Fuente info RDR
Who's that coming round the corner…..is it a monster?
First of the Ultime giant multi's due in Point-à-Pitre tomorrow
The ultimate honours in the historic clash of the monster multis, the no-holds-barred Ultime class which has set an electric pace for this historic 2010 Route du Rhum-La Banque Postale, will go down to the final 400 miles with a subtle, tactical showdown in light breezes.
The first of the giants is expected to finish this ninth edition off Point-à-Pitre, in Guadeloupe Monday evening (French time, early afternoon local), but even with a lead of 193 miles and 475 miles to go (16hCET Sunday), Franck Cammas on Groupama 3, was seeking to bolster his defences as much as possible in the light conditions which had already seen the leader slow to 10 knots Sunday afternoon.
“ My position is good but I do have a no wind zone in front of me. There will be a few. Then I have to manage this big boat with all these transitions we will have during tonight and tomorrow morning. But the wind will be steady. It is diffcult to try to control simply becauase if you stop then the other can be catching at up to 20 knots, and the distance to me drops qiickly. But I am ready for everything.”
But Coville reaffirmed today that he is not prepared to give up hope. Through today's radio vacation he paid tribute to the race strategy that Cammas and his routers Jean Luc Nélias and Charles Caudrelier have unfolded, but he warned the final miles will bring out the warrior in him.
The chances of beating Lionel Lemonchois' outstanding 2006 race course record of 7 days, 17 hours and 19 minutes, look very unlikely.
In the IMOCA Class Roland Jourdain's lead on Veolia Environnement remains solid for the moment as the fleet deal with fast reaching conditions, gusty winds over 30 knots through late Saturday and into the night and awkward seas, but they need to reposition themselves for the light winds and calms extending north east from the islands which will prevail in their route in the future. Already questions were being asked today if Armel Le Cléac'h might have given up some of his northing to try and get south of the high as it develops, but Le Cléac'h (Brit Air) was back up to third this afternoon and moving fastest of the fleet.
For the 41 solo skippers left racing in the Class 40 fleet, the shape of the front of the fleet has been stable for some time, with Thomas Ruyant (Destination Dunkerque) settled as the class race leader, today on the 16hrs (CET) with a lead of 67 miles, gaining another seven miles in second placed Sam Manuard (Vecteur Plus), but as a high pressure system starts to form in the north, threatening some of the main body of the northern contingent, the balance is in some way being redressed finally for those skipper in the south.
The best of the sud-ists has been Nicloas Troussel (CMB) and now into well formed trade winds, with a fast course ahead of him, maybe now is when he can will start to regain some of the 196 miles deficit he has on the fleet leader.
Against the dominant Ruyant he may not have pulled back miles with his southerly position, but that can only be a matters making a good knot VMG faster than most of the fleet during Sunday afternoon.
Already Troussel has rocketed from 19th to 10th over the course of today.
Ruyant should just have the speed and position to outrun the high as it develops, but it is not looking so good for those who have been in his wake for days on this high road.
Certainly this will be a fascinating race to watch over coming days with the Ultime giants set to finish over the next 24-36 hours.
Conditions have been pretty muscular, gusty with big, uncompromising seas at awkward angles. Sail damage has been reported, particularly by Route du Chocolat winner Tanguy de Lamotte on n Novedia-Initiatives (mainsail) and Thierry Bouchard on Comiris-Pole Elior Health), Conrad Colman on 40 Degrees has torn his big gennaker, Eric Defert on Terralia Drekan-Group has been frantically dealing with a pilot repair, the jobs lists lengthen.
In particular Yann Noblet (Appart City) has bailed to the south to escape the high pressure cell developing, but the weather models for the second part of the Class 40 race are certainly complex, and no lead looks safe.
London based Marco Nannini has spent his Sunday on Uni Credit in 10th and eleventh place, playing down his success to date in his amusing daily blog, considering that despite his Italian genes he has the propensity to make it as the British underdog.
And Pete Goss, some 100 miles in the wake of Troussel down to the south of the Azores, is sailing steadily on DMS and should, like the double winner of the Solitaire du Figaro, start to see some return now in his southerly investment.
Franck Cammas (Groupama 3)
“It has been going well. I dont seem to have stopped gybing. We are going to get a position in the west and see what happens, because the wind is very weak.
To gybe it takes 12 minutes because it takes a long time to get the gennaker round. It goes a long way out and it takes a long time to get it sheeted back in.
You have to find the right technique and timing, but it just takes a bit of time. The final 24 hours look to be the most complicated of the race. The winds are changing, with rain showers and no wind.I will have to use most of the sails. And the coast is not far away so it will be tricky and demanding.
I have been trying to re-charge myself, my own ‘batteries'. I am not too stressed for the finish. I would rather have finished in the normal conditions, the usual weather, even if two of the islands will be easier.
I am watching Thomas because he has the same course as me, but it is not worth wondering too much, and asking too many questions. I will concentrate on our course. My position is good but I do have a no wind zone in front of me. There will be a few. Then I have to manage this big boat with all these transitions we will have during tonight and tomorrow morning. But the wind will be steady. It is diffcult to try to control simply becauase if you stop then the other can be catching at up to 20 knots, and the distance to me drops qiickly.
But I am ready for everything. I am going to have to put up the smaller sails for the windier stuff and could see 30 knots, but I am also worried about the light stuff and stopping.
