Donnerstag, 28.01.2021 06:25 Uhr

Joschke falling behind, Burton catching up

Verantwortlicher Autor: Jochen Raffelberg Les Sables d'Olonne, 04.01.2021, 17:31 Uhr
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Les Sables d'Olonne [ENA] Suffering damage to keel hydraulics on her yacht MACSF off Cape Horn Munich-born Isabelle Joschke is quickly falling behind the top VendeeGlobe group while competitor Louis Burton is catching up fast, according to reports from race management. But Joschke’s team quoted her as saying because she had a keel locking system “we can say that the boat is completely out of danger.”

Burton had fixed problems to his mast in the lee of Macquarie Island two weeks ago and advanced to sixth place at 1400 hrs UTC on Monday, 630 miles behind leading Yannick Bestaven who was steering a course east of the Falklands after rounding Cape Horn on the weekend. VendeeGlobe reported that the last few days into 2021 have proven extremely tough for Isabelle Joschke. Fifth on 28 December and in the main chasing group she had been suffering with this damage since early Sunday afternoon. With the passage of Cape Horn just a few hundred miles away, the Franco-German skipper had a “demanding period ahead of her as she tries to stay as competitive as possible in the heart of an intense battle.”

The Joschke team reported Monday that she had had successive problems since the turn of the year, the worst coming Sunday when her keel ram gradually let go around 1300hrs UTC. Alain Gautier, her team manager said they had seen pictures and “quickly realized that this was not fixable. It was absolutely necessary to prevent the keel from moving around.” On (the boat) MACSF a cylinder allowed he 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," said Gautier. The keel is the stabilizing element under the boat that keeps it from capsizing.

The keel of boats like Joschke’s can be tilted sideways depending on the weather conditions and the speed of the boat acting as a counterweight to the wind force in the sails. Combined with the ballast tanks (seawater tanks stored in the boat), it helps maintain the boat's balance. A movable keel allows for fast maneuverability with about half the weight usually required for ballast for a traditional keelboat. Computer driven hydraulic rams control these modern keels. An Open 60 yacht had to be abandoned in the Southern Ocean years ago when it was on the brink of capsizing because of a similar failure. A competitor rescued the skipper. 2016 another yacht retired from the Sydney to Hobart race also citing a broken hydraulic ram.

While Joschke appears determined to sail on her competitor Bestaven, after passing Isla de los Estados on day 57 of the race told his team, in his life as a sailor “that was the biggest storm I have ever seen. Mad seas, such as I have never seen so big, and gusts of 60 knots. It’s a huge relief now because it’s been so hard ”, he described his rounding of Cape Horn. Second placed Frenchman Charlie Dalin said on re-entry into the South Atlantic he was happy to have finished with the Pacific. “It's a new phase of the race. I've been working for a few days now on the strategy for the climb back up, there are quite a few things going on.”

Dalin aboard his Apivia radioed of his Cape Horn rounding; " The passage of Cape Horn went well at around 4 am and about 6 miles offshore, it was still dark but it was not pitch black so I could see it so the half-light, the shadow of the rock, I could see the lights of the lighthouse, it was a rather cool moment for my first rounding of the Horn, with quite a lot of sea, a clear sky strewn with squalls, a beautiful moon. I called the lighthouse keeper so we could exchange a few words even if I didn't always understand what he was saying, it was nice.”

According to race management the strategy for the “climb back to the Equator” was about looking long term with the initial strategies being to see Bestaven going east to get round the east of the anticyclone and Dalin trying to work west. “Dalin – looking like he will pass inside Staten Island (Isla de los Estados) through the Le Maire Straits - will gain initially but the real outcome would not be seen for more than ten days when they finally get back to the trade winds of the Saint Helena anticyclone.” German sailor Boris Herrmann’s yacht Seaexplorer at 15 knots close to the Cape held eighth place late Monday, some 690 miles behind Bestaven. He still had to manage just over 7,000 miles to finish in France, with 20,000 miles behind him.

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