Hatfield sends a message

Courtesy François Van Malleghem/DPPI/Vendée Globe, as posted on vendéeglobe.org .
With permission

Here's the photograph from the Vendée Globe that shows Derek Hatfield on his way again.

On the race website, he says, “Things are very good, I am just rounding Cape Finisterre and so we are making good progress across the Bay of Biscay, not like the first time coming out. Leaving Les Sables d’Olonne it was a little bit emotional, things there are kind of winding down but I was very happy to get away. Team Pindar helped me get up and running again, team members from Ecover and Hugo Boss also helped me, and so it was a great collaboration.”

I am brining in the wind from astern and so I am a little closer to Bernard (Stamm), but of course he is a great competitor, so hopefully we will have a battle pushing each other towards the front of the fleet. I am going to race hard, but you know I need to get my head into this, and my motivation is to get around the world and see how we can do against the rest of the fleet, we are a little handicapped now, but I feel very comfortable and very confident now, I am taking care of the boat now.”

In the last 24 hours a number of teams have experienced intermittent problems with their autopilots. Normally, the autopilot takes over the steering of the vessel when the skippers try to catch a quick nap or when they work on other tasks. On at least two boats, Temenos and Bahrain Team Pindar, the computer seems to have suddenly malfunctioned, with almost disastrous results.

Here's how Dominque Wavre on Temenos describes it:

"Fine night, choppy to begin with, but steady trade wind with a moon lighting the way. Broad reaching with automatic pilot and big gennaker. I start to snooze, keeping one eye on the dials, as frequently surfing at 20-22 knots, and heeling over occasionally. All of a sudden the pilot alarm went off. I rushed outside and saw we were broaching. I leapt to the helm without my foul weather gear on, with tons of water crashing down. We were under gennaker (300 m2), staysail and mainsail and heeled over at 50°. I turned the alarm off and bore away and to my surprise, Temenos righted herself. We were still sailing quickly and the leeward rudder stayed in the water. Got the boat back on track and put the pilot back on and it seemed to work...."

Brian Thompson on Bahrain Team Pindar has experienced four occurrences of the autopilot switching itself of. The problems could be related to the batteries or the computers on the boats. The sailors would be happy to do without the sudden rushes of adrenaline.

Gitana Eighty continues to lead the race.
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