Back into shape
For the past 48 hours, the eleven single-handed multihull skippers have had a brush with a hefty low which has given rise to winds of more than 50 knots (force 11) and even the monohulls 500 miles further east have suffered. Virbac was capsized by rogue wave and has dis-masted. Fred Le Peutrec has made the most of this weather check to get some rest.

« Not a lot happening at the moment ( 9h00 Saturday morning). I'm going to go and get a quick hour's sleep in before the new front kicks in around midday. Winds with squalls of more than 30 knots are forecast … I've still got a 15-knot westerly wind which is gently veering SW. I'll soon be changing tack. I'm quite tired in fact as apart from the fact that my Solent jib  exploded on Thursday night, and my narrowly missing turning turtle as a result, a whole series of minor hitches have piled up. The sea was really wild and a 45-knot wind blowing (with gusts of up to 52 knots !) when the Solent jib formed a pocket  and started flapping like a mad thing…
After that, a reefing pendant broke (a line which holds the main sail to the clew). Everything got wound up in the lazy jacks  (lines which relieve the boom) ! It was a mess, not to mention all sorts of odds and sods such as blocks and lines which have given up the ghost… What's more it's freezing cold. It's rather stressful and it was impossible to sleep. So this morning I'm really tired. But I am never the less, I'm really pleased to have come through the worst of the low and still be in the race, even if the absence of the Solent jib handicaps me when the wind drops. »

At Gitana Team's base in La Trinité, the shore crew is hard at it and Marc Guessard has handed over to Yann Guichard to provide Fred with weather information. « We're on stand-by round the clock to answer questions which Fred asks at sea. As a rule, Gitana 11 calls us every three hours to say how things are going. Not only do we supply info along with Sylvain Mondon of Météo France, comprising an analysis and summary of the outlook for the hours ahead, but also psychological support. This morning, Fred is really tired and we advised him to get some sleep straight away as three hours form now a front will be passing overhead, giving rise to winds of 25 knots and squalls with gusts of up to 35 knots. The thing to remember when sailing solo is that the slightest hitch takes on enormous proportions and often it's just one thing after another. It's essential to rests and clear one's head. »

On Saturday morning, Gitana 11 had her unreefed main up and storm sail in a 15-knot head wind. Fred was getting ready to tackle the third low since the start form Plymouth on Monday and should be reaching the banks of Newfoundland this evening. At last the skippers have agreed to respect a « virtual point » 47°N and 47°W so as to avoid entering into the zone where icebergs appear frequently, east of Newfoundland.

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