Rich WIlson Arrival Vendee Photo Olivier Blanchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Rich Wilson (USA), skipper Great American IV, 13th of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on February 21st, 2017 – Photo Olivier Blanchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe
Arrivée de Rich Wilson (USA), skipper Great American IV, 13ème du Vendee Globe, aux Sables d’Olonne, France, le 21 Février 2017 – Photo Olivier Blanchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

American skipper Rich Wilson crossed the finish line of the Vendée Globe solo round the world race off Les Sables d’Olonne on the west coast of France this afternoon (Tuesday 21/02) at 1250hrs UTC. From the fleet of 29 boats which started the 27,440 miles singlehanded race from Les Sables d’Olonne on Sunday November 6th, Wilson and Great American IV secure 13th place in an elapsed time of 107 days 48 mins 18 secs.

Wilson, at 66 years old the oldest skipper in the race, successfully completes the pinnacle solo ocean racing event for the second time. He improves his time for the 2008-9 edition of the race, 121 days and 41 minutes by a fortnight, thereby achieving one of the key goals which drew him back to take on the race for a second time. Whilst racing he also delivered a daily, multi faceted educational programme to over 750,000 young people in more than 55 different countries around the world, another of the fundamental reasons Wilson returned to the Vendée Globe. He becomes the fastest American to race solo non stop around the world, beating the 2004-5 record of Bruce Schwab of 109 days 19 hours.
 
The hugely experienced American skipper who is a lifelong mariner and a native of Boston,Massachusetts, adds to a remarkable catalogue of achievements under sail over an extraordinary career spanning nearly 40 years, including three record passages including San Francisco to Boston in 1993, New York to Melbourne in 2001, and in 2003 Hong Kong to New York.
Wilson crossed the finish line on a cool February afternoon, emerging from the grey skies of the Bay of Biscay, with scarcely a rope out of place. His Great American IV returned to Les Sables d’Olonne in almost exactly the same, near perfect condition as they left in early November. Wilsonhas dealt competently with a range of small technical problems, notably gripes with his autopilot system, his hydrogenerator system and some modest sail repairs. To finish two Vendée Globe races with both of his boats in great condition is testament to his impeccable seamanship, his ongoing focus and discipline to stay within the prudent protocols he sets himself, looking to achieve high average speeds and sail very efficiently while keeping the skipper and his boat safe. The efficiency of his actual course, that is how direct a route he sailed, is almost exactly the same as that of race winner Armel Le Cléac’h – sailing around 27,450 miles and is only bettered by the fourth to sixth placed skippers Jéremie Beyou, Yann Eliès and Jean Le Cam who sailed around 300 miles less.
Wilson is in no way a crusader looking to prove a point about the capabilities or achievements of older solo racers or athletes. Suffering from asthma since he was an infant, he has also considered age a mere number but strove to be as fit and strong as he could be prior to both races. ‘I am not ready for the pipe and slippers. Age is just a number.’ Wilson said many times before the start. That said his success today will be a huge inspiration to older people around the world to pursue their dreams and follow their passions. His boat for this edition of the race, an Owen-Clarke design which raced to seventh with Dominique Wavre in 2012-13, is faster but more physical than Great American III.
Along the route Wilson has told the story of his race with clarity and passion, his educated and inquisitive mind ensuring topics have remained interesting and informative with a broad appeal to all ages. A former maths teacher he has graduate degrees from Harvard Business School and MIT and a college degree from Harvard. He enjoyed regular communication with many of the other skippers in the race, most of all Alan Roura, the Swiss 23 year old youngest racer who finished yesterday.
Rich Wilson’s Race
7th Nov: Replacement of a batten car on the main mast track, sailed with conservative sail selection not wanting to make a mistake while tired. Hydrogenerator propeller pitch control pump leaked all of its hydraulic oil into the box.
12th Nov: In a squall the boat took off, and then the autopilot decided to stop. So the boat turned up toward the wind, and lay over at about 45 degrees, with both sails flapping. I rushed into the cockpit and grabbed the tiller. Unidentified autopilot problem fixed.
17th Nov: First part of the Doldrums further north than was predicted. Sudden squalls.
19th Nov: At 0450, Great American IV crossed the Equator. 12th crossing under sail for Rich.
24th Nov: Getting to know the boat well. Gained miles on those ahead. Nice chat with Tanguy de Lamotte.
1st Dec: Peak speed of 24.7 knots. “I don’t understand how the leaders can deal with the speeds, and the stress that comes with them”
6th Dec: Entered the Indian Ocean. More Work on the Hydrogenerator
9th Dec: Chats with Alan Roura, and with Eric Bellion. ‘The three multi-generational amigos, me at 66, Eric at 40, and Alan at 23’13th Dec: “Pushing very hard to get east across the top of the Kerguelen Shelf before the big depression gets here in 36 hours. Our plan is to then head southeast to get to where the strong winds will be. Eric has chosen a north route, Alan and Enda look as though they are working on a similar plan to mine.”
15th Dec: Average of 45 knots wind for a 16 hour period, and our thundering sprints of boat speed from 10-12 knots into the mid-20s, ricocheting off waves
20th Dec: “Interesting encounter last night with Enda O’Coineen”
21st Dec: “Fantastic encounter today when my friend Eric Bellion came roaring up from behind us and passed us close aboard”
25th Dec: “We are a long way from home, and have a long way to go. Usually in my voyages, I haven’t gotten too lonely. But today I did. I’m sure it was exacerbated by the big depression that is forecast to develop ahead of us.”
31st Dec: Crossing the International Date Line
1st Jan: “We are in the gale. We have 35-40 knots of wind now and it looks as though this will last for another 18 hours. The violence that the sea can heap on a boat is not describable.”
5th Jan: “the nicest day of sailing that we’ve had in one might say months”
7th Jan: Exactly halfway
13th Jan: “We were in the bulls-eye of the strong winds for the depression. Solent to staysail to storm jib, and 1 reef to 2 reefs to 3 reefs in the mainsail.” Autopilot malfunction.
17th Jan: Cape Horn
18th Jan: “We went west of the Falkland Islands, behind Alan Roura, who followed through the Lemaire Strait”
22nd Jan: “A very bad night last night. We had 35 knots of north, steady, up to 38, which created a big wave situation, with cresting seas 12-15′ high. This went on most of the afternoon. And then suddenly, nothing. The physicality of this boat is beyond description, and I am exhausted and, frankly, demoralized.”
25th Jan: “We just got clobbered through the night, with 30 knots of wind, upwind, into the big building seas, and crashing and crashing and crashing. The conditions are just chaotic. There is really nothing you can do on the boat, because you just have to be holding on at all times.”
29th Jan: “Latitude of Rio de Janeiro. Southwest winds, 2 – 3 knots, very bizarre. The boat went in circles for 3 hours, and it was very frustrating.”
5th Feb: back into the Northern Hemisphere
7th Feb: finally into the NE’ly trade winds
16th Feb: sailed close to Faial in the Azores.
21st Feb: finished
First words 
“It’s great to be back. To see France and all the French people here. It was great to see Eric (Bellion) and Alan (Roura) here. They were my brothers in the south. We talked almost every day by e-mail. In this race I think there was a lot more communication between the skippers than in 2008-2009 – Koji, Fabrice, Nandor, Stéphane and Didac who was chasing me. We talked about everything in the world. It was a little bit harder, because I’m older. The boat was easier because of the ballast tanks. You can use the ballast rather than put in a reef all the time, which is what I had to do on the other boat. What distinguished the race for me was that it was grey all the way. Across the south and then all the way up the Atlantic. Grey. Grey. It was so depressing. Four or five days ago, the sun came out for twenty minutes and I leapt out and stuck my face and hands under the sun. It was grey and just for so long. That was hard.”“I found all the calms that exist in the Atlantic. It was never-ending in the Atlantic. Eight years ago, I said never again. But now it’s too difficult. This is the perfect race course. The most stimulating event that exists. My goal was to finish this race and to work for SitesAlive, which has 700,000 young people following. What is fantastic about this race is the support of the public with all the people here. I remember the first time, someone said, if you finish the race, you’re a winner. I think that is correct. I could give you a quotation from Thomas Jefferson. When he was ambassador to France, he said everyone has two countries, their own and France and I think that is true.””The Vendée Globe is two Vendée Globes. It is very long. The oceans, the capes. It’s all very hard. But the other Vendée Globe is the one ashore. The welcome that our team and I have had here. It’s incredible. I felt older. I am 66! My thoughts go out to Nandor who finished two weeks ago at the age of 65. We sent back data each day concerning me and the boat. Each day, I did an average of 12,000 turns on the winch. But it was hard.””The worst thing was it was so grey. I had a map of the stars with me but I couldn’t use it. The best thing was communicating with the others. We’re a real community.”

