After the storm both the mono and multihull fleets are making good speed south

? Leaders at 14:44 GMT: Virbac-Paprec (IMOCA 60), Banque Populaire (ORMA 60), Gryphon Solo (Open 50 Monohull), Crepes Whaou ! (Open 50 Multihull)

? Abandon: Cheminées Poujoulat (Stamm/Elies) has just announced their official retirement from the race. They arrived in Sanxenxo, Spain at around 11pm last night to assess the damage to their starboard rudder system; Branec IV officially retires from the race after suffering extensive damage to her port float during the heavy weather. Seven boats have officially retired from the race now.

? Press Conference in Paris: A press conference was held at the Transat Jacques Vabre Race HQ in the TF1 auditorium at lunchtime between skippers Thomas Coville and Jacques Vincent on Sodebo, Swiss brothers Steve and Yvan Ravussin on Orange Project and Jean Maurel, Race Director. Extracts in English will be posted online later.

? Sodebo update: The trimaran Sodebo, under tow from a fishing vessel, arrived in Douarnenez under tow from a fishing vessel at around 0700hrs French time.

? Brossard left Guernsey at 1600hrs local time yesterday, destination either Camaret or Port La Foret, being towed by a motorboat skippered by Laurent & Yvan Bourgnon. On Friday, the boat builders at CDK will begin to survey the hull and evaluate the process of repairing the boat. The boat’s architect and build team will also try to determine the cause of such major structural damage, in view of the fact that her sistership, Banque Populaire, did not suffer any similar damage.

? Stops & Restarts: Groupama-2 made a 5 hour technical pitstop in Porto Santo, Madeira, between 0400 – 0900hrs today to make several repairs to the steering and rudder systems, relinquishing their lead to Banque Populaire.

The leaders in the IMOCA and ORMA 60ft fleet have been racing past the archipelago of Madeira heading towards the Canaries; all the Multihulls, Monohull Open 60’s Bonduelle and Ecover to the East, followed by Skandia and Pro-Form, however, the two Monohull leaders Virbac-Paprec and Sill et Veolia alone are tracking closer to the direct route to the West of Madeira. In both multihull and the Open 50 monohull classes, Gryphon Solo and Crepes Whaou ! both have a solid lead as they leave the Portuguese coast behind after the various incidents that have prevailed in the first three days of the Transat Jacques Vabre.


Banque Populaire (Bidegorry/Lemonchois) have an 81m lead over Géant (Desjoyeaux / Destremau) after Groupama-2 relinquished their lead to make a 5hr pit-stop in Porto Santo, Madeira this morning to make several repairs, particularly to their steering and rudder systems, which were damaged in the heavy weather. Cammas and Proffit are not wasting time getting back into the game as they now tail Géant by just 3 miles and are sailing consistently a few knots faster. Remember, in 2003, Groupama made a pit-stop in the Canaries and went on to win the race. These boats have a tactical race ahead as they are positioning themselves to pass through the Canaries, heading towards the Ascension Islands eventually, which accounts for perhaps why TIM Progetto Italia is still over in the East of the course.

Whilst Groupama-2 was on a pitstop at Madeira, Banque Populaire, new leader of the ORMA class, had a bit of bother, which resulted in Lionel Lemonchois having to climb the mast. Skipper Pascal Bidegorry recounts the tale: “The gennaker halyard was blocked at the head of the mast. So Lionel had to climb 30 metres up the mast to fix it.” Despite this fairly tricky and well-controlled operation, Banque Populaire didn’t lose any distance as the wind was dropping at the time although the sea was still quite lumpy.


For the Monohull 60 class, the lead is by no means clear, and the top 4 new generation boats, lead still by Virbac-Paprec (Dick/Peyron), engage in a battle of boat speed as they follow the direct route either side of Madeira. A week of surfing ahead in the NE Trades on the route to the Equator has changed the rhythm of their race, spinnakers and full mains up, pulling these ocean racing greyhounds at speeds of 20 knots.

Virbac-Paprec were the last to gybe yesterday and now control the fleet to leeward sailing in the 25 – 30 knot NE breeze generated at the Eastern edge of the Azores High pressure system. The Farr-designed 60 is in a position to luff up and reposition in front of rivals Sill et Veolia in 2nd place. Bonduelle (Le Cam/De Pavant) has moved into 3rd place just 5 miles ahead of Ecover (Golding/Wavre), leading the pack east of the islands of Madeira this afternoon.

Just behind these two another duel is raging between Pro-Form (Thiercelin / Drouglazet) and Skandia (Thompson / Oxley), just 2 miles separating as they both have had to drop their spinnaker and reach with solent and one reef in the mainsail to keep to windward of Madeira. Still 160m behind, Roxy (Liardet / Merron) are also engaged in close match race with UUDS (Laurent / Massot) heading to windward of Madeira as well.

Bernard Stamm and Yann Elies on Cheminées Poujoulat have just become the 7th boat to officially retire. Stamm explains what happened: “In fact, the starboard rudder took the brunt of whatever it was that caused the big noise we heard after passing the second front, we still don’t know what that was. The rudder came out of its stock and was only held on by the bottom fixture so it didn’t fall. The part of the rudder inside the hull began to pivot by 50 degrees and damage the bottom of the hull. We took the rudder out and suddenly the water came in right up to our knees. Too late, the pilot was soaked and the damage done so we could only make for the nearest port on the other tack.”


