The long game of surfing and leapfrogging between the southern depressions has started for the first 15 boats of the fleet which sail downwind near the Cape of Good Hope. This foray into the Deep South is not trivial. The sinking of Kévin Escoffier served as a stern warning. The damage that occurred today on board ARKÉA-PAPREC was another arrow fired by the Indian.
Difficult repairs for Sébastien Simon
Foils, this technological revolution allowing large 18-meter monohulls to partially overcome the laws of weightlessness and reach high speeds, can also become their Achilles heel.
These appendages which equip 17 of the 31 boats still in the race – HUGO BOSS, which is heading for Cape Town, has not yet announced its official abandonment – “hang around” in the water and are all the more likely to hit a floating object. After Thomas Rouillard on November 25, it is Sébastien Simon’s turn to complain about a damage to one of his foils, starboard side. Until then 4th, after a very beautiful descent of the South Atlantic, the skipper of ARKÉA-PAPREC has to put the pedal to the wheel and the race on hold. Now comes the time for repairs which can be very tedious because the foil well is also damaged. And that Sébastien is currently sailing in an area where the southwesterly wind exceeds 30 knots in gusts.
Foot on the brake
“They forgot to groom the track, it’s a bumpy field,” Charlie Dalin said this morning, describing the surface of his playing field in south-eastern South Africa. Leader for 9 days now, the skipper of Apivia, with his 250 miles lead, is managing his progress, one foot on the accelerator, another on the brake. “I spend 50% of my time adjusting the boat to go fast and 50% adjusting it to preserve it, to slow down. This is a weird exercise! (…) On paper, we are not moving quickly. There is the state of the sea, the squalls that follow one another. You have to set your sails for the gusts and not for the average wind. Last night, I had 10 knots deviations from the gusts: these are significant variations. “
The long stretch of surfing and gybing between the southern lows has begun for the first 15 boats in the fleet, which navigate under the influence of a vast low pressure system. In the vicinity of Bonne-Espérance – there are twelve, up to Isabelle Joschke, to have crossed its longitude – the conditions can be tough, especially when you are positioned in the South, where the winds and the sea are strongest. strong.
However, it was the option chosen by Louis Burton who went to flirt with 45 ° South, at the limit of the Antarctic Exclusion Zone. The skipper of Bureau Vallée 2 has certainly lived through trying hours (35/40 knots of wind, 6 meters of trough), the price to pay to take 2nd place this afternoon …
150 to 200 miles north of Bureau Vallée 2, the elements are less “rough” and it is under a blue sky dotted with rare clouds that Thomas Rettant, 3rd, was making progress this morning. The same luminous decor and the same unobstructed view under the Groupe APICIL cap where Damien Seguin, 6th, seemed happy, galvanized, also, no doubt, by the superb regatta which animates the peloton of pursuers.
However, entering the Indian Ocean is not trivial. The mishap at PRB has cast a chill that pervades people’s minds and influences the way to navigate.
Emmanuel Macron live with Le Cam and Escoffier
The story of the sinking of Kévin Escoffier and his rescue by Jean Le Cam on the night of Monday to Tuesday also marked the minds on land, even in the highest circles: last night, the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, wanted to call the two sailors to hear from them and wish them good luck.
Since Tuesday 2:18 am, Jean Le Cam has been sailing… double-handed. The question therefore arises of the landing of Kévin Escoffier. The Nivôse, a French Navy frigate based in Réunion and responsible, among other things, for monitoring fisheries, could be called upon to recover the skipper of PRB between the Kerguelen archipelago and Crozet. “There aren’t many solutions in these regions,” explains Jacques Caraës, the Clerk of the Course. Otherwise, we may have to wait for the next affordable land: New Zealand! “.