That is why the passage of the tropical low is very hard to deal with.
It will be good to be stopped though, I am looking forward to resting. My arms have almost doubled in size. I am eating well. I just am a bit sleep deprived. I have not used my legs a lot. But I had to change a sail so I used the bike.
I have been feeling nice and calm, at one with the boat. With these kind of conditions I could have capsized on the 60 footer, but I have been able to keep the sails up.
I could keep high average speeds. I had a lot of things to do with this complicated weather, working well with the weather routers. When you are at the front of the fleet, there is never any time to rest. You just keep sailing like it is the first day of the race right to the finish, and if I finish well that will be good. But just now I try not to change my habits.
The Route du Rhum-La Banque Postale and the Figaro are very different races. It was a very nice surprise to be able to manage this big boat so well. I made the manouevres I wanted and sailed the course we wanted. Once you have sailed a lot on the boat you get to know it really well, and you build up the good timing and the best way of sailing it and organising.
But when you need to sheet in, to power up it takes more time than if I was a big guy.
I have not won already. It is good experience for Groupama 3, after the Jules Verne this has been the right race for this boat. I was in the game all the time, and this will be a great memory, even though the next bit is complicated.
The weather routers do a special job, considering they are not on board. The decisions we made at the beginning, the north or the south, they looked the same at the beginning with the routing. But in our case the choice was influenced by our boat trying to keep it simple and easy for the boat.
Charles (Caudrelier) and Jean Luc (Nélias) are both navigators and they know very well this kind of game and the decisions. Even though you lose time for the manouevres, sometimes there was some negotiation, but we speak the same language. And they understand the situation very well. The first 24 hours we managed very well. We anticipated the decision and took them at the right moment. In the Bay of Biscay the way I learned and handled the boat really gave me a lot of confidence for the rest of the race.
My ETA ? Tomorrow evening. I hope to get in as the night is falling as that is the best time to be finishing. I am looking forward to resting for a week, then getting back with my crew in Alicante and going to Lanzarote for the winter. There is lot les stress when there are people on the boat, when you have a crew on board, that is nice and I like it. But singlehanded, the last time was four years ago, so I appreciate it a lot more this time as I have really been in the game all the time.”
Thomas Coville (Sodebo):
“The wind is not dropping but it will soon and it will be the same for everyone. It was a complicated night. The wind was different during the night, it seemed to do what it wanted and try to eat you at times. But I managed. It is rare to be able to get out of a rain shower. The Last 24 hours will be a conundrum, I won't tell you what I think will happen because I certainly don't want Franck to hear what I think might happen. I ‘ll keep that to myself. I will be a tough, dangerous. That is my fighting insitinct, I have had that since the beginning. The situation offers a chance, and I will be playing hard ball. I set the bar high for myself, but at the level I can manage. I gained more than 150 miles on him in three days with similar conditions, so globally I was a bit faster. I can't make any mistakes because youp ay dearly. In multihulls it is easy to make a big mistake but so far, so good. It is very satisfying to see that the more you do in the race, the more you get better and push the boat, and each time you do things better. I am in the contest.
I really take some pleasure in the routing. The north option was complex for sure, it was demanding and I thought it would pay off, but Franck managed to get to the right place in the south by the right time. He is a tough competitor, and has been every day for the last three years.
Francis is always going very, very fast. On average. If you are close to Francis you know that you are in a good position. I have a film in my head of the geographical schemata, these are the rain showers and clouds, and that is important for the coming hours.
I knew about Groupama, and I knew that on a big crossing like this she would be a fatal weapon. It is the most optimised refined in terms of these multihulls, so powerful and wide with little chance of capsizing. It is very safe in these conditions.
Franck has clearly grown in confidence with the boat and clearly choosing the southerly routing to do do less manouvres, the route, the platform, the way he has done it seems to have worked.
I can't give you the percentage chance I have of catching up with him.”
Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnement) :
“ We can't complain but the conditions are a little bit demanding, there is plenty of wind and the seas are quite rough. It is not so nice, I am pretty wet, not shaved so not pretty to look at me at the moment. Not a great picture of a sportsman, but hopefully there is no webcam. I need to manoeuvre a lot, all the sails have been up and down a lot since yesterday. Now I'm on solent with two reefs in the main. Yesterday I had to gybe during the night and the sea was very rough. We need to make sure we don't miss this lane. (weather corridor), It has been hard to make the boat go fast and I have been outside a lot, I had too much sail up for the wind and had some great, sustained surfs it was great. The boat was landing flat but I really enjoyed it. I don't know how to keep up steering, I just trim the sails and do the tactics and check the boat, the boat is steered better in these conditions than I can do. The boat is well balanced so I can keep the pilot on.
According the organsiers I have been doing 29 knots, but for the police lets say 26. The times when we are going fast are not the worst moments, but he worst are in between, during the manoeuvres because if you make a mistake you can easily lose all the ground you have worked hard to win.
Since the Figaro I have always called by pilot Albert. That must be something to do with my childhood, so maybe we need to talk to my analyst.
I obviously look at Armel's position and am not sure why he has done what he has done, yesterday he wanted to change course to set up for the no-wind zone.
But the weather does look messy for the finish. I am trying to stay up as much as I can, looking forward and at my strategy rather than looking in the mirror.”