Vendée Globe: Leave it all on the Field
Published on January 15th, 2017
(January 15, 2017; Day 71) – The race to the Vendée Globe finish line today became an all-out, neck-and-neck sprint as the leading pair’s speedos rocketed into the 20s.
After several days of slow progress north in light winds, Armel Le Cléac’h and Alex Thomson were today blasting towards the home straight of the solo round the world race in winds of up to 30 knots, with the margin between them steadily decreasing.
French skipper Le Cléac’h, who has topped the rankings since December 2, had one knot less VMG than Thomson in the past 24 hours (as of 22:00 FR). With the ETA in Les Sables currently Thursday, the Vendée Globe is shaping up to go right down to the wire.
“We have 17 to 20 knots of breeze at the moment and not very nice seas to be honest with the waves coming in from the east,” Thomson said today. “It’s difficult to go fast but I’m not complaining because I am making good speed. It’s going to get windy in the next 24 hours, up to 30 knots. We’ll be going fast, and we’ll have to see how things pan out.”
Thomson is competing in the Vendée Globe for the fourth time and is aiming to become the first Briton ever to win the race in its 27-year history. If he can continue to eat into Le Cléac’h’s lead, there is a chance he could realise his goal. Le Cléac’h, meanwhile, is hell-bent on ensuring he scores his first ever Vendée Globe win after posting runner’s-up finishes in the past two editions.
The anticyclone currently blocking the duo’s path to Les Sables is moving towards the English Channel and in another 36 hours the pair will be able to point their bows towards the finish line for an upwind drag race to glory.
Ranking (Top 5 of 29 as of 22:00 FR)
1. Banque Populaire VIII, Armel Le Cléac’h (FRA), 1127 nm to finish
2. Hugo Boss, Alex Thomson (GBR), 85.43 nm to leader
3. Maître CoQ, Jérémie Beyou (FRA), 746.43 nm
4. StMichel-Virbac, Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA), 1270.69 nm
5. Quéguiner – Leucémie Espoir, Yann Eliès (FRA), 1570.76 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