News from the front

Last night was uncomfortable, gusty and bumpy.

07.05.2016

Paul Meilhat, Louis Duc, Isabelle Joschke, Phil Sharp, Thomas Coville

Paul Meilhat/SMA

Hello everyone

I did not write before because it has been impossible to type on a keyboard for the last 24 hours. The worst of the weather is now behind us, but there are still 24 hours to go with winds up to 30 knots. Last night the wind was up around 35 knots. Since yesterday evening I have had two reefs int he mainsail an have been under J3 since the middle of the night.

The sailing has been uncomfortable, because the wind has shifted to the northwest and we are going head on into waves. Conditions will improve significantly by tomorrow as we continue on the southerly route which is fast, but definitely the long way round to New York.

Phil Sharp/Imerys

It was very windy, it was very windy indeed. The motion was very uncomfortable, it was really windy and the boat was ploughing into massive waves coming head on - it was pretty stressful and I didn’t get any rest until it eased off a little at 0300am this morning. I was already tired, but I think I was running on adrenaline most of the night.

The wind has eased off a little bit and I’ve got a little bit more sail up now. There’s still about 30 knots blowing and there’s still quite a lot of big sea as well. So it’s still pretty uncomfortable.

In terms of wind speed I saw over 50 knots at one point and it came in so quickly. I got caught with my main sail up and I had to head into the wind and try and becalm the boat a little while I put some reefs in and start downwind again. It just came in so quickly.

It was howling outside, I had the boat on pilot with a few reefs in the sail and the storm jib up and went down below. I’ve come out today and it’s still pretty dangerous on deck. I came out to drive this morning, but I put the pilot back on because it’s still pretty big waves and quite hairy out there.

I’m very happy with my position, but there’s a long way to go. A lot can happen between now and the finish. The important thing for me is to be up there with the front runners. It’s really great to be able to see Class40s around, despite the size of the Atlantic we are mostly relatively close. It’s good to be able pace ourselves off each other, with also means you’re constantly pushing harder and harder trying to beat the other boat. Not only that, but it’s nice to see other sailors around you, you can take a bit of comfort from that, we’re all dealing with the same challenges and weather.

I’m also thinking about Armel Tripon, he was at the front of the class and I saw him take a dive down south, so I hope he’s ok.

Louis Duc/Carac

Everything is fine, one might even say it’s like being on holiday - the sun is out!! It is still blowing 30/35 knots outside and I spent the night with three reefs in my main sail. The doors have been closed to keep down below dry, but it’s now almost too hot down there. Last night was uncomfortable, gusty and bumpy. The wind was around 40 to 45 knots and gusting 50, the boat was tumbling along at over 20 knots. Inside it was bouncy as the boat jumped the waves, but I was able to rest. I wanted to write an email but I was unable to put my fingers on the right keys (it’s not that easy for me when I’m not in the middle of a storm) Nothing is broken, I’m letting out the sail gradually.

Isabelle Joschke/Generali - Horizon Mixité

Last night it was amazing. We passed north of the centre of the depression and the wind shifted to the southwest and we 45 to 50 knots, and many times 50 to 60 knots. The boat handled it well and was very fast. I was inside, wondering what was going to happen, what I could do if the boat broached out and whether it could handle that. In the surf there was a crazy noise. Everything was great. It was pretty stressful, but crazy fun too. I had never sailed in conditions like this, in as much wind. The boat reached speeds of 25 knots, my top speed. It was an experience.

This morning I really felt part of The Transat bakerly, it was like I was reliving my first Mini Transat. I feel so full of adventure as I don’t properly know the Class40, how it handles manoeuvres - I often wonder how things are going to turn out. It uses a lot of energy to sail it and it is really physical. But it’s really fun and I’ll say that during the storm, I felt happy with myself and my performance. I’m back in the game and although it’s exhausting, I’m doing well and I want to keep it that way.

Thomas Coville/Sodebo

The night was fairly quiet and easy, the sea is flat and it’s windy - it’s bliss. I admit that when we started from Plymouth, I did not expect to be racing a transatlantic race that resembles the Route de la Découverte. Over the next and last four days of racing, we have so many things to still see and do. At some point we will come off of the high and will be reaching hard with hopefully some top boat speeds. After that, the area is looking more complex and the files aren’t telling me too much. The arrival in New York is a low pressure area and unlike the Route de Rhum, we don’t know much about the finish. To be honest, without going into it too much, there are a few routes we could take.

Otherwise, I’m managing well onboard. I try to snack before and after every manoeuvre. It’s often in 25/30 knots and in your head you want to stay committed and always driving the boat forward, but the pilot works well too. I have an onboard routine and I’m going into the next four days feeling well rested.

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