Colman consolidates his repairs, Le Cléac'h makes continued gain
Vendée Globe solo round the world race skipper Conrad Colman, who spent several hours stricken in the midst of a violent mid Pacific storm between January 1st and 2nd has managed to remove his shredded J1 headsail from his forestay after some six hours of hard work. He reported to Race Direction in Paris in the early hours of this morning that he has so far been unable to replace the pin to re-attach his forestay to its fitting because he has a piece missing.
Colman plans to further reinforce the lashing which he has in place securing the forestay before carefully bringing his rig back up to working tension. He continues to sail slowly NW and will rest again. Only once he has done so will the skipper of Foresight Natural Energy resume his E'ly course towards Cape Horn 1800 miles away.
Later today the fickle trade winds will strengthen to a more useful 17kts for the race leader Armel Le Cléac'h who is ESE of Salvador this morning and 216 miles ahead of British skipper Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss). Thomson continues to have lighter winds and has remained slower as a consequence. The leader should reach the Equator in three more days. The weather patterns in the South Atlantic have favored Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ) in third place just 400 miles behind the British skipper thanks to his fast sail back up from Cape Horn. He has profited from downwind sailing has pushed him right up to the edge of the St. Helena high. He now has to tack to get to Cape Frio but is now in same weather system as the leaders.
The fourth, fifth and sixth placed trio (Dick-Eliès-Le Cam) who are just over 700 miles behind are sailing in a front studded with thunderstorms that is allowing them to progress rapidly towards the northern edge of a cell of high pressure. The situation is likely to become more complicated this afternoon, when the breeze eases as it shifts to the NNE. Off Cape Horn, the SE'ly winds are forcing Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée) to sail upwind to get towards Patagonia. He is expected to pass the Horn in the middle of the morning, but he should then be able to pick up a southerly air stream to get through the Le Maire Strait to climb back up towards Uruguay.
Nándor Fa (Spirit of Hungary) has got away from the nasty Pacific low, while the group of five (Bellion-Boissières-Amedeo-Roura-Wilson) have been benefiting from more manageable conditions since the middle of the night, although it is still rough to the south of New Zealand. Enda O'Coineen (Kilcullen Voyager-Team Ireland) is around 80 miles from the port of Dunedin from where a tug will set off to join him after the gales. It was in this gale that Didac Costa (One Planet-One Ocean) suffered a torn mainsail and has had many other little problems over the past couple of days. He explained the situation is his message during the night. "The wind is still blowing. I have just had a 40-knot squall. When it got to 28 knots yesterday, I took in a third reef. It was when I completed the maneuver that I looked at the sail and saw there was a hole in it above the third reef. The code zero had suffered the previous day, but this time it was the new mainsail. Even if it was only a foot long, it was a clear tear and needed to be repaired, as it could have spread. But just as I wanted to do that a squall arrived with the wind getting up to 40 knots. I brought the mainsail down and over the past few hours have been waiting for the low to move off to allow me to begin repairs. The code zero needs fine weather to be repaired on the deck. The staysail has been ready for a few days, but I'm keeping it in reserve and am using the storm sail when the wind gets up." The Catalan sailor is now being pushed along ahead of a low off Auckland Island, which is also helping Romain Attanasio (Famille Mary-Étamine du Lys) who has narrowed the gap. Sébastien Destremau (TechnoFirst-faceOcean), now more than 8000 miles behind the leader, is still moored off Hobart waiting for enough wind to set sail from Tasmania.
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EXTRACTS FROM TODAY'S RADIO SESSIONS
Arnaud Boissières (La Mie Câline): "I'm not feeling too bad, as the sun is out and it's been a while since I have seen it. And also because we have got away from the fairly strong Pacific low… Over the past ten days or so, I have been drying everything out, the boat, my boots and foulies. As soon as you finish a maneuver, you rush inside as you get soaked, so it's nice to have a ray of sunshine. I'm not going to do any sunbathing, but maybe tomorrow when the wind eases off. Cape Horn is still 2500 miles away, which is the equivalent of a transatlantic crossing. After this period with a strong wind on the beam, we have a ridge of high pressure with light winds. Slowly but surely, we're getting there."
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