NY-Vendee: Unpredictable at the Moment

Published on June 6th, 2016

(June 6, 2016; Day 9) – As the leaders enter the Bay of Biscay, the finish for the NY-Vendee Race in Les Sables d’Olonne must feel like it is extending away like a mirage. The routing predicts the leaders will finish between 10:00 and 15:00 (French time), with the later end of the spectrum more likely as the wind is so unpredictable at the moment nobody can be certain.

Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ), a three-time winner of La Solitaire du Figaro, is better than most in these kind of conditions, but even he was scratching his head today. “The weather models are never relating to the wind we are getting on the water,” Beyou said. “It’s a lucky and very smart sailor who can say where the wind will be. It’s a pretty amazing situation, what do you do? Do you follow the model that you do trust the most? Do you take the direct route or do you cover your opponents? These are all questions that I’ve been asking myself for 24 hours.”

The leading IMOCA 60 trio of Beyou, Sébastien Josse (Edmond de Rothschild) and Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) were still sailing in a southwesterly breeze just behind a cold front today, which allowed them to average around 12 knots still. But it is going soft in front of them and their apparently unavoidable destiny is to spend tonight in the bubble of high pressure that is forming over the Bay of Biscay.


As this high-pressure system moves north on Tuesday, there should be progressively more wind (6-12 knots) first from the east and then north-east. That means, to add salt to the wound, they will be heading upwind to the finish.

The five boats behind them are sailing in a south-westerly wind of 15 to 22 knots depending on their position, that will gradually move south and south east, before easing tomorrow. After his pit-stop in the Azores, Vincent Riou (PRB), the winner of the 2004-05 Vendée Globe, rejoined in seventh and those ahead of him can feel his breath.

At the back, split into two other race-within-races, the skippers will have established southwesterlies for the next 36 hours, with the exception of Pieter Heerema (No Way Back), who gybed and seems to be looking north. Perhaps Heerema had other things on his mind, as today was the Dutchman’s 65th birthday.

“It’s a bit of weird place [to celebrate],” he said, “but from now on I’ll have all kinds of privileges like free public transport out of rush hours – retired people shouldn’t be in a rush anyway. I got quite a few positive replies (to his party invite to the other skippers) so I’m making good speed to the rendezvous point and I expect to have a jolly party tonight. I’ve only one little problem: the cream on the cake just blew off. I have 35 knots and the cake is a little bit destroyed, but it will taste fine.”

Conrad Colman (100% Natural Energy), Heerema’s rival at the back of the fleet, said he might not make the party: “As he said in his invitation: ‘parking is complicated’. I think we’ll have to push the party back to when we’re both in Les Sables, but I wish him a very happy birthday and I hope that he takes his foot of the pedal to celebrate.”

Update on ETAs
Wednesday 8th June in the morning : Maître CoQ, Edmond de Rothschild, Hugo Boss
Thursday 9th June in the afternoon : SMA
10th June in the morning : Spirit of Yukoh, Initiatives Cœur, PRB,
10th June in the afternoon : Newrest Matmut
11th June : StMichel-Virbac, Quéguiner – Leucémie Espoir, Safran
12th June : 100% Natural Energy, No Way Back

RANKINGS – 6 JUNE 2016 at 18.00 BST:
1. Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ): 289.8 nm to the finish
2. Sébastien Josse (Edmond De Rothschild): +8.7 nm behind leader
3. Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss): +21.6 nm
4. Paul Meilhat (SMA): +287.1 nm
5. Tanguy De Lamotte (Initiatives Coeur): +463.6 nm
6. Kojiro Shiraishi (Spirit of Yukoh): +487.3 nm
7. Vincent Riou (PRB): +527 nm
8. Fabrice Amedeo (Newrest-Matmut): +638.6 nm
9. Jean-Pierre Dick (StMichel-Virbac): +1 330.7 nm
10. Yann Eliès (Queguiner-Leucémie Espoir): +1 344.2 nm
11. Morgan Lagravière (Safran): +1 351.3 nm
12. Conrad Colman (100% Natural Energy): +1 614.7 nm
13. Pieter Heerema (No Way Back): +1 641.6 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.

Source: IMOCA Ocean Masters

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