Vendée Globe: Fa’s Last Big Solo Race
Published on February 5th, 2017
(February 5, 2017; Day 92, 16:44 FR) – Nandor Fa today warned his Hungarian friends and fans who have already assembled in Les Sables d’Olonne to wait and to be patient while the solo skipper of Spirit of Hungary completes the final three days of his Vendée Globe solo round the world race. Sitting in eighth position, he is expected to finish Tuesday night or in the small hours of Wednesday morning (Feb 7 or 8).
Dozens of his compatriots are already in the finish port on the west coast of France, making ready to provide a warm welcome back to the solo skipper as he makes a swansong return to Les Sables d’Olonne, the famous home of the race that he first came to 25 years ago when he competed in the second edition of the race in 1992-1993.
Pioneering Fa finished fifth in that race, the first non French skipper ever to finish the Vendée Globe. It was to be the pinnacle of his early ocean racing career. He returned in 1996-97 with a new 60 footer that he designed and built over three years after the finish of the previous race.
Just before the start of the race the boat was dropped from a crane. Not long after the start Fa was struck by a tanker in the Bay of Biscay. He sailed back to Les Sables d’Olonne to repair the boat. He started again a week later. But, ultimately even his steely desire was thwarted after his third start when his generators and navigational instruments failed. He returned to Les Sables d’Olonne once more but ultimately had no choice but to throw in the towel.
Now Fa, at 62, has said this will be his last big solo race and his eighth place result a suitable reflection of his remarkable dedication and drive which is at least the equal of, if not exceeding that of anyone else in this race and the high standards he has set himself and achieved.
He told his friends today: ” My dear friends I am really happy. You all make me so happy. I have about 920 miles to go so this is really fantastic to know you are there. I push myself to get there but I will not push too hard. So please be patient. I am coming.”
Fa is riding the south eastern edge of a low pressure, staying south away from the worst of its activity. Even so, he will still get a brisk 40-45kts of wind tonight and tomorrow.
“I would like to stay as south as possible. At the moment I am at 42N or something like that and I am far from the worst of it. And I am running in front of it and I am making between 16 and 25kts of speed. I can see step by step what will happen for the next ten hours. I will stay in front of the strong winds. Maybe the maximum I will have is 40-45kts which is not a big problem. I have had that a few times. I have to change the headsail to the J3. I can see a lot of signs which suggest the boat is tired, especially with the sails and small breakages. It is time to arrive, time to finish. On the other hand the mast looks good but I cross my fingers. All the ropes are tired, like me, but we are pushing together to make it through the last days.”
In tenth place, Conrad Colman was enjoying a pleasant, downwind Sunday, a welcome change of scenery after banging upwind in the trade winds for days, a pause under big spinnaker before a very challenging encounter with a freight train of an North Atlantic depression.
“My route to the finish in Les Sables d’Olonne looks like a dog’s breakfast, a smorgasbord of options. I can either get hit on the head really hard, or get hit on the head really, really hard. I can go upwind in 40kts or downwind in 50kts. It is not an easy choice. Whatever I do it will be hard and uncomfortable. The weather models are changing every day and so I am not really sure what is in for me, except that today I am downwind and it will be lovely and then tomorrow I start hooking into the bottom edge of a cold front that will press me eastwards towards Europe and then that same depression crashes into the edge of Cape Finistere on the corner of NW Spain and then compresses, which gives lots of wind and upwind for me if I am in the northern sector.”
Colman paid a warm tribute to Fa, who he sailed round the world with in 2015 on Spirit of Hungary in the Barcelona World Race. The two were racing closely in the south until they were prised apart when Fa escaped in a beneficial weather system. Colman’s deficit was compounded when he was hit by a big storm in the Pacific and lost his forestay which he had to reattach.
“You have sailed a hell of a race, Nandor,” Colman said. “I am sure you and the boat have benefited from the Barcelona World Race we did together. Now you have done the Vendée Globe like I would have liked to. You have sailed hard and sailed fast. Well done. I wish I could have given you more of a fight. So Well Done.”
Current Ranking – Finished
1. Banque Populaire VIII, Armel Le Cléac’h (FRA), Finished, 74d 03h 35m 46s (1/19/17)
2. Hugo Boss, Alex Thomson (GBR), Finished, 74d 19h 35m 15s (1/20/17)
3. Maître CoQ, Jérémie Beyou (FRA), Finished, 78d 06h 38m 40s (1/23/17)
4. StMichel-Virbac, Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA), Finished, 80d 01h 45m 45s (1/25/17)
5. Queguiner – Leucemie Espoir, Yann Elies, (FRA), Finished, 80d 03h 11m 09s (1/25/17)
6. Finistère Mer Vent, Jean Le Cam (FRA), Finished, 80d 06h 41m 54s (1/25/17)
7. Bureau Vallée, Louis Burton (FRA), Finished, 87d 21h 45m 49s (2/2/17)
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