Menu
Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Marine Institute Banner Advert

Displaying items by tag: Route du Rhum

Boris Herrmann’s offshore sailing team launched their new IMOCA race yacht as scheduled today, Tuesday 19 July in Lorient, Race some 18 months after design began.

Designed by VPLP, Malizia - Seaexplorer was built at Multiplast in nearby Vannes over the past 12 months, using “advanced” engineering technology and craftsmanship. The yacht will get its first big test in the Route du Rhum this November, ahead of the next edition of The Ocean Race in the new year.

“Learning from our experience in the past four years and in particular the Vendée Globe 2020-21, we wanted a boat that can maintain high average speeds even in rough sea conditions,” skipper Herrmann said at today’s launch event.

“Therefore, together with the architects from VPLP, we chose softer and rounder hull lines and a curved bow. We also made the boat even more solid than the previous one and completely redesigned the [ergonomics] and living space.”

Malizia - Seaexplorer carries the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals wheel and its hull features the team’s slogan, “A Race We Must Win - Climate Action Now”, with the aim of creating awareness and inspiring ambitious climate action.

Herrmann will skipper the boat in the Route du Rhum this November across the Atlantic from Saint-Malo to Guadeloupe, and his first single-handed regatta since the Vendée Globe.

Then from January, he will join co-skippers Will Harris and Rosalin Kuiper on Malizia - Seaexplorer for the round-the-world challenge of The Ocean Race — another test of the new boat, this time in the rough conditions of the Southern Ocean — with the ultimate goal of the Vendée Globe 2024-25 in sight.

Team Malizia is one of 14 IMOCA teams registered for The Ocean Race, which starts from Alicante in Spain on 15 January.

A notable feature of the new yacht is its mini-laboratory, the Ocean Pack, that will allow the team to continue to collect ocean data such as sea surface CO2 levels in remote regions like the Southern Ocean.

The boat, which sails under the flag of Monaco, will be christened during the Malizia Ocean Festival on 6-7 September in its home port Hamburg, where skipper Boris Herrmann lives and Team Malizia is based.

Published in Offshore

The 2022 edition of La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe sees the legendary solo Transatlantic race reach the age of 44 years old. It is long since established itself as the most popular and well known solo transoceanic race in the world. And with 138 solo racers signed up to compete in the Autumn of this year this edition looks set to add another exciting volume in the colourful history of a race which has been run every four years since 1978.

On Sunday November 6 the huge fleet will set off from Saint-Malo on the 3,542 nautical miles passage to Guadeloupe. The initial registration limit was set at 120 skippers but, since July 2021 when they opened, such has been the demand for entries that a further 18 wild card entries have been accepted. The 2022 edition is already a record-breaker.

In France on the back of the massive success of the last Vendée Globe La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe has already been described as ‘the’ major sports event of 2022 and this huge, record entry firmly endorses this assertion. Since 1978’s inaugural edition when there were 38 entries never have there been so many entries. With 149 applications in total the organisers will allocate those 18 wild cards before the end of April.

The organisers and the city have worked hard and smart over recent months to find pragmatic, practical solutions to accommodate as many skippers, boats and teams as possible bearing and to maintain the broad mix of competitors at approximately half professional and half semi-pro or amateurs. And as usual, the leading lights of world solo ocean racing will start on the very same start line as the adventurers and amateurs, all with their courses set for Guadeloupe.

Fans, headliners and defending champions

The lineup will certainly included defending champions such as Francis Joyon (Idec Sport) in the Ultime fleet, Paul Meilhat (Biotherm) in the IMOCA, Armel Tripon (Les P'tits Doudous) in the Ocean Fifty and Yoann Richomme (Paprec – Arkea) is back to defend his Class40 title.

Meanwhile, until the wild cards are actually allocated the number of contenders in each class are not known apart from the Ocean Fiftys which will have eight skippers competing.

The 138 competitors selected to make up the 2022 field will still have to complete all the formalities imposed by the Notice of Race (qualification course, participation in the other races of the season, rules and measurement checks for new boats, etc.) to fully validate their presence on the race pontoons in Saint-Malo from October 25.

Hervé Favre, President of OC Sport Pen Duick : “ We are pleased to announce this initial list of 120 solo sailors who have made it into La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe the major event of their season and for some the dream of a lifetime. For an organisation like us we are really proud that the race has got more and more appealing and interesting each edition for 44 years. The list that we are making official today responds perfectly to what was written in the notice of race last summer. But the number of applications received in recent months has prompted us to look for a solution to welcome even more sailors and allow them to take part in the most famous of the solo transatlantic races, while respecting our commitment to bring everyone into the basins in Saint-Malo. We are going to open up to 18 additional competitors by granting them wild cards and thus increase the number of registered entries to 138, a record figure for a solo race which would make the event a little more historic ”.

