We talk about survival conditions in sailing when one stops trying to go from point A to point B and is just trying to position his boat the better he can to survive the state of the sea and the intensity of the wind, trying not to break the boat or capsize.
The IMOCA, the type of boats that are racing here, are one of the most seaworthy boats around, 60ft, huge static stability and even better dynamic stability. We had seen Armel and Alex crossing a storm slowing their boats to just around 16k.
But the state of the sea that caught these sailors has no comparison, this is not only a storm, but a huge one with waves over 10m and gust winds over 70K. The storm completely blocked the way to three sailors, extending itself between Tasmania and the ice line on the South.
They are among the best solo sailors in the world and took different strategies to try to pass the big storm: Jean Le Cam decided to go more to the South, were the wind seemed less, going slowly and letting the storm go ahead of him, Jean-Pierre Dick decided to go extremely North, by the Bass strait, turning around Tasmania, running away and Yann Elies decided for the shorter way, facing the storm.
Probably he did not expect the conditions to be so bad because facing it and not run away from it proved to be a bad call: For more than 24 hours he is doing almost no way, with an average of 2.1k speed and on the last 4 hours, even worse, doing only 1.7k. He is maintaining the boat stationary to the wind and waves, trying to maintain it on one piece and not capsizing. They only do this in absolute extreme situations because the dynamic stability of these boats is better with the boat moving.
I hope all turns well for him. He his in this situation for more than 24 hours and he is yet on the middle of the storm, with many hours ahead till be able to resume racing.
The other two seem to have taken much better options, maybe the smartest was Le Cam. He is doing about 13k, controlling the advance of the storm and going as slow as needed to maintain the storm ahead.
Jean-Pierre Dick was also caught by the storm, but not on the middle, since he was already running away from it sailing North. He managed to make way very slowly, through the night, to North, averaging less than 5K, but he seems to be out of the worst of it now, going for the Bass strait at over 8k and increasing speed.
If we look at the general picture for the next days we will see that it is not only these three that will get a lot of nasty weather and some major storms. Trying to go as fast as they can, they go sailing at really low latitudes, looking for big winds. These guys are really storm chasers. Look at the map and see all those storms on their course and how the weather is "all green" at higher latitudes.
And the "weather" tracker here: