Thompson battles to repair damage to the autopilot and steering aboard Open 60 Artemis 2/11/06

Over the last 24 hours, British single handed sailor Brian Thompson competing in the Route du Rhum has reported some technical issues aboard his Open 60 Artemis. Thompson has been battling for the last 20 hours to repair damage to the autopilot and steering in order to keep his hopes alive of becoming the first British man to win the historic Route du Rhum transatlantic race. Thompson has also continued to have problems with polling but at 1200 today his official position puts him fourth on the race track, less than 40 miles from second placed Jean Le Cam (FRA) and only 87 miles from race leader Roland Jourdain (FRA).

From onboard the boat, Thompson sent the latest last night (Wednesday): “Everything is pretty good here – quite windy with 20 to 25 knots of wind. We are going to a waypoint, then gybing tomorrow morning (Thursday) and head towards the Azores. Today for the first time I had half an hours nap in the middle of the day! This morning it was going quite fast, but there was a lot of weight on the helm. The rudders are turning the boat to port (left) one way and bearing away on the other gybe. So it makes the helm very heavy on this gybe that we are on at the moment, which in turn causes a problem with the autopilot because there is so much force on the helm. I ended up with the autopilot ram stopping, and the software ended up having a problem too.

“I had to steer with a piece of string from down below so that I could connect the second pilot ram up! I also had to change the switches over to put on the other pilot processor. The new pilot couldn’t take the load of the helm either which was disappointing. To get round this, I had to then put a reef in the main to make the boat more balanced, and then reset the pilots. Basically I had to turn everything off, and then back on again, which is hard when the helm is so heavy.

“If I let go of the helm, then the boat would have just speared round to port very quickly. Unfortunately this means that the faster you go, the bigger the problem. It’s not a big deal; it just means that I will have sail a little slower compared to the others for a while and that I have to be careful as it becomes difficult when hand steering as well. It should not be so bad on the other gybe, which is good news. It’s still a good boat though and other than this we are doing well out here! I haven’t seen any ships today, very quiet out here. I’m looking forward to getting closer to the Azores, and seeing some wildlife down there. I’ve had some lovely porridge today as well, and I’m getting ready for some more freeze dried treats tonight!! Anyway, that’s all for now, so I will speak to you tomorrow! A demain. Brian.”

Latest position report at 1200 Thursday 2 November

Wind speed3 knots

Wind directionnorth-westerly

Boat speed1 knot