In the Vendee Globe, the West Pacific ice gate has been relocated whilst Francois Gabart and Armel Le Cleac'h face summer snow, Alex Thomson hooks up with Claudia and Gamesa skipper Mike Golding recalls his dismasting four years ago.
Mike Golding (Gamesa), was back up to speed on Sunday afternoon after Forties roared at Gamesa in the early hours of the morning. After a frustrating Friday in a hole, Golding was just starting to enjoy himself in 20 knots of wind when, at 0400hrs (UTC) a 35 knot gust broke the line used to furl his code zero headsail. The huge sail was flapping wildly at the bow of the boat, confusing the autopilot, but not Golding – put that in your matrix – who dumped the boat on its side (presumably by the canting the keel and dumping the ballast). That took the pressure off the rig and then he was able to haul down the sail in a giant mess on the foredeck.
It was an even more frightening moment on reflection for Golding as he was keenly aware that it was almost four years to the day and probably only 300 miles away from where he dismasted in the last Vendée Globe.
'There was certainly a point where I thought, 'Here we go again, please, not another Christmas in Perth',' Golding said. 'But I am reasonably sorted now, I am not going to go mad. I just have to consolidate with the boat a bit and accept that I won't have my best day. Otherwise there is the propensity to get right into that downwards spiral and that’s when bad things start to happen.'
'I’m back on course now. The Code Zero is a bit of a mess with all the sheets inside it. I’m in repair mode now and have to sit and stitch the cover back on the furler line. I have not had a chance to really inspect the line, but I am certainly hoping the damage is only to the cover and none of the core is gone. That would make life difficult.
'I am a bit out of sequence now [behind in his sail change pattern to match the wind forecast] so I need to get to the Solent and two reefs and just not go mad. The main thing is I am now down to the line of Jean Le Cam, so I need to consolidate now.
'When all this was going on I had the flashback to four years ago. It is so dangerous now because you have 20kts and are lulled into a false sense of security and then suddenly there is a big 35kts gust.'
Golding, in seventh place, has slipped back to 170 miles behind Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) and 1,700 behind the leader, but he was back to over 17 knots by midday.
It was a powerful reminder of the dangers for the fleet. Like other around him Javier Sansó (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) was surviving rather than racing in 40 knots winds gusting 50 on Sunday. He spoke to Vendée Globe TV with 40 knots roaring above deck and said that in these conditions it’s about being pushed, not pushing the boat.
Mike Golding, Gamesa - 2012 Vendee Globe - Gamesa Sailing Team
'I’m not very worried about the speed but more about the boat, holding everything together,' Sansó said. Golding had a different problem; of looking for speed in racing conditions but suddenly becoming overpowered with a gust.
The West Pacific ice gate has been moved three degrees north because of 'some ice in the South Pacific' the Vendée Globe race office said. The new position is 49° 00 S / 145° 00 W - 137° 00 W. See the position of the gates here.
The front of the fleet are three thousand miles away from that gate, but they know icebergs are close. They may be in the bikinis and boardshorts enjoying summer in Australia, but a thousand miles south, the leaders of the Vendée Globe are freezing in the Furious fifties. The new ice gates across the Indian Ocean mean this the furthest south the boats have been, much later than normal in the race. 'It snows, it snows,' declared Francois Gabart (Macif), who maintains his slender 45.8 mile lead Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire).
'I don’t know how it is in France but here it’s pretty cold,' the 29-year-old Gabart, who has never been at sea this long and has never raced this far south (53 degrees) before, wrote. 'I had several sleet showers and even some cute little snowflakes this morning. It’s not every day that it is snows on Macif. We must get out the mittens. It is summer here and in Australia I imagine everyone in there swimsuits on the beach, it is only a few km away, but that said, we are closer to the penguins in Antarctica. We have found some icebergs ahead too, so it is better not to continue this way for long.' Meanwhile Le Cléac’h gave Vendée Globe TV a tour of Banque Populaire and showed us his frozen olive oil. Few things get the home audience hot like something coming between a French sailor and his condiments.
A lull in the weather has meant the leading duo have stopped rushing away from the fleet and both said they were glad of some time to take stock, rest and break out the thermals. They are suddenly worried about a different wardrobe at the front compared to the back. So, while Sansó and those around him the eye of low pressure systems are unpacking their smaller sails, those at the front are unpacking their cold weather clothes and putting on their layers as if they were getting ready for a skiing trip.
