Here come the roaring 40’s for a fitting Rhum finale!

A long, and busy night in Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe saw more and more finishers completing the Route du Rhum La Banque Postale 2010, and it is only set to get more hectic when the Class 40 fleet start arriving late Wednesday or Thursday depending on how cruel or kind the winds on the approach to the Caribbean island turn out to be.

Notable finishes last night included Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia) and Arnaud Boissières (Akena Vérandas), the two IMOCA Open 60 skippers who chose the southerly routing option.
Desjoyeaux arrived in sixth position, just under one day behind fellow Vendée Globe  winner Vincent Riou (PRB). He joked about going south for the sun early but admitted that there was very little to choose between the two options before making his choice
 » I did what I wanted.  From time to time you try things when you don’t know if they will be good or not so good. I expected to have 50 miles of deficit in the south of the Azores amticyclone and it was 150. There the mass was said. »
Desjoyeaux said. « I have had time to digest this. Now we move on. Life goes on. »

The only IMOCA skipper left at sea, Christoper Pratt on DCNS 1000 – who has been battling with no electrics since last Thursday morning, was due to finish this evening (CET/Paris). Having sailed a very competitive and creditable first half of the race, the young skipper from Marseille, was enjoying a boat-for-boat sprint to the line against Servan Escoffier (Saint Malo 2015), due to finish seventh of seven in the Ultime multihull fleet.

But it is the Class 40 race which has race watchers twitching with anticipation as Thomas Ruyant closes to within 380 miles of the finish on Destination Dunkerque, with a lead now of only 59.8 miles ahead of Nico Troussel (Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne) who has closed back around 20 miles on the leader over the last two days, but the leading trio – Germany’s Jorg Riecher on Mare.de is third – are now filing in a line towards the NW corner of the island, all knowing what the possibility of an overnight shut down of the breeze might do for their prospects

Britain’s Pete Goss holds 13th position, approaching Guadeloupe from his more southerly routing reported light winds today, and looks set to suffer slightly less wind on his course in to the island, but the Cornish skipper admitted he is delighted with his race so far:
 » In my particular circumstances I was parachuted into the race out of the blue, and jumped on the boat and went. At the start of the race in Saint Malo I had done four days of single-handed sailing in 14 years. I had not really sailed the boat much. The boat is immaculate, I am not criticising the boat, and Tom Gall the boat captain, Tony Lawson and Team Concise have been great, but it is about building a relationship, and as I said then, (at the start) I now feel ready to start the Route du Rhum. If you look beyond this race, then this is effectively a training race. I was a bit rusty at the beginning, but I have a bit of experience and so I did not break anything. I am loving it. »
And Marco Nannini, the London based banker racing UniCredit, who has built a following of thousands for his unmissable blog (marconannini.com), said on today’s radio vacation:
« This for me is about me being an office worker who one week before the race I was sitting behind a desk in the office. I am not a French pro and I did not come here expecting to perform as a French pro. I held my own, especially in the first part of the race and I was very proud of what  I was achieving, then of course experience comes in and I made a bad mistake, but here I am, still racing absolutely enjoying every minute of it, in this adventure. I have seen things I have never seen before. I was caught in an electric storm last night, which scared the hell out of me. It is for me a great adventure, and so the blogs, sharing it with others, makes it so much more enjoyable. I receive many, many messages on the boat, reading my blogs – and I am talking thousands and thousands -every time, it is fantastic. »


Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia)
« It would have been good if they had left us some wind for the finish because in the end it was bit too long at the end. Everyone says it’s a good trick to head off to the sun, but I went too early. We had looked at it and there were good chances of passing over the top, but it was on the Monday morning I took the decision. That was the best routing on the morning, I was on a good shift on the left with Kito and I wanted a trip to the south, I had wanted to go there for a while. I did what I wanted.  From time to time you try things when you don’t know if they will be good or not so good. I expected to have 50 miles of deficit in the south of the Azores amticyclone and it was 150. There the mass was said.
I had the toolbox open once for a small allen key to tighten a small screw on the rudder, but I have a list of things to be improved. Speed-wise when you are on your own you are a world champion. The boat is good it was just important to learn how to put it in the right place. I wanted to go to the sun, I went to the sun. »

Jourdain’s win?
« He is a great winner. He is a double winner, and what more can you say? He positioned himself, always attacked, he sailed super good. He did not hesitate to push when he needed to and cover the fleet when he needed to. He did the whole race without any technical hitches and that allowed him to focus on his route and to make a beautiful race, more especially because there was a race. I have had time to digest this, now we move on. Life goes on.

