Hugo Boss Reclaims Vendée Globe Lead
Published on December 1st, 2016
(December 1, 2016; Day 26) – British sailor Alex Thomson is once again at the front of the Vendée Globe fleet after successfully hunting down arch rival Armel Le Cléac’h in the Southern Ocean. Four days after French sailor Le Cléac’h moved into pole position in the solo non-stop round the world race, Thomson reclaimed control once more as the epic duel between the two skippers continued.
Thomson, who posted a 24 hour distance of 334 nm, led the pair this afternoon as they rocketed east with just seven miles of lateral separation.
Hugo Boss skipper Thomson, the only British sailor in the race, had been reeling in Le Cléac’h’s Banque Populaire VIII since the French skipper passed him on November 27. Le Cléac’h initially drew out a narrow lead of around 30 miles but was unable to fully capitalise because the weather conditions were not right for foiling. Despite boasting a broken starboard foil, lost in a collision with a floating object some 12 days ago, Hugo Boss has been the quicker of the two boats over the past few days.
The record-breaking pace both boats have been exhibiting since the race start in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on November 6, seems set to continue thanks to favourable weather conditions in the Southern Ocean. However, the story couldn’t be more different for all but a few of the 16 skippers still in the South Atlantic.
After enduring almost two weeks of painfully light winds, they were today being tested by breeze of up to 35 knots from a depression. “We’ve gone from one extreme to the other in a short space of time,” said an exasperated Stéphane Le Diraison, this afternoon in 17th place with winds of up to 30 knots and building. “Yesterday we were in the high. I’m now ahead of the front and things are starting to get rough. The wind is strengthening, the seas are building and the sky is clouding over. I’m finding it hard to sleep, because the boat is so fast and there is an incredible amount of noise. IMOCAs are boats that are noisy, shake you up and sound as if they are cracking.”
American Rich Wilson, around 130 miles to the north west in 20th place on Great American IV, was in a similar situation. “It’s noisy, the boat’s vibrating all the time, and then there’s a motion to it which is this sort of jittery, erratic movement like a freight train going down hill out of control,” said Wilson, who at 66 is the oldest skipper in the fleet. “You’ve got to hold on all the time, and how you sustain that stress especially at night in the dark is just really hard. It’s not comfortable physically or mentally – at least for me it isn’t.”
Morgan Lagravière, who was forced to retire from the Vendée Globe on November 24 due to rudder to his yacht Safran, has left Cape Town bound for France. Vincent Riou, who also retired to Cape Town, is tipped to leave later this week after fixing the keel bearings on his yacht PRB.
Ranking (Top 5 of 29 as of 22:00 UTC)
1. Hugo Boss, Alex Thomson (GBR), 14685 nm to finish
2. Banque Populaire VIII, Armel Le Cléac’h (FRA), 11.59 nm to leader
3. Edmond de Rothschild, Sébastien Josse (FRA), 635.79 nm
4. Maître CoQ, Jérémie Beyou (FRA), 1077.18 nm
5. SMA, Paul Meilhat (FRA), 1085.81 nm
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