Vendée Globe: Painfully Slow Progress
Published on February 22nd, 2017
(February 22, 2017; Day 109) – Progress has remained painfully slow for Kiwi skipper Conrad Colman today as he sails into a wide high pressure ridge which stands between him and the favorable westerly breezes which should finally allow the jury rigged Foresight Natural Energy to sail more directly towards the French coast and the finish line of the Vendée Globe off Les Sables d’Olonne.
In the past 24 hours finishing at 1400hrs this Wednesday afternoon, Colman had made just 61.4 nautical miles, a crawling average of 2.4kts as he fights northwards in the southwest of the Bay of Biscay. He is expected to emerge into a northwesterly breeze in the early hours of Thursday morning, the wind strengthening and backing to the west tomorrow, when Colman should be able to make more meaningful speeds towards the finish.
With 215 miles to the finish line, the 33 year old New Zealander has sailed more than 500 miles since he set his jury rig on February 16th. He is now expected to finish his Vendée Globe to a hero’s welcome on Saturday.
Didac Costa is due on the finish line between eight and nine tomorrow morning (Thursday), the fifth solo skipper to finish the race over a six day period. Among the VIPs who have travelled from his native Barcelona to welcome Costa are the Fundació Navegació Oceànica Barcelona’s CEO Xosé Carlos Fernández and Javier Vilaronga, the Director of their Ocean Base. Costa’s boat, the former Kingfisher is finishing her fifth round the world race.
At 1700hrs UTC this evening Costa was less than 100 miles from the finish line, making nine knots and was expected to complete his first solo non stop race around the world in a fading W’ly breeze with around 10kts on the line, smooth seas and possibly some light rain.
Costa’s early inspiration to race in the Vendée Globe was the pioneering Spanish sailor José Luis de Ugarte who completed the 1992-93 race in 134 days at the age of 64 on Euskadi Europ 93BBK. Until yesterday when Rich Wilson crossed the finish line, the late Ugarte was the oldest solo skipper to complete the Vendée Globe. The redoubtable Ugarte’s boat was leaking in the final days of the race, with so much water in it that he had to dive inside the boat to find out what the problem was.
In fact, the second oldest seems likely to be Pieter Heerema (17th place), the Dutch solo racer who is now expected on Monday. He was 65 when he started the race. Heerema faces a tough final weekend at sea on his No Way Back. He is struggling with very limited electrics and will touch two successive low pressure systems giving him 35kts of wind over Saturday and Sunday.
Likely to pass the unfortunate Colman during the final 100 miles of their race, Romain Attanasio seems set to take 15th place and by comparison, has a relatively straight run to the finish line. His estimated finish time is Friday morning, around 24 hours after Costa.
Final Results (Top 10 of 29)
1. Banque Populaire VIII, Armel Le Cléac’h (FRA), Finished, 74d 03h 35m 46s (1/19/17)
2. Hugo Boss, Alex Thomson (GBR), Finished, 74d 19h 35m 15s (1/20/17)
3. Maître CoQ, Jérémie Beyou (FRA), Finished, 78d 06h 38m 40s (1/23/17)
4. StMichel-Virbac, Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA), Finished, 80d 01h 45m 45s (1/25/17)
5. Queguiner – Leucemie Espoir, Yann Elies, (FRA), Finished, 80d 03h 11m 09s (1/25/17)
6. Finistère Mer Vent, Jean Le Cam (FRA), Finished, 80d 06h 41m 54s (1/25/17)
7. Bureau Vallée, Louis Burton (FRA), Finished, 87d 21h 45m 49s (2/2/17)
8. Spirit of Hungary, Nándor Fa (HUN), Finished, 93d 22h 52m 09s (2/8/17)
9. CommeUnSeulHomme, Eric Bellion (FRA), Finished, 99d 04h 56m (2/13/17)
10. La Mie Câline, Arnaud Boissière (FRA), Finished, 102d 20h 24m 09s (2/17/17)
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