Vendée Globe: Running out of tunnel

Published on March 1st, 2017

(March 1, 2017; Day 116) – There is now just one obstacle remaining for Dutch skipper, Pieter Heerema – the Bay of Biscay. He is still sailing in strong winds and is expected to arrive in Les Sables d’Olonne tomorrow (Thursday) between 1700 and 2100hrs UTC. Almost 1500 miles further back, Sébastien Destremau is going to have to wait another ten days to become the eighteenth and final competitor to complete the eighth Vendée Globe.

Sailing off the coast of Spain this morning, Pieter Heerema (No Way Back) can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It has taken him some time on his new generation foiling IMOCA, but the 65-year old is about to succeed in his personal challenge of completing the Vendée Globe. He is expected to finish tomorrow between 1700 and 21000hrs UTC and take 17th place after around 116 days of sailing.

As the first Dutch competitor in the history of the Vendée Globe, Heerema will enjoy a fantastic welcome back to Les Sables d’Olonne with the harbour entrance open from 1500 to 2130hrs.

For the moment, however, Heerema has to remain focused in the rough conditions. Yesterday evening, he gybed to head eastwards to avoid the winds in excess of thirty knots. In the coming hours, he will be sailing in a 25-knot SW’ly wind in heavy seas with a 4-5m swell. This evening Herrema will have to gybe again to head to the NE. The wind will ease during the night and veer to the NW dropping to 10 knots. Tomorrow morning, another shift is forecast with the wind swing around to the east-south-east. This wind will then push him along to Les Sables…

After his long sail in the NE’ly trade winds, Sébastien Destremau (TechnoFirst-faceOcean) is slowed in light airs. Over the past 24 hours, he has only sailed 147 miles (average speed: 6.1 knots). At the latitude of the Canaries, Sébastien is stuck in the Azores high, which is currently a long way south. He is sailing this morning in a 5-knot NE’ly wind. His routing has come up with a variety of routes, but the majority show him heading east under the Azores. But it is not clear whether Destremau will want to try that option.

Sébastien reports he is rationing himself and into his reserves to be able to feed himself until the finish, which is likely to be around 10th March. He is attempting to fish to find something different to eat. Tomorrow evening, after Pieter Heerema finishes, he will be the final competitor left at sea in this eighth Vendée Globe.

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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