You know that things are tough when you get kicked out of a Grand Prix solo around-the-world race that you had been leading at several points, but it’s safe to say that things have really gone to Hades in a hand basket when you collide with an unidentified floating object (UFO) and destroy several key systems days later. But sadly, such is Bernard Stamm’s reality in the ongoing, nonstop and alone Vendee Globe Race.
Some backstory. Stamm decided to continue racing, despite the news of his disqualification for 'receiving outside assistance' (a Russian sailor boarded Stamm’s IMOCA 60 'Cheminées Poujoulat' uninvited during an anchor-dragging incident that involved a Russian-flagged research vessel), only to hit a UFO a few days later. The collision destroyed his portside hydrogenerator. Unfortunately for Stamm, his other hydrogenerator is also on the fritz, meaning that the Swiss-flagged sailor will need to save any and all remaining juice for his autopilots. Further compounding his situation is the fact that he’s low on fuel and that he’s roughly 1,000 miles from Cape Horn. According to reports, his team is investigating any and all possibilities.
The one bright spot for Stamm is that the International Jury has decided to re-open his case after receiving a skipper’s petition that was signed by fourteen of the other competing skippers in the 2012/2013 Vendee Globe. The bad news, however, is his fuel situation. Stay tuned for more from Stamm, as it unfurls.
Meanwhile, at the front of the Vendee pack, Francois Gabart ('Macif') continues to hold his advantage over Armel Le Cleac’h ('Banque Populaire'). At the time of this writing, Gabart was leading Le Cleac’h by more than 40 miles; interestingly, the leading duo have slowed compared to the pursuing pack thanks to lighter winds and higher angles of attack.
Francois Gabart, Macif - 2012 Vendee Globe - © Vincent Curutchet / Macif
'There isn’t that much wind but honestly, if there were more, I’m not sure we’d go faster,' reported Gabart. 'We need to find the right position to face the depression that is coming. Sailing against the wind is always more difficult, it’s easy to understand, it’s just not a natural situation. There are many things that need to be anticipated and sometimes, the weather files aren’t very accurate. It takes instinct, too.'
Jean-Pierre Dick ('Virbac Paprec 3'), who is currently sitting in third place, has enjoyed a fast few days compared to the leaders and has recently reduced his mileage deficit by nearly two hundred miles. Get the full story, and don’t miss all the great multimedia skipper reports, inside this issue.
Meanwhile, in Cup news, Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) has released a fine look into the sort of physical fitness that’s required to race aboard an AC72 wingsail-powered catamaran. In their interesting multimedia report, ETNZ shows how they are employing the latest advances in sailing-specific training to best prepare for the 34th America’s Cup, which will take place this September on San Francisco Bay. Trust me, your arms will ache from just watching ETNZ’s workout routine!
Also inside, get the wrap-up reports from the Governor’s Cup and the Rose Bowl Regatta, and don’t miss the latest on the new GC32 class of catamarans. Giddyap!
May the four winds blow you safely home,
by David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor
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2:40 AM Mon 7 Jan 2013GMT
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