Cheminees Poujoulat flying solo Mid Pacific
Just 33 miles between Neutrogena and GAES Centros Auditivos
One Planet One Ocean fastest in fleet, gaining on We Are Water
Renault Captur heading for Wellington NZ
If Neutrogena skipper Guillermo Altadill is worried about the advancing GAES Centros Auditivos he was masking it well today when he spoke live to Barcelona World Race HQ. But more likely his measured composure and focus is partly because he has simply stuck to their 'blinkers on' strategy of not looking or worrying about the movements of their rivals since they restarted from Bluff, South Island New Zealand.
The head-to-head between the two very similar Farr designed IMOCA 60s, second placed Neutrogena and challangers GAES Centros Auditivos, gets tighter by the hour. Anna Corbella and Gerard Marín have eroded a further 12 miles from Neutrogena's margin since this morning and - straight line distance - there are now only about 33 miles between the two boats. As they scribe a saw tooth course downwind along the edge of the Antarctic Exclusion Zone, Neutrogena gybing every two to four hours, GAES Centros Auditivos are making 16.6kts to Neutrogena's 11.9kts and Corbella and Marín have managed to make one gybe fewer than their rivals.
"It is hard when you come back and see you have lost a lot of miles, "Altadill reported today, " especially when it was not easy to get back into the race because the high was on our track. So we decided not to worry about the rest of the fleet. So we don't see the results, I don't watch where they are. I have a rough idea. I know Renault are out of their race at the moment to repair their rudder but we are not worried about the others, not checking positions, checking the fleet."
" We concentrate on our speed and trying to do our best with the wind and the race."
Race leaders Cheminées Poujoulat are flying solo in the middle of the Pacific, right in the middle. They passed into Chilean waters last night, in one of the loneliest and most isolated points on the Barcelona World Race course. Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam are less than 2000 miles to Cape Horn now and have lead of 1130 miles on Neutrogena and GAES Centros Auditivos. The Swiss-French 'machine' is back at full operation making between 18 and 20kts today in winds which are forecast to be gusting to 40kts today.
Renault Captur have confirmed that they are heading to Wellington, New Zealand to make their rudder repair pit-stop. Jorge Riechers and SébastienAudigane said today that they hope the repair will take less than 48 hours - ideally between 24 and 36 hours. They expect to arrive in Wellington on Saturday where they will be met by their technical team and boatbuilding experts. Riec hers seemed to indicate that the problem was with the shape of replacement carbon shoe which they had to fit over their broken blade.
"We are in contact with boatbuilders there to repair the damaged rudder. That should be possible and to give it a decent shape. The problem was the replacement shoe which we put on, the profile is not really good. As soon as you are surfing it is violently trying to luff or bear away in waves. When you are steering in conditions when the boat does more than 22kts the boat is ripping you off your steering position, the tiller takes you with it. And Seb and I are both more than 80 kilos, we physcially could not hold the tiller. You don't go to Cape Horn like that, if you get 7 metre waves it will destroy everything." said Riechers today.
The more modest pace of fifth placed We Are Water, sailing in the lighter winds of a high pressure zone for three days now, is costing Bruno and WillyGarcia miles to sixth positioned One Planet One Ocean & Pharmaton. The chasing boat of Aleix Gelabert and Didac Costa, the oldest IMOCA 60 in the fleet, have been the quickest boat on the fleet - even faster than Stamm and Le Cam - averaging 19.2kts. As a consequence of being nearly five knots quicker than We Are Water,Gelabert and Costa are now 426 miles behind, gaining 363 miles since Monday.
Jorg Riechers (GER) Renault Captur:"We are OK. The boat is fine we have good conditions and the rudder does not cause us any troubles. It is really light now, we have 9 knots of wind and are doing 6-7kts so it is a long road to Wellington.
It is like at first after we broke the rudder and repaired, put the replacement on, we thought OK we are still in contention for third place, we can push the boat, etcetera etcetera, then discovering it was no working and hat we had to continue under reduced sail area, we could not be competitive, we had to continue the course and hold our fourth place easily with our 1200 miles advantage over We Are Water, now getting to know we have to go to New Zealand to repair, it really a series of different blows, and it feels like this kills the race for us. Now it is like a race against time, and saving what can be saved, but it is whole new challenge. Finishing a round the world race is something you want to acheive.
