NEWS OF THE December 21 07

 

Rich Wilson and Derek Hatfield round off the Transat Ecover BtoB

 

A relieved Rich Wilson crossed the finish line in Port-La-Forêt this Friday at 13:22:34 UTC and an exhausted Derek Hatfield followed suit at 16:20:21 UTC to take a much deserved 11th and 12th place respectively. With Dee Caffari arriving safely in La Coruna at 2037 UTC the same night, thanks to the Spanish tug boat Ibaizabal Uno, this intriguing Transat ECOVER BtoB 2007 thus sadly draws to a close.

 

 

It’s over! All the racers still competing in the Transat Ecover BtoB have arrived in Port la Forêt, after this return race between Salvador de Bahia, Brazil and Brittany, NW France: 4,120 miles which have dished out very different conditions for the fifteen solo sailors that set off on 29th November at 1400 UTC off the Yacht Club de Bahia. Close-hauled, eased sheets, a little downwind, a doldrums where each competitor got something different, a long climb up the edge of a zone of high pressure in powerful tradewinds, then a zone of transition which let the leaders through and left the backrunners floundering. In short, a race full of twists between the top trio (Loïck Peyron, Kito de Pavant, Michel Desjoyeaux) with some last minute surprises such as Foncia’s collision with a trawler forty miles from the finish and Dee Caffari’s dismasting just miles from the finish, as well as a whole host of damage on nearly all the remaining monohulls…

Right to the end, the Transat Ecover-BtoB has been marked by intrigue: when Mike Golding (Ecover) accumulated so many serious technical issues that he was forced, with a very heavy heart, to retire around the Canaries, when Armel Le Cléac’h (Brit Air) dismasted after the doldrums, when Loïck Peyron (Gitana Eighty) powered away in this same zone, when Marc Guillemot (Safran) broke his hydraulic keel actuator rod, when Jean-Baptiste Dejeanty (Maisonneuve) broke his stay and Arnaud Boissières (Akena Vérandas), Derek Hatfield (Spirit of Canada), Yannick Bestaven (Cervin EnR) and Yann Eliès (Generali) experienced sail or rig issues… The rich lessons from this race whose main aim was to qualify the solo sailors for the next Vendée Globe, have been to validate the reliability of the boat and the complicity between the skipper and his/her machine… And in the end, each and every skipper has seen that they have some work ahead of them on every front and the coming winter is going to be a busy one! The big question now is “how far can they go in the Vendee Globe?”

 In any case, American Rich Wilson (Great American III), Canadian Derek Hatfield (Spirit of Canada) and British sailor Dee Caffari (Aviva) can be proud of their transatlantic race, each of them being dealt a rotten hand in terms of weather, rounding it all off with 40 knots and more in the Bay of Biscay over the past few days!  All are safely in port now, Dee Caffari (Aviva)'s tow making La Coruna late this Friday night – just in time for Christmas!

 

Arrivals in Port la Forêt:

1-Loïck Peyron (Gitana Eighty) in 14d 09h 13' 25''

2-Kito de Pavant (Groupe Bel) in 14d 12h 22' 49'', 3 hours 09 minutes 24 seconds behind the winner

3-Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia) in 14d 13h 43' 24", 4 hours 29 minutes 59 seconds behind the winner

4-Yann Eliès (Generali) in 14d 19h 22' 02'', 10 hours 07 minutes 37 seconds behind the winner

5-Marc Guillemot (Safran) in 15d 08h 25' 44'', 23 hours 12 minutes 19 seconds behind the winner

6-Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) in 15d 16h 24'34'', 1 day 07 hours 09 minutes 09 seconds behind the winner

7-Samantha Davies (Roxy) in 17d 17h 38' 46'', 3 days 08 hours 25 minutes 21 seconds behind the winner

8-Yannick Bestaven (Cervin EnR) in 18d 00h 57' 48'', 3 days 15 hours 44 minutes 23 seconds behind the winner

9-Arnaud Boissières (Akena Vérandas) in 19d 00h 57' 26'', 4 days 15 hours 44 minutes 01 seconds behind the winner

10-Jean-Baptiste Dejeanty (Maisonneuve) in 20d 06h 21' 45'', 5 days 21 hours 08 minutes 20 seconds behind the winner.

11-Rich Wilson (Great American III) in 21d 23h 22’ 34’’, 7 days 14 hours 09 minutes 09 seconds behind the winner.

 

 

12-Derek Hatfield (Spirit of Canada) in 22d 02h 20’ 21’’, 7 days 17 hours 06 minutes 56 second behind the winner.