*OC Sport Pen Duick has until the end of April 2022 to decide on the admission of giant trimarans within a class (such as the Ocean Fifty, the Imoca and the Class40) or a category (such as the Rhum Multi and Mono Rhums).

Published in Solo Sailing
Tagged under

Paul Meilhat’s IMOCA victory in the Route du Rhum over the weekend is all the sweeter as he achieved it in the same boat he’d feared lost on an earlier transatlantic crossing almost three years ago.

The French yachtsman had been airlifted off SMA on 15 December 2015 and the 60-footer SMA was abandoned in the Azores — though it drifted towards Ireland in the following weeks and was eventually recovered some 100 miles off the coast and berthed in Crookhaven.

“It’s amazing to think that our efforts three years ago to recover that boat against pretty tough odds have now resulted in the boat and Paul winning the Route du Rhum,” says Kinsale-linked offshore specialist Marcus Hutchinson, who was Paul’s project manager for the first three years of his IMOCA campaign.

Meilhat Paul Meilhat (SMA) Route du Rhum's winner Photo: Alexis Courcoux

“He was a successful Figaro sailor when he turned to the IMOCA scene then and is now clearly in the top flight there, too,” Marcus adds.

Despite that serious incident in 2015, which left Paul with a fractured pelvis, Marcus said the Frenchman only grew with confidence over the years he was in charge of the project.

That was most obvious when, before a keel ram failure forced retirement in January last year, Paul sailed his way into third place in the Vendée Globe without the foils and newer boat technology employed by the rest of the field since his boat, in the hands of Francois Gabard, previously won that circumnavigation challenge.

Later in the year, Paul secured second in the Transat Jacques Vabre, again putting his foiling competitors to shame. It was at this time that his boat’s sponsor SMA decided to withdraw from offshore racing, meaning the most recent 12 months would be the last under their livery.

It’s quite the capper on that relationship that Paul has sailed SMA to victory in the Route du Rhum, says Marcus.

“I’m very happy for the team. I’m no longer a part of that group, but it is a small world and we see each other almost every day. Paul’s boat captain, for example, is a lodger in my house.”

Looking closer to home, Marcus sees the achievements of people like Paul Meilhat as an inspiration for Irish sailors with offshore ambitions, particularly with a new Olympic class on the cards for Paris in 2024.

“Irish offshore sailing is pretty well placed to step up to the next level and prepare to be competitive in 2024,” he says. “The kind of boat that will be used for that regatta is not really relevant to understanding and improving at the top end of offshore racing.

“The racing circuit in France, with the super competitive Figaro circuit in particular, is the place to be if you have any ambitions. Joan Mulloy and Tom Dolan are currently fundraising in Ireland for next year’s Figaro circuit and potentially an Irish stopover for that race, too.”

Marcus adds that 50 Figaro Beneteau 3s have already been sold and will be released in January.

“I have two of them in my academy. These are the platforms to train on. Anyone who has ambitions for 2024 should start to consider getting involved in this type of racing.”

Published in Offshore

French solo skipper Paul Meilhat at the helm of SMA was crowned the unexpected winner of the IMOCA class in the 2018 Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe solo transatlantic race today from Saint Malo in Brittany to Pointe-à-Pitre in Guadeloupe.

The 36-year-old French yachtsman from Lorient took the race win after benefitting from a 24-hour time penalty imposed on British sailor Alex Thomson who crossed the finish line first on Friday morning on Hugo Boss while holding a margin over Meilhat of more than 140 nautical miles.

However, the British sailor who had led the race almost from the start on November 4th, was penalised for using his engine to extricate himself from a rocky headland some 70 miles from the finish line of the 3,542-mile single-handed race which is staged every four years.

When Paris-born Meilhat crossed the finish line himself at 20:23:18 local time (01:23:18CET today) after enduring some frustrating calms on the west side of the Basse Terre island, he had been at sea for 12 days, 11 hours 23 minutes. More importantly he was some 11 hours and 48 minutes inside the British skipper’s total elapsed time, that included the 24-hour penalty.

