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Race Update - The Transat CIC

Updated: 2 days ago

 The Transat CIC race has a reputation for providing challenging sailing conditions, which tests both the boats and the skippers to the limit. This year has been no exception and perhaps even more challenging than previously.


The fleet started in benign conditions at 13:30 local time, on Sunday 28th April in Lorient. After a rainy morning, the sun came out and blessed the sailors as they crossed the start in a pleasant 12-15kts of breeze. 


However, these conditions didn’t last long.  24 hours later the fleet were facing strong winds of 35 knots, gusting higher. It was wet, windy and wild and the perfect test for the new coach roof which Ollie’s shore team had made and installed during the winter refit. The verdict: “My new coach roof is absolutely brilliant – keeping me nice and warm and dry!”


The following day, the wind switched direction creating a side-on swell which is extremely uncomfortable. Ollie was sailing with reduced sails (two reefs in the main) to not be over-powered. Sadly, already two IMOCAs had been forced to retire; La Mie Câline with damaged foils, and Charal with J2 issues.


As windy and wild conditions continued, two further IMOCAs retired after sustaining damage, Human Immobilier and Fives Lantana.  Ollie suffered some minor damage to his sail bag, which holds the reefed mainsail on the boom. But without too much effort, he waited a few hours until it was safe to fix it and then he was back up to full speed. Unbeknown to him, his drama was still to come.


On Thursday, the fleet were faced with a ‘transition zone’ – an area of light winds between two pressure systems.  Crossing the transition zone not only marked the halfway point in distance, but also a move into a different weather system and downwind sailing.



Ollie enjoyed a ‘duel’ with D’Ieteren Group and the two boats crossed within half a mile of each other, as D’Ieteren Group crept ahead of Ollie.  But Ollie timed his gybe perfectly and regained the advantage.


Ollie reported “Just a little more half the race is over, but it stays very intense. I’m currently sailing downwind in over 30 knots. My fractional gennaker is up with two reefs in the main – but it’s very much on the limit. I’ll keep a close eye on the weather and the conditions and I might be forced to take my small gennaker down. The conditions will stay like this for another 2 days, so it will be intense. But we’re in it, we’re fighting and we’re ticking down the miles to New York!


As these intense conditions continued, two more boats reported damage, L’Occitane en Provence and Monnoyeur, both of whom diverted to the Azores.  


Then, in the early hours of Sunday morning amid 40 knots of wind, Ollie experienced an autopilot failure which led to a severe knock-down (when the boat is pushed over by wind and waves onto it’s side).


Ollie commented “It was considerably more than 90 degrees and my feet were on the ceiling at one point”. During this incident he lost all on-board power. Trying to gain control of the boat took considerable effort and time and there was damage to the sails as he battled to regain control. Ollie took a bad knock to his left arm and described the situation as “horrendous”.


Throughout Sunday, Ollie was navigating using traditional paper charts, and with only old weather information, he has been forced to rely on his satellite phone to communicate with his shore team. The signal was weak and intermittent and this was a challenging time.


On Monday, Ollie worked relentlessly and managed to re-wire his electrics, bypassing his battery management system and allowing him to restore limited power using his solar panels from Das Energy. This has enabled him to run the water-maker, charge his communication systems and onboard computer, download weather files, check his position and get the auto-pilot working.


Sadly, there is still a long list of jobs to do.


At the time of this update (Day 9 - Tuesday) the race leaders are crossing the finish line.


💬 “Congratulations to Yoann Richomme on Paprec Arkea and all the sailors who are finishing The Transat CIC today. It has been a very tough race and there has been some exceptional sailing. Unfortunately, I think I will be at sea for a few more days


Ollie is currently in a wind lull, and his priority is to try and repair his broken main sail battens so he can sail faster.


Hopefully, he will also find some time to sleep, as strong winds (30kt +) are forecast to return later tonight. In daylight his jury-rigged solar power system can supply enough power to the autopilot, but Ollie will have to hand-steer through the until the sun comes up and can power up the solar panels enough to run the auto-pilot once again.


Ollie describes himself and the boat as “battered and bruised” but otherwise he’s ok. He is very tired and having to dig deep, but he is determined to finish the race.


“It was really not the race I had planned, or promised my wife and team, but once again we are learning so much in preparation for the Vendee Globe and every eventuality that race will throw at us. If it was easy, everyone would do it!”


Keep going Ollie – we know it seems difficult, but we believe in you and know you can do it!




8 opmerkingen

Olli, I pull my hat off to you! You inspire a lot of people to join the sailing community! Congrats to your heroic effort, and bonne chance at the Vendée Globe!🥳👍🤜🎊🤛



13 mei

Ich drücke dir voll die Daumen auf den Meilen nach N. Y. Keep going! Thank you Ollie, Sam.


08 mei

Ollie! You are an inspiration for endurance and the human spirit!


08 mei

Spannendes Update, halt die Ohren steif Ollie und alles gute für die verbleibenden Meilen!


08 mei

Go Ollieee Gooo! Glad that you are ok, you got it! All the best

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