Vendée Globe: One Final Hurdle
Published on January 12th, 2017
(January 12, 2017; Day 68) – British skipper Alex Thomson today said his last chance of winning the 2016-17 Vendée Globe lies with a ridge of high pressure close to the finish line. Thomson said his only hope of overtaking Le Cléac’h, barring mechanical failure, will be if he could get to within 50 miles of the Frenchman’s boat Banque Populaire VIII by the time they reach the ridge.
If he were able to do that he believes he will be within striking distance of the Le Cléac’h on the final sprint to the finish in Les Sables d’Olonne, France.
Thomson, who has been attempting to hunt down Le Cléac’h since he stole the Vendée Globe lead from him in early December, began the day 250 miles adrift but by the 1400 UTC update the gap had narrowed to 216nm. Around 300nm west of the Cape Verde Islands, Le Cléac’h, the runner-up in the last two editions of the Vendée Globe, had this afternoon slowed temporarily in slightly lighter winds, his eight knots of boat speed significantly less than Thomson’s 13.
Although the pair still has just less than 2000 nm to go before they reach Les Sables, Thomson admitted Le Cléac’h is now odds-on favourite to win. “If there are no dramas, he should cross the ridge before me and then he’ll win the race. It’s getting more and more difficult to make a move, but I remain pragmatic and optimistic.”
Thomson, however, does expect the race to tighten in the final miles. “I certainly see us closing up. According to the computer I’ll finish five hours behind him but we’ll have to wait and see – you never know,” said Thomson. “In a few days I could make up the fifty miles. If I don’t get within fifty miles by the end of this light stuff, my chances of beating him are quite slim.”
The current ETA in Les Sables for the Vendée Globe leaders is Thursday January 19.
Frenchman Jean-Pierre Dick today became the fourth Vendée Globe skipper in the northern hemisphere after passing the Equator for the second and final time. Dick, competing in his fourth Vendée Globe, passed the line of latitude that divides north from south at 1033 UTC, just shy of 67 days after starting the solo round the world race from Les Sables d’Olonne in France.
Ranking (Top 5 of 29 as of 22:00 FR)
1. Banque Populaire VIII, Armel Le Cléac’h (FRA), 1893 nm to finish
2. Hugo Boss, Alex Thomson (GBR), 200.96 nm to leader
3. Maître CoQ, Jérémie Beyou (FRA), 785.17 nm
4. StMichel-Virbac, Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA), 1220.72 nm
5. Finistère Mer Vent, Jean Le Cam (FRA), 1320.22 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