In the Vendee Globe, the Doldrums can continue to bite long after you have left them and Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) revealed on Friday that he has been struggling to keep pace in the lead group because he has been unable to use his genoa.
The large genoa sail would be the one out of the nine allowed in a skipper’s sail wardrobe he would be using in these reaching conditions, with the boat heeled over 30 degrees.
'The sea was pretty chaotic and in a windless area, the boat was shaken really hard, one of the centreboards went up and it tore up the genoa,' Stamm said. 'In order to keep progressing, I had to take a route that goes further east than the others, otherwise it would have slowed me down a lot.'
Stamm has also been busy taking care of an autopilot issue and he hasn't been able to sleep much lately. 'I'll soon be done with the repairs; the end of the punishment is coming.' Stamm said.
Cheminees Poujoulat - 2012 Vendee Globe - Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendée Globe ©
The damage and problems explains Stamm’s more easterly position compared to the rest of the boats chasing Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire). Stamm slipped to fifth on the ranking this morning, but the truth is he is behind Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) as the boats will have to head deep south before they can head east because the St Helena High is active.
Perhaps the most interesting thing was that Stamm chose to reveal his problem. Most of the skippers are masters at showing sang-froid in live broadcasts even if all hell is breaking out on their boat. Thomson was certainly very interested in Stamm’s news when he heard it on the Vendee Globe live broadcast on Friday. 'Did I hear you say that Bernard has blown his genoa?' Thomson, who has been busy with his own repairs on his hydrogenerator, asked.
Meanwhile, Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel), in his inimitable fashion, was broadcasting his own message to the fleet and particularly those he believes are in his sights.
'The boat is going so fast, I left the Swiss (Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud) behind and it’s now time to attack my British friend. The next ones to pass are foreigners. First Golding, then a Swiss (Stamm), then another Brit (Thomson), I’m definitely into international hunting. The skippers after them are all from Lorient or Port-la-Forêt, not as much fun. I don’t care about my actual speed, I just want to make sure I’m faster than the others. And I am faster than Wavre and Golding.'
It was fighting talk from Le Cam and half tongue in cheek (perhaps a quarter with regard to the Brits) and he is only six miles ahead of Wavre and still 50 behind Mike Golding (Gamesa) as the second chasing group head south, losing a little ground to the leaders.
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Alex Thomson, after averaging a couple of knots slower than the leading boats over the last 24 hours, was 118 miles behind Le Cléac’h at the 1600hrs (French time) ranking, but has closed his Atlantic workshop after fixing his hydrogenerator.
'The hydrogenerator back down and working which is relief and it’s nice to be able to concentrate on something other than fixing stuff,' Thomson said. 'The temperature wasn’t too bad but it’s a really fiddly job; drill, clean, screw, while you’re doing that stuff at a 30 degrees of heel.
'I’ve been struggling a little bit over the last 24 hours to keep the speed up, but now I’ve got a more wind. There’s no question the guys at the front will slow a little bit as they get further down towards the ridge, but in these conditions the leading boats are a little bit quicker than I am.'
After an extended nightmare in the Doldrums, Arnaud Bossières (Akena Verandas) was finally getting back up to speed in 12th, with speeds of 9.3 knots.
He is now part of the third group of four, separated by 90 miles, led by Javier ‘Bubi’ Sansó (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) who are heading south-west in light 7-9 knot south-easterlies.
After his storming run over the last three days Alessandro Di Benedetto (Team Plastique) has hit the Doldrums to the east and stalled. He has been making just 2.6 knots over the last four hours.
Meanwhile, one of those out of the race, Sam Davies (Savéol), was trying to hitch-hike to Cascais.
Mike Golding (GBR, Gamesa): Opportunity will come at some point but I have been losing to them. So it is gratifying on this most recent poll to see we are on the same heading [as the boats in front]. I hope I have been able to stop the rot.
I just have to be a bit brave now and consider that the opportunity to get back to the leaders will come but it is not going to be very soon. It is a bit frustrating but when I look at the guys behind me, I see I have made the same sort of big gain on them.
Looking ahead it is messy for sure. There are a few options: one seems to be to try and cut the corner a little, to stay to the east, you are more on the wind and at the moment it looks quite risky.
Tanguy de Lamotte (FRA, Initiatives-Coeur): How are you in Paris? Finally, the weather is nice and hot, there are no more clouds and a warm wind instead, just not in the direction I was expecting.(To Catherine Chabaud): 'You’re right, I haven’t been slowed down by the Doldrums, Javier and I were about 100 miles behind the others and the conditions were better for us than for them. Nothing’s wrong on board, I’ve been luckier than Bernard Stamm, I just heard what has happened to him. I keep checking but so far, there's been nothing major to fix. I’m glad I’m close to Javier, Bertrand and Cali. I’m well-rested, I’ve slept at least 6 hours every night, I’m sticking to my plan when it comes to rhythm. NAO is a small robot who wants to sail around the world with me; I’m going to let out a new mascot every time your clicks help a child suffering from heart disease. I can’t wait to let the third one out! The Equator is coming soon, it will be my third time across the Equator!
Francois Gabart (FRA, Macif): Everything's going just fine on Macif, the boat is surfing under the clouds and light squalls, which makes it possible for me to recover and get some sleep. The only problem is the heat, which is hard to bear, even when the sun is down. Yesterday, the wind was lighter and I spent the entire night with the sails peak open, which was very welcome. Oddly enough, there was more wind last night but less air on the boat. I don't need my headlamp because the moon is so bright, it's perfect!
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Jean Le Cam (FRA, SynerCiel): You haven’t seen me give some of my great wine to Neptune, you’ll see that in the next video. The boat is going so fast, I left the Swiss behind and it’s now time to attack my British friend. The next ones to pass are foreigners. First Golding, then a Swiss, then another Brit, I’m definitely into international hunting. The skippers after them are all from Lorient or Port la Forêt, not as much fun… I don’t care about my actual speed, I just want to make sure I’m faster than the others. And I am faster than Wavre and Golding! To Catherine Chabaud: I think shooting videos is fun, I’m just discovering that, it’s quite new to me. I’m really looking forward to seeing how my latest video is edited. I’m trying to show people what I’m going through.
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Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud): Perfect sailing in calm conditions, the temperature is 26° in the morning, 35° in the cockpit and there are flying fishes everywhere off the coast of Brazil. The autopilot is doing all the work. I think I’ve crossed the equator between 40 and 50 times, I lost count. We’re currently sailing on the wind, and Gamesa and SynerCiel have the same route and they made the same choices. I call Jean quite regularly, we’ve talked about the penalties we were given, among other things. I haven’t called Mike Golding yet, I don’t want to interrupt his morning porridge moment!
Vendee Globe website
by Vendee Globe - 6:25 PM Fri 23 Nov 2012 GMT
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2012 Vendee Globe
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