sail-world.com -- Vendee Globe - The flying Spaniard returns
Vendee Globe - The flying Spaniard returns
Fri, 23 Nov 2012
In the Vendee Globe, Javier ‘Bubi’ Sansó (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) has scorched down the north Atlantic and through the Doldrums as if they were a myth and now has the top of the fleet in his sights. He has made up 350 miles in the last two days.
On Thursday morning, still averaging 12 knots in the dreaded Doldrums, he caught Bertrand De Broc (Votre nom autour du monde) and poor Arnaud Bossières (Akena Verandas), who has been averaging around five knots for the last day and a half.
Both lie further to the west and whilst that proved successful for Mike Golding’s group of three, it has stalled Bossières even more completely than the way the top six were stalled in the east two days ago. One of the sayings of the Doldrums is that ‘west is best’, but Sansó, the 43-year-old from Majorca, has prospered even further east than the lead group. In his second Vendée Globe after being forced to retire from the 2000-01 edition, is making full use of having one of the six new boats – and the only new British one, by Owen-Clarke design – in the race.
Sansó has been flying south like swallow since he lost two days last week. He had to go up his mast last Saturday to retrieve his main halyard and fix the damage after taking shelter off the coast of Tenerife when his mainsail came down.
'It’s been pretty fast, everything in the Doldrums has been OK so far, I’m in the middle of a squall right now, but it’s a nice one from an easterly direction, so I’m going pretty fast again.' Sansó said live to Vendée Globe TV in a message to make Boissières chew his mainsail.
'I am hoping it will continue to the other side. It looks like I’ve been a bit lucky this time. I saw at the beginning it look very good (east), I saw Akena was getting stuck and I downloaded some more (weather) models and it was showing a few different things, the European model was showing that this was the right option.
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He is banking miles every hour and with the top six facing a potentially complex route east past the Cape of Good Hope, has the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and strike from the back again.
'Coming from the back is sometime a little bit easier, so I think I had a bit of luck and east was a little bit better. We’ll see. When I’m through I will be east of the Mike Golding group. It should be good.
'It’s great to be catching up and maybe I can catch up a bit with the guys in the front. The weather is looking good to gain a few more miles. This is a very fast boat, my position should be a bit more in the front but the problem with the mainsail made me lose a lot of time and miles.'
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The only thing that may temporarily halt Sansó is the two-hour penalty he is supposed to take before midnight on Thursday.
Bernard Bonneau explained why the protests and penalties are necessary here.
Meanwhile, back on Tenerife, Zbigniew 'Gutek' Gutkowski (Energa) arrived at around 0130hrs (French time) yesterday after becoming the sixth boat of 20 who started to retire Energa is moored in Santa Cruz marina on Tenerife. Gutek and his boat captain, Maciek Marczewski, are inspecting his boat and assessing the reasons for the electronics failure.
'I am very happy to be safe here,' he said. 'I’m still very tired after the last days of continuous efforts and stress.' Read more here.
As they head south with steady easterlies, the leading group of six have the chance to get their boats ready for the sling shot into the Southern Ocean. Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) had reopened his Atlantic workshop to fix his hydrogenerator, so he will be able to charge his batteries on both tacks.
'Last night I laminated the brackets and dry fitted with the new bolts,' Thomson said. 'It’s a bit rough and ready as a repair – Alex style!'
Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) retained a 53-mile lead at the 1500hrs ranking over Francois Gabart (Macif), who was giving meteorology lessons, in second. Thomson, in sixth, was just 33 miles behind Thomson. Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) is still showing as fourth, but he is significantly north-east of the other four chasing Le Cléac’h and the reality is that he is sixth. The boats must slant south now for around four days before looking for the ride east. There is nothing unusual in the current weather models for the race, but it does not look simple and will need skillful routing and a bit of luck to catch the first train.
