Moral Victories in Vendée Globe
Published on February 19th, 2017
(February 19, 2017; Day 106) – Swiss skipper Alan Roura, the youngest of the 29 solo sailors who crossed the start line of the Vendée Globe on November 6th is expected to cross the finish line off Les Sables d’Olonne tomorrow morning between 0800hrs and midday UTC in 12th position.
Seven solo racers were still at sea this Sunday afternoon. Eleven skippers have already finished and eleven were forced to abandon their race.
Roura, 23, had less than 100 miles to go to the line late on Sunday afternoon and was struggling in light winds still today, making just three or four knots. His mood has been up and down over the last 48 hours or so, but the young skipper confirms already that he is fiercely proud of his race and the position he should gain. In his last message he notes:
“Twelfth. It’s funny because basically I found a racer inside of me. I am more than proud of this position. With this boat which is now 17 years old I don’t think we could realistically have expected to do much better. To finish as first of the ‘older generation’ boats that just seems a bit nuts to me, a bit unreal. But really it feels like a great victory.
“Sailing with Eric (Bellion), Cali (Arnaud Boissières), Fabrice (Amedeo) and Rich (Wilson) is such a great honour. I have absolutely no regrets, I have raced like I have always sailed. I did not want to change my way of doing things. This is not the time nor the race to try and make myself into another sailor. I think I do not realize yet what is really happening. Tomorrow I will be on land. I will look at my boat, the Superbigou in the marina and say: We made it my friend! We did it.”
Roura’s Superbigou was built in a garden in Lesconcil, Brittany by Swiss sailor Bernard Stamm to a Pierre Rolland design in 1997. Stamm started his first Vendée Globe in 2000 with the boat but had to retire only days into the race with rudder and steering problems.
Stamm set off shortly after to break the crewed Atlantic record by way of recompense, which he did, setting the best solo time in 2002 in 10d 11h 55m. With this boat Stamm won the Around Alone solo round the world race and the Velux 5 Ocean around the world in 2003 and 2007 respectively. As We Are Water in the hands of Cali Sanmarti and Jaume Mumbru it went round the globe again in 2011 in the Barcelona World Race but stopped in New Zealand.
But when Roura crosses the line of the Vendée Globe it will be the first time Superbigou completes the race it was originally designed and built for, and correspondingly, 17 years after it was launched, the first complete non-stop circumnavigation.
Conrad Colman still in 13th place is having to fight extremely hard to make the finish line of the Vendée Globe. After being dismasted nine days ago the Kiwi skipper has seen spells of good progress under his beautifully constructed jury rig. It has proven moderately efficient upwind in good breeze, but Colman is back in light airs – on the southern edge of a high pressure ridge. He is extremely low on food, reported to have just a couple of packets of freeze dried food, some seeds which he has been germinating himself during the race, and his emergency rations. He is running on very little energy.
That means rarely switching on his computer and comms equipment. He is doing very minimal routing and weather analysis. He is generating some power from his existing solar panels and has some others. He spent Saturday trying to fix his hydrogenerator, unsuccessfully and meantime his boat is too slow for his electric motor to generate meaningful amounts of power.
Colman’s morale waxes and wanes and he is appreciative of all the thousands of messages of support from around the world, but progress is complicated and hard won at the moment.
After Roura finishes Monday it looks as if Rich Wilson (Great American IV) will finish Wednesday, Didac Costa (OnePlanet OneOcean) on Thursday and Romain Attanasio (Famille Mary-Etamine du Lys) Friday. Wilson looks set to finish in 110 days, ten days faster than he completed the 2008-9 race when he finished ninth from 30 starters.
Pieter Heerema (No Way Back) predicts a finish Monday, February 27th. The Dutchman would complete his personal dream racing round the world solo and non-stop aboard a IMOCA of the latest generation equipped with foils. If he succeeds, five foilers out of seven at the start will complete this Vendée Globe (only Morgan Lagravière and Sébastien Josse have had to give up).
Sébastien Destremau (TechnoFirst-faceOcean) crossed the equator this morning after 104 days and 20 hours of racing. He is still caught up in the Doldrums and 3200 miles from Les Sables d’Olonne.
Final Results (Top 10 of 29)
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)
8. Spirit of Hungary, Nándor Fa (HUN), Finished, 93d 22h 52m 09s (2/8/17)
9. CommeUnSeulHomme, Eric Bellion (FRA), Finished, 99d 04h 56m (2/13/17)
10. La Mie Câline, Arnaud Boissière (FRA), Finished, 102d 20h 24m 09s (2/17/17)
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