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 

 

Francois Gabart (Macif) vainqueur de la categorie Imoca sur la Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe 2014 en 12j 04h 38mn et 55 sec - Pointe a Pitre le 14/11/2014 (Photo © Alexis Courcoux)

Francois Gabart (Macif) vainqueur de la categorie Imoca sur la Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe 2014 en 12j 04h 38mn et 55 sec – Pointe a Pitre le 14/11/2014 (Photo © Alexis Courcoux)

When he crossed the finish line off Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe this Friday afternoon to win the IMOCA 60 Class in La Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe, François Gabart completed a vey rare back-to-back solo ocean double, adding the Route du Rhum solo Transatlantic to his 2012 victory in the Vendee Globe, the solo non stop around the world race.

Just as he won the legendary Vendee Globe at 29 at his first attempt, the youngest ever winning skipper, so today he also added the Route du Rhum title on his first time in the four- yearly solo race from Saint Malo to Guadeloupe.

Remarkably just four years ago he was in Guadeloupe to greet and help Michel Desjoyeaux. In the intervening period he launched his IMOCA 60 project, sailed only three solo races and won all three.

The only other solo sailor to have sailed to successive wins in the Vendee and the Rhum – the pinnacles of solo ocean racing – is Michel Desjoyeaux, who was Gabart’s original mentor and project manager.

Gabart’s twin peaks are distinct from his friend and teacher’s in that Desjoyeaux won the 2000 Vendee Globe in the IMOCA and then triumphed in the 2002 Route du Rhum outright sailing the ORMA trimaran Geant.

But Gabart becomes the first to win the two big IMOCA prizes back-to-back in the same boat. And today after breaking the 2006 course record of Roland Jourdain – setting a new mark at 12d 4h 38m 55s – he also owns both the Transatlantic record for this 3542 miles course and he course record for the solo global circumnavigation (78d 2h 16m 40s)

Having conquered the round the world and Transatlantic courses at the first time of asking this was his last race on the IMOCA 60 which has carried him to victories. He will step up to a new 100 foot trimaran which will be launched next year in the colours of Macif, who he has been with since 2011, and pursue ocean records and races, likely to include this Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe.

Although he was pushed hard through most of the race by Jeremie Beyou (Maitre Coq) – his training and sparring partner from the elite Pole Finisterre racing group based from Port-La-Foret in Brittany, Gabart proved to have a consistent edge in speed in the fitful trade winds conditions, despite the fact the two boats are near idenitical twin sisters from the VPLP/Verdier partnership.

Indeed the Macif-Maitre Coq vanguard of the IMOCA fleet this Route du Rhum in many ways mirrored that of the Vendee Globe when Gabart and Armel Le Cleac’h raced around the world as if attached by bungee elastic. Beyou’s boat Maitre Coq was formerly Le Cleac’h’s Banque Populaire. Gabart was 90 miles ahead of Beyou before the final passage round most of the island, by the finish that had been compressed closer to 45 miles.

Gabart’s Route du Rhum was carefully modulated. He proved on the Vendee Globe that he is an innately fast, confident and hard driving skipper, belying his tender years in the class. This time he lead since Cape Frehel just after start line on Sunday November 2nd and was never passed.

Gabart’s Race
After less than 24 hours racing he was already 3 miles ahead and in control of a pack comprising Beyou and 2004-5 Vendee Globe winner Vincent Riou and Marc Guillemot. Riou was a closer contender before he had to retire with structural damage to his mainsheet track while a combination of small problems hobbled the challenge of Guillemot (Safran) who finished third in 2010. South of the Azores, Beyou cut the corner back to the north-west and closed the gap to less than 20 miles, but Gabart was able to extend on the SW side of the Azores high when he manouvred into bettter breeze and progressively opened out on each position report.

There is an element of catharsis too for Gabart, who one year ago lost the top of Macif’s mast when leading the two handed Transat Jacques Vabre with Michel Desjoyeaux.

