Ocean Masters: Safran team well suited for weather change

Published on June 3rd, 2014

(June 3, 2014; 20:30 UTC) – Over the last 24 hours there has been a wholesale change of conditions for the IMOCA Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona Race boats are they head out into the Atlantic. From hunting down the slightest zephyr since the start, the leaders have dived southwest overnight, into a building breeze, forecast to reach gale force later today.

From shorts and flipflops on Monday, the sailors are now into full thermals and foul weather gear, bracing themselves for a big afternoon and night time ahead of them.

While the Team Neutrogena crew of Spanish offshore race veteran Guillermo Altadill and Chilean José Muñoz have fallen off the pace of the front runners, the leaders have taken chase to the stronger winds toward the centre of a depression lying to the leader’s southeast.

The French duo of Marc Guillemot and Morgan Lagravière aboard Safran hold the advantage, committing to be the furthest south, and have grown their lead all day. Safran leads Hugo Boss by 14 miles, and their close hauled position to leeward and ahead of the fleet, on port tack, should be well suited for the anticipated weather change.

While the boats are set to experience gale force winds this afternoon, conditions are set to abate a little on Tuesday evening with the boats due to cross to the north of the depression’s centre in the early hours of tomorrow morning. With this the wind will veer through 180deg into the southeast and the boats will tack to starboard and exit the depression, still in strong winds.

The leaders are not without their problems as a number of technical issues have come to light on the boats. “We have had some serious computer issues last night and the computer is not working anymore,” admitted Guillemot on Safran. “I am setting up the new one, but I haven’t had any information about the other boats’ positions recently.”

On Hugo Boss, the cover for one of the water ballast tanks has blown out at the transom, which won’t allow the tank to hold as much water nor can it keep the water out. There is also some water coming into the engine compartment, which is a concern.

Similarly on GAES, they had lost time with the mainsail down as they repaired a batten car fitting on their mainsail. As to their tactics in staying north compared to Hugo Boss and Safran, Marin added that in their oldest generation boat they had no choice but to choose a different route compared to their newer or better developed rivals. “We are sailing less miles – I don’t know if that will work for us, but obviously following them isn’t the solution.”

Unfortunate news came today from Nandor Fa, skipper of Spirit of Hungary, who announced his regrettable decision to have to officially retire from the IMOCA Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona Race.

His new boat was put to the test for the first time on the transatlantic crossing from Trieste to New York where he and co-skipper Marcell Goszleth arrived only last Saturday 31st May at 1000 hrs. They had started the race on Sunday, and then returned to the harbor to look after a few issues. The boat now needs additional time for repair and maintenance so as to get back into shape for Nandor’s ongoing sailing programme.

Nandor explained his decision, “I am terribly disappointed not to be racing with the other boats and skippers and to have to retire from this great race. From the start we took on a big challenge to get here in time with a totally new boat and we just did not have enough time to get everything done. There is no point in taking any risks at this stage – for us as sailors or for the boat – and so I know this is the right decision today – but its still a tough situation to accept. I am happy to have been here in New York with the event, it has given IMOCA Ocean Masters and Spirit of Hungary a great profile and platform to build on.”

Race websiteTracking

Background: The 3720 mile IMOCA Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona Race is a new doublehanded race for the Open 60 class. Five teams started from New York on June 1, with the expected finish into Barcelona, Spain at around June 12-15.

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