Vendée Globe: Hugo Boss Crushes Record
Published on November 24th, 2016
(November 24, 2016; Day 19, 17:39 UTC) – British skipper Alex Thomson today completed the fastest ever passage from the Vendée Globe start line to the Cape of Good Hope in the race’s 27-year history. Thomson’s Hugo Boss passed the famous milestone on the tip of South Africa at 1100 UTC in seventeen days, 22 hours and 58 minutes since beginning the epic solo round the world race from Les Sables d’Olonne in France.
The time obliterates the current race record for the passage of 22 days and 23 hours set by Armel Le Cléac’h in 2012, which in turn broke Vincent Riou’s 2004 time of 24 days and two hours. While the Cape of Good Hope is used as the reference point for the passage in the Vendee Globe, it is not actually the most southerly point in South Africa. That title goes to Cape Agulhas, around 90 miles to the south east.
The incredible run south is in part thanks to the perfect combination of weather conditions since the November 6 start and also the extra speed generated by the foils fitted to the latest generation IMOCA 60 boats. However the loss of Thomson’s starboard foil six days ago in a collision with a submerged object has not stopped the sole Brit in the race continuing at record pace. At the 1400 UTC rankings Thomson still had a small lead over second-placed Le Cléac’h but the French skipper, the runner-up in the past two editions of the race, had narrowed the gap from 100 nm to under 90. Le Cléac’h crossed the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope at 1532 UTC after 18 days three hours 30 minutes, four hours and 32 minutes behind Thomson.
Once into the Indian Ocean the frontrunners are set to encounter a short period of lighter winds before jumping onto another depression, this time moving east through the Southern Ocean. Third-placed Seb Josse, some 230nm behind, said there was already a marked change in the weather from the relative warmth of the South Atlantic. “There are birds circling us, there is a bit of fog,” the Edmond de Rothschild skipper said. “We can see that there is warm air and cold water, which makes everything look rather austere. Usually there is the current that leads to cross seas. We’re not yet into the Agulhas current, but conditions mean it should be calmer than usual. There’s not a lot of strategy involved for now and the routes are classic. Things will change again in two or three weeks.”
Rookie Morgan Lagravière’s future in the race was thrown into doubt today when his foiling yacht Safran suffered damage to one of its rudders. Lagravière was still in fourth place at the 1400 UTC update but his speeds were down to 11 knots. The 29-year-old reported that he is in contact with his shore team and is looking at the possibility of repairing the rudder. Meanwhile American sailor Rich Wilson, who is now up to 18th, was making the best of Thanksgiving at sea by focusing his attention on trying to overtake a group of boats 50nm to the south east of his Great American IV. “I’m trying to make some progress here on a group of boats to the south, and I’ll call home to a couple of close family friends, and that’ll be about it. I think I still have a freeze-dried turkey tetrazzini ready to go.”
The fleet is now exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere after Didac Costa’s One Planet One Ocean crossed the Equator just after midnight. The 26th-placed Spanish skipper’s celebrations had to be postponed though to deal with his J1 genoa ripped a few minutes before the Equator in winds of around 14 knots. “A few minutes before crossing the Equator, when I already had a beer ready for the occasion, the J1 exploded,” he said. “There was a horizontal slit from the leech to the luff, about a third of the way down from the top. With some difficulty I managed to furl it and lower it without causing any more damage. I knew it was difficult for this sail to complete the race but I did not expect to lose it so soon. Now, I miss it when the wind drops; we lack power. What I do have plenty of now is cloth to patch the other sails.”
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.
Source: Vendee Globe