Vendée Globe: Let the Match Race Begin
Published on January 9th, 2017
(January 9, 2017; Day 65) – As the solo non-stop round the world race enters its final 3,000 nautical miles, Vendée Globe leader Frenchman Armel Le Cléac’h’s Banque Populaire VIII is hunkering down for an epic battle in the North Atlantic with Alex Thomson’s Hugo Boss.
With less than 80 nm between them, Le Cléac’h’s 800+ nm lead over the Brit has all but vanished.
With the pair breaking free of the grasp of the Doldrums today, there remain plenty of variables which could effect the overall outcome of this eighth edition of the Vendée Globe. Ian Walker, reigning champion of the Volvo Ocean Race, sees an excellent race ahead.
“What we don’t know is what state both their boats are in – do they have all their sails still available, what damage do they have? It looks like Alex will be on starboard tack for most of the trip home and we saw earlier in the race he had excellent boat speed against the other competitors, but we don’t know how much Armel has been holding back.”
Following the tracker, it is clear that Le Cléac’h won’t get passed without a fight. He is shadowing Thomson’s course, but with the Brit posting one knot faster VMG in the past 24 hours, the Frenchman better get ready for battle.
Ranking (Top 5 of 29 as of 22:00 FR)
1. Banque Populaire VIII, Armel Le Cléac’h (FRA), 2729 nm to finish
2. Hugo Boss, Alex Thomson (GBR), 78.83 nm to leader
3. Maître CoQ, Jérémie Beyou (FRA), 568.17 nm
4. StMichel-Virbac, Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA), 1332.48 nm
5. Quéguiner – Leucémie Espoir, Yann Eliès (FRA), 1471 nm
The eighth Vendée Globe, which began November 6 from Les Sables d’Olonn, France, is the only non-stop solo round the world race without assistance. Twenty-nine skippers representing four continents and ten nations set sail on IMOCA 60s in pursuit of the record time set by François Gabart in the 2012-13 race of 78 days, 2 hours and 16 minutes.
For the first time in the history of the event, seven skippers will set sail on IMOCA 60s fitted with foils: six new boats (Banque Populaire VIII, Edmond de Rothschild, Hugo Boss, No Way Back, Safran, and StMichel-Virbac) and one older generation boat (Maitre Coq). The foils allow the boat to reduce displacement for speed gains in certain conditions. It will be a test to see if the gains can topple the traditional daggerboard configuration during the long and demanding race.
November 12, Day 7 – Tanguy de Lamotte, Initiatives Coeur, masthead crane failure
November 19, Day 14 – Bertrand de Broc, MACSF, UFO collision
November 22, Day 17 – Vincent Riou, PRB, UFO collision
November 24, Day 19 – Morgan Lagravière, Safran, UFO collision
December 4, Day 29 – Kojiro Shiraishi, Spirit of Yukoh, dismasted
December 6, Day 31 – Kito de Pavant, Bastide Otio, UFO collision
December 7, Day 32 – Sébastien Josse, Edmond de Rothschild, foil damage
December 18, Day 43 – Thomas Ruyant, Le Souffle du Nord, UFO collision
December 24, Day 49 – Stéphane Le Diraison, Compagnie du Lit – Boulogne Billancourt, dismasted
December 24, Day 49 – Paul Meilhat, SMA, keel ram failure
January 1, Day 57 – Enda O’Coineen, Kilcullen Voyager-Team Ireland, dismasted
Source: Vendee Globe