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BWR 2015 March 23, Nandor’s ‘solo’ mode ? – the final weather hurdles for Cheminees Poujoulat?

23rd March, 08 50 UT, Nandor’s log from Spirit of Hungary

The sky was full of stars during the night, and there were only a few little clouds that disappeared soon. We were sailing well, in the right direction. By dawn it became quite cloudy, with broad and heavy showers here and there, which wouldn’t have been a problem if it hasn’t affected the wind. In the second half of the night we couldn’t progress the way we should have if the expected wind would have blown. We were tending more to the North, which is good in general, but we should rather keep the 50° to follow the routing if we’d like to arrive at the desired position a few days later.

In the morning we saw a huge black cloud, one of its legs reached water, the other one was approaching us. It was only a matter of minutes for it to cover us. I took the risk to harden up as much as possible with the gennaker – with this A3, 130° is very much the limit. We speeded up, and within an hour’s time we were out of the cloud. We haven’t even left this one, there was another one, only bigger and blacker! For a while, I was planning to risk the way I did before, but then the wind increased above 23 knots and the whole weather situation seemed to be tougher to work off than before. I bore away, rolled up the gennaker, and hoisted the solent. Finally we said goodbye to the ‘big brother’ too.

To roll up the gennaker, it takes 280 rounds on the pedestal – without a break because if I stop, a few luffs would unroll the whole sail and I can start from zero again. 280 rounds are approximately equal to the same amount of push-ups.

C is in bed now, he needs rest. In the night he undertook a watch with one arm tied up. While half asleep, I could hear him winch or ease on the sails a few times. Obviously he must have done it with one hand.

We progressed well until the afternoon, then the wind had calmed.

I shaved, for the first time since Bluff. I want to cut my hair too, maybe tomorrow.

In the following night:

I couldn’t rest during the night. The wind had increased and the waves have grown too – which is far from what the forecast said. Concerning our speed, we don’t mind it, but suddenly the ride has become more uncomfortable. This is especially hard for C, as it’s impossible to make a step without holding yourself with both hands. Waves are coming from all possible directions and the boat is moving in all directions too, as if it would want to shake us off.

Very suddenly, the boat traffic has increased, we are probably crossing a shipping lane between Africa and South-America. Fortunately both the AIS and the radar are working well. We communicate with others on the radio when necessary. The AIS has alarmed just now, that we will be in a dangerous proximity with a ship in 50 minutes. It’s still far away, but this means we have to pay attention. Don’t worry mates, I keep my eyes open!

23rd March, 23 00 UT – our position: 29° 10,2′ S, 035° 22,9′ W,

water temperature: 23,1°C !

by BWR news:  Complicated finish miles, light winds for Cheminees Poujoulat A date with destiny is set, ETA Wednesday lunchtime

Neutrogena should increase their delta on GAES Centros Auditivos
Out of the Doldrums for the Catalan match. Less than 400 miles from the finish line now, Cheminées Poujoulat are passed Cabo de Gata, east of Almeria, and are starting the final ascent of the Mediterannean out of the Alboran sea to Barcelona. Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam are forecast to finish some time between 1000hrs and midday on Wednesday, but still have some complicated final transitions standing between them and a well earned victory, which may make that ETA ambitious.

Spirit of Hungary’s Nandor Fa remains in ‘solo’ mode – while co-skipper Conrad Colman recovers from a shoulder dislocation. Neutrogena and GAES Centros Auditivos are upwind in the NE’ly trade winds, SWW of the Canary Islands, One Planet One Ocean & Pharmaton are emerging from the Doldrums with We Are Water.Renault Captur are putting two days of frustrating upwind, lights airs sailing behind them and hoping the road to the Doldrums and the northern hemisphere opens for them just as the forecasts seem to promise.

Conrad Colman message from the Spirit of Hungary March 23 

“As I write this we are doing 18 knots of speed in the good direction.  The egg on my head is reducing and my shoulder is starting to feel better. I have spoken with the race doctor but unfortunately have a lot of experience with dislocated shoulders..We all have a weak spot and that’s mine. I have taken pain medicine, and do a gentle massage with cream every few hours and, like you suggested, have put my arm in a sling to immobilize it and to remind me not to use it. I am able to sleep ok, and put bags of clothes under my arm to support it.

At the moment we have a little more wind than forecast and are making great speed reaching with the solent jib and one reef in the main (our biggest possible surface now). There is a ridge of high pressure that block our path in the coming days so we will have to wrestle with the light winds again soon, but have the Code 0 sail ready to power us through. ”

Neutrogena and GAES Centros Auditivos are upwind in the NE’ly trade winds, SWW of the Canary Islands, One Planet One Ocean & Pharmaton are emerging from the Doldrums with We Are Water.Renault Captur are putting two days of frustrating upwind, lights airs sailing behind them and hoping the road to the Doldrums and the northern hemisphere opens for them just as the forecasts seem to promise. And Spirit of Hungary’sNandor Fa remains in ‘solo’ mode – while co-skipper Conrad Colman recovers from a shoulder dislocation.

