Kiwi trimaran TeamVodafoneSailing is on track to break the Auckand-Noumea race multihull record today, but the crew's hearts are with their stricken rival, Beau Geste.
Winds of over 30 knots yesterday had pushed the Vodafone "freight train" towards the outright record in the Evolution Sails Sail Noumea race, but the Orma 60's progress slowed in confused seas and shifting winds overnight.
The crew reported all was well on board, but their thoughts were with the 18 crew on board Beau Geste, making their way to safety at Norfolk Island after the 80ft monohull suffered serious damage to its hull and decking last night.
"The boys feel gutted for Beau Geste and hope they make Norfolk safely," the Vodafone crew posted on Facebook.
Beau Geste, with Kiwi match racer Gavin Brady at the helm, is being accompanied by a fishing boat in the rescue mission organised by the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand. The boat issued a distress call around 7pm when conditions on board began deteriorating rapidly in the rough seas.
Rescue mission coordinator Neville Blakemore said it could take a while for Beau Geste to reach sheltered waters as the damage is significant and "the crew has to take a great deal of care as they turn into the conditions". The sea state and wind conditions have worsened this morning, hindering the rescue.
Further north, TeamVodafoneSailing was making good progress again at 21 knots, with 100 miles to the finish line at 9am. They are well inside the multihull record of 4 days, 3 hours, 33 minutes and 22 seconds set by giant catamaran Rogntudjuuu in 2002. They are expecting to finish later this evening.
Four hundred miles back, the leaders of the pack were dealing with 25-30 knot northerlies. TP52 V5 had stolen a march on the competitive 50-footer fleet and was the leading monohull on the water, with nearest rivals Akatea and Kia Kaha sailing five knots slower.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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