• MACSF Out With Ram Failure




    The Franco-German skipper Isabelle Joschke has been forced to abandon her Vendée Globe on the 62nd day of racing after a further failure of the keel canting system on board her IMOCA MACSF.
    Joschke was lying racing in 11th place racing in difficult conditions, in 30-35 knots of wind in the South Atlantic some 1100 miles east of the Argentinian coast.

    During the late afternoon today Saturday 9th January Joschke realised that the hydraulic cylinder which was holding her keel centred had failed. After the main keel canting system failed on January 3rd she had been sailing with the keel centred, held in place by this replacement ram. But the keel is no longer held centred. She immediately lowered the mainsail and was sailing under storm jib to keep the boat as stable as possible.

    The last few days into 2021 have proven extremely tough for Isabelle Joschke. She was fifth on December 28 and in the main chasing group but she has suffered damage to her keel hydraulics since early Sunday afternoon and cannot now cant the keel of her IMOCA MACSF. With the passage of Cape Horn approaching the Franco-German skipper has a demanding period ahead of her as she tries to stay as competitive as possible in the heart of an intense battle.

    Her team report today that she has had successive problems since the turn of the year, the worst coming yesterday Sunday when her keel ram gradually let go around 1300hrs UTC.

    “I lost my aerial 48 hours ago. The autopilot can longer steer in wind mode. That was already an additional difficulty for me in terms of performance. Then in the night from Saturday to Sunday, I tore my gennaker. Since then I have been short of power. With all these problems, I hadn't slept enough and I was exhausted. So I went to rest and after half an hour I heard the creaking of the keel which was gradually releasing. I knew something was going wrong. I called my team to discuss solutions. We looked for hydraulic leaks, I got out the toolbox. When we wanted to do a test and when I activated the actuator motor, I heard a rather loud metallic noise. At this point I noticed that the cylinder rod had come loose from the keel head. Even so I am still OK because I have a keel locking system in the middle. Now we can say that the boat is completely out of danger,” says Isabelle Joschke.

    “We saw pictures and quickly realized that this was not fixable. It was absolutely necessary to prevent the keel from moving around. On MACSF, we have a cylinder which allows the keel to be blocked in the vertical position in the axis of the boat. This means that Isabelle will not be able to move it from here on," explains Alain Gautier, the team manager of the MACSF project.




    Isabelle JOSCHKE
    MACSF



    Alain Gautier, MACSF team manager, explained: “Isabelle is currently taking stock of the situation. She has reduced speed completely to minimise the effect of the waves and to make sure water doesn't get into the boat. The first problem is that she is sailing in the direction of the depression and conditions will deteriorate overnight. Tomorrow a shift in the wind direction should allow her to escape to the north-east to escape this low pressure, and flatter seas should make things easier. It is obvious that Isabelle can no longer continue with her Vendée Globe and will have to retire. We are in constant contact and are studying the various options with her for the next few days. "

    On Sunday January 3, the of the hydraulic keel cylinder ram became detached from the keel head so Joschke could no longer cant the keel. A false cylinder was put in place which fixed the keel in the vertical position and it was this cylinder which has now broken.

    On the 1800hrs ranking Isabelle Joschke was in In 11th position, the first woman in this Vendée Globe fleet. She was having a remarkable race, going well In the main ‘peloton’ after dealing with each and every one of several technical problems. She has shown great determination and mental strength but this evening she is devastated to have to pull out of the race when she had sailed 21224 miles of the race course and had just 5853 nautical miles to sail to the Les Sables d’Olonne finish line.

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    The Pacific is proving particularly unrelenting for the Vendée Globe racers still racing eastwards towards Cape Horn. There might be the odd pause for a few hours before the next low pressure system kicks them along the course towards deliverance, and the big left turn out of the Southern Ocean and into the more sheltered waters of the Atlantic.

    The next wagon train of IMOCA 60s presently routing their approach to the Horn is led by Alan Roura, with Arnaud Boissières and Briton Pip Hare all close behind. These three musketeers should pass between Sunday night and Monday lunchtime.




    Roura, 27 years old, heading for his second consecutive Vendée Globe Cape Horn rounding and Boissières his fourth, have gained miles against Hare today as the British skipper stays a little bit conservative after her rudder problems and conserves her energy for the final push which will be in strong winds on a big low pressure system. At the front of it today the two foilers, La Fabrique of Roura and La Mie Caline -Artisans Artipole, have been three or four knots quicker than Hare’s Medallia.

