Vendée Globe: No Rest for the Wicked

Published on December 4th, 2016

(December 4, 2016; Day 29) – One month since Vendée Globe solo round the world race started in Les Sables d’Olonne on Sunday November 6, the majority of the remaining 24 boat fleet spans some 4000 miles.

Posting a 24 hour run of 414.9 nm, leader Armel Le Cléac’h (FRA) will tomorrow be crossing the longitude of Australia’s Cape Leeuwin, and with Alex Thomson (GBR) on his heels, the British skipper cannot quite believe the pace which is unfolding at the front of the fleet.

“It is unbelievable that in five days or something like that we will be half way through the race,” said Thomson. “That seems incredible. It has been amazingly fast. On my first Vendée Globe I was only south of Africa after 30 days. This time after thirty days I might be south of New Zealand. It is incredible.”

“I am pretty tired. It has been very gusty, very windy. It is damp inside the boat and really not great living conditions. Apart from that I am well fed. But I am looking forwards to the next front which will bring northerlies, the nice stable warmer air and I will be able to rest. It is virtually impossible for me to pace myself with Armel because on the one side I am significantly slower than him and so I am trying not to.

“I am trying to sail my own game and not worry too much about Armel. He has got different speeds to me and is likely to go different ways and so I am trying to play my own game. I think if I try to pace him I will probably push the boat too hard.”

Southern Oceans exact a toll
The Vendée Globe dream of popular Japanese skipper Kojiro Shiraishi is over for this edition. After the top third of the mast of his Spirit of Yukoh fractured around 0230hrs early this morning, breaking just above the second spreaders, Shiraishi made the tough decision to abandon. He is the fifth skipper of the 29 solo sailors who started in Les Sables d’Olonne to abandon the course because of damage.

Ironically Shiraishi appeared to have just weathered the worst weather of his race. During yesterday he had reported safe passage through 40-50kts winds with six metre waves. But when the mast top snapped he reported that the wind had dropped back to just 20 or so knots. He was inside the boat and heard a loud crack. He is heading to Cape Town which was about 305 miles to his NNW when the breakage happened.

But damage caused in the strong winds and seas generated by three different low pressure systems has been a recurring theme today.

Failure of the halyard hook on the mainsail mast track has affected Jérémie Beyou on Maître CoQ. Jérémie decided to head further north to get away from the low-pressure system and analyse the situation.

Since then, the skipper of Maître CoQ has managed to replace his damaged mainsail hook with a spare part. He has hoisted his mainsail, part of which was torn and will continue his repairs when he finds the strength to do that.

Arnaud Boissières on La Mie Câline also had halyard hook issues on the mainsail mast track but now appears to have solved most of his problems.

Fa, who became the 12th skipper to pass the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope at 1219hrs TU this afternoon, confirmed he had to cut his personal favourite A7 gennaker free after it split in half in a big gust yesterday.

“After my autopilot turned off by itself for the second time, my boat gybed with the mainsail and the A7 gennaker. I stopped the boat to repair the autopilot. The cable was so corroded I couldn’t even unplug, I had to cut it. I cleaned the cables, and reconnected them. Everything went all right until the morning. I just went outside when the wind increased. An enormous wave and a big gust came at the same time. Then I heard a loud crack and the A7 sail was torn in half with one quick motion. I had no other choice, I had to cut it off and let it go. Unfortunately it took one of the halyards too, I couldn’t save it.”

His former co-skipper Conrad Colman (Foresight Natural Energy) has also been ‘in the wars’, knocked flat. “An electric bypass destroyed one of the solar charge controllers and it damaged the electric cables next to it. It stopped the electronics and thus the pilot, and I lost control of the boat as I wasn’t at the helm. By the time I got there the boat was on its side and the gennaker in the water. It took me a lot of time to regain control and then to try to save the sail.”

Thomas Ruyant, the French Vendée Globe rookie in ninth place, reported that he had been to hell and back replacing broken battens in his mainsail on Le Souffle du Nord pour le projet Imagine and sounded desperately tired. And since breaking into the Indian Ocean for the first time, Louis Burton has not had to look far for problems on his Bureau Vallée.

“Since the Cape of Good Hope, I have had a series of problems,” Burton reported, “There was a problem with the autopilot. I got knocked down three times. So as a result, I am very tired. I don’t know if it’s a problem with the compass or wind instruments at the top of the mast. The autopilot pushed the helm over several times during the night, but I don’t know why. With all the equipment stacked, when the boat comes right around, it’s on the wrong side. I have a tear in the J3 and a little one in the J2. Some diesel got spilled inside too.”


Ranking (Top 5 of 29 as of 22:00 UTC)
1. Banque Populaire VIII, Armel Le Cléac’h (FRA), 13675 nm to finish
2. Hugo Boss, Alex Thomson (GBR), 60.09 nm to leader
3. Edmond de Rothschild, Sébastien Josse (FRA), 592.66 nm
4. SMA, Paul Meilhat (FRA), 1200.46 nm
5. Maître CoQ, Jérémie Beyou (FRA), 1446.78 nm

Race detailsTrackerRankingFacebookVendeeGlobe TV

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.

November 12, Day 7 – Tanguy de Lamotte’s Initiatives Coeur, masthead crane failure
November 19, Day 14 – Bertrand de Broc, MACSF, UFO collision
November 22, Day 17 – Vincent Riou, PRB, UFO collision
November 24, Day 19 – Morgan Lagravière, Safran, UFO collision
December 4, Day 28 – Kojiro Shiraishi, dismasted


Source: Vendee Globe

comment banner


Back to Top ↑

Get Your Sailing News Fix!

Your download by email.

  • Hidden
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

We’ll keep your information safe.