by Soazig Guého
Fourth place in the Transat Jacques Vabre’s IMOCA Open 60 class for Swiss skipper Bernard Stamm and co-skipper Pierre Le Gros was claimed at 22hrs 14 mins 44 secs local time (00:14:44hrs UTC Monday am) when they crossed the finish line off Itajaí, Brazil, 11h 37m 57sec after winners PRB.
Bernard Stamm and co-skipper Pierre Le Gros - 2013 Transat Jacques Vabre
Stamm’s emotions were slightly mixed. After his many problems in the last Vendée Globe and having had to retire from the last Transat Jacques Vabre, Stamm was pleased to have finished with his powerful Juan Kouyoumdjian designed 60 in great shape, having had no technical problems. But after having lead and then losing out on the entrance to the Doldrums, there was certainly nagging post race elements of ‘what if’ or ‘if only’ regrets evident in their dockside summaries: Stamm said: ' We were able to fight it out without really sustaining any serious technical problems. We were able to race at full capacity, except for yesterday when the rudder fuse went. Our fourth place is down to us, not the boat. The boat behaved well. Down the Portuguese coast in the stronger winds we were able to really use its potential and we found ourselves in the lead. It was a bit more complicated for the approach to the Doldrums in the unstable winds but really there is not much to say other than Philippe was a bit unhappy about the lack of comfort on board'
For the remaining IMOCA Open 60s and the Class 40 leaders the conditions are far from easy. For the IMOCA Open 60s, racing between Salvador de Bahia and Cabo Frio the offshore option may yet yield the more settled, consistent breeze. That is the choice made by the Polish duo on Energa (Gutkowski - Marczewski) who, in eighth, are more than 80 miles further offshore than Bureau Vallée (Burton - Le Brec) and VNAM (De Broc- Boissières). But this race is not even close to being decided, with just 60 miles between fifth placed Bureau Vallée and Energa.
The usual anticyclonic regime is disturbed. The warm, moist tropical heat and the cloud mass that keeps the finish city Itajaí under a ceiling of cloud, extends right up over the Bay of Rio and even has fingers extending up inshore as far as Cabo Frio. So for the next few days the area south of Salvador de Bahia especially will remain squally and unsettled, which may exert a considerable influence over the final finishing order.
Votre Nom autour du Monde - 2013 Transat Jacques Vabre
In the IMOCA Open 60 class the game is still open between Bureau Vallée and VNAM, the latter has redress of two hours for having diverted towards the upturned Arkema -Region Aquitaine off Lisbon.
The Class 40 lead of GDF Suez (Rogues-Delahaye) is shrinking slightly as they roll down first into the lighter, and more unsettled winds. But the threat seems now to be from the Botin partners design Tales Santander 2014 which has gained more than 20 miles since yesterday. Spanish duo Alex Pella and Pablo Santurde have taken over second place.
The Botin design seems very quick on this wind angle (120 deg TWA): 'When we have heard from the guys they are saying how tough it is now. It should be champagne sailing right now but they are having to work very hard. We are happy to see the boat is fast. Certainly looking at the averages over the race so far it looks the quickest boat. It is faster when the wind is up and upwind. They are going well, but for sure the stop to repair the rudder cost them.' Commented Tales Santander 2014’s designer Marcelino Botin.
Groupe Picoty (Caso - Chappellier) - 2013 Transat Jacques Vabre
Behind the lead trio, there is a second posse of three all close Watt & Sea (Bestaven - Ducroz) Groupe Picoty (Caso - Chappellier) and SNCF Geodis (Amédéo - Tripon).
In touch with the next group, Britons Mike Gascoyne and Brian Thompson have signalled they will make a pit stop into Recife tomorrow to repair their mainsail, which was torn off the Portuguese coast. Their repairs to date held up until a couple of nights ago. They expect to take 8-10 hours to make the repair.
The international duos are still showing strongly in the Class 40 fleet, with the Spanish partnership in second, German-Franco Mare in third. Austrians Christof Petter and Andreas Hannakamp on the Humphreys designed Vaquita are only separated by seven miles laterally from Britain’s Miranda Merron sailing with Halvard Mabire on Campagne de France. They are neck and neck in terms of distance to finish. And in 12th Italy’s Gaetano Mura races with Sam Manuard just ahead of his compatriots on Fantastica in 13th, Stefano Raspadori and Pietro d’Ali.
Fabien Delahaye co-skipper GDF Suez: 'It’s going well for us, we are sliding along great. But you really have to pay attention here even with his lead. We are at the latitude of Salvador de Bahia under the Code 5 in 20-25kts of wind and there is more wind than the files suggested at the moment. We are one of three boats to hold the same averages for a while. The finish into Salvador will be a bit tricky. I think we will arrive very late Saturday night or in the morning. We’d like to get in in the day, but it doesn’t matter as long as we are in before the others.'
Brian Thompson (GBR) Caterham Challenge: 'We are sailing along with three reefs in the mainsail now and actually making pretty good time towards Recife. We should be there in the early morning on time to repair the mainsail there and then carry on to Itajaí. We have 18kts of wind so even with three reefs in we are making nine or ten knots. We repaired it originally after tearing the mainsail almost all the way across at the third panel from the top. We did it before Madeira and lost 36 hours doing it just trundling along with the Solent up and the main completely on the deck. And since then we have sailed 2,500 or 3,000 miles. We dropped it about five times for more repairs and almost made it but the night before last we had a squall to 27kts and that was just a step too far. So now we need to get it to a real sailmaker to get it fixed and get going. Hopefully we will be in and out in about eight to 10 hours. As we get close to the coast the winds will be lighter so maybe there will be a bigger loss. But it will be a pit stop where we aim to get out ahead of the group of boats which are about 120 miles or so behind and we can race them to the finish.'
Mike Gascoyne, co-skipper Caterham Challenge: 'I got on to Twitter and so I was able to follow the Grand Prix lap by lap. It’s the first time I have not been there (the Brazilian Grand Prix) in about 20 odd years but I got to follow it on the internet. It was not a great race for the Caterham team but it was good to follow the racing.'
Transat Jacques Vabre