Foto copyright Chris Lewis / Virbac-Paprec Sailing Team
Fuente info RDR
Two Rhum Doubles in the Cocktail Shaker
It is potent cocktail which is on the menu for the weekend in Point-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, what is just not sure is who or when the leading Multi 50 and IMOCA Open 60's will reach the finish line of this enthralling ninth edition of the Route du Rhum-La Banque Postale. But, were both of tonight's class leaders hold their leads to the finish, then it would mark a wonderful double as 2006 winners Roland Jourdain and Lionel Lemonchois lead their respective fleets.
Roland Jourdain is on course to retain the IMOCA Class and now Lemonchois (Prince de Bretagne) – overall race winner in 2006 and race record holder – today completed his own remarkable comeback to take the lead in the Multi 50 class, and was 30 miles ahead of Lalou Roucayrol (Région Aquitaine – Port Médoc) this evening.
Lemonchois has made good a 400+ miles deficit, caused by a broken main halyard lashing. He was initially heading to Spain before a three hour struggle at the top of the mast fixed the problem.
The first measure of the Rhum double poured could be by Jourdain:
With a clear lead, and by all logical accounts, the favourite to retain the 60 foot monohull class which he won in 2006 is Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnement) who has been on top of the IMOCA Open 60 fleet for eight days, since he lead the fleet into the fresher pressure on the north side of the Azores. As he saw his mileage to the finish drop below 200 miles today Bilou has moved to nearly 75 miles clear of Armel Le Cléac'h (Brit Air) while Marc Guillemot (Safran) has established himself as a firm challenger for Le Cléac'h's second gaining more than 70 miles, on Brit Air. Guillemot has continued his move to the NW and seemed confident when he spoke today, that there will be breeze to get him down from this right flank of the course, down to the finish.
The game is certainly on among the skippers for the final skirmish, even if much of their final passage seems still to be blocked by very light winds, but what was very noticeable today was how the main adversaries promised they were moving well, with ‘more winds than is shown on the files' being the phrase of choice, that each seemed to use in turn.
The exception was Guillemot who remained a little more tight lipped and conservative about what he had for breeze and what he expected. Fact, or gamesmanship?
The tracking does not lie often. Jean Pierre Dick – also out in the NW - is fighting something of rearguard action with electrical problems, a battery system which seems to fail and leave the boat in darkness or turmoil, but the Barcelona Race winner pledges to be in the fight to the end.
Two hundred miles would normally be devoured by lunch time in the flight of a trade winds propelled IMOCA Open 60, but no one will put their money on when the first 60 will get to Point-à-Pitre, least of all Jourdain who has seen a lead shrink to barely enough in 2006.
Meantime in the Class 40 fleet leader Thomas Ruyant (Destination Dunkerque) admitted his spirits had taken a dive yesterday when his margin was trimmed savagely by Yvan Noblet on Appart' City, but the rubber band ran out again for Ruyant and tonight he is
92 miles ahead, with Nicolas Troussel (Credit Mutuel de Bretagne) third only four miles further behind in terms of Distance to Finish, but tracking 400 miles south of Ruyant.
Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnement): “I have gone up another few storeys now but there are still a few to go. Looking at Brit Air I think I took a good option, and my position is good. The difference between us now is nice. And then if I look to those in the north west I can't really see a lot that they can do. Yesterday we got to a small front and so I tacked. It was a bit painful because I had hoped that after the front I would find some wind and be reaching, but in fact there was light winds and a calm. Armel was on the same side as me of that little system but I think I had a better position, and now we are in two different systems. We are more in headwinds but I am confident because if I look at the routing it shows the other guys behind, but what credit can we give to the routing.” “There are always doubts. There are calms, the wind is fickle. But the differences in miles are very quickly reduced if you hit calm. In theory I can make it with a bit of margin, and then we have the tour of Guadeloupe at the finish, beautiful! It is some finale. All the finishes are long and drawn out, with these kind of fickle breezes, which makes it heavy. I have lost enough hair, and have enough white hair to know its not worth getting stressed about. You must not waste your energy worrying. I have more wind that the files tell me I should have, but it would be good to stay like this to the end.” I go on deck to have a look and check the sky and the horizon to check that the boat is trimmed well. When you are quicker and more eased then you do need to work harder on trimming and the course, rather than when you are upwind.
At the moment I move between cockpit and the nav area, knowing that in the day, the temperatures don't help to stay at the nav station for long.
Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec 3): “The night was long and extremely complex. The electrical problems just knock the boat flat on the water. I spend a lot of time putting the boat back on its feet, and sailing. The road is still long and the final hand of cards have not been dealt yet. What I don't really know is where Bilou is. There is big ridge between them and us. We more reaching than they are, they are on the wind. I am managing my electrical problems OK, but the batteries have taken water again. We understand the electrical systems less and less and can have blackouts at any moment. I try to pay attention. I dry them out and then switch them on according to the protocols and everything happens. We are still in this race. And the computer nav system is part of the game and if you are not managing it properly then you have problems. Everything is still possible but I will take a view. I can still lose places. PRB is not far away. And that is always a worry, so I could end up in fifth place. We are not supermen. This morning I think I slept a bit after last night's manoeuvres. It is never really to be to far at the extremes. So this morning I could sleep to be ready for the war of the finish.".
Servane Escoffier (Saint Malo 2015): “It was funny with Gilles, we saw each other in the morning and we almost spent the day together. It was nice, quite unusual. We talked on the VHF which was cool. At the beginning I did not think at the beginning of the race about going head to head with other skippers, but it is a human thing isn't it, so it is cool when you are close, and you oush harder. At the moment it just pushes you a bit, and it is pure happiness, sliding along quite nicely. Overnight was quite demanding, but fun. Physically it is tough on me and the boat, but I have a strong mind set, but this Transat is going well. Physically the boat is quite a handful so I would like it to last not too much longer. I am catching myself talking to the boat and thought I was going a bit mad. At first we were a bit stand-offis with each other, but now we are good friends.”
Lalou Roucayrol (Région Aquitaine – Port Médoc): “A bit of work today. last night I heard a loud noise, but I couldn't see as it was pitch dark. I'm trying to manage the water leaking. all ok, we should be reaching and going fast and... We will be finishing under the rain, the world is upside down but what can I do? It's not fun to position the boat as I have no automatic positioning system. With Eric Mas we focus on strategy. It's handicapping nor being able to plan a clear strategy compared to the other boats.
Thomas Ruyant (Destination Dunkerque): “It has been a bit wet and not so easy to find the best way. What I have just now is not so nice, I am trying to gain a bit in the west because I think that will offer the best way. What weather we have has really killed the trade winds. I am not confident in the southerly option even through I keep an eye on Nico Troussel. I am happy with the position I have even though I would like to avoid the headwinds and wet weather, to arrive in Guadeloupe.
I was a bit down yesterday, with the morale down because I had no wind and those closer to me had gained but now I have opened out a few miles again and I feel better. We don't have the choice of how we feel. My relationship with the boat gets better mile after mile, and I am completely at one with the boat. I really have had a lot of nice sailing before the racing season and that really does help know the boat very well. I am resting well but also being there to give the boat what she wants when she wants it..
I think the secret is to sail miles on the boat before the race, to spend time and sleep on her. Then, knowing that you have good sails, that you have made good choices, all that is good for the head.”
Nicolas Troussel (Crédit Mutuel Bretagne): “I am not in trade winds any more. I am reaching in 25 knots. The end of the course will be complicated. But for the moment you don't want to stray too far from the course, because nothing is sure. We will make miles on this direct course and try and catch this little front which is ahead and then it is time to make options. Within two days we are going to know where the shift will come from. We get ready for that. Conditions are stil good even though we have a lot of water coming on board, at least the water is warm. We will see how things pan out, but meantime we want to do a nice course. We have a 1000 miles left, though my usual benchmark is 5-600 miles which is like what we have in the Figaro class on a typical leg, so then you know better where your limits are and how to manage them.”
Louis Burton (BG Yachting/BM): “It's all right, I had some problems with the boat some days ago, I keep sailing at my best but the south westerly is approaching and I must be careful. Actually I realized there was a change, I'm not so badly positioned in the fleet and the performance is all right. I have to keep an eye on the boat, not that I'm cruising but I'm taking things a bit more carefully... The bowsprit seems to last. I used the big spinnaker for 2 or 3 hours and, all of a sudden, it split in two! There is nothing I can do with it... We're sailing upwind and that's why I'm cautious about all the possible weak points onboard, but it looks pretty ok. I try to find the right spot to go, it could mean going more south but I'm afraid of going also to a windless area. I'll try to go west then, and cross the low pressure more south.”