Three thousand miles behind the leader, at 38 degrees south in the Indian Ocean, Bertrand de Broc (Votre Nom autour du Monde avec EDB Projets) was wondering if he saw an iceberg. In this case it was probably a wave but De Broc likes to ask the question.
In fourth place, Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) was the fastest boat of the afternoon, averaging 20.7 knots in the last hour before the 1500hrs UTC ranking (1600hrs French time). As he wrote this morning: 'I have hooked up with Claudia nicely.' He presumably knows Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat), has also hooked up with her, but it seems Thomson is has a better relationship at the moment. That’s Cyclone Claudia by the way, or the system formerly known as Cyclone Claudia, which has downgraded (as they often do), after heading south.
Both skippers passed the longitude of Cape Leeuwin this morning (Thomson at 0945hrs UTC and Stamm at 1100hrs UTC) are much further north (and just 300 miles south of Australia) than the leaders and Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec 3) in third. But they have enjoyed some 30 knots westerlies and Thomson has even managed to open his ocean going workshop properly and begin to solve his power problems.
Alex Thomson (GBR, Hugo Boss): Very glad to have the wind back and to be going fast agin. Yesterday and this morning was all about getting the composite repairs done to the rudder cassettes. I had hoped for good conditions but did not get them as it has rained continuously for the last 36 hours. This morning was even more difficult trying to get the laminate on while the boat was surfing over 20 knots. Thank god for duck tape otherwise all my dirty work would have been washed away. Again the job is not pretty but I hope it will be functional and I have managed to do it without losing too many miles. I have hooked up with Claudia nicely but the road ahead is not straightforward. I will have a couple of days negotiating this low and another one which will form to my south west but hopefully whatever happens it is fast sailing and i can find a route back to the south.
Dominique Wavre (SUI, Mirabaud): I’m so happy to have better conditions than the last few days. It’s nice to see the boat moving like this. Sometimes the boat goes very fast and stops suddenly. It’s a complicated sailing at the moment. But I really enjoy the moment and my race. The race is really different from what it used to be with the new technologies. You don’t manage a Vendée Globe like before. On one hand it’s great to have new tools because you can go faster, but on the other hand you have to be careful because you don’t want to break anything.
Bertrand de Broc (FRA, Votre Nom autour du Monde with EDM Projects): Today it’s nice. The conditions are great and the boat is doing well, sailing at 16 knots. There is a lot of noise inside; sometimes it’s hard to sleep. The everyday life changes from one day to another. Anyway, everything is great here. I hope it will be like that until the rest of the race. From the beginning I had some great moments but also some harder. I didn’t tell you about that because you don’t tell everything. I remember one complicated moment with my sails. I even asked God for His help. When you sail at 24 knots at night it’s really impressive. I also love seeing the birds flying around me. It’s amazing, they are almost dancing.
Javier ‘Bubi’ Sansó (ESP, Acciona 100% EcoPowered): The wind came down a little. So, I’m not very worried about the speed but more about the boat. I try to keep everything together. The waves are pretty huge right now. So I have to be careful. But it’s been quite well for a few hours. I’m in a good position right now; I do my homework. We’ll see how it goes.
Armel Le Cléac’h (FRA, Banque Populaire): We just get in the Deep South. It’s cold out here, with a lot of sea too. It’s nice to have less intense conditions. It’s good for my life onboard, I can rest, clean the boat and everything. It should be like that until the next gate. But after we should have another depression. I think the boat is great, especially regarding the power. Sometimes, it’s a little bit hard onboard because we get wet and it’s complicated to stand up. The hydrogenerator is a wonderful tool. It’s very useful and it helps a lot our life onboard. It’s obviously the future.
Tanguy de Lamotte (FRA, Initiatives Cœur): Yesterday, I hit a UFO... I heard a noise that seemed to come from the back of the boat, the rudder? I was inside but I could see a black object floating behind the boat, I think it was a big piece of wood. Although the sun was already down there was enough light for me to look under the boat. The rudder is still there. Inside, there is no noise and the boat does well. To be continued...To get over my emotions, I had sauerkraut for dinner, with fresh cheese and bread. The wind continues to rise above 25 knots so I take the second reef in the mainsail. Good Sunday to all.
Initiatives-coeur taille la route by VendeeGlobeTV
Replay : Le live du Vendée Globe du 16 décembre by VendeeGlobeTV
Résumé du 37e jour de course by VendeeGlobeTV
Quand Tanguy dérange un albatros by VendeeGlobeTV
Vendee Globe website
by Vendee Globe
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5:15 PM Sun 16 Dec 2012GMT
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