NY-Vendee: Hugo Boss Leads Trio

Published on June 1st, 2016

(June 1, 2016; Day 4) – After getting used to spending life inclined to the left since they started, the three front runners in the New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) Race are today having to get used to living heeled to the right.

The trio of front runners – with Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss still leading from Jérémie Beyou on Maître CoQ and Sébastien Josse on Edmond de Rothschild – all gybed on to port this morning. Furthest south, Beyou was first to go at 0900 UTC followed by Josse and Thomson both at around 0940 UTC.

Gybing IMOCA 60s is no small task, but the skippers have spent much time refining the steps: changing course, adjusting the sails, canting the keel, swapping the water ballast over and the moving the ‘stack’ including the sails that aren’t being used, plus spares, food, and all the gear, from one side of the boat to the other.

For the next period of the race the leaders will remain on port gybe. Running in 20-25 knot westerlies on the new gybe, the boats are currently pointing towards the southeastern end of the ice box. However, the wind is forecast to veer northwest, a shift which will enable them to point their bows closer towards the finish.

The skippers are also battening down hatches in preparation for tomorrow when a cold front, currently to their north, will cross them. According to race meteorologist Christian Dumard, the boats will see 35-45 knots to the north of this front.

Meanwhile the second wave of boats is still on starboard gybe in 20 knots southwesterlies.

Sixth-placed Tanguy De Lamotte, popular skipper of Initiatives Coeur, remembered Sunday’s start off Ambrose Light at the entrance to New York Harbour. “It was weird leaving in the fog and not being able to see the other boats. But spending the whole first day in fog was hell.”

De Lamotte added that with the conditions yesterday having been relatively stable, he had taken the opportunity to catch up with some sleep. “I’m pretty happy. I haven’t had to make many sail changes.”

Like the leaders, De Lamotte was expecting to gybe late this afternoon. Looking ahead he is ready for having to manoeuvre in 30-35 knot winds, providing with some practice for the Southern Ocean this winter in the Vendée Globe.

While the leaders shoot off to the east at pace, the opposite is true of the boats that left Newport yesterday. First in and first out of the Rhode Island sailing mecca yesterday morning was Jean-Pierre Dick on St Michel-Virbac but over the early hours of this morning he’s fallen into a wind hole, alongside late starter Conrad Colman on 100% Natural Energy. Both boats having averaged just 2-3 knots over the last four hours.

“I am enjoying my summer cruise!” reported Colman this morning. “I wish this was more of a race than a ‘float’, but that is what we had yesterday – a sustained 1.6 knots, gusting to 2.3! It was pretty intense.”

Leaving Newport yesterday evening (UTC) was Dutch businessman Pieter Heerema on No Way Back, followed around an hour later by Yann Eliès on Quéguiner-Leucémie Espoir. With both now back on the race track, this group is soon to be joined by Morgan Lagravière on Safran, the last boat to leave Newport, Rhode Island at mid today UTC, following repairs robust to get the boat back to France.

This afternoon, UTC, the wind had returned but from the northeast. 100% Natural Power is within five miles of Jean-Pierre Dick’s St Michel-Virbac and Yann Eliès on Queguiner-Leucémie Espoir. However, still surrounded in thick fog, Colman said he had been unable to see any of them visually. Since this morning Pieter Heerema on No Way Back has speared off to the south in search of breeze.

Despite all his competition being slightly lame, recovering from foil damage, Colman says there is talk of a ‘race with in a race’. But while the leaders make high speed across the ocean, for the tailenders they are going to have a rougher ride, with prolonged headwinds as an area of high pressure develops to their north. “The first half of this crossing is going to be quite complicated because there are small depressions and ridges to navigate, so we won’t be breaking any speed records that’s for sure,” Colman warns.

RANKINGS – 1 JUNE 2016 AT 16.30 BST:
1. Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) : 2059.5 nm to the finish
2. Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ) : +18.8 nm behind leader
3. Sébastien Josse (Edmond de Rothschild) : +27.0 nm
4. Paul Meilhat (SMA) : +101.4 nm
5. Vincent Riou (PRB) : +131.0 nm
6. Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives Cœur) : +151.1 nm
7. Kojiro Shiraishi (Spirit of Yukoh) : +208.6 nm
8. Fabrice Amedeo (Newrest-Matmut) : +239.8 nm
9. Conrad Colman (100% Natural Energy) : +871.6 nm
10. Jean-Pierre Dick (StMichel-Virbac) : +873.1 nm
11. Yann Eliès (Quéguiner-Leucémie Espoir) : +877.9 nm
12. Pieter Heerema (No Way Back) : +904.4 nm
13. Morgan Lagravière (Safran) : +931.3 nm
14. Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire VIII), abandoned racing

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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