Class 40’s
Thomas Ruyant (Destination Dunkerque): « It is starting to feel a little long now! And so I need to just find some patience. I am getting towards the finish but it is still slow. I have not got the spinnaker out yet.  It will not be very fast. I am not completely relaxed about it because the conditions are far from simple. What can say it is that you have to work very hard being at the front of this fleet, it is a demanding stressful thing, but it is cool. I think my ETA will be around the 18th or after depending on the winds around Guadeloupe. »

Damien Grimont (Monbana):
« It is nice to be in slightly more peaceful sailing conditions, after Annapurna! So it is down to a battle for the podium between Noblet, Manuard, Jorg and me and there is everything to play for with 500 miles still to go. When you see that I made 40 miles again on taking the right tack at the right time, then it shows there are still options. And conversely you can say that if you mess up a manoeuvre then you will pay a big price. If you want to gain on the shifts then you need to be well placed and positioned to do so. We will fight until the end. The end of the road will be thrilling. »
   
Sam Manuard (Vecteur Plus): « I’d like to get third place. I am a bit closer to the wind and bit more isolated from the more squally stuff, so we will see if that pays off. I have never had any problems of motivation or moral, everything is good. I right in the race and it is all going well. Sure, I am a bit jaded and tired, accumulated tiredness, so I try to go at a sustainable rate and to save a little bit back for the finish which will be difficult. I spend some time looking at the weather, even if my overall strategy is fixed. »

Pete Goss (GBR, DMS):
 » We are tootling along nicely on the good ship DMS, we could do with a little more wind but that has often been the case lately but I am having a great time, I have really enjoyed it so far, it has been everything I’d hoped for, and some more.
I was always going to be different! There was a big decision if you go north or south, I chose to go south and I don’t regret the decision at all but it is apparent the northerly boats, that was the way to go, but you can’t win them all. But I am quite happy with the race I have had, I am really enjoying myself, and for now it is just the final sail in to Guadeloupe. I’ll keep on sailing as I am, keep on pushing as I am and the wind should back and gybe and get the spinnaker up, and we should have a nice sail up the island.
It is pretty easy on board just now to be honest. There have been periods of intense activity because contrary to what a lot of people think, light airs sailing is harder than heavy airs sailing, because you have to make more effort to make progress.
But last night I had a very steady airstream, I had the boat very nicely set up and so every hour I would pad around and check everything was OK. And because it was and it was very settled, I had a couple of hours good sleep. It was lovely.
The boat is in good order, the only damage is I broke the handle off my tea cup. Other than that the boat is immaclulate. I am feeling fit and healthy, much fitter and healthier than when I left.
We are all trying to get to Guadeloupe as fast as we can, so you are always trying to coax out that final tenths of a knot of boatspeed, but everyone now is coming in different directions and different airstreams, so now we just all go gangbusters and it will all come out in the wash. As the positions come in it is a good reference but I don’t use them to make me sail fast, I just enjoy sailing the boat well. I cant bear to see anything inefficient.
Even if I wanted to I can’t sail slowly, I always have to tweak the sails. If you do something you do it well.
In my particular circumstances I was parachuted into the race out of the blue, and jumped on the boat and went. At the start of the race in Saint Malo I had done four days of single-handed sailing in 14 years. I had not really sailed the boat much. The boat is immaculate, I am not criticising the boat, and Tom Gall the boat captain, Tony Lawson and Team Concise have been great, but it is about building a relationship, and as I said then, (at the start) I now feel ready to start the Route du Rhum. If you look beyond this race, then this is effectively a training race. I was a bit rusty at the beginning, but I have a bit of experience and so I did not break anything. I am loving it. »