Earlier Mike Golding (Gamesa) crossed the Equator for the 22nd time, at 2 o’clock (British time) on Thursday November 22 – that’s a lot of twos - as he chased the six leading boats in front of him south to the coast of Brazil.
Meanwhile out of the race, but still at sea, Sam Davies was slamming on her way to delivering her wounded boat, Savéol to Cascais.
Alex Thomson (GBR, Hugo Boss): In the South Atlantic with about 14 knots of wind. It’s 30 degrees and pretty stable, giving me the perfect chance to get stuck in and fix the hydrogenerator. Last night I laminated the brackets and dry fitted with the new bolts. It’s a bit rough and ready as a repair – Alex style! But then it got dark so my aim is to finish this off this morning. I had a bit of sleep last night but I just need to get this hydro fixed so I can get back into a better routine and focus back on both my sleeping and my sailing.
Armel Le Cléac’h (FRA, Banque Populaire): We are easily going down to the south; still on the same side for a few days. The Doldrums weren’t very easy to cross this year. Now that it is behind me, I’m starting to have a good time, sleeping a bit, reading, and listening to some music. The Azores crossing was crucial. The lead group was made thanks to the ridge. I have a document on board, sent by my team, which tells me what to check on the boat. I have my list and some work to do. The weather is getting cooler. I’m entering the 'mountain area' as we say.
Bertrand De Broc (FRA, Votre Nom autour du Monde): It’s quiet and hot at the moment. The sea is smooth. I’m not going very fast around 4-5 knots. I’m happy because I've managed to catch up with Boissières but I think he will go away again. In the next few days, I would like to go a little faster. You have to remain calm as you go through the Doldrums. I hope I’ll be able to catch up with the three or four boats which are ahead of me. But it won’t be easy because they are great sailors.
Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA, Virbac-Paprec 3): I'm approaching the coast of Brazil, which means warmth, music and fun! It is a fairly quiet sea but I love it. I'm a bit in an attacking position, we'll see how it goes, but tactically (he does an impression of French football coach Didier Deschamps), I'm fine. It was my first good night with a lot of sleep. The start was really overwhelming.'
Mike Golding (GBR, Gamesa): About the 30-minute penalty that was handed down to Gamesa: 'I’m not happy about it, but it’s done.'
'It’s been a very slow and frustrating night, with the wind very headed and consequently I have not made much VMG (velocity made good, or net speed in the direction of the finish). I am back on the Solent headsail, whenever I was on the Genoa I just seemed to be on my ear too much. When it is right it was fine.'
About the fact the boats ahead of him are in a stronger breeze: 'I’m afraid that is the way of it just now and it will likely continue. The trade winds here are right down a lot, there is not much holding them. My fear is that the mileage to the leaders grows again over the next 4-5 days that it is going to be like this.'
About his 22nd crossing of the equator: '22 is a quite a lot. 'I don’t think it’s that important but it shows how lucky I am.'
About Mike's appointment with Neptune: 'I’ll do something soon, I just need a little sleep and then will find one of the bottles of champagne, but to be honest I’d rather a beer.'
Jérémie Beyou (FRA, Maître Coq) – RETIRED : I’m still in the Cape Verde area, we should leave this afternoon and heading to France. We made repairs to understand how the piece broke. I must have hit something because such a piece cannot break like that. We saw a big impact on the keel’s bulb. That could be the explanation. As for the Figaro race, I don’t know yet. The first thing is to bring the boat back to France. As for my interview with Le Monde (note: he gave his opinion about the monotype in this class): I have the same position for a long time. We must all be able to finish those races and the monotype boat can be a solution, with the same standards, etc. We can improve a lot. When you see a boat like Safran losing her keel, it’s unbelievable.
Arnaud Boissières (FRA, Akena Vérandas): The Doldrums weren’t nice with me at all. I feel like things are getting better, but slowly. It looks like Arcachon in the summertime. It was much more awful than four years ago. I’m trying to catch the good winds now.