Charlie Dalin, Apivia
We have a lull there, with a little ray of sunshine. However, they forgot to groom the track: it’s a field of moguls! I only have 23/25 knots of wind. I recover before the next “plum”. The first one went well, gusting to 50 knots and the wind was 42 knots over 10 minutes. The sea was “less worse” than I expected. I had a bit of trouble sleeping as the fight approached but last night I was able to recover. It’s going to jibe by the end of the day with the spinning wind coming up. I’m happy with this baptism of fire, that this first Indian “plum” went well. It will follow the “plums” next week. I take my marks slowly …
I spend 50% of my time adjusting the boat to go fast and 50% adjusting it to preserve it, to slow it down. It’s a weird “process”, I’m not used to it! I discover. I think everyone is obviously a little shaken by Kévin’s (Escoffier) sea fortune, I’m really happy that this story ends well. It was a huge relief for everyone. Indirectly yes, it impacted the way I sailed, but it is also very much related to the state of the sea.
Maxime Sorel, V and B – Mayenne
We entered a second southern depression: it started very smoothly with around 20 knots, and now there are more like 28 knots established… The sea is forming and last night, it was really nice because there had a swell that hit us in the back. Now it’s getting choppier but we’re still lining up fifteen to sixteen knots on average! Well, on the sky side, it’s all gray: it’s cold, it’s very humid, and with around thirty knots of wind, the temperature felt is really low … I should stall a jibe in the middle of the morning before go east almost to the Crozet Islands. Normally, I should cross the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope at the start of the night, rather on 41 ° 30 South after having ascended on a port tack. This helps to avoid delicate areas! My diet has changed a bit: it’s fatter, richer and more filling. Even at the card table, we burn calories! It’s still rather cold … I have the advantage of having a small heater that I turn on half an hour before nightfall and half an hour during the day: it warms up the atmosphere in the boat! And that frankly feels good. And now, I sail with the doors closed, even with a door locked to avoid the cold puffs of air… I want to keep a space roughly dry when I come home soaked from the outside!
Armel Tripon, L’Occitane en Provence
I have noise-canceling headphones because they are heavy: I’m right in front of the forehead and you have to run to avoid being “eaten”! It should still ease at the end of the day and then we will keep this front for two more days: it is still very practicable since there is only 23 to 25 knots of wind. The situation seems to be clearing up so that I can slip under the Cape of Good Hope without slowing down too much: I have to keep up this rhythm in a small corridor, all right! I hope I will take the break from my closest competitors.
These are ideal conditions, a great start in the South Seas: you can attack and have good averages when I don’t have a lot of canvas and things are moving quickly. The boat behaves very well, without forcing, on fairly tight angles: it will not be the same after the Cape of Good Hope where there will be more sea! And this is the first time I have found myself running in front of a forehead and holding it at bay, even though I can feel its “breath”.
I’m not in the cold yet, but it’s wet! I am already on 41 ° South and I already have the cap: change of scenery compared to yesterday … In the South, there is rhythm and birds … well I hope because for the moment, I do not haven’t seen my first albatross yet.
Clarisse Crémer, Banque Populaire X
It is not trivial to witness a shipwreck and then a rescue. It puts our ideas in place a little bit. It’s a regatta but it’s not just that. From Theta (note: depression encountered by the fleet in the North Atlantic), I decided to play in “a little less regatta” mode. And let’s say that confirmed my idea. I’m new to the South, I don’t want to do anything. We were all very, very touched, we had a bad night. I cried for joy yesterday morning at the announcement of the good news, all my emotions mixed up. I was so relieved, but at the same time, it was so weird to experience this at sea. I can’t imagine the friends who went to the area. Emotionally, it must have been even more complicated for them. The great challenge for the best sailor is one with stable morale. Me in the same day, I am able to cry of joy and despair! But things are better: I am better in my sneakers. We’re in a weird place, we’re all alone, that’s the exercise! This is also what we are looking for.
Rankings at 6pm French Time
|1. Charlie Dalin, Apivia, at 16 915,8 milles from finish|
|2. Louis Burton, Bureau Vallée 2, at 232,3 milles from leader|
|3. Thomas Ruyant, LinkedOut, at 258,5 milles from leader|
|4. Boris Herrmann, SeaExplorer – Yacht Club de Monaco at 496,5 milles from leader|
|5. Sébastien Simon, ARKÉAPAPREC, at 499,4 milles from leader|
Photo Credit : Yvan Zedda / Alea
– PR –