Vendée Globe: One year too early

Published on March 3rd, 2017

(March 3, 2017) – After finishing yesterday evening at 2126hrs UTC in 17th position in the 8th Vendée Globe, Dutch skipper Pieter Heerema (No Way Back) entered the harbor in Les Sables d’Olonne this morning at 0800hrs UTC. There is now one final competitor left at sea: Sébastien Destremau, who is currently sailing at the latitude of Morocco.

Here are comments from Heerema at his press conference this morning:

The boat
“There was a picture of a boat that was crossing the Alps from Italy. The project collapsed, because of financial difficulties. I had no idea what sort of boat it was. I had no clue about foils, masts with various angles, but I decided to go for it. This is the most modern, most aggressive and most physical boat of the type. I had to wear knee pads. You have to crawl through the boat. This was the wrong boat for me, but I had no choice. The foils were not a good choice for me. I had never sailed on an IMOCA a year before and never alone six months before, so the learning curve was straight up. The foils were an extra complication.”

116 days alone
“116 days. 4 months. It’s a really long time. Alone. But that’s not the worst. Everyday something happens. There are some nice moments, but also a lot of difficult moments.”

Dutch courage
“I noticed during the race that the Vendée Globe has become known in Holland. It is now in a much wider circle. It would be fantastic if in future editions other skippers from Holland took part.”

The first Dutchman to compete in the Vendée Globe
“It’s not super important to be the first Dutchman. I have done it, which is the most important thing. I am also the first South American to take part as well as the first Dutchman, as I have a Venezuelan passport.”

“I was not ready. The Vendée Globe came one year too early. The adventurers had all done this sort of thing before. I had never sailed alone until six months before the start.”

“I don’t know what I was looking for. It’s a good feeling to have done it. The start and the finish is fantastic, but everything in between is difficult. In 116 days there were very few moments of pleasure. There are other ways to enjoy yourself.”

The other competitors
“I think this was an extraordinary edition. Usually the front runs away but then gets caught. But this time they just kept going. At the back we were beating upwind. The differences between groups of racers just grew and grew. I take my hat off to Armel and Alex. This is a different level of racing from wha I am used to. You can only have the deepest respect for such guys. The same for Didac Costa and Alan Roura. It was amazing. You only understand that when you have done it.”

What next?
“I’m going back to my old love, the Dragon. Then, there are some interesting possibilities in sailing – the TP52, the Jules Verne Trophy, the new Melges… I have the time to think about that now. I already have a shed full of boats, so I must sell this boat. If I don’t sell it it would be nice to do the Transat Jacques Vabre, but my first priority is to sell the boat.”

Podium with tulips during Finish arrival of Pieter Heerema (NL), skipper No Way Back,17th of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on March 2nd, 2017 - Photo Jean-Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Pieter Heerema (NL), skipper No Way Back, 17ème du Vendee Globe, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 2 Mars 2017 - Photo Jean-Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Dutch pride
“Holland has a long history. The capes are Dutch. The Horn, Leeuwin and Good Hope are all Dutch capes! It was a home race for me.”

Discovering Facebook
“At some times, you don’t see the light any more. Somewhere south of Australia I had had it. People sent me messages. Facebook in particular from people… I have no clue who they are. It’s been a huge support. I told myself I’m going to show them, I can do it, however long it takes. I had never been on Facebook before. It took me ages to learn. For some reason what I did attracted people and I had so much support. That really pushed me to go on. I thank all the people on Facebook for pushing me and all the funny messages.”

No Way Back
“I had used the name No Way Back before. But it has a meaning too. I think that once you decide something, you have to do it. That’s a life principle for me and I hate other people who go wishy-washy.”

Still racing… Sebastien Destremau in light winds
The race continues for Sébastien Destremau, who was sailing this morning at the latitude of Morocco to the north of the centre of a high-pressure system in fairly light WNW’ly winds, which explains his low speed (below two knot). The wind is due to strengthen this evening to 20-25 knots, which should enable the skipper to step up the pace. Tomorrow evening (Saturday), TechnoFirst-faceOcean is expecting 35-40 knot SW’ly winds off the Azores. After a small transition zone to cross on Sunday, the SW’ly wind is expected to strengthen again and accompany him all the way to Les Sables, where he is due to finish on 10th March.

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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