Du grand large à la plage : Toute l’actualité des sports de glisse

Transat Québec-Saint Malo

Soldini takes the leadership to Fauconnier

Thomas Coville keeps place two but Desjoyeaux is back

vendredi 16 juillet 2004Redaction SSS [Source RP]

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" Beginning not to have many rudders left ! " Giovanni Soldini on Tim Progetto Italia has nonetheless taken the lead of the Orma multihulls on their North Atlantic sprint at 1300 GMT. Sodebo are up to second and Sergio Tacchini down to third.

The leading multihulls have already swallowed up the first half of the Atlantic and are currently negotiating a rather delicate transition with rather light winds, grey skies and drizzle between a zone of high pressure and a stationary depression north of Ireland. The 60 footers mid-fleet have been putting the squeeze on the frontrunners throughout the day as the concertina effects of this situation block the path upfront with much lighter winds. Great news for Groupama who is back to within 30.9 miles of the Italian despite being the only one of the fleet to make a pitstop.

Like a number of other boats Gitana 11 hit an object floating in the Atlantic, around midnight GMT, whilst flying along at 25 knots in 5th place. It has lost its central rudder and the transom is partially destroyed. It has consequently retired and is making for La Trinité sur Mer in southern Brittany. Everyone onboard is fine.

The latest reported collision victim is Foncia, who is continuing racing with a broken starboard rudder, after apparently hitting an object yesterday.

A fond dans la brume de Terre Neuve à bord de Groupama
Photo Groupama

"We’re going well" said a thrilled Giovanni Soldini. "It was really down to gybing at the right time and recuperating the right course. There’s another difficult passage ahead though, a front without much wind. For now we’ve got grey sky and rain with full main and gennaker. We’ve got some worries with our starboard rudder (already damaged near the Islands of the Madeleine) and now the rudder on the central hull is making a lot of noise and moving a great deal." With 3 years of technical problems in its transats it certainly makes a welcome change to see TIM Progetto Italia leading the dance. "I just hope it’ll hold together ! With sailing you know what time a boat will leave but not what time it will arrive !"

Clearly not holding together Gitana 11, former Belgacom, is sadly being nursed home to southern Brittany tonight by its skipper Fred Le Peutrec after hitting an object in the water. 5th at the time of the incident it comes as a bitter blow to the crew. "The daggerboard was partially raised and the rudder of the central hull snapped off causing an infiltration of water up front. The transom is partly destroyed. It’s not serious as there is a watertight bulkhead aft but there’s a fair bit of water in the central hull. No-one was injured and we require no assistance. We are making for our technical base in La Trinité sur Mer, southern Brittany, 1300 miles away." They cannot be contacted as their batteries have lost their charge but their progress is being monitored by Argos and they have one irridium left for emergencies.

In perfect Figaro style, winner of the Solitaire 2003 and the AG2R, Armel Le Cleac’h gave no indication of the damage suffered aboard Foncia yesterday. "We lost a bit of ground yesterday with our more northerly strategy but we are back on the attack. We reckon to be in the depression system situated off Northern Ireland in 24 hours time with a westerly wind kicking in." An hour later it was officially announced that Foncia had in fact broken its rudder on the starboard float when it hit an unidentified floating object, probably a whale or a piece of wood, yesterday afternoon. Minor damage which nevertheless reduces the potential of the boat in the harsh conditions of the past days. The crew has a spare rudder aboard and a change is envisaged when the wind drops. Foncia has fixed rudders which means a complete halt and putting a diver in the water, something they plan to do this evening if conditions are not too delicate. "We’re lucky not to have hit anything before !" said Alain Gautier. "The wind has dropped off all of a sudden and so we have been less penalised and there are still some very interesting coups to be had." At 1300 GMT the team were in 6th place, at a considerable distance from Banque Populaire in 7th, time perhaps to make repairs and get back on the race track without losing a place...

