It’s time for the five Imoca teams of The Ocean Race to finally reach Cape Town. A finish had been expected from 8 February. The big high pressure systems on this leg slowed down the teams. Now the calculated arrival time is during Sunday, 12 February. For the crews, this means that food supplies, which had been rationed earlier, are now running out.
“We are running out of tea. We are running out of coffee,” reported Robert Stanjek, skipper of GUYOT environnement – Team Europe. The menu for him, Sébastien Simon, Anne-Claire Le Berre, Phillip Kasüske and Charles Drapeau is becoming more and more monotonous. There are no snacks left, only freeze-dried food. The strain is also noticeable in other ways. The European team has made up a lot of ground in the past few days, reducing the gap from 510 nautical miles on 8 February to 70 nautical miles on 11 February. Over one and a half days, the average speed was consistently above 20 knots. That doesn’t make life easy on an Imoca with the constant bumping in the waves. “It takes a double time to dress, it takes a double time to cook. You can only move on your knees, waiting for a calm sound to move,” Stanjek reported.
But all the efforts let them get closer to the field: “Most of the time we are sailing with the J2 and full main. Sometimes when it’s a little bit lighter and the angle is more open we change to the J0. It’s fun. It’s not like easy driving. It needs a lot of concentration to keep a nice long balance to fly. All four sailors making a good job. The maximum is about 530 nautical miles in 24 hours. Which is cool. That is closed to the boat record.”
“Crazy to do so many miles. If you imagine that on the land it is such a big distance. To travel this in 24 hours just by the wind power it’s an enjoyable ride. I like to go fast,” says Phillip Kasüske.
The approach to Cape Town could become an exciting tactical game. In preparation for this, Robert Stanjek has already gathered information before the start of the leg: “I got a great briefing beforehand from Ian Ainslie – friend and most successful sailor from Cape Town. He wrote a great road book for us.“