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#1 Rehabilitated

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Posted 16 November 2018 - 04:39 PM


The embattled French race leader, nursing a damaged mast on his Rustler 36 Matmut after the yacht was pitchpoled in a storm a week ago, has the prospect of having another Southern Ocean buster roll over him this coming weekend followed by two more when rounding the infamous Cape.

The 73-year old veteran is now within 1,300 miles of the Horn, speeding along at 5.3 knots, having ‘fixed’ the damage to his mast by climbing up and lashing the lower shroud fixing to the spreader bracket above.

"In a radio broadcast last Friday, made over the Ham net, Van Den Heede spoke about his knockdown, which now transpires to have been a far more serious end-over-end pitchpole. Explaining his decision to continue in the race rather than head for Valparíso, Chile to make repairs," Jean-Luc said: "I had plenty of time to think about my situation during these four days of escaping the storm (220 miles lost to the North). My mast is now extremely precarious due to my capsize. If I stop to make a repair, it will be only temporary. For Matmut to continue sailing, it will need more or less to change to a new mast. So I decided, to save my soul (dixit Moitessier), to continue my route non-stop and head for Les Sables d'Olonne."

"As soon as the sea will allow it I will climb the mast to secure it as best as possible with what I can use onboard. If I get dismasted, I have, like all competitors, a jury rig that will allow me to reach a port. I am no longer in racing mode but in safe mode. This is not the first time I will attempt to bring home a damaged boat. And if by miracle I get to Les Sables d'Olonne, I do not care about the ranking, at least I will have tried. I cross my fingers and thank all those who help me in this adventure.”

In a subsequent safety call to Race HQ in Les Sables d’Olonne yesterday, Jean-Luc explained what happened in even greater detail to Don McIntyre. “He was not knocked down as we first perceived, but pitchpoled. He had already prepared for the worst, having screwed down floor boards, stowed loose items securely and closed the companionway hatch. He was in his bunk, and his storm tactic was to allow the boat to run freely downwind with 6 sq metres of headsail set and no warps trailing astern, steered by his Hydrovane wind vane self steering.
"Suddenly, the boat was as picked up by a huge wave and surfed down the forward face, the bows dug in and the boat went end-for-end before rolling out on her side. Jean-Luc says that he was thrown out of his bunk and finished up on the ceiling surrounded by all manner of gear. Some water got into the cabin and everything got thrown around. It was a complete mess, and a week on, he is still searching for some things.”

“The question of how to run before big storms is being debated by sailors and non sailors all around the world and GGR sailors are being watched closely on what they are doing,” observes Don Mcintyre. “Some believe two wing warps is best, others say drogues are better, and a few think lying hove-to is the answer. Many believe running fast before the storm with nothing risks a knockdown or worse a pitchpole. JLVDH’s experience will certainly re-ignite the debate. Robin Knox-Johnston found that his double-ender Suhaili behaved best when warps were towed. Bernard Moitessier on the other hand simply allowed his larger Joshua to run freely before the storms.”

JL VDH has climbed the mast four times since to inspect the damage and effect repairs. The damage is centred around the bolts securing the hounds of the lower shrouds to the mast just below the lower spreader bracket. He climbed up to the second spreaders to check for any damage there and fortunately found none. He has managed to tighten the lower rigging and is now confident that it is safe with the wind abaft of the beam. His concern is when the wind forward of the beam. He says that he cannot allow the boat to slam in the waves and will have to bear off to save the mast from further damage.

The approaching storm is expected to bring north westerly winds which will allow Jean-Luc to run with the wind and waves.

Meanwhile, second placed Mark Slats, sailing the Rustler 36 Ohpen Maverick, has taken more than 500 miles out of Van Den Heede’s lead over the past week and is now within 1,500 miles of the leader. Slats has to average 1knot more than Matmut over the remaining distance to take the lead at the finish. At 08:00 UTC today, Ophen Maverick was averaging 5.7knots against Matmut’s 5.3knots.

Further back in mid-fleet, both third placed Estonian Uku Randmaa sailing another Rustler 36, One and All, and Finland’s Tapio Lehtinen aboard the Gaia 36 Asteria back in sixth have both used the unusually calm conditions to dive over the side and clean the infestation of barnacles that have been slowing their yachts. For Randmaa, the pressure to dive into the near freezing conditions came because fourth placed Susie Goodall, sailing the British entry DHL Starlight, has been closing the gap. For Lehtinen, the incentive is to catch sixth placed American/Hungarian Istvan Kopar who, after sailing half way around the world, is still struggling to get his wind vane self steering working effectively.