We are going to Wellington. That is where the best repair facilities are. At the point we turned the routing said it was the fastest point to go to New Zealand and there too because that is the best place to find good boat builders. The best place to repair the rudder is Auckland but it is too far north. So it has to be North Island, on the South Island there is not very much.
We are in contact with boatbuilders there to repair the damaged rudder. That should be possible and to give it a decent shape. The problem was the replacement shoe which you put on, the profile is not really good. As soon as you are surfing it is violently trying to luff or bear away in waves. When you are steering in conditions when the boat does more than 22kts the boat is ripping you off your steering position, the tiller takes you with it. And Seb and I are both more than 80 kilos, we physcially could not hold the tiller. You don't go to Cape Horn like that, if you get 7 metre waves it will destroy everything.
So we hope that we can do the repair in between 30 and 48 hours. Normally we will arrive Saturday during the day and then have Sunday and early Monday to repair. And we hope we can leave Wellington 8am to 10am European Time Monday. Monday evening NZ time.
If we can do the repair in 24 to 30 hours we still have a chance to regain our fourth place which we would be really happy with. And I think if we leave Monday 8am French time we still get chance of staying fifth. That is our new goal, our only motivation to stay in the race. If not you are cruising and that is not our intention.
I think the problem with the keel is easy to solve, something we can do in a couple of hours. We think it is a problem with the hydraulics which makes a strange noise. We dont know with the rudder if we hit something, if we did it is would be good because then there would be a good explanation. Or it was just delaminating because it is old. That is really bad because the other one is the same age. That is what is worrying us. The night the rudder was damaged we did not sense any shock at all. That is strange. That gives a little bit of worry. But then it is always a little bit like that in life, isn't it. Maybe it was damaged before the p roblem with the rudder just before the Cape Verde when the rudder was lifting automatically. When it lifts up it can be bad for the rudder, so maybe the rudders take a tough moment then. We just don't know."
Guillermo Altadill (ESP), Neutrogena:"When we had to detour to New Zealand to get the engine system sorted it is hard when you come back and see you have lost a lot of miles, especially when it was not easy to get back into the race because the high was on our track. So we decided not to worry about the rest of the fleet. So we dont see the results, I dont watch where they are. I have a rough idea where they are. I know Renault are out of their race at the moment to repair their rudder but we are not worried about the others, not checking positions, the fleet. We concentrate on our speed and trying to do our best with the wind and the race.
It looks like the wind will be softer for the next few hours and then we have to make some gybes close to the exclusion zone, then it will shift to the north, light, then westerlies again. For the last few days we have had to gybe with he westerlies, and it looks like that except for the next few hours of a straight line, it will be westerlies. So we are just following the squalls last night, we were gybing on the squalls to get the best wind, and for the next few days it will be the same, sailing close to the exclusion zone as well. Now the exclusion zone is angled more north and so that is where we are very close and gybing, then it will be more straight line so it will be a bit easier, but at the moment it goes north (east) for a few hours.
It was hard getting back into it. It was 24 hours with very light winds, you keep losign miles. It is hard when you were hours behind the first boats and three days ahead of the next and then you come back in the race, the o ther boats are three days ahead. That si why I say 'don't worry about that' The hardest thing is to stop racing."
Standings at 1400hrs Thursday 19/02/15
1 Cheminées Poujoulat (B Stamm – J Le Cam) at 8870.3 miles to finish
2 Neutrogena (G Altadill – J Muñoz) + 1129.9 miles to leader
3 GAES Centros Auditivos (A Corbella – G Marin) + 1176.6 miles to leader
4 Renault Captur (J Riechers – S Audigane) +2135 miles to leader
5 We Are Water (B Garcia – W Garcia) + 2778 miles to leader
6 One Planet One Ocean & Pharmaton (A Gelabert – D Costa) + 3205 miles to leader
7 Spirit of Hungary (N Fa – C Colman) + 4054 miles to leader
ABD : Hugo Boss (A. Thomson - P. Ribes)