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High-voltage runs

Veritable surf beasts, the IMOCA 60s really show what they’re made of on a run. Indeed the latter is an exhilarating point of sail, which requires the utmost vigilance.

Copyright : Thierry Martinez / Sea & Co
Copyright : Thierry Martinez / Sea & Co

Powered up in a full-on drag race after a ‘safe’ start to the course to negotiate the rough weather, the leaders of the IMOCA class are currently bowling along in the north-easterly tradewinds of between 17 to 23 knots. The average speeds displayed by the monohulls make for impressive reading! Downwind, in a good swell, which is gaining in size the further south the fleet sail, the speedo is regularly flirting with 25 knots. The canting keel is whistling and the bow waves are submerging the deck and swamping the cockpit, which is protected by a sliding cuddy on the most modern boats. Such protection is a very welcome addition for the sailors who, with full sail aloft, are taking it in turns at the helm to optimise the trajectory and avoid broaching. “We’re sailing under full main and large spinnaker. We’ve got as much sail up as we can! It’s fast, though it’s a bit tense as running downwind is quite a tricky point of sail. We’re constantly on the edge so we’re spending a great deal of time at the helm. As such we’re switching position as much as we can to avoid overcooking things in a situation where the slightest mistake costs very dearly in the ranking,” explained Bernard Stamm this morning aboard Cheminées Poujoulat, which was up to second place on morning leaderboard. On what continue to be cross seas, the dampness is a constant, even though the temperatures are gradually on the increase. The sailors competing in this 11th Transat Jacques Vabre haven’t yet had the chance to remove their foulies and it’s likely to take a few more days yet…

Christophe Favreau

 

 


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