 

 

Rich Wilson: “It’s really a big relief to have made it into port! I'm not sure if I enjoyed it! It was very hard. A couple of nights ago we had a lot of wind. The motion was very violent and it was very physical. Not surprising I guess when you head into the Bay of Biscay in December. I’ve learned a lot about the boat certainly. I’ve basically spent the past 3 months sailing on it as we started off by delivering the boat across the Atlantic from Massachusetts for the TJV. I’ve done 14,000 miles since October 6th! That’s a lot of sailing and I’m really tired.

The little trio at the back of the fleet really got pounded off Finisterre. As the second low hit it was complete chaos, like bombs going off underneath the boat every 30 secs. These boats have got so much buoyancy that when the waves hit it's the boat that moves into you. The edge of the chart table nearly went into my face on numerous occasions. You can really get hurt out there. My legs are the most tired of all as you have to brace yourself in every possible direction the whole time.

Inevitably there were high points in all this. The stars, the flying fish, the dolphins in the multiple doldrums we had off the Azores with very clear water and no wind. I called Derek (Hatfield) around the equator as I saw a sail on the horizon and I emailed Dee after she dismasted. I just said to her how much I admire her as she started off behind us (after suffering from furler problems at the start) and then just kept coming back on us. I had some extra diesel and wondered if she might need it but she had everything under control. When somebody dismasts near you, you really start to worry about your own rig. I had shroud issues during the TJV so during this race I stressed about the rig the whole way. In the big storms I remember very vividly sitting there with my hands over my face waiting for my mast to fall.

I’m certainly going to work on increasing the comfort onboard as there is simply no place to recover on the boat and after around 58 days on the water that starts to take its toll. The sail handling and being able to take reefs from the cockpit are really good improvements on the boat and certainly made life a lot easier.

It's been a hard slog though and I think those of us that have been out on the water all this time in this race deserve attention too. As Bill Rogers, an infamous marathon runner in the US, said at the end of one particular marathon: "I put 100% into this race for 2 hours 10 minutes, so just think about those who have given 100% for 4, 5 or 6 hours!" The new boats in this fleet are in a class of their own, they're just gone; they just disappear over the horizon. We don't have the sponsors or the shore crews and that's fine but it's a different ball game. I haven't even thought about Christmas because I'm a bit superstitious about that kind of thing when I'm at sea. All I've been able to focus on of late is one single question, not why do these boats fall apart but how do they stay together!?"...

 

Derek Hatfield (Spirit of Canada): “Well here I am!  It’s been a struggle all the way to the end. It just wouldn’t let up. For the past 4 days I’ve have 30 – 40 and then 28-30 knots today. At 40 knots the boat banks really hard and just bangs constantly. I’m bruised and battered because of the movement of the boat. You feel so weak. The boat is very jerky. There's always lots of motion and action. It feels really unstable and you wonder if you're getting weaker or whether the boat is becoming more unstable and your balance goes too. This was tougher than any of the legs in the Around Alone. It's a very physical boat. Part of my problems were down to lack of preparation. I wasn't fully prepared leaving Canada for starters.

The automatic pilot issues were really hard as it would do surprise tacks or gybes at will. I was constantly on tenterhooks and could never relax. I don't know if there was a flaw in the automatic pilot or if it was to do with the sizing. Whatever it is it needs to be resolved because you can't race if you can't relax and shut down at some point.  

This is my first race on an Open 60 so the learning curve has been very steep. I’m not in the best shape physically either and I’ve also been concentrating on raising sponsors and finance instead of spending quality time on the water. My sail handling has improved but there are a lot of improvements I want to make. The boat was only at about 70% of its potential if not less and a lot of that is down to me not being ready and lacking experience. I had issues with the headsails too - I was surprised by how easily they get damaged and a lot of the damage occurred when taking them down or furling them. The first sail I lost was the genoa, but that was down to hydraulics problems. Then over the past few days I lost the solent and the staysail in quick succession - the clew blowing out in both of them. I ended up under storm jib over the past few days and was delighted to see Michel Desjoyeaux and his whole team welcome me in this evening and make sure I got in safely with the tide.

I haven't had any weather files (MaxSea issues) other than 3 tiny short range forecasts, which has led to some drastic tactical errors.  I have to say though, the level of the leaders is astonishing! It's been a really rude awakening. They're in a different class of boat and have very different amounts of experience. To be honest, it’s unnerving to try to play the same game as them. I shall take all that I've learnt from this though and move forward. I have a lot of financial and physical hurdles ahead and to play a tough game like this you yourself have to be tough. Right now though I'm looking forward to Christmas in France with my family!"