This is the biggest career win for Meilhat who started in sailing in Laser and 49er dinghies and has previously won the Transat AG2R La Mondiale double-handed transatlantic race alongside Gwénolé Gahinet. He retired from the last Vendée Globe in 2016 while in third place in the southern Pacific and a year before that had to be rescued from his boat in mid-Atlantic after suffering serious rib and pelvic injures during a storm.

This win in the 11th edition of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe comes at a timely moment, underlining Meilhat’s class just as his four-year relationship with SMA comes to an end as the French insurance company withdraws from sailing. It is a bitter irony that he will leave Guadeloupe with neither a boat nor a sponsor for the next Vendée Globe solo round-the-world race for which he would undoubtedly be a favourite, given the right machinery.

An emotional Meilhat told the French and international media assembled on the victory pontoon: “This is my first big win, I wanted to sail a good race as a reward for all the support I have had. This is payback. Before the start I knew what I could do and what I am capable of. And I wanted to profit from the course, to feel like I am moving forwards.”

Meilhat paid a warm tribute to Thomson whose error – failing to wake-up before Hugo Boss sailed into a rocky cliff under auto-pilot - handed him his first transatlantic solo race win. “I can’t believe this has happened,” he said. “Alex’s mishap leaves us chilled because we were all attacking so hard, like mad things. When we put ourselves in situations of extreme fatigue mistakes can be expensive. And in this case for the sake of 100 metres it could have been so much worse. I am just happy he is OK and the damage to his boat is not too bad.”

“I'm a big fan of Alex,” he added. “He's sailing incredible races with the choices he makes, his speed, his style and he's a great guy. What you need to remember is the talent he has. You have to absolutely remember what he did on the racecourse. He is the extraordinary character, whether he won or not. It's really good to have guys like that with us on starting lines."



Then Meilhat returned to his own future. "In 2019, ideally, I want to continue to progress towards my goal of being at the start of the Vendée Globe 2020. I am open to any proposal! Build a new boat, modify this one, everything is possible!"

Meilhat can take considerable satisfaction in having won this race with an IMOCA boat which is not a foiler, that is to say it has conventional straight daggerboards. Keeping two of France’s most experienced, talented solo racers behind him is no mean feat.

Yann Eliès who finished in second place behind him just over two hours later on UCAR-Saint-Michel and 2004 Vendée Globe-winner Vincent Riou, who is on course to be the next finisher on PRB, pressed Meilhat all the way across the Atlantic.

Indeed Eliès was fighting until the very last few miles to get past Meilhat as they sailed slowly along the west side of Basse Terre island which is blanketed from the easterly trade winds by the 1500-metre La Soufriere volcano.

From being 20 miles behind, Eliès was at one point less than three miles adrift. But it was not to be for Eliès who desperately wanted to win for the same reasons as Meilhat. He too is looking for a major sponsor to help him build a new boat for the Vendée Globe and will also lose the use of his current one as it is already sold.

"I am going back to Paris early, the time trial for the next Vendée begins with Paul,” Eliès explained. “We are in the same situation, we need sponsors. After this race, I hope that we both get that for 2020."

Reflecting on the race, Eliès said: “I'm broken. The IMOCA demands a lot of crazy energy. You have to manage your time, your sleep, your strategy, your mind and your physical effort. These are dozens of tasks to negotiate a day, which make it difficult.

“This Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe has been amazing. The first days, I thought I could forget the podium! I was in an area without wind on Monday 5th, I saw Paul and Vincent escape. When I pulled myself out, I was 80nm behind.”

“Alex Thomson executed his race masterfully,” he added. “To make a mistake is part of the game. He showed that he was the boss.”

Published in Offshore
Tagged under

The British yachtsman Alex Thomson stood on board his damaged yacht, Hugo Boss, moored to the quayside in Guadeloupe this morning and told the assembled media that he did not deserve to win the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe.

Thomson had been leading the 3,542-nautical mile solo transatlantic race almost from the start on November 4 off Saint Malo and was approaching the Guadeloupe archipelago when he over-slept, allowing his boat to hit the rocks on the northernmost tip of Grande Terre island.

In order to save his boat from being wrecked the 44-year-old sailor from Gosport in England, had to start his engine to get back into deeper water. Although he managed to complete the race and was the first in the 20-strong IMOCA class to cross the finish line earlier today, he was subsequently handed a 24-hour time penalty by the race jury for using his engine.

This means that Thomson is not only very unlikely now to win the race, he is also likely to drop out of the top-three with Paul Meilhat on SMA – the likely winner - Yann Eliès on UCAR-Saint-Michel and Vincent Riou on PRB all capable of finishing before his total elapsed time with his penalty added.

