And another ship drafted in to get a competitor to Cape Town in time

While Telefónica (Iker Martínez/ESP) leads the dash to Cape Town, PUMA’s Mar Mostro (Ken Read/USA) made a successful rendezvous with a cargo ship and transferred enough fuel to allow the crew to motor towards the remote island of Tristan da Cunha.

As the ship approached, Ken Read said, “This is our new best friend. This is life as we know it”. The green jerry cans of fuel were transferred using ropes as the crew of Mar Mostro held the boat steady about two boat lengths from the towering side of the ship.

The sea state was calm and the operation was completed in daylight without a hitch, although Read said it was the most nerve-wracking thing he had ever done. The crew sent a package of t-shirts to the cargo ship by way of thanks, then re-hoisted their jury rig and set off in the direction of the island.

Telefónica has 1,614 nautical miles (nm) to run to the finish and computers are predicting her arrival in Cape Town on November 27. Yesterday, as the team neared the centre of the Saint Helena High, the day was quiet and cold and began with a beautiful sunrise. The highlight for the team was the first sighting of the majestic Albatross, the ocean wanderer whose solitary presence is a reminder of what it yet to come for the teams when they enter the vast wastes of the Southern Ocean.

CAMPER (Chris Nicholson/AUS) lies 107 nm astern. Crewman Tony Rae, who earlier in the week performed surgery on bowman Mike Pammenter’s face when he collided with the shrouds in heavy weather, confirms that his patient is making good progress. Rae, one of two medics on board, spent many hours training on ambulances and hospitals in preparation for this race.

“I never like to see anyone get injured and we don’t want that to happen to any of the crew as if any of them are down for any length of time, it’s not good for the boat. I’ve trained for those sorts of situations, so that when you come across those sorts of injuries or situations you can deal with it calmly and think through it. Time will tell if I have done a decent job or not,” he said.

A further 317 nm back, but sure of a podium position provided nothing unexpected happens, is Groupama 4 (Franck Cammas/FRA). The team is not so optimistic on reaching the cold front in time to sweep them quickly towards the finish. “Even the optimistic ones [forecasts] are not so optimistic anymore,” MCM Yann Riou reports. The team continues on port tack as temperatures fall, pushing the boat as hard as they dare.

PUMA’s Mar Mostro update – Kenny Read/skipper

“At approximately 18:00 GMT this evening, the ship Zim Monaco should arrive to our position to deliver 450 litres of diesel fuel. At the end of the day, we determined diesel is our lifeblood out here. With it, we can make water and make ground towards a given destination with our 15-foot stump. And that destination is…drum roll…the beautiful island of Tristan da Cunha! 

“That’s right, Tristan Island. My daughter, Tory, sent me a fantastic email telling me that Tristan has a population of 275 people and is literally a volcano sticking out of the middle of the Atlantic Ocean 6.5 miles wide. It is the closest point of land, which we can re-supply and rally around the next part of our plan. No airport and no other way to get to the Island except by boat. 

“From Tristan, we plan to have a ship meet us coming from Cape Town with its own crane that can centre-pick the boat up and place it on the ship on our cradle that our shore crew will have in place upon arrival. 

“Oh, and the harbour is too shallow to get into in Tristan. We will have to do this in the ocean.

“On the ship will be our shore team with a 20-foot container full of tools and equipment and all of us, and we will spend the next four-plus days of transport to Cape Town putting the pieces of Humpty Dumpty back together again. 

“The spare mast is being flown in from the U.S. as we speak and will meet us in Cape Town. We will need to get the boat in the water as soon as we get to Cape Town to tune the rig properly in time to do the In-Port race and next leg to Abu Dhabi.”