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Vendee Globe - Day 101- Conrad Colman's story so far and what's ahead

by Conrad Colman; Vendee Globe; Great Circle on 15 Feb
Conrad Colman is making slow progress under Jury rig due to light winds - a finish at the end of next week is now being forecast. Conrad Colman / Foresight Energy / Vendée Globe
After dismasting late Friday the 10th of February, Conrad is finally underway again.

After dealing today with some more problems to secure the base of the boom, he's moving slow but he's moving!

When the mast came down, Conrad had no other choice than to cut the rig and let the mast go to keep it from damaging the hull. Sailing under three reefs, he cut the mainsail just above and salvaged a part of the sail and the boom. Sadly, the boom was damaged during the dismasting, around 3m from the base. To even consider putting up a jury rig, the first step was to see whether or not it was possible to repair the boom. Here is what has happened in the last five days ...

Step1: after talking with his small technical team and experienced friends, solutions were found to repair the boom. Conrad had to wait for favorable conditions to start the work as there were 7 to 9m swells and the boat is really unstable without a mast. On Sunday afternoon, he started working on the repairs and finished on Monday to consolidate the damaged future 'mast'.

Step 2: the boom ready, the next project was to prepare the rigging. The cables and ropes that were going to hold the boom up needed to be measured, adapted, spliced and it took most of that day and night.

Step 3: the sail! It is nice to have a new 'mast' but even better to have a sail to go on it. As Conrad managed to save the bottom part of the mainsail he had material to build a new sail and adapt it to the boom. Again measuring, cutting, stitching and remembering the good old times when he worked in a loft on the isle of Wight! That took most of Tuesday.

Step 4: All the elements being ready, it was time to try to put up the new rig and hope for the best. Conrad propped the boom on more sail bags, then on his shoulders while pushing the bags closer to the base to lift it. The repair held and the boom was up with a sail on it! He now still has to put up and attach the storm jib but the boat is moving again.

His goal now will be to position himself to get downwind conditions, the only way for him to progress with a jury rig. He has a little bit of food left and he will ration it until the end. He also has emergency rations that he will probably have to use before the end. We need to hope for fair winds pushing him towards the finish!

Conrad Colman has been making modest but positive progress since he managed to set sail under his jury rig very early this Wednesday morning. The Vendée Globe skipper whose Foresight Natural Energy was dismasted just around 2200hrs last Friday night reported that he had set part of his mainsail and was planning also to fashion a foresail as well. He had made around 40 miles in a north westerly direction since early this morning but his biggest problem is lack of wind.

What are the weather constraints with a jury rig?

It is believed he is heading west and north to try and hook into some stronger downwind and reaching conditions which would hopefully allow the Kiwi skipper to quicker speeds towards Les Sables d'Olonne, 725 miles to his north east. Colman now has a working computer and has been able to send some test e-mails. Sailing at angles closer than 90° to the wind is not really ideal.

The sail plan is not suitable and it might put too much strain on the rig when the wind strengthens. In the lighter winds, the tacking angles would be massive. Under such a jury rig, the ideal is moderate winds at an angle of greater than 90 degrees. Colman is likely to avoid the southern part of the Bay of Biscay where the wind will be light and blowing from the East from Saturday.

It looks more likely that he would sail northward to position himself north of the Azores high and the associated ridge. He could then sail in westerly winds which will strengthen over the next few days and will push him towards the finish line in Les Sables d'Olonne by the end of next week.
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