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74j 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Thursday, 19th January French sailor Armel Le Cléac’h has today won the Vendée Globe, setting a new record for the solo non-stop round the world race in the process.

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, with flares in the channel of Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74j 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, with flares in the channel of Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Le Cléac’h, 39, from Brittany, crossed the finish line of the race in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, at 1537hrs UTC after 74 days, 3 hours, 35 minutes and 46 seconds at sea on his 60ft racing

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Oivier Blanchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74j 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Olivier Blanchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Oivier Blanchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe
Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74j 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d’Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 – Photo Olivier Blanchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

His time sets a new record for the race, beating the previous record of 78 days 2 hours 16 minutes set by French sailor Francois Gabart in the 2012-13 edition by 3 days, 22 hours and 41 minutes. Le Cléac’h, the runner-up in the 2008-09 and 2012-13 editions of the Vendée Globe, covered 24,499.52 nm at an average speed of 13.77 knots during the race, which began from Les Sables d’Olonne on November 6 last year. The Vendée Globe, which was founded in 1989, follows the ‘clipper route’ around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, Australia’s Cape Leeuwin and South America’s Cape Horn. Second-placed Alex Thomson is expected to cross the finish line on his boat Hugo Boss around 12 hours behind Le Cléac’h. The arrivals are being streamed live online. For more information about how to follow the finishes see

http://www.vendeeglobe.org/en/news/18197/how-to-follow-the-finish-this-thursday. 

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Olivier Blanchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Olivier Blanchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Olivier Blanchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74d 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74d 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74d 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, with flares in the channel of Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74j 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, with flares in the channel of Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, celebration with Mumm champagne at pontoon of Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74j 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, celebration with Mumm champagne at pontoon of Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, celebration with Mumm champagne at pontoon of Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74j 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, celebration with Mumm champagne at pontoon of Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, with media at pontoon of Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74j 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, with media at pontoon of Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74j 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74j 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74j 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

St Michel - Virbac Skipper Jean-Pierre Dick

St Michel – Virbac Skipper Jean-Pierre Dick

Friday the 13th might be unlucky for some, but not for British skipper Alex Thomson who has pulled back 85 crucial miles on Vendée Globe leader Armel Le Cléac’h in the last 24 hours.

Thomson revealed yesterday that in order to stand a chance of overhauling French skipper Le Cléac’h before the finish of the solo round the world race he must get to within 50 miles of him in the next few days. At the 1400 UTC position report yesterday Thomson’s Hugo Boss was 216 miles adrift of Le Cléac’h’s Banque Populaire VIII as the pair passed to the west of the Cape Verde Islands. At the same time today that deficit was down to 131 miles as light winds forced Le Cléac’h to slow to just one knot compared to Thomson’s eight knots. Thomson too will see speeds drop as he hits the dead spot but with several days of light-wind sailing ahead before stronger south-easterlies fill in near the Azores even the smallest of gains were welcome.

Photo sent from the boat St Michel - Virbac, on January 12th, 2017 - Photo Jean-Pierre Dick

Photo sent from the boat St Michel – Virbac, on January 12th, 2017 – Photo Jean-Pierre Dick

Thomson was not the only one with reason to celebrate. Crossing the Equator yesterday 13 days, three hours and 59 minutes after rounding Cape Horn, Jean-Pierre Dick set a new race record for the passage. Incredibly he shaved almost 16 hours off the reference time of Vendée 2012-13 winner François Gabart of 13 days, 19 hours and 29 minutes. In fact, Dick was just the first of four skippers to beat Gabart’s time. Thomson posted a time of 13 days, five hours and 30 minutes, Yann Eliès took 13 days, seven hours and 20 minutes while Jean Le Cam was just 37 minutes behind. In stark comparison, race leader le Cléac’h was almost 32 hours slower than Dick over the same distance, but his woes did not stop there. His losses caused by a painful crossing of the Doldrums were today laid bare. Fifteen of the race’s remaining 18 skippers made gains on Banque Populaire over the past seven days. Frenchman Eric Bellion has been by far the biggest winner in the last week, pulling back 641nm on Le Cléac’h, with Jean-Pierre Dick was next in line making back 388nm. Only Thomson and 17th-placed Pieter Heerema lost ground on Le Cléac’h, Thomson dropping 26nm to the leader and Heerema losing 10nm.

