Thursday, December 20, 2007

Hatfield just 47 nm ahead of Wilson with only storm jib and damaged mainsail to use

Click image to enlarge - Ralph, Montreal Sailing

Press release from the Transat BtoB

Dee Caffari and Aviva have been dealt a cruel blow in the final stages of the Transat Ecover B to B race, at around 0600hrs UTC, Aviva lost her mast in over 45 knots of wind. Caffari is safe and
unhurt onboard and has spent the last 2 hours cutting the rig free from the boat to avoid any damage to the hull.The incident happened about 160 miles off Cape Finisterre in Northern Spain. Caffari is now drifting west at about 2 knots and is in regular contact with her shore team who are arranging a tow into Northern Spain this morning.

British sailor Dee Caffari indicated this Wednesday morning to the Race Management of the Transat Ecover-BtoB that she had just dismasted. Fortunately the pieces of mast have not damaged the hull and the sailor is not in danger, 140 miles NW of Cap Finisterre. Rounding the tip of Spain to enter the Bay of Biscay and complete her first single-handed transatlantic race aboard an Imoca monohull, Dee Caffari saw her mast collapse at around 0600 UTC this morning. The SE'ly wind was dishing out 45 knots of breeze at the time in big seas resulting from a depression settling between the Azores and the Iberian peninsula. After two hours, the British sailor managed to clear the deck of pieces of the mast which could have punctured the
hull and then alerted her shore crew. Aviva had been making 9 knots of boat speed on a direct course towards the finish in Port la For&et, just 250 miles away. This Wednesday morning, Dee Caffari didn't have much of an opportunity to make port rapidly as the boat could not be manoeuvred and was drifting at two knots. Difficult to set up an effective jury rig on her own, it has been decided that a tow will be organised to the Spanish port of La Coruna, 160 miles to
the SE of her current position. The problem here lies in the fact that there is still a lot of wind in this part of the Bay of Biscay and it isn't set to abate until Thursday morning...Our thoughts are
with her and the 3 remaining boats still out on the water.

Race update from Shore Crew Dec 20th

Position: 46,45.21N , 8,45.96W at 1700hr GMT

Derek is making slow and steady progress to the finish line, currently with 227nm to go and 35kts of breeze down from 45kts earlier today.

The storm that has held Derek for a few days now is starting to subside down to 28kts in the lulls but still from the east, exactly in the direction of where he needs to put the boat for the finish. As we have seen with other recent finishers it is not going to be easy to take the Open 60 upwind in these conditions. Reporting earlier today by satellite phone Derek explained that even though the wind has come down at a reasonable rate the seas are very confused and very large
making sailing anything but pleasant and sleep very difficult. There is only one useable headsail left in the inventory of jibs; the storm jib, he will try to raise that later tonight as the wind subsides a bit more but it may do little as it is so small. It is dangerous to be on the foredeck at the moment with the boat jerking around so much, he has to remove the other headsail from the forestay and raise the storm jib. The solent has been damaged in another crash jibe, damaging the clew of the sail. The autopilot is not able to hold the boat so Derek is hand-steering for a lot of the day, on deck for most of the time making him quite tired and the passage even more
difficult. It is as if the finish line is moving away from him.

We now expect that Derek will arrive on Friday afternoon as his progress is hampered so much by upwind conditions and lack of proper sail inventory or proper gears of a race car. The mainsail has to be either fully raised or 4th reef as the 3rd and 2nd reef points have chaffed through at the end of the boom, this has been an ongoing problem as a result of underspecified rope size and improper exit points at the end of the boom. Spirit of Canada is only currently
making 6kts to the finish. The wind is up 10kts more than the weather file is showing and its from the east which is definitely not prevailing winds for this area. Either way we now sit and wait for Derek to bring the boat in to shore, nothing we can do but encourage
and hope for a safe ending to the race. All he has to do is finish.

Congratulations to Jean Baptiste Dejeanty for his finish tonight during the prize giving. American Rich Wilson and our Derek Hatfield are the only other remaining competitors to come in with Dee Caffari having dismasted earlier today. Mike Golding had been speaking with Dee earlier today and she is reported to be in good spirits having all possible conditions in this race then of course the disappointment of losing the mast. Dee is expecting a tow shortly to arrive in La Coruna. Both Ecover and Aviva Sailing Teams expect to meet and refit the boats to begin training within the next month or so, Dee with her new boat being delivered next month.

We will send another update from France tomorrow with new position and weather reporting.

Take care,