A rude wake up call for the Transat Jacques Vabre fleet this Tuesday morning. Towards 4 o'clock this morning, the wind increased from 35 to 45 knots and the sea conditions worsened. Sodebo's windward floater broke and the mast came tumbling down. A fishing vessel should be arriving in the area mid-morning to commence towing operations for Thomas Coville and Jacques Vincent. On Orange Project, the leeward crossbeams broke just after the Ravussin brothers had changed tack. Their trimaran capsized. Stève and Yvan are on watch waiting to be lifted off the boat by helicopter.
At 10h00, both Gitana had changed tack and are now diving south behind the cold front. Neither team will really be able to let up until mid afternoon, not at least until the hefty conditions has softened a little. Prudence is the word. Gitana 11 made it through the front and chaotic seas without any difficulty, but Gitana X had a few problems with the links between the cars on the mast and the mainsail battens. As a result, the sail cloth has torn slightly along the headboard. Thierry Duprey du Vorsent and Erwan Le Roux decided to change tack a little earlier than expected diving south with just the medium jib up. They are going to wait until the strong winds have passed, that the wind has clearly shifted NW before heading directly for Madeira to make repairs. A minor setback which should not penalise them too much for the rest of the race.
Frédéric Le Peutrec and Yann Guichard are positioned rather west on their Gitana 11, which makes it possible for them to gain ground on the leaders. Their express pitstop in Camaret on Monday morning has not been that detrimental. The overall picture of the damage sustained to the fleet will start to become a little clearer on Wednesday once the sea state has steadied and is not quite so rough. The trimarans still have lots of miles to cover to reach Salvador de Bahia… These conditions were forecast, but no other rough and violent phenomenon is expected on the way over to Brazil. For all that it is sad to see four multihulls retiring for damage, all crew are fine physically and should be picked up by rescue teams currently in the full throes of organising rescue.
Rankings – Tuesday 8th November at 10h00 :
1. Groupama 2
2. Banque Populaire
4. Gitana X
5. Gitana 11
6. TIM Progetto Italia