Marco Nannini (ITA/GBR, Unicredit)
;  » It has been varied, I made one big mistake going too near the high. I was in about tenth position and that cost me a lot. Since then it has been very challenging because the weather conditions have been confused, and so it is very rare to have more than a few hours of the same conditions, and so it is continually stack-unstack, ballast-unballast, reef-unreef, and change course, so it is very, very challenging to keep the boat speed up.
As a person at the moment I feel fantastic, not a care in the world.
I am hoping that I am better placed that the competitors south and east of me, so I am still hoping to recover a few positions, of course nothing magic can be done at this stage But I will still push on until the finish.
There is not so much routine, because the conditions have been so changeable. At the same time yesterday bashing to windward in 25 knots, and absolutely horrible seas. Now I  have 8 knots of wind and trying to keep the boat speed up. When the conditions are changing it is very difficult to catch any sleep. So when I get any stable winds I try to sleep as much as possible because I know that I am going to need that later.
This for me is about me being an office worker who one week before the race I was sitting behind a desk in the office. I am not a French pro and I did not come here expecting to perform as a French pro. I held my own, especially in the first part of the race and I was very proud of what  I was achieving,  then of course experience comes oin and I made a bad mistake, but here I am, still racing absolutely enjoying every minute of it, in this adventure. I have seen things I have never seen before. I was caught in an electric storm, which scared the hell out of me. It is for me a great adventure, and so the blogs, sharing it with others, makes it so much more enjoyable. I receive many, many messages on the boat, reading my blogs – and I am talking thousands and thousands -every time, it is fantastic.
This is my first solo race and it has been extremely challenging. Here it can get very complicated when things go wrong. It just tests your imagination how to approach a problem, because the loads and power to do things you can’t just do by hand. You have to think.
I have endless problems with the autopilot. When the conditions were light that was a nuisance. When they were a bit more wind it became most dangerous. Last night in 25 knots, several times last night the boat tacked which, OK, was just a waste of time, however it did a gybe when I nearly broke all my battens. It seems to be a switch in the system, I have been speaking to engineers at NKE, apart from that the PVC cover on my inner forestay has split, so the hanks for the staysail got caught and so I could not get it up or down. So, I spend quite a long time at a very wide angle trying to think of a solution. The sea state was too bad to go up the mast so I was a bit lost for ideas. But in the end letting the sail flog itself to death in the strong winds sorted it out because it broke more of the cover and ripped off three of the hanks. But the sail came down.
The halyard lock failed when the A2 kite was up failed and I had it in the water in its entirety. I had to recover that without breaking it. There are a lot of little things which do happen. »

Conrad Colman (NZL/40 Degrees)
: « It is a beautiful sunny day, calm conditions, not too bad at all. It is quite nice. I have more than a little catching up to do, but unfortunately I am down on power, the big problem is that I broke two very valuable sails, my AP reaching gennaker and also my big spinnaker. I did that very early on in the race and so I have been making do with what I have for most of the time and so I have been slower than the rest, and strategically I have been to the north and unable to get south.
I spent three days putting the big kite together and it ripped somewhere else. So the original repair was on the luff and the foot and I used up all the material that I had to repair kites with, and then I put it up and a few hours after that it ripped down the leech,
So that is irrepairable. I started this project a few months before the race and did not have an opportunity to buy new sails, and I am paying for it because the old stuff is breaking
Strategically after the first week I was in a good position, the boat was in one piece and for a while I was feeling pretty confident about my ability to come down from the north and be up with the leaders. And so I think there was a good chance then of me still being in the top ten at this point. Whereas now mid-30’s it is quite difficult mentally, as well as physically after having done all those repairs because I have ended up in a position in the fleet that I don’t quite think I deserve. But that is ocean racing.
I think it will be very difficult at this stage to come back because given my sail situation, and the boat, given the tools for the job I myself as a skipper think I am competitive, but that is life at the moment. »