A hard night for the Open 60 fleet with damage reported this morning to Cheminées Poujoulat and to PRB

In a week where deep depressions have dominated the Atlantic weather, competitors in two of the biggest ocean races have taken a battering. Having delayed the start of the TJV to avoid the first of two low pressure systems, the fleet is now punching through the second. In the Mediterranean, the Volvo fleet has been given a pasting too as the six boats made their way towards the Straits of Gibraltar, two have now suspended racing.

Here’s the official word on the latest in the TJV:

It has been hard night for the IMOCA Open 60 fleet in the Transat Jacques Vabre fleet racing north of the Azores from Le Havre to Puerto Limon, Costa Rica with the passage of a violent front with damage reported this morning to Cheminées Poujoulat which was lying third and to PRB which is heading for the Azores. To the east Class 40 have still to encounter it. In the Multi 50 fleet leader Actual, south of the Azores, were south of the front and still had the toughest period to go.

PRB on Vendée Globe winner Vincent Riou is heading to the Azores for a pit-stop to see what they can do about a fracture in a forward bulkhead. After the passage of the front last night with winds of 35-40kts it is reported that Vincent Riou and Hugues Destremau made a check to ensure the boat was not damaged.

At 0430hrs CET they reported that the bulkhead of the forward sail locker is cracked According to the duo there is no water ingress but they plan to head to the Azores to assess.

“I think it is better to go there and see what we can do, given the future wind and sea states, rather than risk anything.” They have said they will head for the island of Terceira where they plan to dock at Praia de Vitoria. The duo were making 8-9kts towards the haven and were around 100 miles away.

“I think we will need at least three days to complete the necessary repairs.” Riou reported to his team this morning.

Cheminées Poujoulat reported to race direction last night that they had a leak with water coming in from the starboard bow. They are around 140 miles north of the Azores and had slowed the boat, heading in an easterly direction early this morning while they decide what they can do.

 In staying with the northern route the Hugo Boss duo Alex Thomson and Guillermo Altadil expected it to be bad last night, but the passage of the front was as it was expected and this morning the leaders were in good shape, sailing in 34-45kts of wind, and they are leading the pack on the chase to the SW now after tacking. They are in the north, Banque Populaire are on the middle course are in third and Macif were just 40 miles N of Faial in the Azores this morning.

On the 0800hrs ranking Hugo Boss lead Jean-Pierre Dick and Jérémie Beyou by 5.5 miles with Banque Populaire in third at 30 miles behind. They were expecting about another 24 hours of stormy weather.

Guillermo Altadil (ESP), co-skipper Hugo Boss said this morning: “The night was OK, we were sailing with winds of 35 kts with gusts to 45 kts. Now at the moment the sea state is OK, it is sailable and we are trying to keep the boat together and not break too many things. It is going to be like this for another 24 hours, maybe calmer through today to 35kts, probably tonight more – up to 50kts, so I think it will be 24 hours, We are doing our normal watch system but have been just discussing the long term strategy after this low pressure, how we negotiate the high pressure in front with no wind, but first of all we have to come from this storm with the boat in one piece.”

The official retirement of DCNS 1000 of Marc Thiercelin who was racing with former world cup downhill ski racer Luc Alphand, was confirmed last night. They have suffered serious power charging problems which they have been unable to solve.

Class 40
As the leaders prepared for the front which there was little change at the top of the fleet with Aquarelle still leads their British rivals on Concise 2 by 9.1 miles. They have yet to encounter the nasty frontal system. Third placed ERDF Les Pieds et Les Mains are 90 miles behind the leader now.