BT Knocked down and damaged,
Foncia’s lead still being cut,
Caffari and White have their time
1500 HRS GMT. Rankings, Friday 26th December 2008
1. Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia) at + 10240.5 miles
2. Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnement) at + 32.8 miles
3. Jean Le Cam (VM Matériaux) at + 105.2 miles
4. Seb Josse (BT) at + 139.4 miles
5. Vincent Riou (PRB) at + 296.2 miles
8. Sam Davies, GBR, (ROXY) at + 1432.2 miles
10. Dee Caffari, GBR, (AVIVA) at + 1898.2
11. Brian Thompson, GBR, (Bahrain Team Pindar) at + 1924.6
13. Steve White, GBR, (Toe in the Water) not polled
14. Johnny Malbon, GBR, (Artemis) at + 3251.5
15. Rich Wilson, USA, (Great American III) at + 3334.7
16. Derek Hatfield, CAN, (Algimouss Spirit of Canada) at + 3466.2
18. Norbert Sedlacek, AUT, (Nauticsport.Kapsch) + 4317.3
- In big seas of Pacific to the east of New Zealand Sebastien Josse’s BT was knocked down with the mast in the water for several minutes before it came upright.
- The French skipper has since found ‘considerable damage’: cracking to the coach-roof which is letting in water at a ‘manageable rate’ but he now plans to head north to see what kind of repairs he can make. He has not yet been able to assess the rudders.
- Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia) has seen his lead cut to less than 33 miles since the New Zealand security gate, Roland Jourdain has been nearly two knots quicker to the north west of Desjoyeaux between the position reports.
- British soloist Dee Caffari has been piling on the miles, having a great 380 mile day to 1000hrs this morning in great, if wet conditions on Aviva.
- Marc Guillemot (Safran) is heading to Auckland Island, an remote small archipelago 250 miles south of New Zealand’s south island to affect a repair to his mast track. Raphael Dinelli (Fondacion Océan Vital) is heading north east and may be looking for quieter waters to make much needed repairs to his IMOCA 60.
- Jean Le Cam (VM Matériaux), second in the 2004 Vendée Globe, a solo skipper never one to sugar coat it, described the conditions as ‘infernal’ during this morning’s live radio broadcast session, ironically speaking at almost the same time as Sébastien Josse was calling his shore team in the UK, to tell them that he had been knocked flat by a huge wave.
Josse, lying fourth in the race, described briefly how the boat had been forced over, with the mast at more than 100 degrees, settled for several minutes before it emerged upright again. He is making an assessment of the effects of this knockdown when there is daylight, but meantime he has been heading north under bare poles, trying to escape the worst of the weather. He reported squalls of over 60 knots of wind. Four years ago today, Boxing Day, Josse was just getting going after hitting a growler on 23rd December.
His teams report this evening says that “The inside of the boat is in total disarray, and the conditions outside remain fierce – and too dangerous to inspect the rudders which have suffered some damage the extent of which is not yet clear. Down below, considerable damage is already obvious though – three separate cracks in the coach roof, including a longitudinal one which is leaking water in to the cabin when water comes over the deck, albeit at a manageable rate, and serious damage to the bulkhead that joins the roof to the deck around the hatch. The structural damage is not considered a danger to boat or skipper, but how much can be repaired, and how competitive Sébastien will be able to be for the rest of this epic race, is not yet known. Also a result of the mast being well under the water, the masthead wind instruments have been lost.”
Josse’s team say he will try to carry on his escape to the north, perhaps for up to 36 hours, working with his technical team on a repair plan. He aims to lift one of the misaligned rudders to enable him to set the staysail and make faster progress to the north. Everything in the boat has been thrown around, and as the skipper told his team “I can’t even find the camera to take a picture of the damage to send back!”
Just as the conditions have drawn no Christmas truce with the competitors, neither has their been an let up at the front of the fleet and Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnment) remains a thorn in the side of Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia). Having got north of the 2000-2001 race winner by a matter of 100 miles or so, Jourdain has been gaining consistently as the par converge again, cutting the lead that Desjoyeaux has now held for 10 days, to just 32.8 miles.
Meantime the gains to Vincent Riou (PRB) and Armel Le Cléac’h (Brit Air) have continued to accumulate, and they have now earned back more 242 miles since 22nd December, while Jean Le Cam (VM Materiaux) lies third and has regained 153 miles on the lead boat.
Dee Caffari, GBR, (Aviva) was tired, but on great form today having risen to 10th place in the race, and making the best speeds in the fleet yesterday evening and overnight:
“When I was on the dock in Les Sables d’Olonne with the thirty boats there, to have been in the top 10 would have been like a dream come true.” Remarked Caffari today.
Sébastien Josse, (BT): “Yesterday evening I decided to go further north to avoid the worst of the storm, choosing a more conservative approach than my rivals perhaps, but conditions were in any case horrendous with breaking waves and squalls up to a steady 65 knots (120 km/h), with hail and snow. I was sailing conservatively with 3 reefs in the main and staysail up, in the dark, when I was knocked down by a wave. The boat heeled over to at least 110º with the top of the mast in the water. I was convinced it was going to go all the way. It took me five minutes to get a clear idea of what had happened, but the key parts of the boat are ok – mast, keel and she’s floating! The main goal now is to just get north away from the storm so I can better assess the situation – right now its hell out there on deck”
Steve White, GBR (Toe in the Water): “Christmas was a mixed affair. I got thoroughly miserable that I was out here with a broken boat and everyone was back home enjoying their Christmas. So I gave myself a bit of a kick up the backside to sort myself out and that is what I have been doing since. This morning I was dozing here at the chart table and there was a big crack and I thought it was my boom breaking, but in fact it was my Christmas tree falling over, and all the resin Santas went ‘crack’ down on the chart table, and so I thought, ‘right that is an omen, that has to mean Christmas is over, so I bagged my tree and that’s it till I have my second Christmas at home.”
On his plans to repair his gooseneck:
“I think I am going to try and drill into the bottom of the fitting and put in an epoxy thread which will allow me to use a smaller bolt and hopefully that will allow me to do the job.”
Steve White, GBR, (Toe in the Water): “I am going for it a little bit at the moment, I just look at the little group around me, but it is just really good conditions for this boat. The swell is high and the wind waves are not really high yet. We are reaching in 25-30 knots and boat is
I am a bit tired, but it has been worth it. The boat has just not wanted to go slowly, but it has been quite hard to get any sleep in that time because it has been a pretty full-on motion, so I think that is why am feeling a bit tired.
It is very exciting but it was the conditions, the wind was quite far forward, the sea was not too big. It was just wet and fast. The wind has got up a bit just now, but I have put a reef in and so it is just more of the same. It has been really good conditions for fast sailing, wet and very noisy. It is has been the yellow submarine again, the boat has been loving it, but it has been quite hard on me.