Big conditions overnight result in further problems for Route du Rhum fleet 2/11/06

The latest news from the Route du Rhum shows the first ORMA 60-footers arriving at the Azores after three and a half days of racing which is the fastest descent ever towards the archipelago in the Route du Rhum-La Banque Postale. The 60ft multihulls are now showing averages of 500 miles a day and the wind is building.

At 1200 (french time) yesterday, the fastest 60-footer monohulls were off Cape Finistere and 600 miles away from the Azores. However, the conditions have deterioated with some of the multihulls experiencing big nosedives including Charlie Capelle’s who signaled his capsize at around 1300 yesterday. Cappelle is now safe aboard the rescue craftCôtes d’Armor.

Here’s a fleet update

ORMA 60 multihulls
Lionel Lemonchois (Gitana XI) who miraculously escaped a capsize the previous night is back up to speed again has increased his lead overnight from 14.7 miles 93miles on Pascal Bidégorry (Banque Populaire). Commenting Lemonchois said: ‘I did not have the time to realise what happened, and I do not plan to slow down.” He is now clocking speeds of 25kts as he heads across the Atlantic towards Guadeloupe Michel Desjoyaux (Géant) and Thomas Coville (Sodeb’O) are currently involved in a duel for third place.

IMOCA 60 mohonulls
The Open 60 fleet continues to produce close racing with Roland Jourdain (Sill & Veolia) now only 25 miles ahead of Jean Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec). Dick who suffered a keel problem yesterday is now back on track. Apparently Virbac Paprec lost speed yesterday morning which turned out to be a result of an unidentified soft object that got stuck into the keel. Dick was forced bring the boat up into the wind and dive at dark in the Atlantic to check the keel.

40-footer monohulls
Dominique Vittet (Atao Audio System) has snatched the lead from Gildas Morvan (Oysters Funds) overnight but it’s still close with British sailor Phil Sharp ( in third place snapping at their heels. Sharp is the only non-sponsored British entry in the Class 40 and is now just 70 miles ahead of fellow British sailors Ian Munslow (Boland Mills) and Nick Bubb (Kenmore Homes) who are lying in seventh and eight place respectively. The latest report from Bubb however, reveals he’s had a few problems overnight which resulted in climbing the mast in 30kts of wind and cutting down the kite see news story here. 

Class 2 and 3 multihulls
In class 2, Jean Yves Escoffier (Crêpe Whaou !) is building up a healthy lead over rival Eric Bruneel (Trilogic). Escoffier is now 161 miles ahead. With Charlie Capelle in now out of the race, Class 3 is reduced to just two boats. Ross Hobson, who led the fleet earlier this week is now struggling in the big winds 43 miles from Pierre Antoine. Chatting from the boat Hobson said: “I am feeling Ok, I was pulling the headsail up because I had too much sail area with the spinnaker. I experienced a big nosedive so it was better the get the spinnaker down. I had quite a bit of sleep overnight when the boat was doing ok. I ate also mainly freeze-dried food and I feel fairly refreshed this morning. The conditions are pretty dry at the moment, which was not the case overnight.”

Class 1,2,3 monohulls
Kip Stone (Artforms , Class 2) is now back in the lead after sliding to third place on Tuesday. He’s even accumulated a 103-mile lead over Servane Escoffier (Vedettes de Bréhat Cap Marine).

Michel Kleinjans (Roaring Forty) has taken the lead from Régis Guillemot (Charter Régis Guillemot Martinique) in Class 3 while Aurelia Ditton (Dangerous When Wet) is comfortably sitting in third place nearly 100 miles from her nearest rival Alain Grinda in fourth. Speaking from the boat Ditton said: “I am on course, doing good speed with the heavy spinaker up. I had quite a bit of sleep last night which wasn’t such a good idea because the conditions kept changing. I’m hoping that if I keep my speed constantly high I’ll be able to cath up. I’ve pushed Dangerous when Wet hard since I have had wind. I had not much experience sailing spinnakers by myself, I felt a little tensed to start with, but I am getting used to it now. Sometimes the auto-pilot is better than me. But with the conditions I need to be alert and on deck. I keep a close eye on it and I sleep very briefly at the moment.”