Ecover 30 miles in front

Vendee Globe skipper Mike Golding sailing his Open 60 Ecover is now leading the non-stop, solo, round-the-world- race.

The British skipper was first to pass the West Australia Ice Gate, followed by Roland Jourdain Veolia Environnement and Michel Desjoyeaux, Foncia.

The man who had been leading the fleet Jean-Pierre Dick in Paprec-Virbac 2 suffered a high speed collision with a floating object and badly damaged the mechanism at the head of his rudder. Dick was forced to slow down, deep reefing his mainsail to keep Paprec-Virbac flatter to maintain steerage with his port rudder as he climbs to pass the West Australian ice-security gate.

“I was sailing about 20 knots of speed when I hit an object in the sea which broke the ‘fuse’ of my rudder, but while the rudder cam up it destroyed the bearing at the top of the rudder, but also the connecting bar that enables the rudder to go up and down in its case. I am in a bad situation because I can only use the windward rudder which is a big problem when going downwind because I can only use a small area, only three reefs in the main, so I will wait for this big storm to go through. After the gate I will try to gybe and repair the rudder which will become the windward rudder. It is a really complicated repair but I think I can make it, I can make it happen. On the transom it is not going to be easy. I can do funny things on the boat and so I try to do this so I can continue this beautiful race.The most important damage is the rudder stock damage, then the problem of alignment.”

Skipper Golding confessed to some slightly nervous hours climbing north east to the west end of the ice gate, fully powered up in Ecover 3 in a building 30-35 knots breeze as the next storm was due to the hit the leaders later this evening. He said that he was less worried about the next period of strong winds since they would be on a more downwind course and he expected the leading boats to line up.

* Cheminees Poujoulat entered the Baie du Morbihan in Kerguelen in 40/45 knots of wind on Sunday evening. Despite the help given to him on his arrival, Bernard Stamm didn’t manage to pick up the mooring which had been laid out for him, despite the use of his engine and assistance from a rib, as well as the presence of Dominique Wavre aboard. Very quickly one thing led to another and the Imoca 60 footer was driven onto shore. The skipper was recuperated safe and sound. With the bad weather and the night preventing operations from being pursued, the teams on site ‘withdrew’ into the TAAF buildings to wait for dawn and the opportunity to assess the situation.

A delicate and carefully executed operation re-floated Bernard Stamm’s stricken Cheminees Poujoulat early this morning off Portes de Francais in the Kergulen Islands.

The refloating operation took three hours and involved maneuvering with a truck, the supply vessel Marion Dufresnes of the Territorre Austral et Antartartic Francais and a team of divers.

“This morning it took us almost three hours to get the boat off with the help of the Marion Dufresnes and all the teams did a great job. Now the boat is afloat, but I don’t think she can sail. We’re waiting to see what Bernard Stamm wants to do. Yesterday evening, he was completely dispirited about leaving his boat. It really got to him. I think that after a night’s sleep, which was very short and probably not very restful, he is feeling a little better this morning.” Said Frederic Martineau of TAAF.

Bernard Stamm is beginning a race against the clock to get Cheminees Poujoulat to an area where he will be able to try to repair her. At the Kerguelen Islands such a yard is impossible, which is why Bernard is hoping to be able to embark the Imoca 60 footer on the Marion Dufresne vessel, which is leaving Kerguelen tomorrow.

“She is floating albeit low in the water and heeled over” explained Bernard at the start of the afternoon. If we manage to load Cheminees Poujoulat in time, I will also embark on the Marion Dufresne bound for Reunion or elsewhere. I don’t yet know what’s going to happen but there’s a lot of work ahead. The most pressing matter is to get the boat out of the water. It’s not possible to leave her in the water in Kerguelen. This Vendee Globe started off badly and has ended painfully, because there’s nothing worse than seeing your boat driven onto the shore.”

Vendee Globe