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Vendée Globe 2016: Week 9

Epic start to 2017

After celebrating Christmas, things spiced up for the New Year. 2017 was looking great: Conrad was catching up with Nandor Fa when a mainsail batten came out of its box forcing him to reduce speed and repair it. When fixing anything on the mainsail, it is important to slow the boat down and to drop the sail to be able to work on it. This resulted in Conrad being unable to escape North to avoid a low pressure system (storm) building under the ice limit.
We have talked previously about how weather files can sometimes be unreliable. In this case the low pressure system turned out to be a lot stronger than expected, with winds reaching up to 70 knots (80 mph/ 130km/h) in the gusts. As if the situation was not uncomfortable enough, the axis from J1 (front sail) cable broke, the sail unfurled and the boat was pinned on its side for hours. (full report here LINK) While the risk of loosing the rig was really high, thankfully the mast stayed up and the storm passed by.

Recovery
It took Conrad a day and a half to repair the damage and get the boat back back on track. The efforts put into reattaching the cable left him physically and emotionally hurt and exhausted. Unable to bear any more, he slept for 10 hours as the wind dropped. But now another race has started. Conrad has lost his 3rd sail (out of 9 on board) and the 2 days lead he pushed so hard to establish on the competition has vanished. However, with only 18 boats still racing out of the 29 on the starting line, one has to remain positive « having stared down the barrel of dismasting and abandoning the race, I am happy to still be here and counting down the miles to the Horn »

Icy route to Cape Horn
Now Foresight Natural Energy is heading straight for Cape Horn, the last one of the 3 most important landmarks in the race. The latest routing shows reaching there on Wednesday (11th). Even though the wind looks steady until the tip of South America, Conrad will have to be on watch as a new ice report has been issued by the race organizers. The company monitoring the ice movements has reported several icebergs drifting close to his path. Escaping from the Pacific and reaching Cape Horn for the 3rd time will remain a challenge right up to the last minute!


This week's figures
1 128 nm
7 808 nm to go
Highest speed: 18 knots
Highest number of nm per day: 322 nm
Tracker: http://tracking2016.vendeeglobe.org/hp5ip0/