Another capsize and news of IMOCA leader's amazing boom repair 9/11/06

The latest news from the Route du Rhum this morning is the capsize and rescue of Jean Stalaven. There’s also an update on IMOCA leader Roland Jourdain who broke his boom a couple of days ago and who is still in the lead.

Stalaven aboard his Class 2 multihull Pascal Quintin capsized at 1740 yesterday in 25-27kts of wind, 800 miles from the Azores. Fortunately he was able to immediately activate his distress beacon and by 0400 this morning had been rescued by a bulk carrier.

Jourdain apparently broke his boom while passing the Azores last Thursday and without stopping he managed to repair it adequately enough with equipment he found in the boat. According to Jordain Sill’s boom is now a masterpiece that could find a place in a contemporary art museum. Although Jordain has lost a few miles over second-placed Jean Le Cam he is still nearly 90 miles ahead as they make their decent towards the layline to the finish in Gardeloupe 350 miles away.

Class 40 fleet has experienced extremely severe weather overnight with big winds, big seas, massive windshifts and thunderstorms. Despite this however, the young British sailor Phil Sharp continues head the fleet. Sharp probably experienced the worst of the conditions with 60 knots of wind. He overcame a capsize, lost his gennaker and lost 20 miles over second placed Gildas Morvan earlier today. He is now concerned that lack of gennaker could hamper his progress towards Guadeloupe.

Sharp relayed this message from the boat: “There was too much wind for me to handle the boat. She finally laid it on her side with the sails flapping. I literally lay inside because the cockpit was vertical. Then I was hanging off out of the guardrail trying to get the mainsail down. It is quite difficult to get the sails down when the boat is the wrong way out. When the wind finished the rain was unbelievable. It hurt to stay outside in the rain. It was actually so painful! It was raining marbles. But the wind was so vicious that you had to stay out under the rain. I am pissed off, because it reduced my performance. I’ll need to climb up the mast today to retrieve the halyard so I can use the genoa instead of the genaker that is in the sea somewhere in many pieces. But I’ll have to wait to climb up the mast because there is still a thunderstorm around me and the wind is very variable. When that has passed, I’ll climb the mast.

“My holidays in the Caribbean’s will come a bit later than expected! The conditions were even colder last night, and not ideal at the moment, especially with the rain. I am trying to get south but I haven’t made much progress last night, we’ll see what happens today. I think my lead is ok, and that’s all that matters.”

The big winds overnight resulted in more problems for fellow British sailor Ian Munslow who’s broken a batten in his mailsail. Munslow sailing in 45kts and big sea was sailing with four reefs in the main and staysail and reported boat speed of 23-24kts. Commenting from the boat Munslow said: “That’s quite dangerous. I knew it would be like this – I was informed by my weather router. The weather has cleared up now [1000] a lot; there will be more wind again in about six hours time. Now is a good time to sort the boat out and repair what broke last night. I want to get some sleep because I didn’t sleep last night at all.”

The entire fleet will face a new low-pressure system forecasted for tomorrow – Friday.