Elapsed Time: 85 days, 02 hours, 50 mins
Vendée Globe Fleet Leader: PRB (V Riou, FRA)
HELLOMOTO: 8th out of 13, level with Salvador, Brazil (where Conrad finished first in the 2-handed 2003 Transat Jacques Vabre on Open 50 HELLOMOTO!)
ETA Equator: early on Wednesday 2nd February
• HELLOMOTO is creeping up on Arcelor Dunkerque, now 113 miles behind as they both sail in the South East Trades below the Equator, which he hopes to cross in 2 days and be back in the Northern Hemisphere again!
• Conrad explains exactly how he managed to resolve the problem with the hydraulic keel canting system – and praises the efforts of his shore team who effectively kept him in the race with their ingenious problem solving!
• Weather: Conrad must keep the pedal down in order to avoid the Doldrums or ‘ITCZ’ (Inter Tropical Convergence Zone) between the 4 – 6th Feb when they could be at their most active…
Conrad Humphreys interview from onboard HELLOMOTO this morning courtesy of Geolink/Iridium:
“In terms of what we did to cant the keel, it really was a pretty ingenious solution. The oil reservoir is designed to work when the boat is inverted so you can still pressurise the keel to be able to cant the keel with the boat upside down. Because we had lost so much oil due to the leak in the rams we isolated the good ram which was still able to push the keel. We knew it couldn’t pull the keel but the pushing action was still in place. We cut a hole in the top of the tank so I could get my arm inside and then reduced the height of the tube which was sat above the oil level which meant that the ram was just sucking air. Having done that I had to drain the oil off which was tedious and very messy. I got hydraulic oil all over the boat and mixed in with my sweat meant it was pretty disgusting, really. I put oil back into the reservoir so now it is above the tube and have cut the tube down so it is flushing the tank effectively without using the reservoir – before, the oil level was below the height of the tube so it was just sucking air. That gave us positive pressure on the starboard ram and as I made about 100 pumps to get the air out of the system it started to push the keel over so I gave it another 200 pumps and the keel went to about a third of the way over and then I re-lashed it at that point so currently the keel is being held by the ram and the lashing is there as a safety measure as well as back up. After all this, I had to go and duck my head over the bow of the boat and it took a few breaking waves to clean off all the oil!
“Thanks to my very lateral thinking shore manager, the boat builder Marco at V1D2 boat yard and the architects at Finot, they have done an amazing job of effectively keeping me in the race! It would be nice to fully cant the keel but we’re taking things as they come. The wind was stable last night and will start to back to the south east as we near the Equator. When I can get my genoa out I’ll start to make up some miles, there’s limited time between now and the Equator to get a jump on Arcelor Dunkerque as after then it’s upwind 15 – 20 knots in the NE trades so Joe will be marginally better with a fully canting keel in those conditions. Our boats have a similar set up and design, so I’m not sure why I’ve made up more on him given my problems. The Doldrums look extremely active between the 4th and 6th February so I’m keeping the hammer down to try and cross the Equator early on Wednesday morning so that I can try to pass the Doldrums before they extend.
“This feels like the first time I’ve actually been sailing the boat instead of repairing it since the Indian Ocean – the Vendée Globe doesn’t guarantee 100 days sailing! I’ll be very happy when we’re half way up the Atlantic and I can see the finish line on the chart…”
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