A clearly hugely disappointed and at times emotional Thomson put a brave face on his fate. The grounding that caused apparently only superficial damage to the bow, stern and one foil on the starboard side of his boat, came in the closing stages of what would have been a thumping victory and his first major race-win in his 20-year professional career.

“It’s a real shame for me and the team to be in the position that we are in,” said Thomson who has been third and second in consecutive Vendée Globe solo round-the-world races. “The jury has decided that I have a 24-hour penalty which will mean I will not win the race. How do I feel about that? Well, I think that is very fair because I don’t think I should win the race after hitting Guadeloupe.” This was greeted with spontaneous applause from his audience.

“This sport is about detail and, in the final last minutes, I didn’t get the detail right. Like I say, to be last night grounded on the rocks, I just feel very lucky to be here with the boat with very little wrong with it – a few holes but I sailed here under my own steam so I feel very fortunate,” Thomson added.

Brandishing a piece of rock that he must have found inside the boat which he said would be a souvenir of his collision with Grande Terre, Thomson explained that he had gone to sleep knowing he would soon come close to a gybe point off the coast. However, a wristwatch that he wears that is designed to give him an electric shock to wake him, failed to go off because it was out of charge and he slept through the audio alarm.

“I slept through – I didn’t hear it – and when I woke up the alarms were going and the boat was strange,” said Thomson. “I went up on deck and I could see Guadeloupe – I didn’t know it was Guadeloupe – I couldn’t understand what was happening until I looked at the chart and then I could see I was on Guadeloupe…haha...I had arrived!”

In his predicament and having to explain what happened Thomson could have been forgiven for struggling to keep his composure, but he did that and not only spoke fluently but saluted Meilhat who at that stage had about 150 miles to go on a boat that does not have foils.

“I hope Paul will win,” said Thomson, his voice momentarily cracking. “You know, he has done a really great race on a boat without foils and I look forward to welcoming him tomorrow. He should be the winner.

“For me,” he continued, “all I can do is live and learn – it’s the land of hard knocks as we say in England. You have to try and stay strong; you have to learn, you have to be better and ultimately, obviously, I wanted to win this race. But the aim is to win the Vendée Globe and I think I’ve proved in this race that I can win the Vendée Globe.”

So Thomson’s last competitive outing in this spectacular Hugo Boss yacht has come to a very unsatisfactory conclusion. The Briton charged out of Saint Malo at the start and then took a lone course to the north of the fleet that was typically courageous and then never looked back. He pushed hard almost all the way, setting a pace that no one else could match. Now his focus is on his new boat that will be delivered to his team next summer.

Elsewhere on the racecourse the French sailor Lalou Roucayrol who capsized in his Multi50, Arkema, about 1,000 miles east of Guadeloupe has now been safely picked up by Pierre Antoine whose Olmix is leading the Rhum Multiclass.

Meanwhile, Erwan Le Roux on FenêtréA-Mix Buffet has become the second Multi50 skipper to finish the race behind class winner Armel Tripon on Réauté Chocolat.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the female skipper Claire Pruvot on Service Civique has been rescued by a cargo ship after she crashed into it, seriously damaging her Class40 yacht about 460 miles due west of Cape St Vincent. She is said to be safe and well.

Published in Offshore
Tagged under

The British sailor Alex Thomson has today crossed the finish line of the four-yearly solo Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe transatlantic sailing race, as the first in the IMOCA Class.

However, following an incident last night in which Thomson ran aground in his all-black Hugo Boss boat on the north end of Grande Terre, the focus is on the race jury who will have to decide whether he should receive a time penalty for using his engine.

Thomson crossed the finish line at Pointe-à-Pitre in Guadeloupe at 08:10:58 local time (13:10:58CET) after 11 days, 23 hours 10 minutes and 58 seconds at sea.

His elapsed time for the 3,542-nautical mile course could be a new class record for IMOCAs if his finish is allowed to stand.

A total of 123 sailors started the race on November 4 off Saint Malo in Brittany. Thomson is the fourth sailor to finish it after the two ULTIME skippers, Francis Joyon and François Gabart, and the Multi50 class winner Armel Tripon.

Further updates will follow

Published in Offshore
Tagged under

Between 21:45-22:00 AST on Thursday, November 15th Alex Thomson’s IMOCA 60 race boat grounded at the north end of Grande Terre, just south of the Grande Vigie lighthouse on La Pointe à Claude. At the time, Thomson was sailing at around six knots.

