TUESDAY 06 DECEMBER 2016, – Alain Gautier Vendée Globe Safety Director explained – Huge concern for the skipper Kito de Pavant – Jacques Caraës VG race director interview
News – Rescuers in the zone – Vendée Globe 2016-2017
22:00 UTC WAITING FOR THE BIG LUCK AND SUCCESS FOR KITO! praying for him!
Kito’s message from the board: Good evening, The Marion Dufresne is by my side and the crew waiting for the sunrise to put a zodiac to water and pick me up.
“I’m very sad, desperate and of not being able to bring this boat somewhere, the sands it would have been top but anyone or elsewhere, it would have done, but right now let him in the middle of nowhere, get in there and smoosh by the waves Me, this is unbearable.
But it has to be solved. I can’t move forward, not back, so I can’t go nowhere with the keel which takes on anything and the risks are much too great in this ocean if inhospitable.
Good luck to all the other competitors of the vendée globe, it takes a decidedly a lot…
Kito de pavant
TUESDAY 06 DECEMBER 2016, 18H38
Sébastien Josse’s team reported today that their skipper is in better shape after fighting clear of the worst of the low pressure system. “Sébastien is doing fine despite the extreme conditions he’s been experiencing since yesterday afternoon. Last night, he managed to put in two gybes, which was very tricky given the strength of the wind and the sea state,” the Gitana team report today.
Three skippers passed the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope today. Rich Wilson crossed this morning at 0420hrs UTC. Enda O’Coineen passed some five hours and 36 minutes later at 0956hrs UTC and Alan Roura, the Swiss skipper, 47 minutes later at 1043hrs UTC.
And Spanish skipper Didac Costa has now closed to within three miles of Sébastien Destremau at the tail end of the fleet.
TUESDAY 06 DECEMBER 2016, 17H56
De Pavant, from the Occitanie region in SW France is placed 10th in the Vendée Globe round the world race some 120 miles to the north of the Crozet Islands. He reported a significant ingress of water, flooding the engine compartment. Race Direction have been working closely with the MRCC authorities at Gris Nez to organise a rescue. The MRCC have been in contact with the Marion Dufresne, the 120m long research and supply vessel of the TAAF (Terres australes et antarctiques françaises) which supplies the remote French archipelagos of Crozet, the Kerguelen, Saint Paul and Amsterdam islands. The Marion Dufresne was reported to be around 110 nautical miles away and had an ETA in the area during the early part of this evening with a plan to evacuate the skipper by rigid inflatable boat when daylight occurs around 0200hrs UTC.
Alain Gautier, the Vendée Globe Safety Director, explained: “We’re hoping they will arrive at around 1700 UTC, but by then it will be dark there, so iti is down to the commanding officer of the ship to decide what sort of operation to carry out. They are likely to want to wait until day breaks at around 0100 UTC to launch a RIB to recover Kito. It will all depend on the conditions. We can imagine that the Marion Dufresne will position herself windward of Kito to try to calm down the seas. But she’s not that big a boat, so we don’t know if that will be enough to ensure a safe operation. Sunrise is at around 0130 UTC, but they may wait a while for the weather to ease. Already the winds will not be as strong during the night. Our goal is to get Kito aboard the Marion Dufresne. It will be up to Kito’s team to deal with the boat, but that’s not going to be easy in that zone. Meanwhile he has called us when he finds the time. After the shock this morning and the obvious disappointment, we can see that he is more in control of the situation now.”
News – Huge concern for the skipper Kito de Pavant – Vendée Globe 2016-2017
Contacted by telephone, Kito de Pavant declared, “I hit something hard with the keel. It was a violent shock and the boat came to a standstill. The rear bearings of the keel were ripped off and the keel is hanging under the boat kept in place simply by the keel ram, which is in the process of cutting through the hull… The keel housing has been destroyed and there is a huge ingress of water there, but for the moment, it is limited to the engine compartment. I currently have forty knots of wind and 5-6m high waves. The boat is stopped. I brought down the mainsail so that she is heeling less. The situation has been stabilised for the moment. I have my survival kit alongside me. Someone is going to have to come and get me. I am trying to contact the Marion Dufresne to ask them to come here.”
The Vendée Globe Race Directors immediately alerted the MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Center) Gris Nez to inform them of the damage and to organise the rescue.
The rescue centre has been in contact with the Marion Dufresne, which is currently 110 miles north of Kito de Pavant’s location to the north of the Crozet Islands. The Marion Dufresne is expected to reach the area in around ten hours.
TUESDAY 06 DECEMBER 2016, 10H51
“The situation is very rough for two boats in particular. Firstly for Edmond de Rothschild, which was near a very deep low with very heavy seas on the edge of the Antarctic Exclusion Zone. A situation that is far from simple for Sébastien (Josse, 3rd). He has been sailing along the edge, but is still 5-6m high waves. (Since this interview, we have learnt that it is closer to 8m and 40-knot winds for Sébastien Josse – editor). Further north, Paul Meilhat, SMA, is also in a very active system and heavy seas. It was quite risky so we were keeping a close eye on these two during the night.”
What about the two frontrunenrs, Armel Le Cléac’h and Alex Thomson?
“The two leaders are still going at speed. Thye have picked up the front coming towards them and have accelerated again with speeds above 20 knots or even 23 at times. They are getting away fromthose behind once again. It’s an incredibly intense duel between Alex and Armel. 84 miles separate them this morning, so it’s still very close. Neither of them are easing off and they are both maintaining high speeds. A front is propelling them towards the Pacific. Their performance is impressive.”
Everyone is fast
What about the chasing boats?
“Maître CoQ (Jérémie Beyou) is back in the game with full use of the mainsail. He is back up to speed and is chasing after Paul Meilhat. In the rest of the fleet, everyone is very fast – Jean-Pierre Dick, Yann Elies, Jean Le Cam… – they are in a strong air stream, but with seas that are not as heavy as for those ahead of them.”
What’s happening to Kojiro Shiraishi, who has retired and Romain Attanasio, who is heading for Cape Town to attempt to carry out repairs on his two rudders?
“Kojiro has done over half of the voyage to Cape Town. He just has 160 miles left to go. Romain Attanasio has not retired, but is aiming to seek a place to shelter in a bay near Cape Town. He should be there in two and a half days.”
What are the main lessons after a month of racing?
“After a month at sea, we have twenty-four competitors still racing. Five boats have retired, which is a very good score, if you see what I mean. For a week most of them have been in the Southern Ocean. It’s here they are facing much tougher conditions with the boats being battered and pressure on the sailors. They need to be cautious here in this strip until they get out at Cape Horn.”
What about the weather?
“We are really into classic patterns for the Southern Ocean. The racers are having to deal with low-pressure systems and go from one system to another. This means a lot of work and heavier seas, leading to potential broaching. So now is the time to be cautious.”
The times to the capes have been impressive…
“We have seen all the records broken. When we see that Banque Populaire VIII passed Cape Leeuwin five and a half days ahead of François Gabart’s reference time. The weather was favourable all the way down the Atlantic. Boats are faster and faster and their speeds have been exceptional. Foils act as boosters, so it is not that surprising to see these reference times shattered.”