Nothing is decided in this English Transat. The unusual course taken by the mutlihull as a results of the rather rsoutehrn path of the Atlantic perturbations is causing quite a few problems. For the multihulls, the biggest difficulties are now behind them, although they still have to negotiate a course full of anticyclonic bubbles. Heavy seas north of Gitana 11 has given rise to two major incidents a couple of hours apart in the monohull fleet. Vincent Riou (PRB) dismasted at 5h30 on Monday morning when his boat bore away suddenly and Bernard Stamm lost his keel at 6h45 UT ! Both skippers are safe and sound but a long way from a safe haven. Assistance will not be immediate and it will be a delicate operation.
As for Fred Le Peutrec, he's only got 1,100 miles to cover before he reaches Boston. On Monday morning, Gitana 11 was lying just 300 miles off the banks of Newfoundland which he'll be leaving well north, making way at a speed of 20 knots on a westerly heading. The 25-knot northerly wind will enable the trimaran to give full rein to her potential, in spite of her no longer having her Solent jib. He'll be avoiding the iceberg zone which are in fact further south than the virtual point defined by the soloists the day before yesterday (47°N-47°W). Thomas Coville and Franck Cammas came across growlers, small blocks of ice, never the less weighing in at a few tons, and which float just under the surface of the water. Tonight Fred has a ridge of high pressure to contend with. It will no doubt slow him down a little, but at least the sea will be flattening out and the wind will be easier to cope with. A few hours from now, he'll be able to enter into battle with Stève Ravussin once again, Ravussin having had problems with a damaged crossbeam.
Michel Desjoyeaux (Géant) has been leading the dance since the second day of the race, and is just 550 miles from Boston. He should be arriving in Boston on Tuesday evening/early Wednesday morning along with Thomas Coville (Sodebo) and Franck Cammas (Groupama) fighting tooth and nail for the first three places.
News from the Gitana Team is that Marc Guillemot will be flying to Boston tomorrow to welcome the winner of this magnificent Transat. A breathtaking finish which his damaged dagger board prevented him from seeing through. Gitana's shore team has completed the various repairs to Gitana X. The trimaran is now ready to set out on her short-handed delivery passage to Québec (Friday 18th June) to take the start of the “return” race from Québec – Saint Malo, on 11th July.
Update on Bernard Stamm
The Race Directors of The Transat, Offshore Challenges Event, has been informed by the Halifax MRCC that they received a mayday call from Bernard Stamm on board his 60-foot monohull Cheminées Poujoulat-Armor Lux. The Swiss skipper set off his distress beacon at about 8h45 (French time) today (Monday 7th June 2004). The latest position reading at 8h00 (French time) located the boat 49,55'56N by 44,05'68W, roughly 360 miles from St-John's on Newfoundland. Stamm contacted the Race Director around 7h25 this morning to announce that he had lost his keel, capsized and that the mast was intact. Bernard is not injured and is inside his boat waiting to be rescued. The Race Directors have asked Sébastien Josse (VMI) to change course. This morning, VMI was 200 miles ENE of Stamm's position. The MRCC in Halifax is co-ordinating rescue operations and the Race Directors are in permanent contact with the MRCC in Halifax as well as with Bernard Stamm's shore crew.