Even the most battle hardened crews have been finding the very wet going and relentless high speeds tough as the MOD70 fleet devour the Atlantic miles en route for Brest. With winds of up to 35kts, it was the hours either side of midnight last night which saw the speeds again peak at well over 30 knots for sustained spells, making life exhausting for the five teams as they pushed the red line constantly.
It was during these most demanding conditions that Yann Guichard and the crew of Spindrift Racing which includes Pascal Bidégorry – the skipper who set the current Atlantic record – slid inexorably into the race lead on their slightly more northerly routing.
Through Monday Spindrift racing lead over Sébastien Josse’s young crew on Groupe Edmond de Rothschild and Michel Desjoyeaux’s FONCIA has climbed progressively. From 3.6 miles at 2200hrs UTC last night, by afternoon Spindrift were 23.1 miles ahead, still showing a speed which remains quicker than the next two boats.
Managing the crew physically and mentally starts to be critical after the first 48 hours of racing. Adrenalin and sheer motivation will only fuel the crews for so long. All have reported how hard it is to snatch any kind of restful sleep. Guichard said early this morning that his crew had their first freeze dried meal since they left New York on Saturday morning (local time):
“We got to eat properly until last night when we made our first freeze-dried meal: it is pretty rock and roll below! We have to keep our strength up and getting any sleep is proving to be quite difficult.” Guichard reported.
Conditions were due to ease slightly as Monday rolls on, with the SW’ly breeze expected to drop back to a more manageable 25 kts and with it some of the sea state which at times has been quite problematic.
Michel Desjoyeaux’s FONCIA remain firmly in touch, calculated at less than half a mile behind Groupe Edmond de Rothschild on the midday rankings, but had dropped a dozen miles during the afternoon.
The fleet leaders had less than 2000 miles to sail to Brest with Spindrift reeling off an incredible 639.9 miles 24 hours run to 1300hrs UTC today.
Forecasts suggest that the high speed chase to Brest will continue for another two days at least, with the MOD70’s enjoying a dream debut spurred by a fast moving front which has really proven ‘to order’.
After leading during the first 24 hours of the KRYS OCEAN RACE Sidney Gavignet’s Musandam-Oman Sail has been forced to back off on their assault after their port foil failed during Sunday night. Gavignet reported today that they have had to retrieve the foil into the boat and have consequently been sailing slower than their rivals.
“We were going between 30 and 32 knots in about 25 knots of breeze when we noticed the boat had slowed down and the bow was digging in deeper than usual,” explained Gavignet.
“We didn’t feel anything and couldn’t see any reason why it did happen. It is not good news - we are now sailing at 70% of our potential – the other boats are going at 30 knots but we are at around 25 which is disappointing but there is nothing we can do until we get the boat to Brest and have a look. Until then, we will just keep going."
Stève Ravussin’s Race for Water are also compromised after damaging their centreboard during the first night of racing and were lying fifth, around 20 miles behind Musandam-Oman Sail.
Sébastien Josse, skipper Groupe Edmond de Rothschild:
“We have had 30 to 35 knots with quite a few squalls and quite a rough sea with 3 to 3.5 metre swell/waves. Things should ease off a bit towards the end of the day; well, ease off is a relative term, as we should get 20 to 25 knots and maybe 2 to 2.5 metre waves. Either way it will be a lot easier to sail. There are patches where the sea state is very disorganised and then others where it is more regular. We are doing out best, getting past this rougher bit so that we can then sail at our optimum. To ease off we can open the angle a bit and keep in a couple of reefs and sail with our Solent. We have not set a speed limit, but rather work by the feeling of the helm and the sea state, and gusts need to be dealt with by the helm. We must avoid putting the boat under too much stress.”
Michel Desjoyeaux, skipper FONCIA:
“ We are going fast and it is very, very wet. At the helm and in the cockpit you get swamped by the waves coming over the boat, so then as soon as you get in below deck it is wet there too as you need to go below to get your foul weather gear off. Wind conditions became stronger over night but have eased off a bit now. On the strategic front, there is not much we can do as we are pretty much all following the same option. We are keeping ahead of this front, which is not bad really because we can maintain the pace and go fast. For the foreseeable future we stay with these conditions as we keep ahead of the front. Then we will see how things develop in two to three days time.”