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J Composites 2022 - J45 v4 LEADERBOARD

Retour à La Base - Bringing it home to the barn safely

by Retour à La Base 8 Dec 2023 13:21 PST 7 December 2023
12th placed Pip Hare - loving life in the fast lane - Retour à La Base © Retour à La Base

With a lead of some 88 miles and about 400 miles to the finish line it could be imagined that Yoann Richomme (Paprec Arkéa) might ease back on the accelerator and consolidate to the Lorient finish line of the Retour à La Base, but the French skipper remains the fastest of the top 10 skippers. Making over 20kts late this afternoon he can imagine being finished by 1600hrs local time Saturday, landing his first big IMOCA race win ever, a great conclusion to his first ever proper solo outing.

Briton Sam Goodchild is still pushing hard in third place but has a margin of 36 miles to close down on second placed Jéremie Beyou (Charal). There is no doubt the French based Goodchild will do all he can if the opportunity arises, but for him getting 'home to the barn' safely and banking a good third place will be deeply satisfying.

"It is going fairly well this afternoon." Goodchild said on his daily voice message report, "I am keeping an eye on what's happening around me but I don't want to get too carried away. I am just trying do what I told myself a few days ago....'sail your own race...sail to Lorient as fast as you can but don't get wound up by the people around you,' so I am trying to stick to that philosophy.

"It is quite rough weather, it is pretty windy we had 35kts earlier with five metre waves, it is a bit full on. If we weren't racing it would be fine but we want to go fast and so it is about finding the right way to do that without breaking too much. So far so good. We have the Southern Ocean sails out so happy to give them an airing, you don't get that chance very often.

"I think it will be downwind all the way to the finish with a gybe coming up tomorrow morning. We are heading across Biscay then into the finish sometime between Saturday and Sunday. It is hard to estimate when because there is such a big sea state the performance of the boat can quickly improve or deteriorate depending on what happens with the sea state."

Goodchild should finish during Saturday night or Sunday morning, models suggest Beyou will be a couple or three hours earlier.

Otherwise the battle for fourth to tenth positions are wide open. Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée) seems to be profiting from being in the north though his gains are more likely to come between now and the finish, seeming to be able to sail a better angle towards the finish. Germany's Boris Herrmann (Malizia Seaexplorer) still holds fourth but has the hard driving Damien Seguin (Groupe Apicil) and Briton Sam Davies (Initiatives Coeur) within reach behind. Nico Lunven (Holcim PRB) reported a key on board failure...his alarm system.

In eighth he reported that he slept for six hours because his alarm battery failed and is kicking himself for losing position to the south! He may, of course, now attack as he is better rested.

For 17th placed Kojiro Shiraishi (DMG MORI Global One) dental pain is debilitating and he admits he is very fatigued, racing in gusts over 40 knots. Louis Duc (Fives Group - Lantana Environnement) has a torn sail and plans to sail into the lee of San Miguel in the Azores to repair which could well open the door for the 'Crazy Kiwi' Conrad Colman (Mail Boxes ETC) who looks like he might become second daggerboard boat.

They said:

Pip Hare, GBR, (Medallia) "I should not say this, I should find a piece of wood to touch, but everything has been OK these last 24 hours. The sea state is quite big but not massive and the breeze I was expecting has not materialised it has been sitting around 25kts. It is good sailing but very, very wet and the temperature is starting to drop quite sharply and so I am wondering what the next evolution of my wardrobe is.....as the T shirt and shorts I have been wearing for nine days do leave something to be desired.

"And it is quite nice now to see the home strait ahead of my but some pretty gnarly sailing between here and the finish, but it is getting close. Can I catch the pack in front of me? I don't know, I just don't know there is quite a gap, enough for them to cross fronts at different times. And I am gutted about that. I am going to be gutted about that. That will be my takeaway from this race, seeing where Isa and Romain end up. But this is all a learning process, a massive learning process and I am only at the beginning."

Szabi Weöres, HUN, (New Europe): "I am happy, everything is going according to plan. We were waiting for the low and the front yesterday and then I was not positioned very well and so the front went a little higher than I expected and my plan was to sail on the lower edge in around 30kts of wind on the front but I have less and have been losing some distance, so I am not happy with that.

"But I am happy with my race generally. I don't have major, major damages that might threaten my race except breaking the daggerboard early in the race after the collision with an unknown object in the water. And later when I hoisted my A5 I realised that it is too old, it has too many cuts and tears. The material itself is too old. I took it down in one piece while I could!"

Follow the race tracker here.

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