Despite less and less wind and a poor day yesterday, Lalou Roucayrol was particularly positive, the crew hoping to make it through on a corridor of wind that is unfortunately getting smaller and smaller. "We haven’t really got express conditions but it’s really interesting being in permanent contact. We’ve had 2 days of pure gliding and yesterday it was superb in blazing sunshine. We can but hope that they get stuck as long as possible up front but I can see 3 possible re-starts before the end of the race and we may well be able to catch up with the right train."

With the best average over 24 hours, 497 miles, Groupama has clearly caught that right train. "We’re quick, teasing 27 knots" said an animated Franck Proffit. "We played the edge of the high pressure zone well yesterday, close to its centre, and it paid off. We really exploited the boat’s speed and were extremely attentive to variations in the barometer. As we’ve got a slight handicap compared to those in front we’re following a course which enables us to sail on flat seas so as not to slow the boat down. The repair to our rudder is holding well and we’re slightly south of the others taking a little bit of a risk. It’s likely to be a bit tricky at the Fastnet", the next passage mark, 324 miles from the finish.

Also in turbo drive, Sodebo had caught onto the skirts of Tim Progetto Italia as it overtook long time leader Sergio Tacchini, and is now revelling in second place. Crew Loick Peyron declared the situation to be "a little risky but interesting with a slightly complicated transition in view. There are southerners, northerners and pacifists and we don’t yet know who is best placed. The transition will be slightly complicated and there may well be some interesting regroupings. We have the wind aft where it is likely to stay until the end, with different angles and different strengths. We’ve just got to aim for a big 1000 mile layline ! It’s fairly democratic aboard, everyone does the nav but it has to be said that nobody was queuing up to take on this delicate responsability today !"

The situation was equally as complicated aboard now third placed Sergio Tacchini according to Karine Fauconnier. "The wind is easing up front but it’s only temporary hopefully. In fact it’s coming back as we speak. We’ve just shifted south again after our more northerly option. We don’t want to take too many risks and decided it was more reasonable not be too distant from the others, though we knew we’d lose a bit of ground in our attempt to get a better wind angle. We’re still rounding the area of high pressure and ahead is a depression north of Ireland which is fairly static - for now we’re between the two systems in light fog and drizzle with the prospect of passing a front. It’s tricky as navigation is not an exact science but we’re into our trimming, giving it everything. We’ll see what happens."

At the back of the same fleet, Médiatis-Région Aquitaine had other concerns on a more northerly course than its predecessors right in the ice field. "We passed some icebergs on the radar some hours ago and though we think we’re free of them now we continue to remain vigilant. A rainbow has just appeared out of the fog though..." 

Some difficult hours lay ahead of all the crews in the 60 foot trimarans who may well reach the Fastnet midday on Saturday.   Amongst the 50 foot multis, Crêpes Whaou ! has a 122.3 mile lead over Bonjour Québec. Sadly the latter skipper, Mike Birch, has not been able to be contacted since the start but he is certainly keeping Jean Stalaven and GIFI at bay. Ciment St-Laurent must be getting slightly worried in the monohull fleet with Marina Fort Louis Ile de Saint Martin just 4.4 miles on its stern, Branec III 35.5 miles behind him, 2227.7 miles from the finish.

Author : Kate Jennings

Voir en ligne :

Classement multicoques Orma :
- 1. Tim Progretto Italia (à 1068,8 milles de l’arrivée)
- 2. Sodebo (à 10 milles du leader)
- 3. Sergio Tacchini (à 12,4 milles du leader)

Classement multicoques Classe 2
- 1. Crêpes Whaou ! (à 1924 milles de l’arrivée)
- 2. Bonjour Québec (à 122,3 milles du leader)
- 3. Jean Stalaven (à 161,5 milles du leader)

Classement monocoques Classe 2 :
- 1. Ciment Saint-Laurent (à 2187,9 milles)
- 2. Marina Fort Louis-Ile de Saint Martin (à 4,4 milles du leader)
- 3. Branec III (à 39,9 milles du leader)

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