In order to ensure the safety of himself and the boat, Thomson was forced to use his engine and manoeuvre the boat safely away from the coast. Once away from the coast, Thomson re-sealed the engine and re-commenced racing.

Upon closer inspection of HUGO BOSS by the Alex Thomson Racing technical team, the boat appears to have sustained only minor superficial damage.

Thomson is continuing on, and his focus remains on winning the race.

The team anticipates HUGO BOSS will cross the finish line at approximately 07:00 local time today (Friday, November 16).

Following initial reports that Alex Thomson’s Hugo Boss had grounded on rocks during the final miles of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe while leading the IMOCA class, Race Direction has contacted the British skipper to check his status.

thomson alexHugo Boss ran aground at around 21:45hrs (local time/0145hrs UTC Friday). Thomson is reported safe and uninjured but has reported damage to his boat. Photo: Alexis Courcoux

They have ascertained that while sailing on port tack at the north end of Grande Terre island, Hugo Boss ran aground on rocky cliffs around 21:45hrs (local time/0145hrs UTC Friday).

The accident occurred at the north end of Grande Terre, just south of the Grande Vigie lighthouse on La Pointe à Claude.

Upon hitting the cliff, Alex Thomson had to lower his sails and start his engine to reverse his boat from the rocks. He was able to extract himself from the reefs before re-hoisting his sails to resume his passage. Thomson stopped his engine and then set a new seal on the propeller shaft.

The skipper was not injured but there is damage to his boat. The crash box in the bow is damaged and has taken in water but it is contained, and the bowsprit is damaged. The water is contained by the forward bulkhead.

The starboard foil is also reported to be damaged. According to Thomson’s conversation with the Race Director, the keel and its structure are certainly also affected. But it has not been possible to establish a more precise diagnosis during the hours of darkness.

Currently, the boat is sailing at a speed of 7 knots and continues its passage around the island towards the finish line.

Approaching the small island at Tete à l’Anglais he has about 50 miles to go until the finish line.

The International Jury was immediately informed by Race Direction of the accident and it will file a protest against Alex Thomson for using his engine during the race.

A safety boat has been sent and will accompany Hugo Boss in case it is needed.

More information to follow.

Published in Offshore
Tagged under

The ninth day at sea in the 2018 Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe solo transatlantic race saw the second capsize in this 11th edition of the four-yearly classic when a 50ft trimaran flipped over about 1,000 nautical miles east of Guadeloupe.

The first capsize came at the end of day two of the 3,452-nautical mile race a week ago when one of the biggest yachts in the 123-strong fleet, Banque Populaire IX, turned over after a major structural failure in a gale midway between the coast of Spain and the Azores. The boat’s skipper, Frenchman Armel Le Cleac’h, was quickly rescued by a Spanish fishing boat.

This time the yacht going upside down is the Multi50 class trimaran Arkema skippered by Lalou Roucayrol, another French sailor who is based near Bordeaux. Roucayrol is one of the most experienced solo offshore racers in big multihulls and was competing in his fourth Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe.

In an initial message to his shore team he said the boat became over-powered by a sudden and violent spike in the easterly trade wind as he ran downwind towards the finish at Pointe-à-Pitre in Guadeloupe. He did not have time to stop his yacht tipping over but was able to keep safe within the main hull.

Giving further details today, the Team Arkema spokeswoman, Marie–Astrid Parendeau, said Roucayrol spent about four hours cutting the rig away from the boat and had spent time in the water doing this. The hull has not been damaged by the mast and Roucayrol has managed to salvage one of his sails. He is now safely back on board and has enough food for three or four days and water supplies for 10 days.

Ms Parendeau said a cargo ship has been diverted to his position but Roucayrol has made it clear he does not want to be rescued and is staying with his boat until a tug chartered by the team from Martinque reaches him in four days time.

Roucayrol was racing in fourth place at the time of the capsize and was about 400 miles behind the class leader, Armel Tripon on Réauté Chocolat. Tripon on his brown trimaran is now just over 500 miles from the finish and is expected at the line at around mid-day Universal Time tomorrow.

He has also been experiencing alarming variations in windspeed and has elected to take it easy to avoid suffering a similar fate as Roucayrol. "It could be better,” said a tired Tripon this morning. “That has been the most complicated, difficult night I've had since the start with gusts of 33-34 knots under gennaker. The sea got big quickly; it was really hard, so a tense night. So this morning, I rolled away the gennaker and it is away until the seas subside - it is a really difficult end to the race.”