The Vendée Globe finish line is now within 1,800 miles of Le Cléac’h, and his ETA in Les Sables remains Thursday January 19th. Race HQ has now moved from Paris and is set up in Les Sables ready for the opening of the race village tomorrow. Doors to the village, at Port Olona, open to the public at 10am local time and visitors can enjoy an exhibition on the race, shop for official Vendée Globe merchandise or relax in the race’s legendary bar and restaurant, the VOG. A huge screen will show the arrivals live from the finish line to the pontoon, and skippers will then be interviewed on the main stage.

Tune in to the Vendée Live show tomorrow on the race website at 1200 UTC for the latest news from the Vendée Globe.

RANKINGS TODAY 

A few of the 29 skippers in the line up for the 2016 Vendee Globe (Photo by Jean-Marie Liot/DPPI/Vendee Globe)

A few of the 29 skippers in the line up for the 2016 Vendee Globe (Photo by Jean-Marie Liot/DPPI/Vendee Globe)

Sunday 6th November 1302hrs (local time), 1202 UTC the start gun will send 29 intrepid
solo skippers off on the eighth edition of the Vendée Globe. In a modern age where the
pursuit of instant gratification and always-on social interconnection prevails in even the
most remote corners of the world, the challenge of racing non stop around the globe
without outside help – one person, one boat non stop 24,020 nautical miles Les Sables
d’Olonne to Les Sables d’Olonne via the three great capes for somewhere between 75
and 120 days, retains an enduring, magical appeal.

The purity and simplicity of the race remains unchanged since the first edition in 1989 when 13 pioneering soloists started. But it is testament to its incredible magnetism that the race which starts Sunday will be the most international yet as for the first time the challenge is taken up by soloists from the Australasian and Asian continents. Twenty French skippers and nine from Great Britain, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland and the USA will answer the start cannon Sunday. Ireland, New Zealand and Japan are represented for the first time. The performance and age spectrum of the skippers and their respective View the online version

2016 Vendée Globe: The Focal Point
IMOCA 60 foot racing yachts has never been greater. Set on January 27th 2013 by the youngest skipper ever to win the race, François Gabart at the age of 29, the benchmark of 78 days 2hrs 16m 40 secs is thought likely to fall. Since the last race four years ago there has been a technological leap as innovative hydrofoiling daggerboards have been adopted on the IMOCAs of seven skippers. These new foils generate substantial lift on the hull, literally allowing the 7,5 tonne boats to fly almost clear of the waves to sustain speeds averaging 2-4kts faster than their conventional modern generation counterparts. When they were first used in a full ocean racing environment just over one year ago there was a high proportion of mechanical failures associated with these foils. Even after months of further development and reinforcement of the hull structures there are still question marks over their potential reliability and seeming susceptibility to hitting objects. Briton Alex Thomson on his latest generation Hugo Boss took third place in the last edition of the Vendée Globe race. After numerous failures in different high profile ocean races Thomson’s choice of a solid, slightly older proven design – which he pushed hard and sailed smartly to finish third – this time sees him back to pushing the technology frontiers. His new boat bristles with the latest design interpretations and technology. He is widely considered a major threat to
the top, all-French hierarchy. Last night Thomson and his team sailed one final, overnight
testing mission, checking different foil and sail set ups. During the summer his Hugo Boss
proved to have race winning potential when he lead the New York – Vendée warm up
Transatlantic Race before electrical problems compromised his winning challenge. Since then, despite having to resort to his set of first generation foils after the second generation set failed, Thomson asserts that Hugo Boss is even faster.

Even among seasoned race watchers the perennial question ‘Who will win the Vendée Globe?’ has many different answers. Including Thomson there are six highly experienced, top skippers equipped with foils. Armel Le Cléac’h has finished second in the last two Vendée Globes, only three hours behind winner Gabart in 2013, the conclusion of a mind bending match-race all the way around the world when the two near identical IMOCAs raced all the way as if joined by bungee elastic. Sébastien Josse lead the epic 2008-9 race at different stages before he was forced to abandon with rudder damage. Edmond de Rothschild is the highly optimised, immaculately prepared new IMOCA aboard which he won last winter’s solo Transat Saint Barth’s-Lorient race before finishing second in this year’s New York- Vendée race. His experience racing the Edmond de Rothschild Multi 70 trimaran crewed and short handed has fine tuned his ability to race on the edge for long periods. Jean Pierre Dick on StMichel-Virbac is a multiple winner of big ocean races, such as the Transat Jacques Vabre and two Barcelona World Races around the world. He missed third in the last race when his keel failed 1500 miles from the finish, dropping to fourth. Jéremie Beyou has yet to finish the Vendée Globe despite starting twice. He is the only skipper to retro-fit foils, to his Maitre-Coq, the 2010 launched boat which finished second in 2013 as Banque Populaire.

The only skipper to have won the race before who will be on the start line this time, 2004-5 winner Vincent Riou on PRB, has stayed with a conventional, non foil set up. But his March 2010 launched boat is considered the most optimised, furthest refined IMOCA which possesses a great all round potential. While the foiling IMOCAs are at their best fast reaching in winds over 15kts, they are still felt to have a disadvantage in increased drag in lighter airs and less efficiency upwind. Riou is a firm believer that his choice will give him an at least even chance over the long game. So too Yann Eliès has a well optimised IMOCA with more conventional boards. A three times winner of La Solitaire du Figaro, he returns to the Vendée Globe eight years after being rescued 800 miles south west of Australia. Eliès lay stricken and unable to move suffering from multiple leg fractures inside his yacht for two days before being taken to safety.

An unprecedented five sailors will be racing the Vendée Globe for their fourth time. Riou,
Thomson, Dick and veterans Jean Le Cam and Bertrand de Broc. Two of the 14 first timers will start with realistic aspirations of emulating Gabart’s feat, winning the Vendée Globe at their first attempt, never having raced solo in the Southern Oceans. Morgan Lagravière, 29, is an Olympic skiff sailor turned Figaro sailor turned Vendée Globe racer. He was selected by Safran as the best of the new, younger generation talent to fly their colours and he has a foiling, March 2015 launched design. His programme has been managed latterly by Roland Jourdain’s organisation. Similarly Paul Meilhat’s SMA is the leading IMOCA programme for double Vendée Globe winner Michel Desjoyeaux’s Mer Agitée stable. Meilhat, 34, is also an ex 49er sailor who moved through the one design Figaro circuit, winning the 2014 Transat AG2R. There are set to be many races within the race as different generations of boats and skippers compete against each other. A posse of skippers with 2006-7 designs are expected to have equally intense, hard fought battles. Tanguy De Lamotte on Initiatives Couer which publicises acharity which provides life saving heart surgery for children, Louis Burton on Bureau Vallée, Arnaud Boissieres on La Mie Caline, Jean Le Cam on Finistere Mer Vent and Thomas Ruyant on Le Souffle Du Nord, are all expected to form the middle and upper middle order of the fleet.

