The Transat bakerly 2016 will have a bitter taste for skipper Lalou Roucayrol: this “English” transat bound for New York has defied the Aquitaine-born sailor since he first took part in the race in 2000.
In this edition, a UFO has overwhelmed the daggerboard of his trimaran. The skipper and his trimaran are unsettled but not beaten, and the sailor aims to reach New York in race mode.
Contacted on the official radio session on Wednesday 11 May, a few minutes after the damage occurred, Lalou detailed the circumstances of the incident: “I broke my daggerboard this morning. I don’t know whether I hit something, because when it happened the boat was not doing any speed. It dropped onto a wave as I was reefing my mainsail. I heard some sort of impact, the noise of carbon cracking. I thought it was a beam, I checked the beams, had a good look round, and didn’t see anything; the daggerboard was still in place, so I didn’t pay any more attention. I continued with my manoeuver, and as I was setting off again, I realized that something was strange, something was wrong; which is when I saw that the daggerboard had gone.
We don’t have foils on the Multi50s and it’s a handicap, it’s a bit like trying to tackle a glacier without any crampon! We are working with Karine and Eric (Fauconnier and Mas, his routers, [editor’s note]) on an alternative solution, a route with not too much upwind sailing, as now I can no longer head into the wind properly. We have to find a little gap, a little path that will allow us to make it to New York this way.
It’s really disappointing because we were beginning to reap the benefits of setting off from the North, two or three courses were beginning to open up, quite interesting for us. Last night we did well in the front of a low, with a change of tack in the low and picking up speed again all day yesterday. It was all going well, and apart from this particular damage, I haven’t got the toolbox out, so in terms of the boat, it was all going rather well too. It’s a pity. With the daggerboard breaking like that close to the hull, I wouldn’t be surprised if there wasn’t an impact with an animal. But I didn’t see it, so I can’t be sure.
Conditions have settled down and the wind has dropped. However, it’s cold as I was heading North before changing tack at the Southern point of the ice exclusion zone, and it has got much colder in the last two days. Otherwise, there’s a small ray of sunshine and that’s quite nice. We have rather cross seas, but they are getting calmer as the wind drops. I still have around 1000 miles as the crow flies to the finish line in New York. This will depend on the course we will agree on, but it will probably take me four or five days to cross the finish line.”
Without this component which is key to handling the boat properly, in particular with upwind sailing, heading into the wind, the skipper and his routers are now considering a new course that will allow the trimaran to reach New York in manageable conditions.
Karine Fauconnier: “We will give Lalou a route in a fall-back mode, and, given that downwind sailing will be more complicated, we will opt for sailing full out. Lalou remains in race mode, firstly because he never gives up, and secondly because it’s better to reach New York without delay to avoid staying in a North Atlantic that can still throw us about. The less time you spend at sea, the better.”