Aside from being here in Guadeloupe in 2010 to meet Desjoyeaux, the last time Gabart was on the island was as a seven year old around the same time as Florence Arthaud became the first woman to win the race.

François Gabart originally studied and become an engineer at a top school in Lyon, but his heart was always in sailing. At the age of 7, he sailed away for a year with his family stopping in the Canaries, Cape Verdes, French West Indies, the States… a part of his childhood which clearly left its mark. From a racing background in small dinghies he moved to and Olympic campaign in the Tornado class.

In just two years in the Figaro circuit, he was top rookie in 2008, came third in the Cap Istanbul, and third in the BPE Transatlantic race 2009. In Oct 2009, he was chosen as Skipper Macif winning a national talent selection. Second behind Le Cléac’h in the 2010 Solitaire, he won the Cap Istanbul and became French offshore racing champion.

Gabart’s star remains very much on the ascendancy, a very rare talent in ocean racing.

First words:
“This is huge. It is the Route du Rhum, it is not just nothing. I pushed myself like never before to win this. Now I am happy with the result and how I got there. The project was launched just four years ago. I raced round the world and won and now this. I could not do better with this boat. We have done only three races together and won all of them (ed’s note: 2011 BtoB Brasil to Brittany, Vendee Globe, Route du Rhum). But this is the end of our life together, we have done some beautiful things. I wanted to live this Route du Rhum with the same emotions, the same feelings and the Vendee Globe.

I really enjoyed myself. It is a beautiful thing racing alone. I am still learning.

As for the record? Well times change and technology changes and I don’t think it is interesting to compare the times.

But I have to say that if someone had told me when I was here four years ago that I would have done this, I would not have believed it. It is not because you think it is easy that it becomes so, but because it is not, on the contrary it is hard.

I set myself a very high level. And it is about the personal challenge of that. I set the bar high and so I was sad when Vincent dropped out. I should have been happy, but I was disappointed. We would have had a good fight and pushed each other. I did not think for ten seconds that Jeremie was just behind me. I just built the margin over three days. I have a great sensation, a great feel for the boat and spent a lot of time at the helm. I could feel when it is good, when the stack was right, when the sail combination was perfect, when there was weed on a rudder.

I lost my big spinnaker at the Azores just after the passage of the front. So I had not choice than to be faster that Jeremie. This last bit I did savour the feelings. And now it is sad to leave this boat. But in four years I will be back here in a Multi.”

ROUTE DU RHUM - DESTINATION GUADELOUPE 2014 Start photo © ALEXIS COURCOUX

ROUTE DU RHUM – DESTINATION GUADELOUPE 2014 Start photo © ALEXIS COURCOUX

ROUTE DU RHUM - DESTINATION GUADELOUPE 2014 Start      © ALEXIS COURCOUX

ROUTE DU RHUM – DESTINATION GUADELOUPE 2014 Start © ALEXIS COURCOUX

As the tenth edition of the legendary Route du Rhum solo Transatlantic race to Guadeloupe started off Saint Malo, France this Sunday afternoon under grey skies and a moderate SSW’ly breeze. The perennial question of just how hard to push through the first 24-36 hours at sea was foremost in the minds of most of the 91 skippers.

 

When the start gun sounded at 1400hrs local time (1300hrs CET) to mark a spectacular send off for a 3,524 miles contest, which engages and entrances the French public like no other ocean race, breezes were only 15-17kts. But a tough, complicated first night at sea is in prospect, a precursor to 36 hours of bruising, very changeable breezes and big unruly seas.

Such conditions, gusting to 40kts after midnight tonight, are widely acknowledged to be potentially boat or equipment breaking. But the big ticket reward for fighting successfully through the worst of the fronts and emerging in A1 racing shape, will be a fast passage south towards Guadeloupe. Such an early gain might be crucial to the final result.