The race has drawn an engaging cross section of adventurous skippers of all ages who set off with the only common theme being their shared dream of finishing the race, completing the circle. Twenty four year old Swiss soloist Alan Roura has a low budget campaign which
bottomed out financially when he did not have enough money to put fuel in his team van.
KiwiAmerican
Conrad Colman starts his third round the world race having only just secured a last
minute sponsor for his 100% Natural Energy. He is looking to be the first skipper to finish the race using only naturally generated electrical energy. Sébastien Destremau will realise an almost fleeting ambition which only took him over when he was reporting for TV at the start of the last race. Irish businessman, adventurer and sailor Enda O’Coineen on Kilcullen Voyager Team Ireland is looking to fulfil a lifetime ambition but also to spearhead a lasting legacy for Ireland which also encompasses building a sail training vessel and, in the future, a sail training academy. Similarly Holland’s Pieter Heerema is a successful businessman looking to fulfil a sailing ambition, racing a latest generation foiler. Hungary’s Nandor Fa, 64, starts his third Vendée Globe twenty years after his first one, racing a boat he mostly designed and built himself. American Rich Wilson is driven to compete in his second Vendée Globe, the oldest skipper in the fleet, by the burning desire to share the educational values of the race. His Sites Alive program run from on board Great American 4 will reach over 1 million youngsters, including 3000 schools in China, an educational program approved by the French Education Department, and 50,000 students in Taiwan.

Fair weather expected for the start The weather is now becoming clear and more precise for Sunday: 15 to 20 knot northerlies, ideal conditions to get the world’s most extreme race underway. “A north to NW’ly air stream blowing at between 15 and 25 knots out at sea, probably lighter on the coast with squally showers possible around Les Sables d’Olonne. The NW’ly swell should remain below 1m,” announced the Great Circle team, the official weather partner for the 8th Vendée Globe. Decent conditions are expected for the 29 IMOCAs as they cross the Bay of Biscay in a northerly flow offering good speeds on seas that remain slight, before they reach Cape Finisterre and then the coast of Portugal in stronger winds (gusting to 35 knots).

In other words, we can look forward to a fast start for the non-stop solo round the world race allowing them in theory to sail downwind all the way to the Equator. “Conditions should enable us to get a good time for this first portion of the race with everyone going down quickly to the Equator. We could see a day less to get there than it took four years ago. We’re not about to be shaken up like in 2012. This weather should favour the foilers. That much is clear,” explained Vincent Riou (PRB).

A relief for the sailors and their families “We’re not looking at a deep low and strong headwinds . I can remember how complicated the start was eight years ago. This time we’re not getting thrown in at the deep end and so that removes some of the stress,” admitted Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire VIII), who is already drawing up his route for the first part of the course. A huge relief too for the families. Arnaud Boissières, (La Mie Câline) told us this morning, “The weather is looking decent for the start I’m pleased in particular for my family and friends and sponsors, as that makes it easier to
bear, even if there is bound to be some stress. That means that the fleet should remain intact for longer, which is good.”

Quotes
Rich Wilson, Great American IV:
“I can’t wait to get going. It’s time we were out there. It’s a huge pleasure casting off, even if there is always some stress and apprehension. But we’ve all been working hard on that. The weather suits me. I prefer to set sail in these winds with less than 20 knots expected, even if know that later in the South, we will get some tough conditions. It was hard for me back in 2008.”

Morgan Lagravière (Safran):
“The weather looks good as it will allow us to ease ourselves into the race. That means we can get used to being at sea more easily and avoid getting seasick, while gradually putting our foot down. I was looking forward to this sort of weather, and it seems to be happening now. I’m particularly apprehensive about the morning of the start, as I can get very emotional and I attach a lot of importance to the human aspects ashore. I guess I’ll probably be in tears. But we must not see the start as a punishing separation. I’ll soon get into race mode and put the rest behind me.”

Vincent Riou (PRB):
“Less than a year ago, it was seen as risky fitting foils on these boats. Now it seems that the risk has shifted, making it harder for those without foils.”

Jean-Pierre Dick (St Michel-Virbac):
“On Sunday, I’ll be setting sail on my fourth VendéeGlobe, but in spite of that, I feel
apprehensive. But who can set off without any worry though, as if they were nipping into their garden to pick some strawberries? No one! In any case I don’t know this superman. You can’t take anything for granted in top class sports and that is even more the case, when we are looking at the sea. In my previous attempts, I always found it tough settling into the race at the start. The fact that the weather looks decent is good news for me. But I’m not celebrating, as during the round the world voyage, we’ll all have to deal with harsh conditions at some point.”

Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire VIII):
“The start of the race should favour the boats with foils with the wind coming from a good angle. We know how to sail quickly in these conditions. It’s something we worked on during the training sessions in Port-la-Forêt. We should be able to find our feet relatively easily after this long period ashore. But the second night looks like more of a battle with fairly strong winds along the coast of Portugal. We can’t rule out beating the record to the Equator (held since2004 by Jean Le Cam with a time of 10 days and 11 hours).”

Sébastien Destremau (TechnoFirst-faceOcean):
“Some skippers have huge pressure on them. They must win. Today, when you see skippers
refusing to shake your hand because they are afraid of catching something, I applaud them with both hands. That’s fabulous. It was my personal choice to go off to Australia last week to see goodbye to the children. I wanted to talk to them and tell them that I was doing something very important, but that was risky. I wanted them to know I loved them before setting off.”

#VG2016 #VendeeGlobe #Vendee #France

 

Francois Gabart on Macif (Photo by Francois Gabart / Macif / DPPI/Vendee Globe Race)

Gabart ETA this weekend

Fleet News
Jean Pierre Dick still racing
Winner’s weekend
Sanso without wind instruments

Breaking News

The fleet leaders are expected to arrive in Les Sables d’Olonne, Vendée, France either Saturday evening, or Sunday morning. Please visit the website for regular updates. The current plan is that the first three boats crossing the finish line and making their way down the canal will receive LIVE coverage on the Vendée Globe web TV channel hosted by Daily Motion.

Fleet News

Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) has delayed his decision whether he will abandon the race, or to try and make it back to Les Sables d’Olonne until after the Azores. He is currently talking with his architects (Guillaume Verdier and VPLP) and considering whether or not he can use the water ballast system effectively to provide greater stability to his boat. Previous, Vendée Globe winner, Alain Gaultier, said today web tv show Vendée Globe LIVE, “Jean-Pierre Dick is probably sailing with 6 or 7 tons of water in the ballast, which is fine and safe when sailing upwind. But when sailing downwind, the situation may change. I know Jean-Pierre will make the right choice and do what needs to be done to stay safe.” Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss), today on the web tv show Vendée Globe LIVE said “there’s some big weather ahead. It’s not something I would do – well maybe before I had a family.” At the end of the show, a congenial Thomson said, “I would rather that Jean Pierre Dick finished the race and came third and I came fourth then he didn’t finish the race at all.” Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) is currently making fair progress down the track and although Alex Thomson(Hugo Boss) is slowly picking off the miles but on some level Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) is also keeping him at bay. There currently stands 130 miles between Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) and third place.

It’s not over until it’s over

It’s simply a matter of days. The estimated times of arrival (ETA) forFrançois Gabart (MACIF) and Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) are becoming more refined. It was only 74 days ago that we watched the fleet of 20 intrepid adventurers cast off in the rain and sail off into the grey, overcast north Atlantic. The weather is good for a rapid progression towards the finish.

With only 1400 miles from the finish line, the young pretender seems likely to have knocked out his challenger in the 74th round.  The challenger,Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) is currently behind by 89 miles, in other words, ten hours of navigation. The weather situation is not complicated and will automatically benefit François Gabart (MACIF) who gybed this morning and headed straight towards the stronger breeze, whose generous west southwesterly winds will advance him with unstoppable force. At best, he should arrive Saturday morning (January 26) on the finish line, and at worst in the evening. But it’s looking like the winner will smash the record of around 77, or 78 days. An incredible feat! Currently, Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) should finish ten hours later, knocking 11 days off his circumnavigation time of 4 years ago. Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) who allowed for 90 days should have food to spare when he returns.

Dear Prudence

It is these at best case scenarios that Race HQ, now on the ground and located in Les Sables d’Olonne, are working towards in their daily meetings. However, the skipper of MACIF is not immune to danger. He still has to negotiate the Azores, Cape Finisterre and the congested maritime traffic lanes of the Atlantic, where cargo ships and fishing boats go about their business. Lest we not forget the large marine mammals and other hidden dangers that inhabit these waterways.

The weather conditions are expected to deteriorate as they enter the Bay of Biscay, with southwesterly winds of 30 to 35 knots and 5 metre waves.François Gabart (MACIF) told the French version of the web tv show Vendée Globe LIVE that he was not planning to take any risks. “I’ll definitely be careful, I won’t take risks. I haven’t really taken any, but I’ll take even less now! I’ll keep things simple, I won’t try to go too fast to gain half a mile or something. Things would be different if Armel were ahead of me, but he’s not, so I’ll make sure we surf nicely and smoothly.”

Sanso wind blind

Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) told the web tv show Vendée Globe LIVE that he was sailing his Open 60 like a dinghy. He sent this further detail in an email to the race HQ “I have been sailing for a few days as if it was dinghy sailing because I don’t have any wind information. The boat’s electronics haven’t been going well since Cape Horn and for three days nothing has been working. Thank God the automatic pilots are working though! The problem is with the wind vanes – the three I have on board are not functioning. It is a problem to sail the boat fully at 100% since during the day I can helm as much as possible but at night it is more difficult.” This inconvenience will undoubtedly delay his progress and he is now anticipating that he will reach the Equator later than he expected.

Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) and Mike Golding (Gamesa) will cross the Equator in around 36 hours, followed 24 hours later by Dominique Wavre(Mirabaud) who told web tv show Vendée Globe LIVE that it could be his 20th crossing. In fact he had crossed it so many times that he was unsure of the exact figure.

 

I’m pretty happy with my route and my current position. The wind is favourable and I’m on the right side of the anticyclone. I can’t wait to get closer to you all in France! The sea is very calm, there are 15-17 knots of wind and the temperature has dropped a little. The weather is perfect, I wish it could stay like that until the end but ‘m afraid it’s going to change.

I saw a boat last night, but there were more yesterday, and pretty close to me, too. But I think as we get closer to the Azores, there will be more traffic. Unfortunately, it’s not only big cargo ships but also smaller fishing boats. Hopefully, they’ll have their AIS on. I know there are some whales in the area, too, but even when you’re careful, there’s not much you can do about them.

I’ll definitely be careful, I won’t take risks. I haven’t really taken any, but I’ll take even less now! I’ll keep things simple, I won’t try to go too fast to gain half a mile or something. Things would be different if Armel were ahead of me, but he’s not, so I’ll make sure we surf nicely and smoothly.

Finishing on Saturday morning would be great, but given the weather conditions, it’s not very likely. I’d love it, though.

François Gabart (FRA, MACIF)

The sun is up, there are a few clouds and the traffic is getting heavier, with several cargo ships. The wind will get stronger soon and we’ll sail as fast as possible to see you all soon.

I had 90 days of food with me on board so I’ll be fine, no problem, I won’t starve like I did four years ago. That’s good news!

There is a 10-hour gap between me and François, we’ll have to try to catch up a bit in the next few days. It’s not going to be easy as he will face more favourable conditions in the next few hours.

The winter conditions at the very end of the race will be tough, it will shake a lot. The Bay of Biscay will definitely be tricky.

Armel le Cléac’h (FRA, Banque Populaire)

Jean-Pierre Dick has 2,000 miles left before the Vendée Globe finish line and with the weather forecasts we have for that geographical area he is in, I don’t know if he can carry on and sail all the way to Les Sables d’Olonne without a keel. I’m not sure he will actually try to do it but he hasn’t abandoned the race yet. He’s probably going to make a decision soon, but it will definitely be difficult to carry on in his current situation.

I’ve never sailed a boat without a keel, so I don’t know what it is like and how complicated it is. I can just assume. Are you sure he is really considering doing it?

At the moment I have 20 knots of wind and I’m making good progress. I may cross the finish line on the 26th or 27th, depending on the weather. But with the fishing boats andpotential UFOs in the water, we’ll need to be particularly careful.

Alex Thomson (GBR, HUGO BOSS)

The conditions have been great for an hour or so, the wind is more stable, I’m happy with that. It was tougher bearlier, with heavy rains and rough weather with so many frequent changes I had to spend a lot of time working on the boat settings. I think all that is behind me now. Oil rigs were quite scary too, but there are less of them now. What I now need to be careful about are the fishermen!