About 12 hours after Tripon is expected to reach the line, the next finisher is expected to be Britain’s Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss who has led the 20-strong IMOCA monohull class almost continually from the start on November 4th. Thomson is just over 700 miles from the finish and about 160 miles ahead of his nearest pursuer (Paul Meilhat of France on SMA) and can’t wait to complete what will be his first victory in an IMOCA race.

"I am on my final gybe,” he said in a radio call this morning as Hugo Boss surfed at up to 20 knots in the boisterous trade winds. “I managed to get a bit of sleep over the night, not that much but I am really looking forward to getting in. There is not long now, less than a couple of days. That’s one Fastnet, one Fastnet race, that is all that is left. I should get in in daylight which is good timing really.

“I am a little nervous, yes, but the gap should be big enough,” added Thomson who has a group of four boats chasing him. “I am just trying to sail my normal race really, trying not do anything differently and keep things in the best shape I can. I don't need to push; on the other hand these boats do go fast. It is quite hard to make them go slow. I am not going to go super-slow; I will sail my normal race and I look forward to getting round the island and in." 

A long way behind him the only Finnish sailor in the IMOCA fleet and indeed in this 40th anniversary edition of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe, Ari Huusella on Ariel II, has provided more detail about the brief and glancing crash between his boat and the monohull of French sailor Sébastien Destremeau who is lying in second place in the Rhum Mono fleet.

The incident happened in the early hours of yesterday in darkness as Huusella was heading west and Destremeau on board Alcatraz It FaceOcean was crossing his path while heading south at a position about 400 miles west-southwest of the Canary Island.

The Finn admitted today that he could see Destremeau approaching using the Automatic Identification System (AIS) that all boats in the race carry, but he had his screen on the wrong setting and did not realise how close the Frenchman – who was asleep and under auto-pilot – would be until it was too late.

“I was inside the boat and saw on the AIS that there was some traffic coming,” said Huusela who, like Destremeau, has been able to continue racing. “I saw the name of the boat and I knew who it was. I called him three times on the VHF but there was no reply. I checked that we were not going to hit on the AIS but our speeds were varying a lot because of the gusts. Sometimes we were going 10 and sometimes 17 knots – it was the same for both boats.

“The thing I did not realise was the scale on my AIS was only at 0.75 miles so the full screen was at less than a mile when he came into my screen. Normally I use the 15-mile scale. I was a bit tired and a bit disorientated and did not realise he was so close. When I realised he was so close, I went outside and I saw the nose of his boat coming at me at 17 knots. I thought ‘oh god, this is going to be the end.’ But luckily I managed to get under him so he hit the back corner of my stern, his bowsprit came into my pushpit, and it came off.”

Huusela said he initially thought the damage to his rigging might bring his mast down but he released the mainsail to ease the load and managed to save it. The sailors then spoke on VHF and Destremeau told him he had been asleep at the time of the crash and that he had some damage to his bowsprit. “We exchanged some e-mails last night and we are both happy,” added Huusela. “We are lucky because it could have been so much worse.” 

In the Class40 fleet the lead remains firmly in the hands of Frenchman Yoann Richomme on Veedol-AIC who has a margin of around 100 miles over second-placed Aymeric Chapellier on Aina Enfance Et Avenir. Chapellier reported today that he blew-up his spinnaker in a squall and has had to spend hours repairing it, turning the inside of his boat into a sewing workshop.

The 38-year-old sailor from La Rochelle was asleep when the boat broached in about 18 knots of breeze. “The sail literally exploded. I had to transform the interior of the boat into a sailmaker’s workshop and I worked on it all day, from sunrise to sunset. It was not easy because I had to leave the boat under the autopilot, with the big spinnaker,” he said.

“But I managed to repair my spinnaker and it held this morning when I used it. That being said, I walk a little on eggs now. I am trying to preserve all my spis, especially in this strange seaway. At times, it is really very short and it requires a lot of manoeuvres, which tires a little man.,” Chappellier added.

Published in Offshore
Tagged under

As she faced very rough seas in the depression sweeping the Bay of Biscay yesterday, Sam Davies diagnosed a delamination of the bottom of the hull of her 60ft monohull, Initiatives-Cœur. Given the expected weather conditions off the Iberian Peninsula in the next few days and the nature of the damage, the option of a stopover in La Coruna to try and make a repair has been ruled out. It has been impossible to conceive of a scenario where Davies could consider her boat in a satisfactory and safe enough condition to re-start. It is with enormous sadness that Davies has decided to give up her first Route du Rhum. The difficult decision was made to abandon the race and head back to the Initiatives-Cœur team base. The damaged monohull is expected in Lorient tomorrow afternoon.

