Eight days since the fleet crossed the start-line in Quebec City, where crew routine was forced on completing hundreds of tacks and gybes up the St Lawrence River for 2.5 exhausting days, team Imerys soon succeeded in accomplishing their initial goal to be the first to exit the river at Gaspé. Out in the exposed North Atlantic the conditions are quite the reverse offering a fast downwind sprint to France with average speeds of 15kts, and team Imerys gripping on to 2nd place.
Having come close to challenging for the lead, the team were abruptly held back by destruction of their strongest asset, the largest spinnaker on board, which tore in half due to material fatigue. The time loss in repairing and changing a sail is vast, impacting boat speed and position ranking, Phil Sharp commented: “Repairing a sail takes up most of the day as it needs to be dried out and then carefully taped back together. We made the repair and hoisted the sail, but soon saw a small section begin to fail. The second repair job is now complete, and we hope to change back to this spinnaker once the wind calms down, which should help us regain speed.”
With a colossal 940nm distance spread across the fleet over the North Atlantic, the richer have become rich with a current estimated time of arrival of the 23rd. July’s fierce and windy conditions has taken its toll on all Classes who have experienced sail tears and one detrimental capsize. Early on Sunday morning MOD 70 Oman Sail capsized 450nm east of St Pierre. The five crew members are safe on board a passing freighter and are on their way back to Canada.
With 1000nm to go and two thirds of the race complete, Sharp and crew are confident they can make up the mileage to fight for the lead, Sharp continued: “The team are pretty happy, spirits are high on board and we’re raring to get going again, our competitive sides are glowing very bright right now especially after the setback. At the moment there is no reason why we can’t make up the miles lost, fingers crossed for no more breakages!”
The weather over the next few days is expected to be equally fast as team Imerys aim to continue in the bottom of a low pressure front squeezing every last drop of performance out of their boat and themselves.