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Vendée Globe: Like the Southern Ocean

Published on February 28th, 2017

(February 28, 2017; Day 115) – Pieter Heerema has got moving again. This afternoon, he told us about some “incredible waves”. He now only has 500 miles left to sail in these tough conditions to complete his Vendée Globe, which he is expected to finish on Thursday. Meanwhile, Sébastien Destremau is about to enter an area of light winds.

During a link-up with Pieter Heerema this afternoon, just after he got back on track to sail towards Les Sables d’Olonne, after fifteen hours of so of avoiding heading any further north to let the storms move off ahead of him. This afternoon, he is sailing at the latitude of La Coruna, meaning that he “only” has to cross the Bay of Biscay to take seventeenth place in the Vendée Globe.

No Way Back is sailing cautiously at around nine knots this afternoon 120 miles away from the Cape Finisterre traffic separation scheme. A place that is not known for being friendly when there are gales in the vicinity, as Heerema confirmed. “The sea state is incredible. It’s like the Southern Ocean with some incredible waves.”

With 500 miles to go to the finish, it is still quite tough for the Dutch skipper. “The sea state is very rough and the wind further south than predicted, which means I can’t bear away to avoid the waves. I’m halfway against the waves, which is slowing me down. I hope that the wind will come around to the right to get a better angle and to make it more comfortable, because it is hard for the boat.”

Even if he is remaining cautious, Heerema should complete his solo round the world voyage in around fifty hours late on Thursday afternoon by sailing around 250 miles a day. “I still have an ETA for sometime in the afternoon of 2nd March. At the moment I don’t have the speed, but I’m hopeful I’ll catch up a little later on.”

The skipper of No Way Back has managed to set up an emergency AIS antenna, after losing the main one from the top of the mast at some point. This antenna should enable him to keep an eye out for the boats around him and in this area, there are indeed many of them. Things are finally looking up for the Dutch skipper after heaving to in order to avoid the worst of the weather.

He confirmed his more upbeat mood. “I’m a happy man. I’m looking forward to ending this trip. But things have been going well over the past few days and the weather hasn’t been too bad. But I’ll be happier once I’m in port.”

Sailing much further south, the weather is very different as is the pace. As forecast, Sébastien Destremau’s TechnoFirst-faceOcean is starting to slow in lighter conditions associated with an area of high pressure, 780 miles off the Canaries. Sébastien has only been averaging around 4.9 knots in terms of VMG since midday and this has affected his performance over the past 24 hours, with just 187 miles sailed.

At 1830 miles from the finish in Les Sables d’Olonne – which he should reach on 9th or 10th March – he was busy this afternoon trying to start his engine to get the energy required to use his computer and navigation instruments. We should not forget that he is also handicapped by the loss of one of his big headsails, the J2.

The skipper of TechnoFirst-faceOcean is going to have to remain patient and seek out the slightest puff of air to head towards the Azores, which are still some 600 miles further north. In around two days from now, after Pieter Heerema finishes, he will be the eighteenth and final competitor still at sea in this Vendée Globe. But he is sticking to his goal, which is to complete the round the world voyage at a pace suiting his old boat. So it is slowly but surely. His perseverance should be rewarded in ten days from now, when he is welcomed back to 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)

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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