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When Caution is the Smart Call

Published on February 27th, 2017

(February 27, 2017) – After the top Vendée Globe racers finished in January, and the adventurers arrived in February, it will not be until March for the final two competitors in the Vendée Globe: Pieter Heerema (No Way Back, 17th) and Sébastien Destremau (18th).

Dutch skipper Heerema has less than 600 miles to go to reach Les Sables d’Olonne, but is not likely to finish before March 2, having been forced to slow down and almost come to a standstill to let a storm pass with heavy seas developing in the Bay of Biscay. With Destremau 1340 nm behind, caution is the smart call.

What’s a few more days at sea after nearly four months…ouch!

It is hard to question the call for anyone on France’s Atlantic coast with severe gales currently blowing. The front is generating winds averaging forty knots with gusts in excess of fifty, but more importantly some nasty seas with 7-9m high waves.

“Pieter was a bit ahead of schedule for passing Cape Finisterre,” explained Antoine Mermod, the team manager for No Way Back. “He is itching to finish and get back to Les Sables, but today, he had no other choice but to wait for more manageable seas. He is planning to round Cape Finisterre tomorrow some time between 1000 and 1500hrs and should be some way off the coast.”

Meanwhile, Heerema is having to remain patient just under 200 miles from the NW tip of Spain. He may set off again late in the night. In any case, the final stretch is going to be rough, as after the winds ease tomorrow, another front is expected to cross the Bay of Biscay on Wednesday afternoon (Mar 1) and the seas will remain rough. However, by Thursday the sea state should allow the Dutch skipper to complete his first solo round the world voyage in around 116 days.

This is not the first time a sailor has been prevented from advancing in this Vendée Globe, and more or less coming to a standstill to let the worst weather go by. That was the case for Yann Eliès in the Southern Ocean and this slowdown saw the skipper of Quéguiner Leucémie Espoir give up all hope of catching the frontrunners. Pieter Heerema is expected to spend another three nights at sea before entering the harbour in Les Sables d’Olonne around midday on Thursday.

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)

Race detailsTrackerRankingFacebookVendeeGlobe TV

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


Source: Vendee Globe

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