Open 50 Gryphon Solo (Harris/Hall) has opened up a 57 mile lead on Vedettes de Bréhat (De Broc/S. Escoffier), and Open 50 multihull Crepes Whaou ! has a staggering 173m lead over Acanthe Ingenierie, both these Class 2 fleet leaders now leaving the Portuguese coast behind. Victorinox and Artforms are bringing up the rear in both fleets, after effecting pitstops in Roscoff and Lorient respectively. Polarity Solo skipper, Paul Metcalf sent in their first communication of the race after problems with their original Iridium phone were resolved. Metcalf reports no significant damage during the bad weather, except the bow lights and a small diesel leak.

WEATHER by Louis Bodin
The weather still forecasts more pressure nearer to the African coast, with the winds established for the day between 20 – 25 knots, rising perhaps to 30 knots, for the leading pack, and the wave crests reaching 2 metres. In a few days the wind will drop and then rise again around 10 degrees North, shifting more Easterly. The Doldrums are four days ahead of the fleet and seem for now moderately active and not very developed.

Official Rankings at 14:44:00 GMT

IMOCA Open 60 Class:
Pstn / Boat / Lat / Long / Hdg / DTF / DTL
1 Virbac-Paprec 31 45.16′ N 19 25.88′ W 18.5 206 2926.3 0.0
2 Sill et Veolia 31 56.80′ N 18 42.76′ W 15.7 213 2951.5 25.2
3 Bonduelle 31 24.76′ N 16 56.28′ W 18.6 206 2960.5 34.2
4 Ecover 31 35.36′ N 17 00.04′ W 18.5 201 2968.6 42.3
5 Pro-Form 32 09.56′ N 15 58.84′ W 15.7 202 3023.1 96.7
6 Skandia 32 20.64′ N 16 19.92′ W 10.7 191 3024.6 98.2
7 Roxy 34 51.48′ N 15 04.88′ W 15.2 194 3187.2 260.9

Open 50 Monohull Class 2 14:44:00 GMT:
Pstn / Boat / Lat / Long / Hdg / DTF / DTL
1 Gryphon Solo 36 19.64′ N 12 52.28′ W 13.1 174 3316.3 0.0
2 Vedettes de Bréhat 37 23.64′ N 12 34.84′ W 13.2 170 3373.8 57.6

ORMA Open 60 Class 14:44:00 GMT:
Pstn / Boat / Lat / Long / Hdg / DTF / DTL
1 Banque Populaire 29 02.56′ N 18 18.60′ W 22.2 212 3698.9 0.0
2 Géant 30 24.08′ N 17 33.72′ W 24.8 209 3779.5 80.5
3 Groupama 2 30 27.12′ N 17 29.40′ W 27.9 206 3782.5 83.6

Open 50 Multihull Class 2 14:44:00 GMT:
Pstn / Boat / Lat / Long / Hdg / DTF / DTL
1 Crêpes Whaou ! 35 03.44′ N 15 02.20′ W 20.8 190 3199.4 0.0
2 Acanthe Ingénierie 36 22.92′ N 10 40.56′ W 15.2 166 3372.8 173.4

Quotes from the Boats:


Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec) : “All’s well, we’re in a good breeze, but it’s still relentless and physical as ever. We can’t let the autopilot helm, so we’re awake a lot relaying each other on the helm. We’re trying to keep a controlling position, and search for more favourable winds to the West, but we’ll see whether our option is going to work out soon.”

Roland Jourdain (Sill et Veolia): “We had quite a variable wind from 17 – 35 knots last night, it’s stabilized at 25/30 knots now and the sky is clear blue, much more pleasant. My accomplice and I were saying to each other that we’d love to peel off the oilskins but once we’d tried, two hours later, bosh, 50 buckets of water on the head, so we’ve had to put them back on. We probably smell a bit now, but we’re happily oblivious to this. I’ve started getting the odd hallucination, you know, funny stuff..!”

Jean Le Cam (Bonduelle): “It’s certainly more fun out here but we’ve got to stay on the helm 24 hours a day. Often we actually stay on the helm together. I was just saying to Kito that with three, one can rest but with just two, the helmsman doesn’t have much company! I don’t really like the position the lead boats are in, they’ll begin to create a bigger gap between us relatively soon. But, hey, were ahead of the Brit (Mike Golding), which is already something.”


Mich Desjoyeaux (Géant): “The boat is incredibly noisy because we are going so quickly in 20 -30 knot trade winds. The sea is a little choppy, we’re rarely below 25 knots boat speed, it’s pretty humid on deck. We’re really surfing hard, trying to keep an eye on things too, but it’s fast going. For now, we’re looking at a route to the West of the Canaries before we get more southing in our route.”

Giovanni Soldini (Tim Progetto Italia): “The rudder is not repaired fully yet. We’re trying to make the most of the trade winds but it’s not easy to navigate with very open sailing angles and there is still quite a sea running. We went too far East and we’ll pay, but we didn’t have a choice. We’ll try to pass through the Canaries as best we can, the farther over to the West the better.”

Franck Proffit (Groupama 2): “For three days we had a big problem with one of the float rudders. It was only after we gybed that it became dangerous. We also broke a piece off the foil, we must have hit something, so helming was also getting a bit precarious. But the technical team has put the boat back to brand new and we’re now reaching 26 knots average boat speed. This is as much a technical sport as it is anything else, that’s now part of the game. We’re back on the case and 100 miles is not too much, the Doldrums will slow the leaders up ahead..”