    One hundred and fifty miles further astern both Didac Costa, the Spanish skipper of One Planet-One Ocean and Stéphane Le Diraison on Time For Oceans have had their toughest time of the race so far with gusts over 50kts at times, the French skipper giving a vivid description of being knocked nearly flat in a huge squally gust.




    “I think I got the worst of it with winds reaching 60 knots and waves with troughs of six to eight metres. The memory of it will stay with me for life. I have this image of a squall in 60 knots of wind, breaking waves, no sail up, the boat on its side in a snowstorm with the wind howling in the rig with a total sense of powerlessness in the face of these crazy conditions. It is mad to watch the sea which is white, almost like frothing milk and spray coming from all angles. It is just quite incredible. I am happy to have experienced it, it is quite an experience on a human level to have come through this, particularly physically, because it is so cold, but also on a mental and stress level, it is extremely demanding.”

    He continues. “It is so cold, you just wrap up with all you have, it is just four degrees inside the cabin and then you hear the waves breaking on deck or being knocked down by a wave and you have to get dressed in the wet clothes and go out in the middle of the night. It is then that you have to just not think about it or question yourself. That is why I like that expression you just have to disconnect your brain, to concentrate on what needs to be done. Get out of the bunk, get dressed and go through the list of things that need to be done and leave the analysis of it all for later.”

    By way of sharp contrast in the South Atlantic off the coasts of Argentina, Uruguay and the south of Brazil it is hot for leader Yannick Bestaven (Maître Coq IV) in more ways than one. He has seen his lead shrink from 435 nautical miles to 263 this evening. And in second place Charlie Dalin is pushing Apivia very hard in near ideal foiling conditions, flat seas and 15-17 knots of breeze, constantly making 23-25kts averages to be 50 miles ahead of third placed Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut)

    Dalin told Argentina’s three times Olympic medallist Santi Lange today on the Vendée Globe Live show, “I have good conditions to go fast, I currently have 22-23 knots of boatspeed for 15 knots of wind. So I am on the right foil. The sea state is getting flatter and I can feel the distance between Yannick and me shrinking so I hope that carries on for as long as possible. It is not going to be a straight line for me onwards, but there is an opportunity here and I am on it.”

    Lange, like Dalin a qualified Naval Architect, asked about the foiling ability of the new generation boats in the south and how close they have been to hopes and what they saw during training, Dalin replied:

    “It is a lot related to the wind stability. If it is a very gusty day you cannot carry as much sail as if the wind was more stable. And also the sea state, the sea state was the biggest problem in the southern ocean. In the Indian and part of the Pacific we just could not push. The sea state did not permit it. But yesterday I was still under my speed polars because I was in a 2m seaway. And when I was reaching speeds of 30kts then the slamming is too much. The sea state is such a factor. Obviously you push less hard than you do in training. You cannot be trimming, on the sheets all the time, you have to be able to leave the boat to go when you are sleeping. You run a few percent below what the boat could do. Sea state and wind stability. “




    TRACKER

    Of the wind conditions and strategy ahead Dalin concluded:
    “It is going to be a complicated days ahead, dealing with the high pressure which will pass behind Thomas and I, and there will be transitions and the trade winds and this high pressure which is really, really complicated with a big area of no wind. It is changing all the time on the GRIB files. It is going to be a tough ascent to tackle I see there is an opportunity to catch up. So hopefully it will go OK. “

    In ninth place, this evening Germany’s Boris Herrmann has ground in Italian skipper Giancarlo Pedote and the two were racing in sight of each other.

    Six hundred and sixty miles behind Bestaven and 134 miles from fifth, Herrmann said, “I am in sight of Giancarlo. We are through the strongest winds on the low, I hope, I think. It is pretty light right now. I am a little suspicious this might be just a little joke to then to knock us down in half an hour or do we set more sail. I think I might go up to the J2 from the J3 and two reefs. The sea state was better than expected. In general this who system was gentler than expected. I was not looking forwards to the system but in the end so far so good. Now we are sailing downwind with this flow for 12 hours or so, then gybing away. We have a huge lull Sunday evening before we enter the trade winds. I think I will postpone my Champagne until we are in the trade winds. There is always something to do and there is not yet a moment to appreciate Champagne properly. So far so good."
    This article was originally published in forum thread: 2020-2021 Vendee Globe PD Coverage Central started by Photoboy View original post