“I discovered the structural problems yesterday. The first thing I noticed was that the skin of my ballast had delaminated. As I was making a tack, I was mopping up water in my living area and I heard the same noise as the one from the ballast, a creaking that came from the hull around the longitudinal reinforcement. Whenever that was slammed, I heard a creak. I looked everywhere, there was no sign of a leak. I assessed with my team that I could continue.

Once I regained some speed, I found myself on starboard tack and so I was leaning on the damaged port side. Whenever the boat slammed, I could see the hull bending under my feet, with folds appearing on the inner skin – that’s a little scary. I contacted the team to make an analysis with the boatbuilders. I was not feeling that relaxed. The problem is that we still had four days of these conditions, with a lot of wind and four days upwind, that’s a long time...I wasn’t very keen on attempting it, especially as the damaged area is in my living area, not far from the batteries. If there is any kind of tear in these conditions, I will find myself without battery power, communications and energy. So, I decided to turn around and head back to Lorient while the wind was pushing me in the right direction. I’m hoping to be able to protect the damaged area in the time it takes to get to Lorient. We went pretty well last night, there were still 50 knots and huge seas.”

Published in Offshore
Tagged under

With such a big fleet now spread over a large area of ocean, skippers in the solo transatlantic Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe are beginning to experience wide variations in weather conditions after three very challenging days at sea.

While there are still around 35 boats taking refuge on the French or Spanish coasts, out on the racecourse the leaders in the two fastest multihull fleets – the ULTIMES and Multi50s - and in the IMOCAs are starting to see easier conditions after the pasting everyone got on Tuesday.

But the weather picture looks very difficult for later in the week for the slower monohulls, especially the Class40s, which will be bashing into another full gale by late on Thursday. Those already exhausted skippers will be in tough racing conditions throughout the weekend before things ease down early in the week.

The question for many of the sailors who are currently in port remains when do they risk venturing out into the Bay of Biscay again as this second major weather system comes down the track? Some of them may well not reappear until late on Saturday or early Sunday and they will be delighted that the Race Director has extended the deadline for finishers in Pointe-à-Pitre by five days until December 7.

On the racecourse the battle at the front of the ULTIMES continues to be an absorbing affair between pace-setter François Gabart on MACIF and Francis Joyon still on his tail in IDEC Sport.

Gabart has revealed that he has incurred some damage to his mainsail battens but otherwise his passage into the northeast trade winds is unhindered and he should be into them by tomorrow.

“Now we are in the transition zone in the north winds which are not too strong, like 10-20 knots,” he reported from a position well to the west of Madeira. “They are quite unstable with a lot of trimming required. The sky is grey. We have one day (until) we catch the trade winds and go downwind. I have been able to check the boat and to make some repairs – I broke two battens in the main.”

The Multi50 battle is equally interesting with early leader Lalou Roucayrol on Arkema having now set sail from Porto on the Portuguese coast after taking shelter there. However Armel Tripon on Réauté Chocolat, who chose not to stop, is now around 240 miles ahead of him and in second place.

Ahead of him, Thibaut Vauchel-Camus on Solidaires En Peloton-Arsep is the current leader on the Tracker, but he is 350 miles north of Tripon. He is longing to get out of the cold and wet weather in the north Atlantic. “We are going to deserve these trade winds because this is the third front that I am dealing with in the west,” he said.

“It’s time to reach the heat! It’s too cold here, too wet and it’s very physical. During the day it’s fine, but at night I have to put on my survival suit to keep warm. I am looking forward to reaching the Azores where the sea will be warmer, flatter and where I can eat properly. I have only been able to eat one freeze-dried meal since the beginning of the race – the rest of my diet is based on energy bars and cereal bars.”

In the IMOCA fleet the longtime leader Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss is still making his more northerly and westerly option pay, with a margin of around 70 miles over Paul Meilhat on SMA who has now overtaken Vincent Riou on PRB to hold second place after a remarkable few days of tenacious racing from the SMA skipper. Behind them the 25-year-old Swiss sailor Alan Roura on La Fabrique is sailing an impressive race in seventh place, as is Boris Herrmann of Germany two places ahead of him on board Malizia II-Yacht Club De Monaco, the former Gitana.

