs launched already this year.

Their passage around the north side of the dominant high pressure system is set to be followed by a very active front, which will give strong but unsettled winds which will push them harder after a long spell slogging upwind around the high.

Their reward, after the front, should be a brisk northerly airstream to turbo boost them downwind towards the West Indies. But Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia), admitted today that his southerly routing around the high had been too costly against the majority group in the north, echoing a sentiment expressed during last year's Transat Jacques Vabre when he lost out on a similar strategy. But Desjoyeaux, as his opponents know all too well, is the sailor most capable of delivering against the weather odds.

The same routing dilemma is now playing out progressively in the Class 40 fleet where Thomas Ruyant (Destination Dunkerque) has leveraged his margin to 17 miles now over second placed solo-skipper designer Sam Manuard (Vecteur Plus) and Germany's Jorg Riecher on Mare.de in third admitting today that he is thriving on the close racing.

Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat), double round the world race winner and one of the favourites to win, suffered another ocean racing disappointment today when he confirmed that he expects to have to make a repair pitstop in the Azores, just under 500 miles to the SW, after a failure in his steering system. He can only sail relatively slowly downwind with the helm jammed and sails balanced. The popular Swiss skipper is trying to make a temporary fix.

Inspired perhaps by the massive send off last Sunday and the engaging action which has prevailed, nearly 200,00 players are now engaged in the Route du Rhum-La Banque Postale virtual game. And since the race was launched more than 237,000 unique visitors have logged on to the official race website, and more than 50,000 users have downloaded the official iPhone application.


Yann Guichard (Gitana XI): “ It's going OK. It is a bit of a fight just now. I am a bit stuck just now under the stormy clouds. I have had nothing. It's a bit like that here, these little stormy clouds come from the south, but you can't spot them coming. I am still under one and I kind of hope Francis has had the same, but looking at the rankings I don't thin that's the case. The pilot goes down a bit, so I have to steer from time to time. I have not seen Francis, maybe he is in furtive mode?
We have a port tack to make with Francis. Groupama 3 is always quicker and so something would need to happen for us to pass. The battle for us will be with Thomas and Francis. But I will just do my best and we'll see at the finish. But we wont converge just now with Thomas.”

Francis Joyon (Idec): “The wind is swinging, there are some squalls, but that's what you get rounding the flank of the anticyclone. They are big black clouds, and when you get under them you slow to three knots. And of course in the dark of night you don't see them at all. And even in the day there are some you can't avoid. I slept a little last night and that re-charged the batteries. Next it would be cool to see the fleet regroup for a final skirmish to the finish!”

Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnement): “In spite of a small mistake not long after the start I am on top which is great. I'd stay here. So far I have succeeded in one goal. So that is good, it's a small thing ticked off. Life on board is difficult. Veolia 1 was not comfortable, but at least I knew where to hang on to. Here (Veolia 2) I fall flat on my face by the chart table. It's a bit sadomasochistic! From the outside it looks great, but inside you could not say the same, you cannot sleep because it slams so much, and when you want to do something outside you almost need to stop the boat! But that's the way it is!
We have between 12 and 15 knots of wind, working into a seaway, not very big but choppy and so it is slamming. But it could be worse! And we are slowly getting to the depression.”

Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia): “This is not a good place to be. I lost a lot of time going around the high pressure, more than I thought, and now in front it does not want to open up. It is complicated. For those up on the north it will happen, that is now for sure.”

Franck-Yves Escoffier (Crêpes-Whaou!) “ It is nice and I have been making some great surfing. I like it sailing alone, but sometimes help would be nice. It is good with two also.
I pace myself well, I make sure I rest. The first couple of days were pretty full on, but now I am recharged. But really you don't rest much. It is certainly going well, but I will take every mile I can get. I guess I am pleased to be sixth overall on the water, but I am not going to get too excited about that. For me it is important that there are classes and each winner is recognized, not simply who wins overall, the big names.
The downwind stuff will last until two days before we finish, but for the final bit we don't really know yet.”

Jorg Riechers (Mare.de): “It is going great. There are no problems with the boat. I have 15 to 20 knots on the wind. And with the boats close around me it is great sport!”

Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat): “The only way I can go is to make the helm fast and balance the sails. I can't go upwind or close hauled. So that explains my course.” “I have begun to try and do something, but it won't let me keep pace. I hope to keep the wind to make it to the Azores without using the engine. It's a shame because I had been going well and it was an interesting race.”

Pete Goss (DMS): “ Make no mistake the race could be unfolding as I type this for the split in the fleet is starting to pan out. Yesterday afternoon I gave it all in an effort to tickle under the high without being trapped – a poacher would have been proud of me and it was a great relief to see the wind veer and fill in.
The second half of the night was a bit easier as I had got to know the boat better on this point of sail and my confidence in the pilot grows. The wind also eased slightly so I managed to get about three hours sleep in with a look on deck every half hour. Just before dawn I put a gybe in and it went like clockwork – another little milestone in our relationship. She's a lovely boat.
With the gybe behind me and dawn lighting the sky I had a quiet hot chocolate and moment of reflection for a very good friend who has just lost his father. Always a tough time and my heart goes out to him and his family. Feeling better all round I gave the galley a good clean and had a hearty bag of porridge with raisins. The first flying fish popped up to say hello and it struck me that the pace of the last four days has been pretty brutal and I am glad to have come through the better for it. I haven't taken my Musto wet weather gear off since the start but I can sense the temperature rising and look forward to my first shower on deck.”

Andrea Mura (Vento di Sardegna): “The sea-sickness is gone and the seas themselves are better so that is a double problem gone, seas-sickness and not being able to eat. It's a vicious circle.” “ There are lots of boats, and so it is difficult to control all of the fleet, so I prefer to finish when I know I the one who has made the best course and strategy. I've got 16 knots of wind from the east, I am under gennaker, it's great.”