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Feces hits the fan in Route du Rhum

Published on November 6th, 2018

(November 6, 2018; Day 3) – The 11th edition of the 3542nm Route du Rhum solo transatlantic race is making headlines for the wrong reasons. Here are some of the updates amid the six classes – Ultime, Multi 50, Imoca 60, Class 40, Rhum Multi, and Rhum Mono:

Ultime (100-ft multihull):
The French superstar sailor Armel Le Cléac’h has capsized in his maxi trimaran, Banque Populaire IX, in the most serious incident yet to hit the fleet as the skippers contend with a major storm in the Atlantic.

Le Cléac’h’s team said the blue and white trimaran turned over at 11.00hrs UTC while sailing at a position about 340 miles northeast of the Azores. At the time Le Cleac’h was contending with winds of 30-35 knots – which would have been gusting far higher – and five-metre weaves.

The boat appears to have capsized after its port float broke off. Le Cléac’h managed to trigger his distress beacon and was able to speak to his shore team. The Gris Nez maritime and rescue coordination centre in northern France has taken control of the rescue with the Race Director and the Banque Populaire team. The skipper is reported to be safe and sound inside his boat.

The capsize is the latest incident to hit the ULTIME class in which half the six starters are now out of the race. First to go was Seb Josse after Maxi Edmond de Rothschild broke her starboard hull; then Thomas Coville followed Josse in seeking refuge in La Coruna in northern Spain when Sodebo Ultim’suffered structural failure in its forward beam.

The class is currently being led by Francois Gabart on MACIFwho is 175 miles north of Madeira with second-placed Francis Joyon on IDEC Sport38 miles behind him. The only other sailor in the class is Romain Pilliard on Remade-Use It Again who is still in the Bay of Biscay, more than 500 miles off the pace.

Video below of Sebastien Josse, skipper of the ultimate maxi Edmond De Rothschild:


Sam Goodchild describes how his race came to a sudden end early today.

“I was down below and asleep and all was going well,” said the skipper of the Class40 Narcos Mexico who was holding third place when the boat dismasted.

“I came up on deck to check everything was OK. We had 30-35 knots, the J2 and two reefs and the boat was going well and was really well balanced.

“I had just picked up a few places. I went down below and started to tidy up and then there was a big bang. I came up on deck and the whole rig was in the water and we were drifting over the top of it.

“I think I know (what caused it) but I can’t really say. It was a piece (of the rig) that is less than a year old and we checked it six months ago that it was going to be alright.

“I have put the boom upright and attached the storm jib to it. We are drifting at 4-5 knots instead of two. I can drift a little bit quicker and it is 270 miles to Brest…which seems the most practical route back…so yes, the plan is to go to Brest.

“I’m massively disappointed,” continued Goodchild who was one of the favourites in the 53-strong Class40 division. “My aim for the Route du Rhum was not to have any regrets and I honestly don’t think there was something I could have done differently in hindsight.

“Obviously I could have replaced the bit (that broke), but I did what I thought needed to be done and I don’t think I would have done it any differently. I have to take a bit of relief from the fact that I don’t regret not having done something or having done something.”

Whilst facing a very rough seas in the depression sweeping the Bay of Biscay, Sam Davies informed her team today at 17:00 (French time) of troubling and persistent noises coming from the hull of her 60ft monohull yacht, Initiatives-Cœur. As the noise became louder the British-born, Brittany-based skipper found that the bottom of the hull was damaged.

After speaking to the architects she was able to diagnose a significant delamination in the living area, consistent with the strong impact of the waves in this raging storm. Davies is fine, she has diverted course to preserve her boat.

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Background: The 11th edition and 40th anniversary staging of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe solo transatlantic race got underway on November 4. This iconic 3,542-nautical mile course will take the record entry of 123 skippers in six divisions from the start off the Brittany port of Saint Malo to Guadeloupe.

Source: Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe

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