• Not The Crack You Were Looking For





    Britain’s Pip Hare is looking for a benevolent small weather window in the depths of the South Pacific Ocean to allow her to replace the port rudder of her IMOCA Medallia after she discovered a crack in its stock (the shaft which locates into the hull of the boat).

    It is complicated operation which the 45 year old solo Vendée Globe skipper practised at the dock in Les Sables d’Olonne, France before the solo non stop race around the world started on November 8th 2020, but which will be made much more difficult in one of the most hostile and loneliest areas of the southern oceans.

    “The crack is in the stock between the deck and the hull, just underneath where the quadrant attaches and every time the pilot was going to move the rudder the crack was getting a little bit worse. I have no choice but to change the port rudder. If I continue sailing hard the stock will fail under load in a matter of hours.” Hare reported, “Naturally I am completely devastated about this failure and what it means to my race but the only thing to do right now is to put the racing on hold and focus on solving this problem to keep both me and Medallia safe.”





    In her message the 45 year old from Poole, Dorset, added :

    “I am devastated but I am also accepting. This has happened and it cannot be changed. The only action now is to deal with the problem in the best way possible and then move forwards from there. I am hugely proud of my performance to date. It has been a total joy to race this intensely for 59 days and it will be a total joy to get back into the race when I am finished. I had a few tears but not many because this problem is a big one and there is only one way to deal with it - which is a total focus of energy on solving it and staying safe. I will never forget the fact I was 15th for so long and when I get back to racing again, whenever that may be I will do my very best to claw my way back up the fleet again for now I have just hit pause.”

    Her team say that Hare is looking to a potential break in the weather during the small hours of tomorrow (Thursday) morning, when the operation might be possible.

    Medallia’s boat captain Joff Brown explains the procedure :

    “The problem really is in getting the old rudder off because it is buoyant and so sinking it to get it out it is not easy to get a lot of leverage from the bottom. But it is something we had practiced in Les Sables d’Olonne before the start and so I think that gives Pip a bit of confidence in what she has to do. But the problem is the sea state has to be reasonably flat because when the rudder is angled and heels then there is more strain on the bearings. At the dock this whole process might take an hour or so but in seas like this it can take much more. But Pip is very focused and determined. There is a small weather window around 0100hrs (UTC – when it is still daylight for Pip) but if not then it could be a couple of days waiting. She is resigned to the situation and I am sure will deal with it and get on with what she has to do.”

    Medallia had a new spare rudder built by Jason Carrington Boats just before the boat was delivered to Les Sables d’Olonne. According to Brown this a standard procedure which he has practiced pre-start by previous skippers Dee Caffari and Rich Wilson previously using a method devised by Conrad Humphreys in 2004-5 where 50-60kgs of anchor chain is lowered below the rudder to help drop it out.

    Medallia was lying in 15th in the Vendée Globe fleet and still making just under eight knots under reduced sail. Alan Roura who is 16th is around 20 miles behind.




    TRACKER



    Bestaven makes a break but will it be decisive?

    Escaping first out of a high pressure which had slowed the leading four boats, Yannick Bestaven the skipper of Maître Coq has gained over 200 miles on the solo skippers immediately behind him. The 48 year old from La Rochelle has the biggest lead of the race yet at 440 nautical miles, ahead of Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) who passed Charlie Dalin (Apivia) again today, the French duo match racing only 12 miles apart today some 400 miles SE of Mar del Plata, Argentina.





    Bestaven, freshly shaved and looking bright warned "It's great to have been able to pass the high-pressure zone, I was able to gain some miles and then make good speed, it hasn’t been bad at all. I am satisfied with that, but when I look at what is going to happen ahead of me... I feel like the bungee cord is going to snap back and those behind me will start closing the gap. I hope there will be enough wind, as I only have a few tens of miles of advantage left. But I can’t let it stress me, I’m going to have to keep a cool head because I am going to lose a lot of ground again.”
    He joked, “I don't know who has been in charge of the weather during this Vendée Globe, but I’m telling you, we need a new meteorologist! It looks like everything has been working against us being able to arrive quickly back in Les Sables d'Olonne! The situation is very complicated, there are some lows which will suck up all the wind. Forming a strategy is difficult, because different models are showing different things. I don't think that anyone really knows how it's going to play out, but we'll have to be on top of it. I'm going fast but I'm also resting a lot to make sure I have my eyes wide open during the difficult 24/48 hours ahead, and be able to make the most of the wind that there is. I’ll have to approach at low a speed in the north to pick up on new winds. It will be a bit "Figaro-esque” and I know I have experts behind me. It won’t be a walk in the park! I’m going to try to make some real headway towards the end goal.”

    Boris Herrmann (Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco)

    “I am sailing upwind at an open angle 70 deg TWA, I am trying to just foil sailing as high as possible and at the same time not over-stress my boat, it is a fine balance always. It is a strong angle for us, as 70 I can foil, at 60 I don’t. I have a little swell passing underneath me which helps but when it passes all on your stern then you are a bit slow. I average about 16 knots just now so I have passed a couple of competitors which is good. Maybe if the wind was ten degrees further left I could average 18 knots, so here we have the little detail of the little bits of luck that play such a big role. Everything is good on board, I had a good sleep last night, I have changed all my clothes which feels great I feel like a new person coming out of the dark, great tunnel. We have another low to deal with that and then after that I will open the bottle of Champagne I got from Jean Yves Chauve (VG doctor) which I said I would open at the Equator, at the Cape of Good Hope, and Cape Leeuwin and Cape Horn and I still have it, and I never opened it as there was always something going on, I never felt like it to be able to appreciate it, and so I will do that when the time is right.”






