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Transat Jacque Vabre
Update @ 1200 Eastern. Biscuits La Trinitaine has reached the capsized Group Andre. Winds in the area are 50 knots with waves of 8 to 10 meters. Several boats report being reduced to bare poles. Group Andre has only crewman Jean Maurel onboard. Skipper Paul Vatine has not been seen. Paul was at the helm when the capsizing occured. Despite wearing a lifejacket equipped with a safety harness, distress beacon and flares, the chances of his being found alive are minimal. With a broken daggerbaord Biscuits will be unable to complete the rescue in the stormy conditions.
Offshore racers can't always chose conditions. With the fleet in the grasp of a Hurricane Irene produced depression one the 60 foot trirmarans has found trouble. With westerly winds of 45-55 knots blowing the trimaran Group Andre set off her distress beacon at 0745 French time this morning. Group Andre is sailed by past winner Paul Vatine and Jean Maruel. At the time of the beacon being switched on the trimaran was 500 miles west of Portugal.
Race organizers diverted the fleet for a possible rescue. Closest to Groupe Andre was Biscuits La Trinitaine. However, this boat early suffered a broken daggerboard and so has questionable maneuverability. At last report Biscuits was 25 miles from Group Andre's position. It is believed although not confirmed that Group Andre capsized.
Also near the stricken trimaran is Aquataine/Kingfisher one the Open 60 monohulls. Yves Parlier believes that he can reach the trimaran's position before dark. Torresen Sailing Site will report on this situation as information becomes available.
Still leading the multihull fleet is the pairing of Fujicolour and Foncia. Fujicolour has a 25 mile lead. Both boats are located at 42 degrees latitude sailing around 10 knots, steering southerly courses.
The monohull has had little change in position as the boat battle the intense winds. Boats reduced sail down to deep reefed mains and storm jibs. Still leading was Whirlpool-Europe 2 by 72 miles over Somewhere. Somewhere has remained farthest north a choice described by a fellow competitor as: "strategically interesting but technically probably not very clever." 3rd was Aquataine/Kingfisher. From A/K Ellen Macarthur reports on setting the storm jib on the foredeck: "Bieng on the foredeck you could be a million milers away from the cabin.. let alone human existance." with Sobedo 4th and GEB 5th.
In 6th is Fila perhaps benefiting from taking to the South option early. 7th is Gartomore/First Call the fleet's farthest south boat. Yesterday afternoon this was the situation on Gartmore: "Skirting around the low pressure cell the wind between 30 and 40 knots we have tried to make the absolute most of being the only boat in the fleet to have decent wind and have both been togged up in dry suits spelling each other on the helm. At times the whole deck has been submerged in water , filling the cockpit and trying to peel us off the tiller but man has it been exciting!"
Sill Enterprises and Team Group 4 are far enough back that they are still holding westerly courses.
The elements of this true offshore contest are things such as deep reefs, dry suits and most importantly rescue at sea.
America's Cup Round 1 Day 4
Day 4 of the America's Cup Challenger Trials saw racing cancelled. Cancellation was due to winds in Auckland being above 18 knots. Conditions for the races state that if race officials measure wind at above 18 knots for a duration of 5 minutes at a height 10 meters racing is to be canceled.
Once on the course races can be abandoned after the start if 23 or more knots is measured for 5 minutes at the 10 meter height.
Racing will resume with 1 set of races on Friday, and 2 sets on Saturday and Sunday which will bring round 1 to an end.
Cancellation of races in these conditions shows why the America's Cup is only sailing's premier inshore sailing event, as numerous offshore races sail in worse conditions.
For all fleets Wednesday was a scheduled day off. Racing is to resume today. 4 days of racing remains for all fleets.
Forecast for St. Petersburg home to the 470 men's and women's fleet and 49ers is for NE winds of 10-15 with the possibility of thunderstorms. Observations in St. Pete show North winds at 8.
Melbourne where the Men's and Women's Mistral boardsailors are racing expects North winds of 5-10 knots this afternoon, with variable light winds this morning.
Look for a report in tomorrow's Sailing Daily. For a report on racing up to Tuesday see Around the World of Sailing.