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

The Transat Bakerly yacht race. The start of solo transatlantic race start from Plymouth UK - New York. USA. Image licensed to Lloyd Images

The Transat Bakerly yacht race. The start of solo transatlantic race start from Plymouth UK – New York. USA.  Image licensed to Lloyd Images

The 25 boats in The Transat Bakerly 2016 fleet set sail today on one of the great races in solo sailing, the 3,050-nautical mile passage across the north Atlantic from Plymouth to New York.

Spectators both on shore and on the water turned out to watch as the mainly French fleet gathered under grey skies on Plymouth Sound to answer the starter’s gun fired from the decks of the Royal Navy frigate HMS Kent at 14.30pm.

The Transat Bakerly yacht race. The start of solo transatlantic race start from Plymouth UK - New York. USA. Image licensed to Lloyd Images

The Transat Bakerly yacht race. The start of solo transatlantic race start from Plymouth UK – New York. USA.  Image licensed to Lloyd Images

Ahead of the solo skippers and their boats lies one of the most daunting challenges in professional sport – the north Atlantic, complete with bitterly cold storm force headwinds, an ever-present adverse swell, freezing fog and even the danger of ice.

The forecast for this year’s race – the first time this classic has been staged since 2008 – is for a reasonably quiet start but for 45-knot headwinds and big seas for the leading yachts by Wednesday, as they head into the Western Approaches.

The fleet is divided into four classes, each of which will produce an official winner of The Transat bakerly. The fastest boats are the giant trimarans of the Ultime class, three of which are battling it out for line honours, with the first expected to reach the finish at New York in around eight days.

The Transat Bakerly yacht race. The start of solo transatlantic race start from Plymouth UK - New York. USA. Image licensed to Lloyd Images

The Transat Bakerly yacht race. The start of solo transatlantic race start from Plymouth UK – New York. USA.
Image licensed to Lloyd Images

Behind them comes the five-strong fleet of smaller Multi50 trimarans which could fly across the “pond” in 12 days, alongside the six IMOCA 60s – the state-of-the-art monohulls used in the Vendée Globe solo round-the-world race that starts later this year.

The slowest boats will be the smaller monohulls of the 10-strong Class40 fleet which should take around 15 days to complete the course, but in which we should see some of the tightest racing.

Alongside the fleet is a one-off entry by the French racing legend Loick Peyron who is sailing Eric Tabarly’s 44ft wooden ketch Pen Duick II in the same trim as she was when Tabarly raced her to victory in The Transat (then called the OSTAR) in 1964. Peyron is expecting to take around 27 days to reach the finish at New York.

Loick Peyron sets off on his voyage to New York aboard Pen Duick II. (Photo © Vincent Curutchet/Lloyd Images/OC Sport)

Loick Peyron sets off on his voyage to New York aboard Pen Duick II. (Photo © Vincent Curutchet/Lloyd Images/OC Sport)

Among the first to show in 10-12 knot southwesterly breeze, as the fleet headed out to sea, was the Multi50 Fenêtrea-Cardinal skippered by Frenchman Erwan Le Roux who ripped across the startline flying-a-hull ahead of two Ultimes, the bright green Sodebo skippered by former Volvo Ocean Race winner Thomas Coville and the blue-hulled MACIF, skippered by François Gabart.

Several skippers were caught out by the lighter-than-forecast conditions at the start and were hastily shaking out reefs as those with full mainsails took advantage. Among the quickest away was Armel Le Cléac’h on the IMOCA 60 Banque Populaire VIII who flew out of the blocks and established an early lead.

The Transat Bakerly yacht race. The start of solo transatlantic race start from Plymouth UK - New York. USA. Image licensed to Lloyd Images

The Transat Bakerly yacht race. The start of solo transatlantic race start from Plymouth UK – New York. USA. Image licensed to Lloyd Images

The IMOCA 60 class will see a fascinating battle over the next two weeks between the three entries with foils – Banque Populaire VIII, Edmond de Rothschild (Sébastien Josse) and St Michel-Virbac (Jean-Pierre Dick), and those with more conventional underwater profiles – PRB (Vincent Riou), SMA (Paul Meilhat) and 44 (Richard Tolkien). The foilers may well be quicker but will they be tough enough to last this toughest of courses?

Earlier there were pre-start nerves on a damp and overcast Monday morning as the skippers enjoyed a final big English breakfast and prepared to depart from Plymouth’s Sutton Harbour Marina and Plymouth Yacht Haven. Sébastien Josse was in a realistic mood about what lies ahead.

“I am in the mindset of someone who is about to experience very demanding times physically and mentally,” he said. “The Transat bakerly is not much fun but I am very happy to be here. I know I am going to be cold and it’s going to be tough, but I know why I am doing it. I want to do well and I am just thinking through all the things I must not forget and the mistakes to avoid.”

His fellow Frenchman Armel Tripon on the Class40 entry Black Pepper also talked of the jitters as he prepared to take on the north Atlantic. “Although I slept well I feel I have a little ball of nerves in my stomach but it will disappear once I am on the water,” he said.

Like all the skippers, Tripon was eyeing the forecast and trying to assess his routing choices, whether to head north or south once clear of the southern Irish coast. “It is not obvious – there is a strategic choice to make at the outset,” said Tripon.

The Transat Bakerly yacht race. The start of solo transatlantic race start from Plymouth UK - New York. USA. Image licensed to Lloyd Images

The Transat Bakerly yacht race. The start of solo transatlantic race start from Plymouth UK – New York. USA.
Image licensed to Lloyd Images

Hervé Favre, Event Director commented: “This race is one of the classics in solo sailing and after it was not staged four years ago we at OC Sport are proud to relaunch it this year. I am delighted to see this hugely competitive fleet of sailors on state-of the art racing machinery now taking on The Transat bakerly 2016 and we wish them all the best for the undoubted challenges that lie ahead.”

So fasten your seatbelts, this promises to be a wild ride across one of the most notorious stretches of water on the planet – the 2016 Transat bakerly is underway.

Track the race here

Find out more about the race here.

The Transat Bakerly yacht race. The start of solo transatlantic race start from Plymouth UK - New York. USA. Image licensed to Lloyd Images

The Transat Bakerly yacht race. The start of solo transatlantic race start from Plymouth UK – New York. USA.
Image licensed to Lloyd Images

 

The Transat Bakerly yacht race. The start of solo transatlantic race start from Plymouth UK - New York. USA. Image licensed to Lloyd Images

The Transat Bakerly yacht race. The start of solo transatlantic race start from Plymouth UK – New York. USA.  Image licensed to Lloyd Images

 

The Transat Bakerly yacht race. The start of solo transatlantic race start from Plymouth UK - New York. USA. