Dee Caffari's mainsail further damaged

Dee Caffari has reported that Aviva’s mainsail has been further damaged in 45-50 knot gales with gusts to 65 knots. The British skipper will not be able to make any assessment until the winds drop. Along with Brian Thompson (Bahrain Team Pindar) and Arnaud Boissières (Akenas Vérandas), this trio have been suffering huge seas and brutal conditions as they battle towards Cape Horn.

Dee Caffari, GBR (Aviva): “It is still horrendous. The sea state is massive. I have seen a top wind speed of 64 knots, and probably the last seven hours I have seen 50 plus knots, I am OK, the boat is OK but the mainsail did not make it. I am down to four reefs and below that there is not a lot of mainsail left.

‘There is no prospect of repairing it while I still have 50 knots, I can just see streams of material flying in the wind, and I am just thinking this is going to be horrendous. I will be under four reefs for a while and then I will have a look at it and see what I can do when the weather has ‘chilled out’ a little bit.

French skipper Boissières confirmed this afternoon that he had been knocked flat and had his Fleet 77 communications system washed from his cockpit.
Roland Jourdain has reduced his deficit to leader Michel Desjoyeaux to 272 miles, gaining 70 miles since yesterday.

As the leading pair deal with an awkward combination of a high pressure ridge and small, squally, active depressions typical of the South Atlantic, so Roland Jourdain has been able to profit, pulling back more than 70 miles of his deficit to leader Michel Desjoyeaux.

The Foncia skipper, 415 miles SE of or Rio, has had to tack three times losing miles to his pursuer – who has been on the same tack for over 300 miles – as they climb northwards towards relief and regularity of the tradewinds.

With the air temperature for the leaders now the high 20’s deg C, the contrast with the Southern Ocean, only eight days ago, is pleasingly marked. Sam Davies, too, acknowledged today that she faces some difficult, and unpredictable weather over the next few days.

Michel Desjoyeaux, (Foncia): It’s warm down here in the South Atlantic. It’s hot, 26° in the boat. It’s twenty degrees warmer than 8 days ago. Things are not easy, but we’re making headway. Yesterday, there were very light winds in the afternoon. This is the quiet part of the race, but it’s not very interesting. I’m not going to complain, especially in comparison with my friends, who are still in the Pacific.

‘ I’m heading up towards the trade winds from the St. Helena high and it’s going to take a few more tacks to get in the right place. Since I changed my staysail, everything is fine on Foncia. The boat is slamming a bit. I’m listening to her, but there aren’t any strange noises. I missed the Green Flash yesterday evening, when the sun went down. I was busy with manoeuvres. The sun was very bright and clear.”