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sail-world.com -- Vendee Globe - Emotions high as Stamm collides with UFO + Video

Vendee Globe - Emotions high as Stamm collides with UFO + Video    
Mon, 7 Jan 2013

In the Vendee Globe, on Sunday morning, around 3.30AM (French time), Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) informed his shore crew he had hit an unidentified floating object, which ripped off his port side hydrogenerator. His second hydrogenerator is also broken and is not charging.

Due to previous energy-related issues, he no longer has sufficient fuel onboard. Stamm informed his team he was shutting down all energy-consuming devices to conserve what little energy he had remaining for the autopilot. Stamm was 1060 miles away from Cape Horn at 7.30AM (French time).

Cheminées Poujoulat Sailing Team are currently examining all available solutions, such as, finding a sheltered area where Stamm could consider re-fuelling as the current situation jeopardises the yacht’s safety.

There are possible shelters located after the Cape Horn. The weather conditions are tough with changeable winds, rough sea and cold temperatures. Ice has also been detected in the area.

Bernard Stamm requires electrical energy onboard to power:

- The autopilot, a capital tool when sailing solo
- Water maker (The team has no idea how much water he has left)
- Reception of weather files (the current conditions are difficult) and ice data (ice has been detected in the area)
- The central navigation computer showing wind direction and speed, boat data (speed, heading, position) and maps
- Position lights
- The AIS showing marine traffic
- The radar
- Moving the keel
- The VHF
- Communication
- The mini-lab

On the French web TV show Vendée Globe LIVE today, Régis Rassouli from the sailing team of Cheminées Poujoulat confirmed the situation was very worrying.

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'We’ve been in touch with Bernard, he told us he had to shut down everything because there is very little fuel left on board.

He was a little bit more than 1,000 miles away from the Horn when it happened. The weather is bad, there is ice in the area, it’s a very tricky situation. So we’re working on several possibilities to find a shelter or get additional fuel. We’re checking the weather and it’s stressful because we know Bernard has no way to receive weather data any more. The boat and Bernard’s safety are clearly jeopardized.'

Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) is leading the charge to Cape Horn and is expected to round the mythical landmark tomorrow with his sights clearly set on an easier passage. He is weary of the turbulent conditions that the Pacific Ocean is thrashing at the fleet. After a day of hard sailing, he managed to gybe, and in the night, he approached the centre of the depression and the wind eased enough for him to sleep deeply. This lost him some ground but today, he reported that in his dreams he dreamt of steak, chips and some blue cheese.

Just behind him Mike Golding (Gamesa) was rudely awoken by a 42 knot gale that knocked his boat down. Today, on the English version of Vendée Globe LIVE he explained, 'I'm in very difficult conditions. It was a pretty scary early morning. I woke up, couldn't even get my foulies on and had 42 knots and ended up with the pilot wiping me out. I ended up in my skiddies [underwear] in the freezing cold, absolutely soaked. Not a good wake call.'


It’s hard knocks like these that skippers must question the sanity of their choices. Golding is around 6 hours behind Le Cam at the Cape but they will have to traverse their way through fields of floating ice. 'I think there are lots of easier ways to make a living, less stressful and less uncomfortable and probably get paid more! But nonetheless, this is what we choose to do and obviously, with Cape Horn approaching, that is one of the high points of the Vendée Globe for the sailors. You say it is a high point, but also a point in the race that is filled with stress. I don't know why, but I am feeling more stressed about this rounding than I have about previous roundings. It is not really the weather is particularly horrendous at the Horn, it is probably the ice that has got the spooks on me. We know way too much. I am sure there was ice around Cape Horn in 1994 when I was going round single handed on the Challenge Yacht on the wrong way record, I am sure there was ice all over, but I was blissfully unaware.'

The loneliness of the long distance sailor was echoed today, in the pensive tones of Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3). 'We get to experience very emotional moments on board in a race like this. I sometimes cry, thinking of someone. So relaxing moments are very welcome, they make us feel better. I wasn’t sure it was a good idea to send you the video of me listening to music and getting all carried away, because that was a personal thing, but at least I can share it with you, and you see what things are like for us sometimes.'

Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) is only 226 miles behind the leading duo is benefitting from better weather conditions and gaining ground. The duelling duo could very well become trio at this rate if Jean-Pierre Dick’s progress continues fruitfully. 'I’m glad I managed to come back a little on the leaders, I worked hard for that. I’m now 200 miles away from them and I need to catch up even more now, that will be my priority in the next few days. My goal is to cross the Equator with no more than a 12-hour gap between me and them.'

In the southeast of Buenos Aires, François Gabart (Macif) and Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) are sandwiched between a high and a depression. Between them, a corridor of northwestly wind will switch to the northeast and then build into virulent squalls (gusting to 40 knots) with large boat shaking seas. For the moment, they both agree that meandering between the high and low pressure, will require a lot of tacking. 'I would not be surprised that our roads converge in three or four days,' warned Gabart.

François Gabart (FRA, MACIF): There isn’t that much wind but honestly, if there were more, I’m not sure we’d go faster. We need to find the right position to face the depression that is coming. Sailing against the wind is always more difficult, it’s easy to understand, it’s just not a natural situation. There are many things that need to be anticipated and sometimes, the weather files aren’t very accurate. It takes instinct, too…

I don’t know whether Armel will have the same route as me, I only know my own situation and choices, but our routes may converge again soon.

Everything is fine on board, I did everything I could to make sure it is and stays that way. I know I have a very efficient boat, a fast one, which was great in the Southern Ocean, and hopefully all the way to the finish line. Let’s hope we have a crazy finish, with only a few miles between the two of us.

I’d like to thank my team for all their hard work, they’re the reason why things have been going well for me and the boat.

Bertrand de Broc (FRA, Votre Nom autour du Monde avec EDM Projets): I’m fine, and so is the boat. The conditions haven’t been favourable lately, and there’s still very little wind, we can’t go fast. Things are very quiet. I need to gybe all the time. Coming next is the last gate and then Cape Horn.

Our project has not been easy to finalise, I’m glad we could make it.

Tanguy De Lamotte (FRA, Initiatives-coeur): It was my first time sailing solo in the Southern Ocean. I enjoyed it, despite intense, rough and scary moments. But I enjoyed the quietness after all that too!

The boat is in good shape and I’m very happy with that. I should get to Cape Horn in nine days, it will come soon. It’s a mythical place, I can’t wait. I also know I’ll miss the Southern Ocean.

I have 17-18 knots of wind, I think I’ll gybe soon to sail towards the next gate. Right now, I’m having a nice quiet meal and a glass of red wine because the conditions are quieter. I’m having very good meat my uncle prepared for me, with a nice sauce. Quite a nice celebration just for passing a gate!

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Vendee Globe website

by Vendee Globe



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