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Transat Jacques Vabre - Co-skippers arrange for a tow to Portugal

by Transat Jacques Vabre on 11 Nov 2013
Lalou et mayeul - Transat Jacques Vabre Transat Jacques Vabre
In the Transat Jacques Vabre, the Multi 50 trimaran Arkema Aquitaine capsized yesterday evening (Sunday) around 200 miles from the port of Lisbon, Portugal. Co-skippers Lalou Roucayrol and Mayeul Riffet have made arrangements for a tow to Portugal.

In the IMOCA Open 60 monohulls MACIF which made a four hours pit stop in Peniche, Portugal yesterday to replace a rudder blade is back in contact with the leaders. And GDF Suez still leads the Class 40 fleet.

Ironically, after surviving a Biscay gale, it was in more manageable but gusty, shifty trade winds conditions that Lalou Roucayrol and Mayeul Riffet on Arkema - Aquitaine capsized at around 2230hrs (French time) on Sunday with the Portuguese trade winds blowing from the N’ly sector at around 20kts. The fast, gusty conditions proved to be the undoing of the multihull in conditions which often cause problems for multihulls, flying downwind. The gennaker sheet would only need to have snagged with a bad set of waves when the evening visibility was poorer.

Yann Eliès (FenêtréA Cardinal) who was close when the trimaran capsized comfirmed to race direction what had happened and that the two skippers were uninjured and did not want immediate help. Eliès was less than a mile away when it happened. The duo, in coordination with their technical team, will set up a tow to Portugal. Weather conditions are not due to become any worse off Lisbon in the coming days.

Macif back on the attack
Required to stop in Peniche, 85kms to the north of Cascais, by Lisbon, François Gabart and Michel Desjoyeaux managed to repair their starboard rudder along with their technical team. MACIF had already regained ten miles thanks to their rapid speeds. But if Maitre CoQ (Beyou-Pratt) are still leading in the IMOCA monohulls, the leaders need to keep an eye on Safran (Guillemot-Bidégorry) behind them who have managed to get more south and into better pressure with PRB (Riou-Le Cam) and Cheminées Poujoulat beind them.

The Multi 50s are in the same piece of water there is a simple problem. The centre of the high pressure which is between the Azores and Portugal is building and spreading NE and so they need to stay on its southern side whilst making southing to stay close to the direct course. Today, Armistice Day, is very important in terms of tactical investments as when they are off the Canary Islands the IMOCA and Multi 50’s will set up their direct course towards the Equator to cross around 25 degrees west.

Mare up to second
For Class40 the Bay of Biscay is relatively kind to the fleet who are chasing GDF Suez gues - Delahaye ) which was fifteen miles ahead of Mare ( Riechers – Brasseur) with Spain’s Tales Santander (Pella-Santurde) in third now at 30 miles behind the leaders. Britain’s Caterham Challenge (Thompson-Gascoyne) is up to eighth and Concise eight (Collier-Wakefield-Goodchild) is in 11th. Marie- Galante ( Rivard- Clerton ) diverted towards Lorient following boom damage yesterday.

It’s now a race of pure speed for Class 40 as the breeze from the west is expected to stay the same to Cape Finisterre (180 miles ahead) but dropping significantly on the approach the Spanish coast and so compression of the fleet is likely at least for the leading group of the first fifteen to Solidarité en Peloton ( Erussard - Vauchel Camus ) which is sixty miles behind the leader ...

They said
Yann Elies (Multi -50 FenêtréA Cardinal)
'Last night we were racing downwind with Arkema in 17kts of wind, it had died a bit but came back stronger and so we had to be careful. I was inside and Erwan (Le Roux) was at the helm and then one moment he could not see their lights.

Mayeuel (Riffet) called on the VHF to say that they had capsized so we should be careful, we were less than half a mile away.

He said that Lalou was fine because he was the one who had been at the helm, and inside Mayeul was well. I asked him if he wanted us to stop, he replied now. I called Sylvie (Viant, race director) and told her what had happened. I think there must have been a technical problem.'

Yves Le Blévec (Multi 50 Actual )
' We are sailing in the high pressure area and so there are unstable wind and big shifts with sudden gusts under the clouds. We are careful because the boat can be difficult to manage in these conditions. Early in the night there was a little moon but it 's dark now: there is no reference to really monitor the boat. We try to play the wind shifts. There was between 20 and 25 knots of wind, but during the night 28-30 knots. We took a reef in the mainsail sailing with the gennaker.'

Pascal Bidégorry ( IMOCA monohull Safran)
' Unlike other boats we gybed two and a half hours ago because the wind went little right and we were going a bit soft : it seemed reasonable to us. The wind will be fairly stable throughout the day and tomorrow. I would not be surprised to see our friends in the next few hours ... And the shift to the West is important as we have to set up for the long gybe towards the equator. At present we have 22 knots under spinnaker but we must be careful we are thinking about a reef. We decided to make shorter watches on the helm because the conditions are unstable. '
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