    Charlie Dalin (Apivia) - who took over second place this morning:

    "I'm upwind towards this little depression, it's going to be like this all day long. I should be able to tack in the evening to take a route a little bit more towards the east - north/east. Yesterday it was complicated with the centre of the anticyclone. If I headed more north, I would meet it earlier because it was more towards the west at that moment. If I headed more east, I would also meet it because it was shifting east so the timing was actually pretty lousy! No matter how much I tried to turn the problem around, I couldn't avoid it.

    Now I'm moving on to the next one, I've changed my tack somewhat. I now have a small patch of wind with the depression, I should have 30 knots, yesterday I had 35. On the other hand it feels a little tighter than yesterday. The sea isn't too rough, it's actually rather pleasant. After that I should encounter a new zone of light wind, but the routing changes completely each time there is a new weather file. But my route around the low doesn't change at least, so I know what to do for the next twelve hours, that's not bad at all! After that it's not simple, but there's no reason for it to be simple. The descent has not been simple, the south has not been simple... at least it has been consistent you can say!

    In the area of light wind, things will still happen... The race is far from over! So much the better for my position. In terms of how long still remains on the race, I wouldn’t be surprised if we arrive in February. Well, maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit... In any case, I don't think we'll beat the record for the Atlantic climb.

    Since yesterday, I have been side by side with Thomas, we have found each other again. We'll see what happens next. We’re in similar situations really because we're both on our damaged foil. After the tack we'll be on our working foil, if the angle opens a little bit we'll go a little faster.

    We've gained a few degrees in temperature, I've put away my big fleeces, gloves, and hat, it's all in the cupboard now! I've taken out my inter-season clothes, let’s just say. In a few days it will be very hot, even too hot. The next few days will be the most pleasant, neither too cold nor too hot. I am entering my second spring, soon the second summer, then the second autumn and the second winter of the year. We're experiencing it in an accelerated fashion!

    So it's better not to count on me to fish, I'm a very bad fisherman! And I don't even think I have a fishing line... I left with 76 days of food. I have quite a lot of leftovers. I have enough to last a week or 10 days more, without rationing. If it lasts a little longer I'll have to be a little careful. But that doesn't worry me, I still have a bit of stock."


    *************************


    Pip Hare has just reported that she has had to transition out of full race mode for the meantime as she has discovered a crack in her port rudder. This is her message this morning, "

    Yesterday lunchtime, while doing my routine checks onboard Medallia I discovered that my port rudder stock is cracked and so I have had to suspend racing.

    The crack is in the stock between the deck and the hull (Ed note...level, close to the lower bearing), just underneath where the quadrant attaches and every time the pilot was going to move the rudder the crack was getting a little bit worse. I have no choice but to change the port rudder. If I continue sailing hard the stock will fail under load in a matter of hours.

    Naturally I am completely devastated about this failure and what it means to my race but the only thing to do right now is to put the racing on hold and focus on solving this problem to keep both me and Medallia safe.

    I have been lucky. I noticed the failure while I was on a port tack, so the rudder was not the one under load which immediately allowed me to disconnect all of the steering linkage, but keep control of the boat with the stbd rudder. This has prevented any further damage to both the stock or the steering gear. I am also lucky that I spotted this damage as I was due to gybe back onto Stbd and sail hard in 30 knots of wind in the next three hours and it is certain that the rudder stock would have failed at that point, with the boat under full sail and fully loaded up. I have a spare rudder onboard and so we can fix this problem.

    I am now sailing very slowly East, with just my small jib up, making way but under minimal load. My main objective now is to find suitable conditions to make the switch. This is challenging in this location as the sea state needs to be relatively calm. Yesterday it looked like there might be a window later on today. That could still be a possibility as the wind strength will drop but we have no idea how quickly the sea state will calm down to make this possible. If this window is not suitable then I will need to sail Medallia to the north to try and get out of the main flow of wind. This could take a few days but we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

    Naturally I am devastated. But I am also accepting. This has happened and it cannot be changed. The only action now is to deal with the problem in the best way possible and then move forwards from there. I am hugely proud of my performance to date. It has been a total joy to race this intensely for 59 days and it will be a total joy to get back into the race when I am finished. I had a few tears but not many because this problem is a big one and there is only one way to deal with it - which is a total focus of energy on solving it and staying safe. I will never forget the fact I was 15th for so long and when I get back to racing again, whenever that may be I will do my very best to claw my way back up the fleet again for now I have just hit pause.

    We will keep you up to date if the weather is not good to change the rudder today. There is no cause for worry or concern, I am safe, I am positive and we have a plan.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: 2020-2021 Vendee Globe PD Coverage Central started by Photoboy View original post