Vendée Globe: Most of Fleet in Atlantic
Published on January 21st, 2017
(January 21, 2017; Day 77, 18:00 FR) – As the dust settles on an historic Vendée Globe victory for French sailor Armel Le Cléac’h, the majority of the remaining skippers are now on the final ‘leg’ to the finish line.
With Le Cléac’h’s Banque Populaire and second-placed Alex Thomson’s Hugo Boss tied up to the dock in Les Sables d’Olonne sixteen skippers remain at sea today – and fourteen of them are now in the Atlantic. Romain Attanasio became the 16th skipper to round Cape Horn and wave goodbye to the Southern Ocean at 2043 UTC yesterday, exactly seven hours to the second behind 15th placed Didac Costa.
“After so many of racing it’s impressive to see land,” said Spaniard Costa, a firefighter-turned-solo sailor. “What’s more, Cape Horn is a mythical place in the history of ocean racing.” Only Dutch skipper Pieter Heerema and Frenchman Sébastien Destremau still have the major milestone at the tip of South America to pass.
As the Vendée Globe entered its 77th day 65-year-old No Way Back skipper Heerema, the second-oldest in the fleet after 66-year-old Rich Wilson, admitted to struggling with the enormity of the race. “To be really honest, I’m really fed up,” Heerema told Vendée Globe HQ today. “I’ve had enough. The race has already been very long and it’s going to take another month. It’s gonna be 100-plus days and there’s still a lot to come, a lot of cold, a lot of heat, and then there’s the North Atlantic. I have enough food for 130 days so that’s no problem, it’s more in the head. I look at another month as a big mountain to climb and I’m lacking a little bit of motivation for that.”
Heerema said his motivation to finish the race, regarded as one of the world’s toughest sporting challenges, came from the messages of support he receives from friends, family and fans. “I must say the amount of people that are following me is quite unexpected,” he added. “No-one in Holland really knew what the Vendée Globe was before this one apart from a few hardened sailors. But all the enthusiasm and all the ‘likes’ on Facebook, and the messages and the emails that I get, are really important motivation to carry on, otherwise I’m not so sure I’d want to.”
French skipper Destremau was today some 1,000 miles adrift of Heerema in 18th, around 200nm south of Point Nemo, the most remote place on the planet with no inhabited land for 1,700nm in any direction. “I’ve been thinking about the isolation for a couple of days, and I never really realised just how distant we are from land,” he said. “It’s amazing. It’s really something special, something not a lot of people have done. It sums up the immensity of the Vendée Globe.”
At the front of the fleet Jérémie Beyou in third place was making slow progress through the final 300 miles to the finish line in light winds. Beyou is now expected to cross the finish line on Monday afternoon local time. Behind him a drag race for fourth place was beginning between Jean-Pierre Dick, Jean Le Cam and Yann Eliès, the three Vendée Globe veterans neck and neck as they point their bows towards Les Sables.
The trio are divided north-west to south-east by 80 miles at the latitude of the Azores, with just under 1,500nm still remaining. StMichel-Virbac skipper Dick had to play doctor after he fell and cut his chin open, requiring him to patch up the wound with medical strips. “I scraped my face in the cockpit when carrying out manoeuvres. I have managed to close up the wound, but it’s not easy when you’re looking at your face. It took me several goes before I managed to do it. I have staples alongside the wound and I don’t know how to remove the unnecessary ones. So the result is quite special.”
Another 1,500nm south Louis Burton was today still struggling to break free of the Doldrums, the French skipper of Bureau Vallée covering just 88 miles in the last 24 hours.
Conrad Colman (Foresight Natural Energy)
“I’m stuck! The weather files have turned against me and I have a lot less wind than expected. I had agonized for days about whether finding a way east early or make gains northwards with an escape route to the east later. Sadly it looks like I am going to struggle for a few days here, which is going to be hard to swallow. I hate this kind of sailing where the boat flaps around wildly and the wind turns constantly to come from all directions or disappears completely.
In order to progress I need clean smooth air to flow over the sails but there’s so little wind and such an agitated sea that the flopping of the boat shakes the wind out of the sails, so even if there’s 5 knots of wind it’s almost as useless as none at all. Here’s hoping for the sea to calm, the wind to pick up and for there to be a way out of here otherwise I’ll still be out here competing when the next edition of the race starts!”
Arnaud Boissières (La Mie Caline)
“Fortunately I wasn’t held up for too long during the night in the wind hole. I got away an hour ago with some wind. We’re in our own private battle here with Fabrice Amedeo, but we’re not really paying attention to the rankings, because eleventh or twelfth doesn’t change much. It motivates us and encourages to try to catch those in front of us, Conrad Colman and Eric Bellion. The temperature is more pleasant now and we have taken off our fleeces and can air out the boat. On Monday, I’ll be opening my final bag of food. I still have lots to eat and freeze-dried food doesn’t worry me. Someone sent me a photo of Alex Thomson entering the harbour and I saw my photo on the houses in La Chaume in the background, which was funny.”
Ranking (Top 5 of 29 as of 18:00 FR)
1. Banque Populaire VIII, Armel Le Cléac’h (FRA), Finished, 74d 03h 35m 46s
2. Hugo Boss, Alex Thomson (GBR), Finished, 74d 19h 35m 15s (+15h 59m 29s)
3. Maître CoQ, Jérémie Beyou (FRA), 313 nm to Finish
4. StMichel-Virbac, Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA), 1404 nm
5. Finistere Mer Vent, Jean Le Cam (FRA), 1406 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