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Vendee Globe - Stamm diverts to make repairs

by Vendee Globe on 24 Dec 2012
Bernard Stamm, Cheminées Poujoulat - 2012 Vendee Globe Vincent Curutchet / DPPI
Vendee Globe 2012-13 skipper Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) has found shelter in the Auckland Islands, 250 miles south of New Zealand, on Sunday morning, after diverting at around 1700hrs UTC on Saturday to try to make repairs to his boat, ostensibly the hydrogenerators.

After struggling to find a protected spot, Stamm is now moored in Sandy bay, south of Enderby Island, in the northeast of the archipelago. This has offered him protection from the 25-knot northwest wind. He has reported sightings of orca and sea lions.

The Auckland Islands were the Swiss sailor’s last place to moor and repair ahead of the 4,000 miles crossing of the Pacific to Cape Horn. Stamm probably has a job list of things fix, including his central winch column which went against two days ago.

'Since he passed the coast of Portugal, several weeks ago, Bernard Stamm has serious problems with his hydrogenerators,' the press release on Saturday night from Stamm’s team, said. 'The systems that provide energy on board are damaged and no longer be efficient. Fuel reserves are dwindling day after day and the batteries do not load anymore. Therefore, the possibility of using the automatic pilot or the computer for communications and weather forecasts are limited and makes life on board very difficult. All the repairs made by the Cheminées Poujoulat skipper have not held and have forced him to head towards the Auckland Islands today. The Swiss sailor will seek for shelter to make the repairs which require stopping the boat temporarily.

Indeed, it is essential to find a lasting solution to ensure sufficient energy production on board before entering the biggest ocean of the world. This is a complicated operation for a single man. His experience of two IMOCA monohulls construction (Superbigou and Cheminées Poujoulat 3) will be a valuable aid.

Before the Cape Horn, and before starting the difficult crossing of the South Pacific, this archipelago of seven islands attached to New Zealand since 1863, is the only place that can offer a safe shelter for single-handed round-the-world sailors without jeopardising their chances of staying in the race. Covering an area of ??510 km ², the main island, Auckland, is quite mountainous and should provide the necessary respite to the sailor. A solution followed several times already in the history of the Vendée Globe, including Marc Guillemot in the previous edition.

In permanent contact with his shore team, Bernard keeps on looking at the race, but knows that the seamanship and safety require this suspension of time to solve these big energy problems. He will then be able to resume his journey with all the potential of his boat.'

The passage east across the Indian Ocean and into the Pacific have been free of such stoppages so far for the fleet. As Stamm’s team point out, they were more common in the last race, when Stamm stopped in the Kerguelen Islands in the Indian Ocean to make repairs to his rudders. That time he was unsuccessful and Stamm ran aground in difficult conditions and was forced to retire.

This time Stamm has found shelter and will be glad he did not have to stop at Disappointment Island, five miles from the northwest end of the Auckland Islands.

With every hour that Stamm stops he loses miles. He is now 1,040 miles behind the leader and Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss), who he has been beside for nearly two weeks, is already 205 miles ahead.

Ahead of Thomson, Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec 3) continues to fly, posting the fastest speeds in the fleet – 19.7 knots overnight – and 462.5 miles in the last 24 hours. During that time he has won back 155 miles on the leader and is 442.8 miles behind.

Francois Gabart (MACIF) and Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) are back together again and just getting back up to speed with the arrival a low-pressure system. Gabart leads by just 6.8 miles.

Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) has begun the breakaway threatened on Saturday from his pursuers; Mike Golding (Gamesa), Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud) and Javier Sansó (Acciona 100% EcoPowered).

Golding is 309 miles behind, having lost another 111 miles in the last 24 hours and 75 miles overnight, but looks to be almost through the transition zone of high pressure that caught him and the others. Wavre is 46 miles behind him in eighth.

Sansó in ninth, 364 miles behind Le Cam, had the worst night of the four, making just 70 miles and is 506 miles behind, and has lost 200 of the miles he caught up over the last 48 hours.

At the back of the fleet, Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiaves Cœur) has lost ground on Bertrand de Broc (Votre Nom autour du Monde avec EDM Projets), now nearly 300 miles ahead. De Lamotte is struggling in light airs, 70 mile from the West Australia gate. Vendee Globe website

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