Cheminées Poujoulat have a date with destiny set. All things being equal the long time race leaders should complete the final 350 miles to the line with no major problems. Their lead is at just under 1200 miles over the second placed Neutrogena.
They may have been granted a relatively quick passage of the Doldrums but the final miles to Barcelona on Wednesday might extract a payback as the last morning might resemble Doldrums-like conditions. Forecasts today put the Catalan city in an area of very light winds Wednesday making the actual ETA quite difficult to to judge.

Stamm and Le Cam are expected to run out of breeze this evening as a transition zone between the NE’ly Tramontana and the SW’ly in the south Mediterranean creates a no-go zone of very light airs.
According to the weather models, unfortunately for the Cheminées Poujoulat duo this no go area seems set to follow them north to the Balearics. They should be just west of Ibiza tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon before they get into a more defined NE’ly. Strangely, the weather picture resembles start day, with the strong NE’ly blowing offshore well to the east of Barcelona, and NW’ly to the west and in between: not very much

In second Neutrogena look set to gain bigger miles on GAES Centros Auditivos. At present Guillermo Altadill and José Munoz are on a course which will take them just north of the Canary Islands tonight and tomorrow. But Anna Corbella and Gérard Marín do not seem to be able to make as much height, and so will have to route south of the island group, or through them.
Anna Corbella said: “The weather situation is not offering a chance to try a strategic play to get closer to Neutrogena. This is now the worst part for us. At this heading the speed differences are non existent and even if we took any risk at all we would not catch up miles, we need to wait and see what the Mediterranean. We will wait patiently for our moment.”

The battle to get into the NE’ly trade winds first seems to have ended with an even outcome between One Planet, One Ocean & Pharmaton and We Are Water. Over 12 0 miles to the east the advantage is certainly with Aleix Gelabert and Didac Costa. But in theory the upwind speed and height advantage – which is already evident – should be with the Garcia brothers, Bruno and Willy. They should be able to close down the 90 miles differential – which is also slightly skewed as Gelabert and Costa are closer to the rhumb line course which is very much to their east right now.

Jorg Riechers and Seb Audigane have endured two or three mind numbingly dull days of light upwind sailing but the Renault Captur duo are convinced they have at last found the E’ly trade winds. Their decision now is how to best get across the Doldrums which they should encounter in two and a half to three days, having been painted into a corner, forced close to the Brazilian coast by the weather patterns.

Audigane reported:
” It was the weather conditions that brought us here. We’re not really that close, as the coast is 85-90 miles or so away. A little bit more now. We were forced to sail there. Last week, a low pressure area made things rather complicated for us. We sailed where the wind took us. Let’s put it like that. Now we’ve been tacking upwind for two days, which is really annoying.”
” Today, the wind should come around on the edge of the high. We changed tack this morning, and in theory, the wind should continue to come around. We will be able to make our way towards the Doldrums, which we’ll probably pass through quite some way out to the west. That should make things easier for us, but it doesn’t mean that we’ll catch the others (We Are Water and One Planet, One Ocean & Pharmaton), as they are some way ahead and have been so for quite some time. Each time we were forced to tack, they just kept on sailing straight ahead. They were a bit slowed down in the Doldrums, but for the time being, it would be wrong to imagine some sort of magic comeback for Renault Captur.”
” We feel bad about having to stop, but we had no choice with the broken rudder, but that changed things for us and it’s not as interesting. After turning back from New Zealand, we had to round two low-pressure areas in the south, while they just kept going str aight ahead. At the Horn, we were slowed down too, even if we got around it… So, as you can see, each time we were forced to tack, that added extra distance, while the boats ahead of us were quicker on a more direct route. We weren’t really helped by the weather patterns. We’re looking forward to getting away from this upwind tack to get to Barcelona quickly…”

Rankings Monday 23rd March at 1400hrs UTC
1 Cheminées Poujoulat (B Stamm – J Le Cam) at 337 miles to finish
2 Neutrogena (G Altadill – J Muñoz) + 1172 miles to leader
3 GAES Centros Auditivos (A Corbella – G Marin) + 1362miles to leader
4 We Are Water (B Garcia – W Garcia) + 2560 miles to leader
5 One Planet One Ocean & Pharmaton (A Gelabert – D Costa) + 2650 miles to leader
6 Renault Captur (J Riechers – S Audigane) + 3791miles to leader
7 Spirit of Hungary (N Fa – C Colman) + 4576 miles to leader
ABD : Hugo Boss (A. Thomson – P. Ribes)