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sail-world.com -- Vendee Globe - Fatigue taking a toll on mind, body and soul + Video

Vendee Globe - Fatigue taking a toll on mind, body and soul + Video    
Mon, 14 Jan 2013

In the Vendee Globe, following nine weeks at sea, alone, the fatigue of the race is begin to toll on the mind, body and soul of the skippers. The tiredness can be heard in their voices. The bodies are beginning to fail. Arnaud Bossières (Akena Verandas) is suffering from salt blisters all over his hands and is in a lot of pain. Blisters and salt water are not a great combination and of course, a working pair of hands is an essential piece of kit, when grinding, pulling ropes and being on deck. 'I've been regularly putting cream on my hands because they're obviously having a tough time.' Said Arnaud Bossières, today in email report to the race office.

He’s not alone, Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) said today on the French version of Vendée Globe LIVE that he broke a rib somewhere around New Zealand.

'Things are great, no bacteria problem for me! Physically speaking, I’m fine. Mentally, though, I’m not sure! I may have cracked a rib in the New Zealand area, or at least I got some sort of injury there, and it hasn’t completely healed yet. It’s still painful, especially when I’m lying on my side to sleep.'

Dr Chauve, the Race Doctor, explained today on the French version of Vendée Globe LIVE that because the skippers have been at sea for two months that they are very tired. There has been a big weather change and the skippers are used to being in a cold environment. Gradually for them temperature is getting warmer and warmer. The skippers will be adapting to a new time difference as well so all these things add up and make it harder for skippers as time goes by.

There can also be skin problems, because of the air humidity and the waterproof clothing with very tight bands around the wrists, which isn’t good for blood circulation and can lead to development of bacteria.

'Jean and I talked when he had his rib problem. I just can’t say anything before I can see an X-ray. There’s nothing to do for Jean at sea, he needs to wait. It could be just a bruise.' Said Dr Chauve.'Sometimes, sailors feel down psychologically, and calling friends, family or team members can help in such situations. Sleeping and eating better can help, too, because when you’re tired or hungry, things can look more difficult. Even though the skippers’ bodies are used to sleeping in short cycles.'

When the skippers return to shore, it takes them weeks to recover and get back to a more regular sleeping pattern. Physically, it can take them months to return to their normal shape. They use their arms muscles a lot during the race, and not their legs, not that much so there arms build-up and their legs waste away. The skippers are prepared for this eventuality but still have to deal with the recuperation.

Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) today on the English version of Vendée Globe LIVE was delighted to report that he had a 100% charge on his batteries for the first time in weeks. He was able to speak for the first time at length to his family and shorecrew. 'I’m good. I’m in good shape. My batteries are 100%, which is a miracle, really. I had a few phone calls last night but it was very difficult to talk to my son Oscar as he is only three years old so he is not a great conversationalist.'

Today, Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) was stealing back the miles at each ranking. Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) was pragmatic on the English version of Vendée Globe LIVE and explained that once the fleet reached the Doldrums there would be a slow down which would create a compression. The fleet will reach the Azores High and then into the Westerlies. He saw the Westerlies as the opportunity but was tentative to commit. He said, 'hopefully the Doldrums won’t be tough but we’ll just have to wait and see.'

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Mike Golding (Gamesa) is continuing to make good progress and still gaining miles on Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel), his main adversary, who this morning was 86 miles ahead. Still tired but working well onboard Mike Golding (Gamesa) said, 'Things are OK, it was a pretty busy night but I feel like I have done OK. I was under genoa for a while but now it is kite, I have between 14 and 20kts, the breeze is a bit unstable. Yesterday was spent doing good things, so getting sleep and I had a good meal, but to be honest that is undone a bit now again. It’s been hard work and I’ve burned all that up.'

With Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel), slowed ahead by the ridge of high pressure which was more or less blocking his way, Mike has profited by 50 miles in the past 36 hours, finding a lane of wind. 'It is OK, I am still making good progress and have carried on making miles on Jean. He has slammed into the light stuff a bit. I have pushed to the right and found a corridor of breeze, but to be honest he is not going that badly now either. It is gentle downwind sailing, on starboard for the next couple of days, then reaching. I am sailing my own race. If I follow Jean I just end up with what he’s got. I am looking for my own path and doing my own thing.'

Bertrand De Broc (Votre Nom Autour du Monde avec EDM) is expected to round Cape Horn tomorrow.

Jean le Cam (FRA, SynerCiel): Things are great, no bacteria problem for me! Physically speaking, I’m fine. Mentally, though, I’m not sure! (he laughs) I may have cracked a rib in the New Zealand area, or at least I got some sort of injury there, and it hasn’t completely healed yet. It’s still painful, especially when I’m lying on my side to sleep. The temperature is just perfect right now, not too cold, not too hot. I’m wearing a t-shirt and I may need a fleece jacket if I go outside, because of the wind. I’m north of the roaring forties now. I don’t listen to music, and people keep telling me it’s strange, that I should listen to music more. But my speakers aren’t too good, so the quality wouldn’t be good enough for me. And I don’t like headphones, I can’t stand them. I’ll try and tell you whether I managed to listen to good music. Having a heating system on board isn’t even about comfort, it’s just a basic need when you’re in the Southern Ocean and it’s so cold and humid. You know, I have diesel on board and hydrogenerators, so I can use energy, especially since my hydrogenerators have been working so well. Why would I live in the dark when I can easily turn on the light?

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Tanguy de Lamotte (FRA, Initiatives-coeur): It’s all good here, it’s been a nice day, I’m getting closer to Cape Horn. Every time somebody goes to the Initiatives-coeur website, my sponsor gives one euro to the Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque charity, making it possible for sick children to have heart surgery. So we need more and more people to click and save these children’s lives! Cape Horn is both close and far away. My position is better than Bertrand’s, I’ll have a more direct route to the Horn while he’ll have to gybe a couple of times. Maybe I can catch up with him, or at least get much closer to him. I’m going as fast as I can.

Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA, Virbac Paprec 3): I’m doing good in terms of health and physically. I’m tired, of course, I’ve used a lot of mental energy, I’m not as reactive as I was at the start. I hit a lot of things on board, I have bruises, but I didn’t get injured, and apparently, neither did the other skippers. It’s almost a surprise because we get shaken a lot, but I guess we’ve all been careful. There are some skin problems, though, my feet are in a very bad shape because they’ve been in boots for weeks. Hands and skins do get damaged during such a race, it’s a fact, but Doctor Chauve gave us the best creams to help us deal with that. Alex is not having great wind, so I guess I’ll be able to go faster than him. Armel is sailing faster than me, though, so I need to put an end to that situation. I think we’ll be able to catch up a bit in the near future. Right now the gaps are quite big.

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Vendee Globe website

by Vendee Globe



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