At the rear of the fleet, Australian Mark Sinclair, sailing the Lello 34 Coconut, passed where Frenchman Loic Lepage scuttled his yacht Laaland three weeks ago. He has only 45 litres of water left onboard and thinks he may have to stop in Hobart which would relegate him to Chichester Class. Russian Igor Zaretskiy is fighting to break clear of yet another calm, making only 0.5knot early today. In a message to his team, Igor, whose Endurance 35 Esmeralda is also beset with barnacles, says optimistically: “I am on my way to Tasmania. I had a plan to drop anchor near St Paul Island to try to clean off the barnacles but have been forbidden to do it. (The area is a protected nature reserve.) It will take a week to clean all these encrustations.

"Right now I have 2m swells with almost no wind at all, drifting north-east waiting fro the high pressure system to pass over me.

"There has been no sun, so I haven’t got a sextant fix for a few days. I also have a pile of garbage in the galley corner which I must bring back to Les Sables d’Olonne. I have no idea where to store it. For now, I am just sorting and packing the garbage where it is.

{ sextant fix } SURELY IT IS COMPULSORY to have two gps's.

"Got the sad news yesterday that Jean-Luc has his mast damaged. It can happen to any of us at any time. I ran north from that storm. Had I stayed south I might well be further ahead on the course than I am now. I’ve not had any wind since then.

"Now experimenting with advice to fight the barnacles. I’ve tensioned a rope from stem to stern under the boat and waiting to see the effect. None so far. The rope is simply gliding over these barnacles. May be I should be using steel cable, I don't know.

"The situation is a bit depressing at the moment. But I will get busy with the domestic chores, sewing and so on. There is lots of rope work to do all the time with the running rigging, scuffs and wear and tear.

"I hope the high will pass soon, and I will be able to sail down to 40S.”

Positions at 12:00 UTC 13.11.18

Skipper Distance to finish VMG during last 24 hours Approx. distance behind leader

1 Jean- Luc VDH (FRA) Rustler 36 Matmut 8409 6.7 knots 0
2 Mark Slats (NED) Rustler 36 Ohpen Maverick 9882 6.1 knots 1473
3 Uku Randmaa (EST) Rustler 36 One and All 11319 5.6 knots 2910
4 Susie Goodall GBR) Rustler 36 DHL Starlight 11798 5.1 knots 3380
5 Istvan Kopar (USA) Tradewind 35 Puffin 12024 4.6 knots 3615
6 Tapio Lehtinen (FIN) Gaia 36 Asteria 12554 5.3 knots 4145
7 Mark Sinclair (Aus) Lello 34 Coconut 14950 3.9 knots 6541
8 Igor Zaretskiy (RUS) Endurance 35 Esmeralda 15673 2.1 knots 7264

RETIRED

Ertan Beskardes (GBR) Rustler 36 Lazy Otter
Kevin Farebrother (AUS) Tradewind 35 Sagarmatha
Nabil Amra (PAL) Biscay 36 Liberty II
Philippe Péché (FRA) Rustler 36 PRB
Antoine Cousot (FRA) Biscay 36 Métier Intérim
Are Wiig (NOR) OE32 Olleanna
Abhilash Tomy (IND) Suhaili replica Thuriya
Gregor McGuckin (IRE) Biscay 36 Hanley Energy Endurance
Francesco Cappelletti (ITA) Endurance 35 007
Loïc Lepage (FRA) Nicholson 32 Laaland
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#2 Island Time

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Posted 16 November 2018 - 05:01 PM

Traditional navigation only, no GPS, no weather.....


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#3 MarkMT

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Posted 16 November 2018 - 05:07 PM

In a subsequent safety call to Race HQ in Les Sables d’Olonne yesterday, Jean-Luc explained what happened in even greater detail to Don McIntyre. “He was not knocked down as we first perceived, but pitchpoled. He had already prepared for the worst, having screwed down floor boards, stowed loose items securely and closed the companionway hatch. He was in his bunk, and his storm tactic was to allow the boat to run freely downwind with 6 sq metres of headsail set and no warps trailing astern, steered by his Hydrovane wind vane self steering.
"Suddenly, the boat was as picked up by a huge wave and surfed down the forward face, the bows dug in and the boat went end-for-end before rolling out on her side. Jean-Luc says that he was thrown out of his bunk and finished up on the ceiling surrounded by all manner of gear. Some water got into the cabin and everything got thrown around. It was a complete mess, and a week on, he is still searching for some things.”

 

Kinda sounds like he was asking for trouble.