Thomson looks as though he will hold onto stronger breeze for longer than those to the south of him and he could emerge with a useful lead once the top three boats settle into downwind conditions. Thomson has seen gusts of 50 knots and had some minor gear failure – he broke a lazy jack in his sail management system – but his main concern is that he doesn’t get trapped in light airs on his way past the Azores.

“The game is to get south, to the high pressure and the trade winds and the first person to do so will make the gain,” he said. “There is no doubt about that. There is a very strong possibility that all of us, or me, or the guys behind, are going to get stuck in the big ridge of high pressure, so that is a big thing at the moment – get south and try and pass the ridge.”

There were 12 IMOCAS on the racecourse today while in the smaller Class40s there were 35 out on the race track. The lead is still being held by Frenchman Yoann Richomme on Veedol AIC but there is an interesting north-south split in the top bunch with Richomme nearly 170 miles north-northwest of fifth-placed Kito de Pavant on Made in Midi.

Britain’s Phil Sharp in third place on IMERYS CLEAN ENERGY says the next few days are going to be challenging. “It was a tough night,” he said, reflecting on his second night at sea. “It was quite windy, there was quite a lot of swell and the boat was slamming pretty violently, so it was difficult to keep pushing the boat and it was difficult to try and find a compromise between safety and speed.

“My gut feeling is to get south,” he added. “Not just because it is warmer and sunnier and really nice, but because I don’t think it is going to work up north and it is looking like anti-cyclonic conditions will resume so yes, that is why I am going south.”


In the Rhum Multis there were just nine boats on the racecourse as most of the remainder continue to await improved conditions before venturing out. The first to re-join the race is Loïck Peyron who has now set sail on Happy from Gijón. The leader in that class, Pierre Antoine on Olmix, is now well south of the Spanish port of Vigo and making excellent progress.

In the Rhum Mono fleet eight boats are currently racing with the leader, Sidney Gavignet on Café Joyeux, now heading south about 270 miles west of Cape Finisterre.

After his capsize in the maxi-tri Banque Populaire IX on Wednesday, French sailor Armel Le Cléac’h, who is in good health, is on his way to Spain in a fishing boat which came to rescue him. His team, meanwhile, is working on plans to retrieve his stricken yacht which flipped over after its port hull broke away in big winds and seas.

Published in Offshore
Tagged under
Page 1 of 3

Marine Science Perhaps it is the work of the Irish research vessel RV Celtic Explorer out in the Atlantic Ocean that best highlights the essential nature of marine research, development and sustainable management, through which Ireland is developing a strong and well-deserved reputation as an emerging centre of excellence. From Wavebob Ocean energy technology to aquaculture to weather buoys and oil exploration these pages document the work of Irish marine science and how Irish scientists have secured prominent roles in many European and international marine science bodies.

 

At A Glance – Ocean Facts

  • 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by the ocean
  • The ocean is responsible for the water cycle, which affects our weather
  • The ocean absorbs 30% of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity
  • The real map of Ireland has a seabed territory ten times the size of its land area
  • The ocean is the support system of our planet.
  • Over half of the oxygen we breathe was produced in the ocean
  • The global market for seaweed is valued at approximately €5.4 billion
  • · Coral reefs are among the oldest ecosystems in the world — at 230 million years
  • 1.9 million people live within 5km of the coast in Ireland
  • Ocean waters hold nearly 20 million tons of gold. If we could mine all of the gold from the ocean, we would have enough to give every person on earth 9lbs of the precious metal!
  • Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world – Ireland is ranked 7th largest aquaculture producer in the EU
  • The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest ocean in the world, covering 20% of the earth’s surface. Out of all the oceans, the Atlantic Ocean is the saltiest
  • The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world. It’s bigger than all the continents put together
  • Ireland is surrounded by some of the most productive fishing grounds in Europe, with Irish commercial fish landings worth around €200 million annually
  • 97% of the earth’s water is in the ocean
  • The ocean provides the greatest amount of the world’s protein consumed by humans
  • Plastic affects 700 species in the oceans from plankton to whales.
  • Only 10% of the oceans have been explored.
  • 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year, equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.
  • 12 humans have walked on the moon but only 3 humans have been to the deepest part of the ocean.

(Ref: Marine Institute)

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Associations

ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Events 2022

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
https://afloat.ie/resources/marine-industry-news/viking-marine

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
wavelengths sidebutton
 

Please show your support for Afloat by donating