Gitana 12 breaks her rudder
After an exceptional day in the Gulf of Gascony where the two Gitanas at times progressed at speeds in excess of 35 knots, the London-Alpes Maritimes race changed pace with an area of calm sea off Cape Finisterre, then a northerly flow off Portugal. Gitana 12 was forced to stop to change a broken rudder on one of the floats, while Gitana 11 is gradually catching up with the leaders of the pack.

After a whole afternoon averaging over thirty knots in the Gulf of Gascony, the two Gitanas succeeded in making up a part of their deficit, but Thierry Duprey du Vorsent and his crew (Gitana 12) were forced to stop at sea to change a rudder which had broken during the night. The weather conditions changed totally overnight, bringing light beam winds. The flow of the Portuguese trade winds is gradually settling in up ahead this Thursday morning and the two leaders are forging ahead again. The gaps are therefore going to build up again but, once more, it will only be temporary: there are likely to be storms in the Gulf of Cadiz and an easterly headwind is forecast for the passage through the Straits of Gibraltar. So a new bunching together of the fleet is expected and it will be essential to take good care of the equipment during long hours on a very rough sea…

Thierry Duprey du Vorsent, skipper of Gitana 12 at 09:00 on Thursday 11 May:

“Leo's just been having a little swim! He changed the rudder on one of the floats, which had broken off at stock level at the start of the night. I don't think we touched anything. These are ex -Bonduelle rudders because we still haven't fitted the new larger rudders. We have a spare rudder spade onboard, so we needed to get into shelter a bit by the Spanish coast to allow Leo to change it without any risk. We're going past Vigo now…Since midnight, we haven't made any progress and it's only two hours ago that we got going again flying gennakers and mainsail in a light northerly breeze at 18 knots on a straight course towards Cape Saint Vincent.
Yesterday was an incredible day! It was a fantastic feeling when we were flying along for hour after hour at 32-35 knots, with even spells at over 40 knots… With mainsail and Solent or one reef in the main and the staysail up, then to suddenly find ourselves at a standstill in the ocean off Spain two hours after sunset : the night was not what you'd call very progressive. But the good news is that Gitana 12 behaved magnificently in these demanding conditions. Now, we need to catch up with the leaders. That will take a bit of time, but the passage through the Straits of Gibraltar should give us a chance to get back in it, what with the strong headwinds forecast.”

Nicolas Raynaud onboard Gitana 12 around 21:00 yesterday:

“This descent of the Gulf of Gascony has to go down as one of those “great sailing moments” that will always be remembered… As I write these lines, Gitana 12 is forging ahead at 33 knots, even nudging 37 knots at times! It's great going hell for leather like this, but speed always has its price. The living conditions are almost worse inside than they are out! The sole advantage is being in the dry, as the hull is vibrating and bouncing, all amidst a real racket consisting of a mix of waves crashing against the deck, the booming of the water at the level of the daggerboard casing, the incessant sound of the hulls breaking through the waves, the water running off the hull, etc… It's almost impossible to describe it all! Outside, the fire monitor is open. At the helm, despite a well justified dose of stress, the helmsman is loathe to take a break, such is the fun he's having. You could never overemphasise just what fabulous engines these 60-foot multihulls are. Tomorrow, we will see some images!”


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