ROUTE DU RHUM - DESTINATION GUADELOUPE 2014 Start      © ALEXIS COURCOUX

ROUTE DU RHUM – DESTINATION GUADELOUPE 2014 Start © ALEXIS COURCOUX

The converse is doubly true. Any trouble or undue conservatism might be terminal as far as hopes of a podium place in any of the three classes.

In short, the maxim of not being able to win the race on the first night, but being able to lose it over that keynote, initial period, has perhaps never been truer.

The routing south is relatively direct, fast down the Iberian peninsula with a fairly straightforward, quick section under the Azores high pressure which shapes the course. The Ultimes – the giant multis – are expected to be south of Madeira by Tuesday night when the IMOCA Open 60s will already be at the latitude of Lisbon and the Class 40 leaders passing Cape Finisterre.

Vincent Riou, Vendée Globe winner who triumphed in last year’s Transat Jacques Vabre two-handed race to Brasil, said of the forecast: “I carried out statistical studies, set up 140 different routings using ten years of files in my pre-race analysis and I can’t recall a single example of the weather being as favourable for the IMOCAs as what seems to lie ahead‏.”

The change in weather from the idyllic Indian summer conditions which have prevailed through the build up weeks to gusty winds, heavy rain showers and cooler temperatures could do nothing to dampen the extraordinary ardour displayed by the crowds which so openly embrace the Rhum legend. From all walks of life, from babes-in-arms to the elderly, they descend on Saint Malo and the nearby beaches and promontories to see the start and the opening miles.

Lemonchois Leads
It was fitting then that the tens of thousands who braved the deluges and the breeze were rewarded when it was the owner of the race record, Lionel Lemonchois, winner of the Multi 50 Class in the last edition and overall winner in 2006, who passed their Cap Fréhel vantage point, 18 miles after the start line leading the whole fleet on the Ultime Prince de Bretagne.

 

Thomas Coville on Sodebo lead the Caribbean-bound armada off the start line dicing with the more nimble, smaller Multi70 of Sidney Gavignet Musandam-Oman Air which also lead for a short time. The fleet’s ultimate Ultime, the 40m long Spindrift (Yann Guichard) was seventh to Fréhel, clearly needing time and opportunity to wind up to her high average top speeds. Coville has the potent mix of tens of thousands of solo miles under his belt as well as an Ultime (the 31m long ex Geronimo of Olivier de Kersauson with new main hull and mostly new floats and a new rig) which is optimised for solo racing.

The favourites to win each of the different classes seemed to make their way quickly to the front of their respective packs. Vendée Globe victor François Gabart established a very early lead in the IMOCA Open 60s on MACIF, ahead of PRB (Vincent Riou) and Jérémie Beyou (Maitre-CoQ). In the 43 strong Class 40 fleet Sébastien Rogue quickly worked GDF SUEZ in to the lead. He remains unbeaten and won last year’s TJV. Defending class champion Italy’s Andrea Mura was at the front of the Rhum class with his highly updated Open 50 Vento di Sardegna.

Spain’s highly rated Alex Pella was second in Class 40 on Tales 2, Britain’s Conrad Humphreys 20th on Cat Phones Built For It and Miranda Merron sailing Campagne de France in 22nd.

The key international, non-French skippers made solid starts to their races. Self-preservation was key priority for 75 year old Sir Robin Knox-Johnston on Grey Power, who said pre-start that his main goal was to get safely clear of Cape Finisterre, before pressing the accelerator.

He is in good company not least with ‘junior’ rivals Patrick Morvan, 70 and Bob Escoffier, 65 all racing in this Rhum class which features race legend craft as well as sailors. Two of the original sisterships to Mike Birch’s 11.22m Olympus – which stole victory by 98 seconds in the inaugural race in 1978 – are racing in this fleet replaying the fight against the monohull Kriter V which finished second.

First to return to Saint-Malo with a technical problem- needing to repair his rigging – was the Class40 of Jean Edouard Criquioche, Région haute Normandie, who had to turn round after just 45 minutes on course. And the Portuguese skipper in the Rhum class Ricardo Diniz was also reported to be heading back with trouble with his diesel.

