NY-Vendée Race: Obstacles in the Atlantic

Published on May 30th, 2016

(May 30, 2016; Day 2) – Since the start for the 14 singlehanders, the New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) Race has had a difficult first 24 hours with several leading competitors forced to make pitstops in Newport, Rhode Island following collisions with unidentified floating objects to the south of the Nantucket Shoals. This has affected conventionally-equipped older generation IMOCA 60s and the new generation foil-equipped boat alike.

First to redirect to Rhode Island was Queguiner-Leucémie Espoir. Skipper Yann Eliès contacted his shore crew at 0840 UTC to report a collision which had caused a small rupture in the case of his daggerboard and had damaged the bottom of his yacht’s daggerboard too. At the time, Queguiner-Leucémie Espoir was 100 miles from Newport, the US yachting capital, where he will rendez-vous with his shore team and will then effect repairs and get underway again as soon as possible.

Soon after, Armel Le Cléac’h reported that the new generation Banque Populaire VIII had also hit a floating object with a similar outcome. He was expecting to arrive in Newport tonight (UTC). At 1000 UTC Morgan Lagravière skipper of Safran, contacted his shore team reporting a collision that had broken one of his yacht’s foils, again resulting in a leak the foil’s casing.

Then it was the turn of Dutch businessman Pieter Heerema on No Way Back, who reported: “I have hit four objects. The last one has damaged the foil and the foil case. I am taking on water, but when slow not too much. For safety reasons I need to go to Newport.”

At 11:30 early leader Jean-Pierre Dick on St Michel-Virbac also reported serious damage to his boat’s port foil while St Michel-Virbac was reaching in 18 knots of wind. Dick is heading for Newport to remove the broken foil. Dick says he is concerned that if the foil damage deteriorates further it could compromise the boat’s deck spreader and in turn its rig.

Meanwhile, in what is turning into a war of attrition, 2004 Vendee Globe winner Vincent Riou on PRB has moved into the lead. This afternoon, he was making 15.2 knots, 1.3 miles ahead of second placed Edmond de Rothschild, skippered by Sébastien Josse.

Up to fourth place this afternoon, Alex Thomson, reported from Hugo Boss that conditions overnight had been “a bit up and down, a bit ‘sticky’. It has been very foggy.” This morning the fog had dissipated, but the wind had apparently gone. “We have 18 knots at the masthead, but about three on the water. It is frustrating, but it was expected.”

Thomson said that he had managed to get precious little sleep last night.

Japanese competitor Kojiro Shiraishi reported that in fog after yesterday’s start he had almost hit a cargo ship. “It was the most dangerous race start I’ve ever had. I couldn’t see anything in the fog, so the radar and the AIS were very helpful.

“I’m very grateful for everyone that’s supporting me, thank you from the bottom of my heart for supporting me,” he added.

This afternoon Shiraishi reported that the southerly breeze had built to 20 knots. He too reported having hit something this morning: “It was soft and felt heavy. I checked the keel and the rudders but no apparent damage. I am praying that nothing has broken.”

Race detailsTracker

Background: Fourteen solo skippers started the NY-Vendee Race on May 29, a 3100 mile course from New York (USA) to Les Sables d’Olonne (FRA) in the IMOCA 60 monohull class. For some skippers, this is the last opportunity to qualify for the Super Bowl of their sport — The Vendee Globe.


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