The Franco-Irish duo of skipper Sidney Gavignet and co skipper Damian Foxall has been taking it in turns to steer, not wanting to leave anything to chance in the closing stages of the Transat Jacques Vabre. “Our hands are worn to tatters,” said Sidney this morning. “But it will be worth it if we can make up these last few miles and cross the line ahead of Gitana!”
Averaging 25knots of boat speed in the past 24 hours, the duo is approaching the Bay of Rio and another weather system. Jean-Francois Cuzon the Oman Air-Musandam router has warned that the conditions over the next two days are very complicated.
Having completed a gybe and a sail change, Sidney picked up the Satellite phone to update us on the latest news from the boat:
“Damian is on the helm right now – we just swapped the jib with the gennaker and that took almost an hour! You have to prepare the sail, staggering around with the motion of the boat in the waves and then you have to slow down and engage the autopilot so that you can both deal with the sails and do it quicker, then you have to tidy up and put up the staysail – it’s quite a process!
“So that is how I spent my off watch time, but it doesn’t matter as I managed to get some good rest earlier on. We are getting close to the finish and are in good shape on board. For the first part of the race we were operating very much as a duo, but now we’re able to operate single-handedly more and more which helps a lot with getting enough rest in order to be sharp and fresh to keep the speed up during the next watch.
“We are helming a lot and our hands are suffering for it, not quite bleeding yet, but not far off – we’ve been on this tack almost exclusively since Cape Finisterre. Right now we are doing 21 knots of boat speed downwind.
“There are still some challenges to come before Itajaii; we have to get through a small front with very little wind behind it, there will be a little from the north and a little from the south. It will be pretty tricky for both boats.
“In the meantime, I am going to get dry and sleep for 20minutes before heading back up on deck and attacking for three hours! Over and Out.”
The duo on board Oman Air-Musandam has the pedal to the floor and the 11th edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre promises a match race to the end.
The current ETA is conflicting, but the earliest the MOD70s are expected in Itajaii, Brasil, is Monday afternoon. More from Damian and Sidney then.