Order at Cap Fréhel

1 – Lionel Lemonchois (Prince de Bretagne) / 1st Ultime
2 – Sidney Gavignet (Musandam – Oman Sail)
3 – Thomas Coville (Sodebo Ultim’)
4 – Loïck Peyron (Maxi Solo Banque Populaire VII)
5 – Sébastien Josse (Edmond De Rothschild)
6 – Yann Eliès (Paprec Recyclage)
7 – Yann Guichard (Spindrift 2)
8 – Yves Le Blévec (Actual) / 1st Multi50
9 – Francis Joyon (Idec Sport)
10 – Erwan Leroux (FenêtréA – Cardinal)
11 – Lalou Roucayrol (Arkema Région Aquitaine)
12 – François Gabart (MACIF) / 1st IMOCA
13 – Vincent Riou (PRB) 14 – Loïc Fequet (Maître Jacques)
15 – Jérémie Beyou (Maître Coq)
16 – Marc Guillemot (Safran)
17 – Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée)
18 – Bertrand De Broc (Votre Nom Autour du Monde)
19 – Tanguy De Lamotte (Initiatives-Coeur)
20 – Armel Tripon (Humble for Heroes)
21 – Erik Nigon (Vers un monde sans sida)
22 – Pierre Antoine (Olmix)
23 – Andrea Mura (Vento Di Sardegna) / 1st Rhum
24 – Sébastien Rogues (GDF SUEZ) / 1st Class40‏

Follow the race on www.routedurhum.com/en
Live Radio Vacations 1200-1230hrs each day in English on www.routedurhum.com/en

Photo by Christophe Favreau

Photo by Christophe Favreau

 

(Photos Christophe Favreau)

For someone who is not a professional sailor, to go on a trip on an IMOCA 60 is a rare privilege. Charlotte Guillemot and Christophe Favreau, two of the communications team members of Open Sports Management (OSM), event organisers of the IMOCA Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona Race, were both able to take part in the prologue race between Newport, Rhode Island, and New York.

For Guillemot (daughter of Safran skipper Marc’s cousin) and Favreau, this provided them with a clearer idea of the work of the on board ‘media crewmen’ who, for the transatlantic race, are charged with writing and sending in blogs, taking great photos and video footage and then transferring these across to the comms team back ashore in Barcelona. During the race the media crewmen will also answer any specific team and media requests made during the race – the first time the IMOCA Ocean Masters circuit has featured a dedicated on board media person during a major offshore race. Their objective is clear: to use the various media to provide followers of the race a glimpse of what life is like on board these extreme yachts as they experience ‘life on the inside’, something that the skippers sometimes struggle to achieve while they focus on trying to race their boats as fast as possible.

 

Anna Corbella and Gerard Marin, GAES Skippers study the routing (Photo by Christophe Favreau

Morgan Lagraviere on the bow  (Photo by Christophe Favreau)

Breathtaking arrival into New York   (Photo by Christophe Favreau)

French photo journalist Christophe Favreau, was on board Team GAES and shared his impressions of the voyage from Newport to New York overnight on Saturday: “The first thing I will remember from this experience is that one has to remain constantly attentive and not be distracted by the incredible environment around you.

To sail onboard an IMOCA 60 is amazing, but you have to be careful not to forget that before taking any enjoyment out of it, the media guy has to work, to take images that will allow him to share the story about a pair of skippers racing across the Atlantic.

Photo and video camera in hand, it is all about finding the best angles that show the intensity that goes into racing a complex yacht such as this. Fortunately conditions were relatively manageable with never more than 15 knots of wind and calm seas that made the work relatively easy for me during the 150 mile race. It even allowed me to climb the mast to get a little height for my shooting, but it is easy to imagine that it would become much more complicated when the weather turns bad and the boat starts to slam into the waves with a violent action. Added to the difficulty of taking images is then the discomfort of working inside the boat. These IMOCA 60s are very rigid and solid and they quickly become uncomfortable and very noisy on board.