I’m keeping an eye on Mike and Jean and I also need to find the right moment to gybe.

I’m glad I can soon join you in Les Sables, where the weather is always very nice! I know there will be people to welcome me there, I was lucky enough to be “adopted” by people there, in La Chaume.

I’d like to tell Jean-Pierre Dick I hope he makes it and finishes third because he deserves it, he has a great boat and he had an amazing race…

Arnaud Boissières (FRA, AKENA Vérandas)

Things are going fine right now, we’ve sailed up the Atlantic quite fast, but we still have a lot to do ahead of us. I just hope it won’t take us too long. The past five days have been great, the boat settings were really good, maybe I could have had those settings sooner…

It’s not over since we have crossed the finish line so we all know we need to stay focused until the very end. The last 500 miles can be very difficult, especially with the current conditions. We focus on making it to the finish line so of course, in a way, we do think about the end of the race.

I’m really wondering if there wasn’t something caught in my hull or keel before, because right now the weather conditions are exactly the same but I can feel the boat is doing better and I’m going faster. I hope I didn’t drag something for so long, that would be stupid…

Bertrand de Broc (FRA, Votre Nom autour du Monde avec EDM Projets)

One of my autopilots didn’t work but I had a spare one that I could use instead, to replace the old one, so I’m fine now.

I have one more day of unfavourable weather ahead of me, and then I will be able to sail faster. But the bad news is the guys ahead of me got the good wind earlier.

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve crossed the Equator, but I can tell you I did it many times!

Dominique Wavre (SUI, Mirabaud)

Rankings

 

Boat

Skipper

Lat
Long
DTL Course VMG
1
MACIF
François Gabart
36° 21’13” N
28° 24’2” W
0.0 nm
1334.9 nm
23 ° 14.5 nds
12.3 nds
2
Banque Populaire
Armel Le Cléac´h
35° 30’38” N
30° 2’47” W
94.5 nm
1429.4 nm
360 ° 15.7 nds
9.2 nds
3
Virbac Paprec 3
Jean-Pierre Dick
28° 55’27” N
35° 45’21” W
569.4 nm
1904.3 nm
1 ° 10.7 nds
7.3 nds
4
HUGO BOSS
Alex Thomson
27° 20’41” N
37° 12’32” W
690.4 nm
2025.3 nm
5 ° 13.1 nds
9.9 nds
5
SynerCiel
Jean Le Cam
5° 54’5” S
31° 57’60” W
2231.8 nm
3566.7 nm
24 ° 13.4 nds
13.4 nds
6
Gamesa
Mike Golding
6° 19’18” S
31° 54’51” W
2254.3 nm
3589.2 nm
19 ° 14.6 nds
14.5 nds
7
Mirabaud
Dominique Wavre
12° 16’33” S
32° 6’5” W
2594.1 nm
3929.0 nm
356 ° 9.4 nds
8.6 nds
8
AKENA Vérandas
Arnaud Boissières
+1 14° 14’52” S
33° 12’12” W
2727.1 nm
4062.1 nm
61 ° 10.8 nds
8.1 nds
9
ACCIONA 100% EcoPowered
Javier Sansó
-1 15° 44’9” S
28° 28’42” W
2728.4 nm
4063.3 nm
319 ° 8.2 nds
4.4 nds
10
Votre Nom Autour du

Monde avec EDM Projets 
Bertrand de Broc

17° 59’34” S
34° 52’5” W
2971.1 nm
4306.0 nm
13 ° 12.0 nds
11.9 nds
11
Initiatives-coeur
Tanguy De Lamotte
24° 10’15” S
35° 30’18” W
3331.5 nm
4666.4 nm
10 ° 13.8 nds
13.6 nds
12
Team Plastique
Alessandro Di Benedetto
37° 9’32” S
40° 32’15” W
4151.7 nm
5486.6 nm
11 ° 8.6 nds
8.4 nds
PRB
Vincent Riou
Retired
ENERGA
Zbigniew Gutkowski
Retired
Maître CoQ
Jérémie Beyou
Retired
Savéol
Samantha Davies
Retired
Bureau Vallée
Louis Burton
Retired
Groupe Bel
Kito de Pavant
Retired
Safran
Marc Guillemot
Retired
Cheminées Poujoulat
Bernard Stamm
Disqualified

Francois Gabard relentlessly pushing (Photo by FRANCOIS GABARD / MACIF / DPPI / Vendee Globe)

 

Fleet News:

– Sansó on the charge again
– The Last day in the Pacific

Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) may not have made any impression on the 263-mile lead of Francois Gabart (Macif) overnight, but he staunched the losses and south of them the other duels ebbed and flowed. Dick-Thomson, Le Cam-Golding and the trio Wavre-Boissières-Sansó are all locked in battle. In the Pacific, De Broc-De Lamotte are living their last day on the largest ocean in the world and gap between the two continues to decrease. They look like forming a new duet as the begin the long climb up the Atlantic, adding a little suspense for the final weeks of the race.

Approaching the latitude of Buenos Aires, Mike Golding (Gamesa) in sixth place, had one of the best nights even though he was only making 12 knots. Ahead of him to the northwest, his arch-rival, Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel), could only average 8.4. Golding, covering 33 more miles overnight, has now whittled Le Cam’s lead to just over 41 miles. Six days ago Golding was 247 miles behind. Both men are now on the edge of an anticyclone, but Golding has benefitted from staying east.

As the road to the finish shortens, the opportunities to strike back at the leader Francois Gabart (Macif) decline. He continues to set the rhythm and though Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) kept pace overnight as they pass the north of Brazil in temperatures approaching 30 degrees in the shade, he could make no impression on the deficit. Although he only lost 0.1 mile overnight this time.

Le Cléac’h has been the slightly faster in the last hour, but considering that this time yesterday it was thought that Gabart might slow a little, the ranking may be more depressing. In the last 24 hours the advantage is still to Macif 429 miles against 420 for Banque Populaire. It is a situation that is likely to continue at least until the Doldrums.

Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec 3) and Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) have been dropped by Gabart with even more ruthless speed. Dick has lost 300 miles in three days and is 708 miles from the leader, but he managed to dig a little deeper away with Thomson. Hugo Boss is now 132 miles behind – compared to the distance to the finish, but they are at about the same latitude, just north of Rio. Thomson’s easterly route, hugging the coast of Brazil, has won him miles on Dick overall and was tactically the best decision for him, the figures are still brutal; three days he was in third place, just 295 miles behind Gabart, now he is 835 miles behind – 540 miles lost in three days.

