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.”

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 

Thierry Martinez Ocean Masters sails

Photo by Thierry Martinez / Sea&Co / Ocean Masters

 

Fourteen IMOCA 60s will set sail from New York this Sunday in the last major singlehanded race before November’s singlehanded non-stop round the world marathon, the Vendée Globe.
More than half of the Vendée Globe fleet is taking part in the New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) Race presented by Currency House and SpaceCode. This, the fourth event in the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship 2015-2016, will see the solo skippers and their boats leaving set sail from New York on a 3100 mile course across the North Atlantic, bound for the Vendée Globe start-finish port of Les Sables d’Olonne on France’s Atlantic coast.

Fleet at North COve Marina. (Photo by Thierry Martinez / Sea&Co / Ocean Masters

Fleet at North COve Marina. (Photo by Thierry Martinez / Sea&Co / Ocean Masters

The fleet, currently berthed in Manhattan’s North Cove Marina close to ‘Ground Zero’, includes the six latest generation IMOCA 60s. These futuristic-looking machines represent the cutting edge of offshore yacht racing technology, fitted with retracting J-shaped foils that enable the boats at times literally to fly.

Among the six are Armel le Cleac’h and Banque Populaire, recent winners of the Transat bakerly. Runner-up in the last two Vendée Globes, Le Cleac’h is favourite for the race to the Vendée. He will be up against Hugo Boss skipper, Britain’s Alex Thomson, who finished the last Vendée Globe in third and who now also has a new generation design and Sébastien Josse on Edmond de Rothschild, stand-out winner of December’s Transat St-Barth – Port-la-Forêt.
Other leading French entrants include Barcelona World Race two time winner, Jean-Pierre Dick on his new St Michel-Virbac, while leading the charge on ‘conventionally’ foiled older generation boats will be PRB’s Vincent Riou, winner of the 2004 Vendée Globe, and Queguiner-Leucemie Espoir’s Yann Eliès, a three time winner of the ultra-competitive solo offshore race, the Solitaire du Figaro. Another triple Solitaire winner racing is Jérémie Beyou, skipper of Maître CoQ, unique in the fleet for being an older generation boat, retrofitted with new generation foils.

Photo by Thierry Martinex/ Sea&Co / Ocean Masters

Photo by Thierry Martinex/ Sea&Co / Ocean Masters

Beyond Alex Thomson, there are three other non-French skippers competing.
The US home crowd will be rooting for Conrad Colman, the half US/half New Zealand skipper of 100% Natural Energy. Colman has spent the last eight years serving his apprenticeship to compete in the Vendée Globe, which has already included two round the world races.

Colman is proud to have his own campaign: “I’m proud to flag the flag for the United States and New Zealand. I went to high school not far away from NYC, so it’s great to return to my old stomping grounds. I hope to give local fans a friendly face to cheer for. I think these races have universal appeal and can attract a new American audience.”

Kojiro Shiraishai (Photo by Thierry Martinez/ Sea&Co / Ocean Masters)

Kojiro Shiraishai (Photo by Thierry Martinez/ Sea&Co / Ocean Masters)

Coming from furthest away is Japan’s Kojiro Shiraishi for whom competing in the Vendée Globe is a 30 year old dream. Of his ability to compete, there is no doubt: the Vendée Globe will be his fourth solo circumnavigation.
The New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) Race presented by Currency House and SpaceCode will be Shiraishi’s first race in his new boat (ex-Hugo Boss) and the first solo: “It is fantastic. I really love it. It is the newest boat I’ve ever had – very stable and more powerful,” says Shiraishi.
Approaching his campaign from yet another angle is Pieter Heerema. The Dutch businessman is an highly experienced yachtsman who’s sailed all his life, in dinghies and keelboats, where he is best known for his successes in the RC44 and Dragon classes.
However his new No Way Back, a powerful, new generation design IMOCA 60, is very different to the one designs he has previously raced. And sailing it solo is even more challenging: All Heerema’s previous boats he has raced with crew.
“It is a piece of the puzzle of sailing that I haven’t done yet and one of the boxes that I have to tick,” says Heerema.

The New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) Race presented by Currency House and SpaceCode sets sail at 1100 local time on Sunday May 29th, from a line immediately off Manhattan’s North Cove marina. This will be preceded on Friday, May 27th by the Currency House Charity Race.

(Photo: Thierry Martinez)

Entry list for the New York- Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne)

(14 registered)

  • Fabrice Amedeo – NEWREST Matmut (France)
  • Jeremie Beyou – MAITRE COQ (France)
  • Conrad Colman – 100% NATURAL ENERGY (New Zealand/USA)
  • Tanguy de Lamotte – INITIATIVES COEUR (France)
  • Jean-Pierre Dick – StMICHEL VIRBAC (France)
  • Yann Eliès – QUEGUINER-LEUCEMIE ESPOIR (France)
  • Pieter Heerema – NO WAY BACK (Netherlands)
  • Sébastien Josse – EDMOND DE ROTHSCHILD (France)
  • Morgan Lagravière – SAFRAN (France)
  • Armel Le Cléac’h – BANQUE POPULAIRE VIII (France)
  • Paul Meilhat – SMA (France)
  • Vincent Riou – PRB (France)
  • Kojiro Shiraishi – Spirit of Yukoh (Japan)
  • Alex Thomson – HUGO BOSS (Great Britain)

Facts and figures

  • 1st edition of the New York-Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne)
  • 14 entries
  • 3100 nautical miles
  • 4th leg of the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship
  • Start on 29 May at 11.00am EST (16.00 BST)
  • Estimated Arrival : from 5 June 2016 in Les Sables d’Olonne
  • Official event of the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship 2015-2016

Schedule:

  • 27 May: Press Conference and Currency House Charity Race on the Hudson River:
  • 29 May at 11.00 EST: New York-Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) start – on the Hudson River off North Cove Marina.
  • Position updates during the race: Every 15 minutes, with a blackout between 23.00 and 04.00 BST
  • from 5 June: Arrivals in Les Sables d’Olonne – the Vendée Globe home port

IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship 2015-2016

  • Rolex Fastnet Race (double-handed), Cowes-Plymouth (UK), winners Vincent Riou – Sébastien Col (PRB)
  • Transat Jacques Vabre (double-handed), Le Havre (FRA) – Itajaï (BR), winners Vincent Riou – Sébastien Col (PRB)
  • Transat Saint-Barth / Port-la-Forêt (FRA) (single-handed), winner Sébastien Josse (Edmond de Rothschild)
  • IMOCA Ocean Masters New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) (single-handed), Starts on 29 May 2016
  • Vendée Globe (single-handed), Starts on 6 November 2016

IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship Rankings after 3 legs:

  1. Vincent Riou (PRB)  69 points
  2. Fabrice Amedeo (Newrest-Matmut)  63 points
  3. Yann Eliès (Queguiner-Leucémie Espoir)  62 points
  4. Thomas Ruyant (Le Souffle du Nord)  61 points
  5. Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque populaire)  57 points

Full Rankings of the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship

For further information:

www.imocaoceanmasters.com
www.imoca.org

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Twitter : @IMOCA60


Instagram: @oceanmasters

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