Vendée Globe: Connecting the Dots

Published on February 7th, 2017

(February 7, 2017; Day 94, 16:18 FR) – The final night of Nandor Fa’s Vendée Globe will be one to savour for the Hungarian skipper as he closes out his eighth place. NW’ly winds of around 30kts will veer more to the north for his final arrival, dropping back to around 15kts. He is due to cross the line around midday tomorrow and should be able to go straight into the channel.

Twenty four years ago thousands turned out to greet the first non-French skipper to finish the non-stop solo round the world race when he finished fifth in 128 days. This time 63 year old Fa’s elapsed time should be around 94 days.

One of Fa’s lovable ‘old school’ habits through the race has been his desire to write and publish his daily logs. His love of the sea and marine life has always been evident. He is pushing himself to the end, always trying to stay ahead of his polars and on his routing, trying to match each dot, the point where his software reckons he should be.

“I’m progressing, although right now I can’t keep any of the routings,” Fa wrote this morning. “For the little dot that is generated in a hundredth of a second, you still maybe have to make a sail change and the dot takes no account of wind or waves, it defines a perfectly stable course. And so it is always such a pleasure to beat the dot.”

The skipper of Spirit of Hungary has missed his A7 gennaker and reacher, losing the A7 on the 27th day of racing and the reacher in a broach on Day 45, still rueing their absence during these last miles. “I miss my lost sails very much: the A7 and the reacher. Any of them would come in handy now because I’m not very keen on the A3 anymore, I don’t want to risk hoisting it, and the J2 is not enough.”

Didac Costa and Romain Attanasio are just 12 miles apart in 15th and 16th places after crossing the Equator this morning. Last night back into the northern hemisphere within one hour and two minutes of each other with Costa on OnePlanet OneOcean crossing at 0307hrs UTC this morning and at 0409hrs it was the turn of his French rival on Famille Mary – Etamine du Lys.

Speaking to Race HQ in Les Sables d’Olonne today Attanasio said: “It’s really a huge pleasure to have crossed the Equator. I was waiting for that. Cape Horn was important as it marked my return to the Atlantic. The Equator is the return to the northern hemisphere. It’s a place that isn’t easy. It’s really tricky. I can confirm that! I’m at the helm in zero knots of wind. I have Didac ahead of me there. I can see him in the distance. We’re completely stuck. I’m at the helm as the autopilot can’t work with so little wind. The seas are quite rough and the boat is being tossed around with the sails flapping. I have just furled the jib, as it isn’t of any use there. The celebration for the Equator has been ruined by these problems this morning. I have looked at several satellite photos of the zone. It looks like I have still got 150 miles before I get out of here. The Doldrums are different each time. This is my third crossing. Usually you get blue sky and then heavy squalls, but the skies have been covered since yesterday. I don’t know how I’m going to sail 150 miles in these conditions. It hasn’t really been a duel with Didac until now. A week ago we were neck and neck and he was faster than me. That annoyed me, so I shook out a reef. But then there was too much sail up and the boat was over on her side. I told myself I was an idiot. All that just to gain a few miles. That wasn’t the time for racing hard like that. There were the Doldrums to come, the trade winds and then we would need to find the way to Les Sables d’Olonne. So my idea was to sail as quickly as I could without doing anything silly. We’ll see what happens with Didac towards the end. I was hoping to finish on the weekend of 18-19th February, but as the days go by, it is pushed back further and further. I really want to finish and get back with my family. It’s starting to feel a bit long now. My boat is tired an so am I. I’m counting the days, but it seems never-ending. The weather has been so hard and hasn’t favoured us since the start. I don’t know how many days I have had light airs. In the Southern Ocean, conditions were difficult. I was becalmed near the Falklands and then the climb back up past Montevideo and the ITCZ was very tough. We’re not being spoilt.”

Eric Bellion on CommeUnSeulHomme is now expected to finish on Sunday in ninth place. He is in the south of a muscular low pressure system still dealing with 30-35kts of W’ly winds whilst in energy saving mode. Two boats remain in the southern hemisphere, Sébastien Destremau has been replacing a batten car pin on TechnoFirst FaceOcean and is back up to speed this afternoon off Montevideo, whilst Pieter Heerema on No Way Back has about two days of sailing northwards before he too crosses back into his home hemisphere.

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)

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Background:
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.

Retirements (11):
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

2016-10-03_6-55-47

Source: Vendee Globe

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