Dominique Wavre as the sun sets behind Mirabaud (Photo by Dominique Wavre / Mirabaud / DPPI / Vendee Globe)

The international trio are stuck in a permanent fight on their on their own postage stamp in the South Atlantic. Less than 30 miles separates the Swiss Dominique Wavre, the French Arnaud Boissières and the Spanish Javier Sansó after Sansó, the furthest east, won back 50 miles on Wavre overnight.

The Last Days In the Pacific

With 184 and 335 miles to go to Cape Horn, Bertrand de Broc and Tanguy de Lamotte will have a high voltage day monitoring icebergs and deciding on the best time for last jibe before the rock of Cape Horn. De Broc will also be conscious that he is being hunted. In the last four days De Lamotte has won back 130 miles.

Pending his first Horn, De Lamotte sent an email overnight. “Last day in the Pacific before passing Cape Horn … I passed the longitude of Progresso (Mexico, the finish of the Solidaire du Chocolat that I won in 2009 in Class 40 (Incidentally, the boat is for sale …) and also the longitude of Miami (hello to my cousins ​​…)” The two sailors are in a northwest wind of twenty knots.
Behind them, Alessandro di Benedetto is in a north-northwest wind of 25 knots, 1113 miles from Cape Horn.

Watch web tv Vendée Globe LIVE every day at midday GMT to watch the latest news LIVE from the race track.

 

 

ARMEL LE CLEACH' BANQUE POPULAIRE

Banque Populaire (Photo by ARMEL LE CLEACH' / BANQUE POPULAIRE / DPPI / Vendee Globe)

 

© Tanguy de Lamotte / Initiatives-Coeu

© Tanguy de Lamotte / Initiatives-Coeu

Thomson 6 miles from third place
Duel between Akena and Acciona
Duel between Gabart and Le Cléac’h

Fleet News
Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) is reaping the rewards of his choice to ascend the South Atlantic along the coast of Brazil and is gaining ground by every position report. Now only 6 miles separates him and current third place Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3). Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) has elected to tackle the St Helena High by going upwind in 15-20 knots in conditions not dissimilar to the leading boats. At the equator, in less than a week, their paths should converge at the equator and they could find themselves side by side.
Last night, Arnaud Bossières (Akena Verandas) and Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) entered the Atlantic ocean. They began their ascent to the warmer latitudes neck and neck and only a few hundred metres from Staten Island. Arnaud Bossières (Akena Verandas), known as Cali, and Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) known as Bubi, rounded Cape Horn, 8th and 9th position. This is a second time for “Cali” and a solo first for “Bubi”. He became the third Spanish sailor in history to race round Cape Horn solo. The first was José Luis Ugarte (1990-91 BOC Challenge and Vendée Globe 1992-1993) and Unai Basurko (Velux 5 Oceans 2006-2007). Bubi, caught sight of Arnaud today. It’s incredible that after two thirds of the race, the boats are sailing within each other’s radar.

With the official abandonment of Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) there remains only 12 boats in the race. The skipper of Cheminées Poujoulat’s pitstopped last night on the island of Horn refuelled, charged his batteries, climbed the mast to change a halyard, and to eat some pork and lentils prepared by the girlfriend of Unaï Bazurko. He is now en route towards the Sables d’Olonne. He still needs to regain strength and affix some repairs to his boat so that he can enjoy his sail back.

Leaders soon will be in the tradewinds
The duel between MACIF and Banque Populaire is now stalled by light airs. Around 13:30 (French time), François Gabart was the first to tack into the wallow of the St. Helena High. He is now sailing on starboard tack in a lightening wind to the northeast and east. As a result, the gap of 85 miles between the two men should now increase.

There are the dueling duos and then there are solitary competitors battling alone. North of the Falklands, Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) is ensconced in fifth position in lighter winds not making as much headway as he would prefer.
Mike Golding (Gamesa) is at 178 miles behind Jean Le Cam, who went to the west of the island group whilst Golding is going east, but he feels he can still reduce that deficit.
“I think he will be struggling a little in a bit and has to come this way. We have a long runway in this breeze. Longer term our weather is reasonably complicated. It is not as bad as for the guys in front. It is good with this lateral separation with Jean, it would certainly be good to get back to 100 miles.

“But overall I’d take more nights like the last one, the boat was going well, under Genoa and then Solent, the tiller was hardly moving at all and that is always a good sign.”
Another 4-8 days in the Southern Ocean
There are still three men in the South. Bertrand De Broc (Votre Nom Autour du Monde avec EDM) and Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives Cœur) have passed the last gate of Pacific. The road to the Horn is clear, swept by winds from the west. In three to four days, it will be the Atlantic where he will begin the repairs to his sails.
Finally, Alessandro Di Benedetto (Team Plastique) for the last three days he has never closed his toolbox. Today, the upper axis of the rudder of Team Plastique broke. The Franco-Italian operated a makeshift repair and will have to do more as soon as the navigation conditions calm down.

Cape Horn Times
François Gabart (MACIF) rounded Cape Horn on January 1, 2013 at 18:20 GMT 52 days 06h 18mn after the race.
Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) rounded Cape Horn on January 1, 2013 at 19:35 GMT 52days 07h 33mn after the race.
Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec 3) rounded Cape Horn January 3 at 4:42 GMT 53 days 16h after 40 minutes
Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) rounded Cape Horn January 4 at 2:38 GMT after 54 days 14h 36 min race.
Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) rounded Cape Horn on January 8 58d 19h after 7:19 GMT 17mn 14s and is running 6 days 12 h 58 m 20 s after MACIF.
Mike Golding (Gamesa) rounded Cape Horn January 9 02h05  GMT after 59 days 14h 03 min race
Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud) rounded Cape Horn January 9 10h18 GMT after 59 days 22h 16mn race
Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) rounded Cape Horn January 9 12h 49 GMT after 60 days 00h 47mn race
Arnaud Boissières (Akena Verandas) rounded Cape Horn January 9 at 21:55 GMT
Javier Sanso (EcoPowered Acciona 100%)rounded Cape Horn on January 10 at 0:52 GMT

Watch web tv Vendée Globe LIVE every day at midday GMT to watch the latest news LIVE from the race track.