 

Dee Caffari (Aviva): “Today has been a waiting game as the Spanish tug made her way to my aid. At 15.30 UTC this afternoon the navy bid me farewell and the tug guys took over. They took me under tow in a difficult sea state and began guiding me to Spain. It is slow going but conditions will continue to improve as the wind continues to drop and the sea state settles, so hopefully we can increase our speed and get to La Coruna where the boat team is waiting and more importantly Harry is there to give me a cuddle because I need one. In the mean time I shall continue to try a fight the rudders, as one is twisted since the dismasting and get the boat to follow the tug without me having to hand steer all the time.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The little trio at the back of the fleet really got pounded off Finistere. As the second low hit it was complete chaos, like bombs going off underneath the boat every 30 secs. These boats have got so much buoyancy that when the waves hit it's the boat that move into you. The edge of the chart table nearly went into my face on numerous occasions. You can really get hurt out there. My legs are the most tired off all as you have to brace yourself in every possible direction the whole time. Inevitably there were high points in all this. The stars, the flying fish, the dolphins in the multiple doldrums we had off the Azores with very clear water and no wind. I called Derek (Hatfield) around the equator as I saw a sail on the horizon and I emailed Dee after she dismasted. I just said to her how much I admire her as she started off behind us (after suffering from furler problems at the start) and then just kept coming back on us. I had some extra diesel and wondered if she might need it but she had everything under control. When somebody dismasts near you, you really start to worry about your own rig. I had shroud issues during the TJV so during this race I stressed about the rig the whole way. In the big storms I remember very vividly sitting there with my hands over my face waiting for my mast to fall.

 

I’m certainly going to work on increasing the comfort onboard as there is simply no place to recover on the boat and after around 58 days on the water that starts to take its toll. The sail handling and being able to take reefs from the cockpit are really good improvements on the boat and certainly make life a lot easier. It's been a hard slog though and I think those of us that have been out on the water all this time in this race deserve attention too. As Bill Rogers, an infamous marathon runner in the US, said at the end of one particular marathon: "I put 100% into this race for 2 hours 10 minutes, so just think about those who have given 100% for 4, 5 or 6 hours!" The new boats in this fleet are in a class of their own, they're just gone, they just disappear over the horizon. We don't have the sponsors or the shore crews and that's fine but it's a different ball game. I haven't even thought about Christmas because I'm a bit superstitious about that kind of thing when I'm at sea. All I've been able to focus on of late is one single question, not why do these boats fall apart but how do they stay together!?"...

 

Canadian, Derek Hatfield (Spirit of Canada) is due to round off this Transat Ecover BtoB race this Friday evening, after what has been a hard ride without the use of his headsails for the majority of the race.

At 09.00 UTC today, Dee Caffari reported that she and her dismasted Open 60 yacht Aviva, currently under tow by Spanish tug, are not scheduled to arrive at La Coruna port until around midnight tonight, which means yet another long, cold day at sea for the inspirational and courageous yachtswoman. Caffari and Aviva have spent a long, slow night heading towards the northern Spanish port at a steady speed of 4 knots. As daylight broke this morning Caffari reported that the strong swell, that she has been subjected to since losing her mast on Wednesday morning, had begun to die down enabling the convoy to travel the remaining miles to La Coruna at 6 knots.

Once on dry land, Caffari will be keen to ensure Aviva is safe and secure before bidding farewell to the boat that has been her sole companion for the last 21 days. Caffari will then return to the UK on Sunday 23 December, just in time to spend Christmas with her family and friends. However, Aviva will be berthed in Spain until after the festive period when one of the Aviva Ocean Racing shore team will ensure her safe return to the UK.

Dee Caffari: “Today has been a waiting game as the Spanish tug made her way to my aid. At 15.30 UTC this afternoon the navy bid me farewell and the tug guys took over. They took me under tow in a difficult sea state and began guiding me to Spain. It is slow going but conditions will continue to improve as the wind continues to drop and the sea state settles, so hopefully we can increase our speed and get to La Coruna where the boat team is waiting and more importantly Harry is there to give me a cuddle because I need one. In the meantime I shall continue to try to fight the rudders, as one is twisted since the dismasting and get the boat to follow the tug without me having to hand steer all the time.”

KJ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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LAST PRESS RELEASES

December 21 07

Rich Wilson and Derek Hatfield round off the Transat Ec...

December 19 07

Explanation from Dee Caffari

December 19 07

Dismasting of Aviva

December 19 07

Jean Baptiste Dejeanty home, Dee Caffari (Aviva) under ...

December 18 07

Arnaud 'Cali' Boissières alongside

December 17 07

Cervin EnR at Port la Forêt

December 17 07

Sam has arrived

December 17 07

Sam's wave...

December 15 07

Long final stretch for Bernard Stamm, 6th

December 15 07

The end draws ever closer this Sunday 16th December...

 

 

 



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