Vendée Globe: Warning, Disruption Ahead
Published on January 8th, 2017
(January 8, 2017; Day 64) – While all eyes are on the Vendée Globe’s leading pair Armel Le Cléac’h and Alex Thomson as their epic tussle heads into its 64th day, third-placed Jérémie Beyou has been quietly sneaking up on them. In three days French skipper Beyou has reduced the gap between his raceboat Maître CoQ and the two favourites from 1,000 nautical miles to less than 700nm.
According to four-time Vendée Globe competitor Mike Golding, there’s a chance for Beyou to reduce the deficit even further in the coming days. Golding, the first sailor ever to finish three editions of the race, sees an uncertain forecast for the North Atlantic.
“Normally as you get out of the Doldrums you get into a steady and building north-easterly flow but that’s been disrupted by a depression to the north,” said Golding. “The band of light winds that the Doldrums generally represents is much wider and less distinct than normal and that’s bad news for Armel.”
Golding sees the advantage with Thomson as the lead pair prepare to pick their way through the complicated weather thrown at them by the North Atlantic. “It’s certainly a stressful time for Armel and Alex, but probably more so for Armel,” predicts Golding. “He’s been in the lead so long but he’s watched that very substantial lead evaporate to almost nothing. Now with a weather forecast like this ahead of them he’s going to be in a very difficult situation.
“The course ahead looks blotchy – there are pockets of wind and pockets of no wind. What’s more it’s going to be all on starboard, the tack where Alex can use his foil, and we know that his boat is quick in the nominal, low speed foiling conditions. The ball is very much in Alex’s court – he’s behind and can watch what happens to Armel. Armel has his work cut out but he’s done a fantastic job hanging on to the lead this far and I don’t expect him to give it up easily. It makes for a very interesting last 10 days for the frontrunners.”
Record: Alex Thomson may have crossed the Equator in second place, but he set a new race record in the process. The British skipper of Hugo Boss passed zero degrees latitude at 1712 UTC yesterday, 16 hours and 49 minutes behind leader Le Cléac’h. However, Thomson’s passage from Cape Horn took only 13 days, five hours and 30 minutes, smashing 2012-13 Vendée Globe winner François Gabart’s existing record for the passage by 14 hours.
Ranking (Top 5 of 29 as of 22:00 FR)
1. Banque Populaire VIII, Armel Le Cléac’h (FRA), 2903 nm to finish
2. Hugo Boss, Alex Thomson (GBR), 98.04 nm to leader
3. Maître CoQ, Jérémie Beyou (FRA), 612.11 nm
4. StMichel-Virbac, Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA), 1450.89 nm
5. Quéguiner – Leucémie Espoir, Yann Eliès (FRA), 1514.27 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.
November 12, Day 7 – Tanguy de Lamotte, 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 29 – Kojiro Shiraishi, Spirit of Yukoh, dismasted
December 6, Day 31 – Kito de Pavant, Bastide Otio, UFO collision
December 7, Day 32 – Sébastien Josse, Edmond de Rothschild, foil damage
December 18, Day 43 – Thomas Ruyant, Le Souffle du Nord, UFO collision
December 24, Day 49 – Stéphane Le Diraison, Compagnie du Lit – Boulogne Billancourt, dismasted
December 24, Day 49 – Paul Meilhat, SMA, keel ram failure
January 1, Day 57 – Enda O’Coineen, Kilcullen Voyager-Team Ireland, dismasted
Source: Vendee Globe