4:00 P.M. (French Time)

1 – François Gabart
[ Macif ]
4 869.3 miles to the finish

2 – Armel Le Cleac’h
[ Banque Populaire ]
+ 82.4 miles to leader

3 – Jean-Pierre Dick
[ Virbac Paprec 3 ]
+ 351 miles to leader

4 – Alex Thomson
[ Hugo Boss ]
+ 357.4 miles to leader

5 – Jean Le Cam
[ SynerCiel ]
+ 1 550.3 miles to leader

 

I didn’t take the time to sleep already. I’ll do so when I’ll be moving forward. Now that we have diesel oil it’s fine. I took advantage of Unaï’s presence to climb on the mast and make some control. Then Unaï’s girlfriend made me a nice meal with some fruits. It was like a rebirth.

At the moment, I am not at 100% of my ability. The conditions are very unstable and I had to be very careful because of the ice. It was difficult to move in the wind. I was able to rest only a few hours ago. Now I’ll try to take the boat back to Les Sables d’Olonne and keep on going with my sailing.
I’ll try to enjoy the moment even if I’m disappointed. You cannot win this race with the problems I had.
Bernard Stamm (SUI, Cheminées Poujoulat)
As an athlete I’m following the race. I am very impressed. It’s a wonderful edition and an awesome race. I’m happy François is doing well because I know he is a kayaker. It’s very impressive to see three guys going at sea for three months. You need to be focused all the time and I think it’s the most difficult thing to do.
These are very long-term projects that you prepared for 4 years. It’s a bit unfair when it ends badly because it is four years of work. But it is also the magic of our sports.
Tony Estanguet (Triple Olympic champion)

I’m quite fine. It’s really beautiful out here and I have a Spanish guy under my wind. After the Cape Horn, he has roughly taken the same route as me. So, since the weather is great, I’m been able to see my little Spanish chorizo…

After the Cape Horn, I met a cruise ship. It called me because it knew who I was. It asked me if I was fine, if I had everything onboard because on the ship, they have a swimming pool and everything… But I feel much more comfortable on my boat.
Before the departure, we knew everyone’s objectives. With our software, we manage to establish strategies even though it is not always reliable. We must always be focused on our strategies and keep on going with them.
Arnaud Boissières (FRA, Akena Veranda)

The wind is getting smoother now after an intense night. We are getting closer to the transfer point. According to the software, my journey will be quite similar with the leaders’ one. Alex is taking a great option and everything must be reconsidered.
My strategy was good but, because of my little problem, I’m not in the right timing anymore. But it’s interesting; it’s going to be a great fight.
I must remain rigorous. First of all you need to have a global view of the situation and the strategies. Then you try to do everything to sail as fast as possible. And you also have to take some time to sleep and eat.

Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA, Virbac Paprec 3)

Alex Thomson near Cape Horn (Photo by Alex Thomson / Hugo Boss / Vendée Globe Race )

British solo skipper Alex Thomson had less than 200 miles to make to Cape Horn at 1500hrs UTC this afternoon and should pass the legendary rock in the early hours of Friday morning lying in fourth place in the Vendée Globe solo round the world race.

 

 

Though the skipper of Hugo Boss still has more than one quarter of the course to complete, and the ice strewn passage of the Cape in itself holds considerable danger through the next 24 hours, a successful release from the Pacific Ocean and into the Atlantic will also release many of the demons of past disappointments.

Two failed previous Vendée Globe races and one solo Velux 5 Oceans – when he had to abandon his IMOCA Open 60 in the Indian Ocean – mean that this will be his first Cape Horn alone. That he is in an excellent fourth place in an older generation of design, still in touch with the podium whilst managing an acute on board power shortage is already an enduring endorsement of his skills as a solo sailor.  Thomson has been in power saving mode since he broke a hydrogenerator on December 11th, but plans to speak to Vendée Globe LIVE after his passage.

 

“It will mean a huge amount to Alex tonight. Don’t get me wrong we have not finished yet, but in itself he has got further solo than ever before and passing Cape Horn successfully in fourth will the culmination of 15 years of hard work on his part. This is the last big milestone before the finish and it has been a great race that Alex has sailed. He has worked so hard, as have the whole team over the years, so he deserves this. He has put up with a lot of criticism, negative feelings and back biting over the years, and Alex has thicker skin than most people, but for sure that has hurt him.”

“It has been like in any sport when there is a pressure on a tennis player, a driver or a golfer to perform but Alex will be pleased to have got this far and done so well.”

“Not many skippers will have worked harder. He has done four Transatlantics in six months including setting a new record.”  Comments Stewart Hosford, CEO at Alex Thomson Racing.

Dick gets the full Cape Horn experience
Third into the Atlantic after passing Cape Horn at 0442hrs this morning, Jean-Pierre Dick’s fourth time round the Horn ranked as probably his most difficult. In the pitch black with the ever present threat of ice, with big confused seas which he described as ‘crazy’ and a gusty wind, “….the boat was shaking in every direction.” Said JP on Vendée Globe LIVE this morning, still sounding tired and anxious. “It was a Cape Horn which I passed ‘virtually’ because I was a way off and could see nothing. It was not much of a celebration.”

After François Gabart (Macif) and Armel Le Cléach (Banque Populaire) breached Cape Horn on January 1st there are now three skippers in the Atlantic. The two leaders have been sailing quickly in NW’ ly winds of 25kts. The ascent towards the coast of Brazil will offer a range of opportunties for gains and losses, with a small succession of depressions spinning off the South American coast challenging a substantial dominant high pressure which will more or less block the leaders path.

JP Dick, 337 miles behind the leaders, remains confident he can keep catching Gabart and Le Cléac’h.

 

Buses at Cape Horn?
Cape Horn may be one of the most isolated landmarks on the planet but it will see IMOCA Open 60’s of the Vendée Globe passing like buses over the next two weeks. Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) should pass on Sunday morning, Mike Golding on Gamesa expects to pass late Monday and could have Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud), Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) and Arnaud Boissières (Akéna Verandas)  following closely behind. Compression in to Cape Horn is a normal feature, but one weather routing study has the five boats passing hours rather than days apart. Today less than 300 miles separates sixth Golding from Boissières.

Key to the recent gains have been stronger winds arriving from astern. Dominique Wavre reported today that he is still feeling the effects of a battle with his gennaker .

Behind them the contrast between the fortunes of eleventh placed Bertrand De Broc and twelfth positioned Tanguy De Lamotte are very different. De Broc is set to struggle with a huge high positioned over the next gate, whilst De Lamotte has had 45 knots making life on board Initiatives Coeur.

Bernard Stamm, disqualified yesterday for receiving outside assistance, still holds a hope of a final ranking after submitting a request to have his case reopened.

BERNARD STAMM (Photo by Bernard Stamm / CHEMINEES POUJOULAT / Vendee Globe Race)