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#4 Island Time

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Posted 16 November 2018 - 05:24 PM

Yep, series drouge or at least warps if running in very heavy conditions for me. I understand when racing you want to keep going...
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#5 Priscilla II

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Posted 16 November 2018 - 07:08 PM

Surprisingly the running in extreme conditions consensus of most of the skippers has thrown the drogue and warp use out the window.
The conditions were so extreme for Slats that the sea boarded from aft and smashed the secured companionway thereby significantly flooding the interior.
No drogue or warp is going to provide relief in those extreme conditions and specifically slowing the yacht just exposes you.
The Rustler is not exactly a cork to put it politely and will after reaching max hull speed naturally resort to digging one very big hole in the ocean this further exposes it to being rolled and pitch poled.
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#6 Island Time

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Posted 16 November 2018 - 07:24 PM

Yep, once the conditions are bad enough, and if the boat you are on can't sail at or near wave train speeds safely, personally I'd be on a parachute. But you then lose distance, and it's a race...
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#7 Priscilla II

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Posted 16 November 2018 - 07:50 PM

In those sort of extreme conditions you are solely focused on surviving not racing.
You are down below and secured as best possible so the yacht is realistically at the mercy of the conditions.
Options like laying a hull with backed stormsail and lashed tiller look good in the manual but simply are not achievable so in summary it’s a living hell and until the conditions abate a bottle of rum earmuffs and a well gimballed book are your best companions.
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#8 Island Time

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Posted 16 November 2018 - 11:04 PM

IMO lying ahull is a recipe to get trashed. Each skipper must make their own call about what they consider best.
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#9 Rehabilitated

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Posted 17 November 2018 - 11:07 AM

Trailing wraps numerous approx. 30 to 44 meters long would be better than nothing. The main thing that warps do that all experienced surfers know is to avoid a breaking wave or feathering wave in the most powerful section the middle. A wave section feathers before it breaks starting from the centre and to avoid a steep wave about to break is possible and also to try and keep the boat straight in line with the swell thus avoiding a broach and a possible 360 deg  roll is the goal, particularly if the boat does not have speed which those participates boats do not have, more so  when they are covered with barnacles. The warps breaks the feathering crests by dragging them aft and making the breaking wave less steep, forceful with the power of the white water less troublesome by the time it reaches the boat. You do not want a steep wave breaking on top of you or just be hide you or be on a steep wave which causes the boat to surf. The occasion when we sail into, east of cook strait voluntary, and take two direct hits following each other storms I choose to sail into the storms / seas rather than hove too or run with it. The wind strengths where greater than 80 KTS and the swells where higher than 15 meters. How did we know the wind strength was higher than 80 KTS and the swells were higher than 15 meters. The VDO wind odometer had a stopper pin just after 70 KTS approx. the same distance between 60 and 70 KTS so at 80 KTS. The mast was approx. 15 metes from water level. When at the bottom of the swell the wind odometer would read zero then the boat rose up the swells to about 2/3ds it would, in a split second  hit the pin stopper. When the storms past, we had only lost our radio ssb radio connection, no top of the mast odometer fitting or radar fitting damage with a very wet interior. I was not inside the cabin strapped in but in the cockpit steering with a flexible conduit water pipe hose tiller extension, crouched under the spray dodger clipped on with a arm wrapped around the windward winch. Only took on one greening the whole time, Fortunately the cockpit drained in time allowing the stern to rise to normal level allowing me to gain / steer the few precious meters to the less powerful shoulder section before the next big breaking set arrive to the windward side off us.     b              

 

Yes Matt a parachute anchor would be my option, if unable to sail around / alter course to avoid it, a higher chance of no damage, yes lost distance, not much at those boat speeds  but no reduced speed as a result of damage if you are lucky when chute is recovered and in full on sailing mode. On the chute - would still be gaining 1 to 2 MPH. Surely parachutes would be compulsory for such a race with such boats. Entry conditions to the race surely must be reviewed with a larger size minimum boats and compulsory extra safety gear. Surely a new anti foul paint job would last longer than the boat describing his barnacle issues at this stage of the race. Navigating by sextant to avoid the weather in this day and age of modern GPS, SSB weather forecasting access and sailmail is a no brainer. He states he was not able to get a sun shot for 3 or 4 days as a reason for the position he found himself in. Truly hope the weather gods show some mercy on him and allow him to get around the cape safely and full fill his dream of sailing around the world in a race and winning. Even if it is the least competitive with no mod cons and the slowest around the world race. Hope he does not get to depressed and does not do a Hari Krishna or a Donald Crowhurst’s as his last voyage.


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#10 Rehabilitated

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Posted 17 November 2018 - 11:17 AM

Forgot to put when the storm had past the wind odometer needle was bent caused by continuously hitting the odometer pin stopper at force which means the wind speed velocity was probably in excess off 100 KTS
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