The skippers in the IMOCA fleet will be recovering today after another battering last night. The front they crossed overnight brought much stronger conditions than most were expecting, with more than 40 knots of wind and a rough, confused sea state.
Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée) came off worst in the IMOCA fleet, dismasting yesterday evening around 380nm west of Cap Finistere in Spain. Louis was dismasted in the Transat Jacques Vabre last year, and so I’m sure the team will be keen to understand what happened here and if there’s a connection between the two incidents.
This morning Fabrice Amedeo (Nexans – Arts & Fenêtres) told his team that he is heading to Cascais for repairs. During the night one of his ballast tanks (internal water tanks used to help keep the boat upright) was damaged which flooded the inside of the boat, damaging his batteries. Fabrice currently has no power onboard, and also reports damage to his mainsail. He’s limping to Cascais under J3 (small headsail) alone.
Strong conditions caused problems in the wider Route du Rhum fleet too. Thibault Vauchel-Camus (Solidaires en Peloton – ARSEP) on his Ocean Fifty trimaran capsized and was rescued earlier this morning. Two Class 40s were also dismasted and are slowly making their way back to shore.
Even for those skippers still racing, today will consist of thoroughly checking their boats for any damage and tidying up after what will have been a busy and uncomfortable night.
Since crossing the front, the sailors in the IMOCA fleet have tacked and started heading in a southwesterly direction towards the Azores. Charlie Dalin (Apivia) still leads, 82nm ahead of Jeremie Beyou (Charal) – though second place keeps changing between Jeremie, Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut), Kevin Escoffier (Holcim – PRB) and Paul Meilhat (Biotherm).
The weather still isn’t looking simple. During the day today, the frontrunners will move into a ridge of very light winds extending from The Azores High – an area of high pressure usually situated around islands of The Azores. This will not be easy to navigate through, but the promise of steady trade winds sits on the other side. Being in the lead can be a problem when meeting light wind – those behind can avoid any wind holes you may find yourself stuck in.
The islands themselves can create some interesting local conditions thanks to large wind shadows and thermal winds generated by the land masses in the area. There are an interesting few days ahead!
There have been a couple of problems with the tracker this morning with both Pip Hare (Medallia) and Giancarlo Pedote (Prysmian Group) disappearing at various points. Both teams have posted that they have been in contact with their sailors, and there are no issues onboard.