The second point that I think is important is to ensure the skippers ‘forget that you are there’. Under the race rules each media man is prohibited from helping the sailing crew race the boat. They must not interfere with any of the manoeuvre, even if things go wrong! They have to embed himself into the crew, and to join in the rhythm of the team – a rhythm that often can be fast and challenging and to react to whatever conditions are thrown at him.

During the prologue race on board GAES, we caught a fishing net and one of the team had to dive overboard to release it. So you have to react quickly, take photos and film as that’s an important story to tell, which shows that it is not always plain sailing on board – you have to stay alert and ready at all times, something that will be tough after a few days at sea when the tiredness starts to creep up on you..!”

Photo by Christophe Favreau

Photo by Christophe Favreau

French video reporter Charlotte Guillemot, was on board Safran for the Prologue race :

Watch and film, be everywhere, without interfering in anything’. If I had a motto for the media person, that would be it. 

For me, to be in the right place at the right time, my sailing experience is always a great advantage : To know the boat well, its way of moving, understanding the different manœuvres, hoisting sails, understanding the crew intentions, in short pretty much becoming part of the team.

The technical terms used during sailing can be complicated and in the height of a race there is no time to explain to you what is going to happen with each move. It is up to you to be in the place you need to be and absolutely vital that you don’t get in the way. While capturing footage you absolutely mustn’t get in the way.

The media man is not allowed to get involved in any of the racing, but that does not alleviate the fact that life on board an IMOCA 60 at times is very uncomfortable. These are tough spartan boats that are built for speed, with no creature comforts and you feel that – even as the media guy. You have to share a communal bunk, eat freeze dried food, and the facilities for washing and the toilet are basic in the extreme !

But even given all that, this trip on Safran was a privilege for me. To be part of this great team, to feel almost like a proper part of the crew, but in particular to be the eyes of the people who will see the footage I shoot – this was an incredible experience.”

I’ve had a taste of offshore sailing, while doing my filming job and I want more !!

 

 

Safran (Photo by George Bekris)

Safran (Photo by George Bekris)

With 3,700 miles from the Statue of Liberty to the Catalan capital, the New York – Barcelona racecourse is a very open one for the five teams entered (Gaes Centros Auditivos, Hugo Boss, Neutrogena, Spirit of Hungary and Safran). It will undoubtedly be a high-speed chase across the Atlantic chessboard until the Straits of Gibraltar and the entrance to the Mediterranean. Then, there will be tactical moves to play on the 525 miles along the Spanish coast. It will be two weeks of racing for which the crew of Safran had the opportunity to prepare during the delivery to Newport. “It was a delight, I learned a lot, I’m sure we are the ideal partnership for this double-handed race,” Lagravière, the future skipper of the new Safran, said.

A baptism of fire for Morgan Lagravière
Never before has the young Lagravière, who came from the Olympic and the Figaro circuit, spent so many days at sea before embarking on an IMOCA for the first time for this delivery of Safran: “I learned a lot during the delivery, because I had remarkable crew mates,” Lagravière said. “It was a way for me to discover the Open 60 and to cross the Atlantic at the same time. Once we arrived in Newport, I felt ready to handle an IMOCA alone, it is a question of adapting, of getting new bearings.” On the New York – Barcelona, Lagravière will have the opportunity to further discuss things with Guillemot, the skipper of Safran and an exceptional coach, but this time in a race situation. The complementary partnership could shine. “Marc and I are different,” Lagravière said. “I’m fussy about fine-tuning and sometimes won’t let go, a bit like a dog with a bone​, while the other hand he’s a really experienced old wolf and is very conservative on his boat.”

Notes:
Start from New York: Sunday, June 1
Arrival in Barcelona: between June 10-18
Distance 3,700 miles
The races is part of the Ocean Masters World Championship

 

 

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)