Dutch Skipper finishes Vendée Globe
Published on March 2nd, 2017
(March 2, 2017) – Dutch skipper Pieter Heerema brought his No Way Back across the finish line of the Vendée Globe at 2126 hrs UTC this evening to finish in seventeenth place. Heerema, at 65, completes this epic eighth edition becoming the first skipper from the Netherlands to complete the Vendée Globe. His elapsed time is 116 days 9 hrs, 24 mins and 12 secs. He sailed 29,747 miles at an average speed of 10.65 knots.
During his crossing of the Bay of Biscay aboard his brand new foiler, a boat built in Italy for Andrea Mura, based on designs from VPLP-Verdier and launched in the spring of 2015, Heerema faced a few minor technical problems, in particular with his mainsail hook and a rudder that kicked up several times. The Dutch sailor also suffered from back pains for several days at the start of the race. These problems were resolved but he lost miles to most of the fleet and was in 25th place off the coast of Portugal.
The list of repair jobs and technical problems continued to grow. Heerema soon vented his frustration openly criticising equipment manufacturers and the way his boat was fitted out. He also realised his sail choices were not suited to the conditions he was facing. By the time he got to the Doldrums, he was in a different weather pattern from what those ahead had experienced and the small losses gradually grew in importance. No Way Back crossed the equator at 2000hrs UTC on 19th November after 13 days and 7 hours.
Conditions were much more pleasant as he went down the coast of Brazil, but he knew he needed to prepare his boat fully for the Southern Ocean. However, Heerema soon got used to the big southern swell and higher speeds. In mid-December in the Indian Ocean, Heerema encountered a lot of problems with his autopilot with the instruments malfunctioning, which meant he experienced some very stressful moments. Once again, this led to a lot of frustration for the Dutch skipper, who was unable to get the advice he was looking for about how to set up his autopilot system.
As Christmas approached, the weather worsened and Heerema admitted he was no longer in race mode preferring to stay inside his boat. He would spend Christmas and Boxing Day working on his autopilot system trying to find the right set-up mode. Before entering the Pacific, his list of repair jobs continued to grow with a lot of wear to deal with on his mainsail. After 60 days at sea, Pieter Heerema passed the halfway mark of the Vendée Globe.
“From a competition point of view, during the 60 days of racing, I have rarely been in contact with my competitors and my various technical concerns have forced me to make major detours and slowdowns. Today I am sailing at 60% of No Way Back’s potential.” After 79 days on 24th January, Heerema rounded Cape Horn, a highly emotional moment for the skipper.
The start of the climb back up the Atlantic was far from comfortable. “The banging and smashing worries me. Not for the fillings that may fall out of my teeth. No,no. Not for the teeth that might fall out of my jaws. No, no. Not for the jawbones that may fall out of my head. No, no. I am worried that my head will fall off my torso.”
A few days later in warm sunshine in the Forties, his mood lifted and he was able to enjoy some good sailing conditions. But his wind instruments and the data fed to his autopilot still continued to pose problems. He was unable to sleep for long periods as he could not rely on his autopilot and consequently was close to exhaustion at times. Heerema crossed the Equator at 2258hrs UTC on 10th February after 96 days of racing.
In the Doldrums, conditions were very wet and he suffered from a lack of wind. He compared the conditions to being in a tropical rainforest. For his penultimate week conditions were fine, offering good sailing, but Heerema continued to suffer from his electronic and instrument problems. During his final week at sea, the Dutch skipper was forced to slow down to let a nasty storm go by in the Bay of Biscay where 9m high waves were forecast.
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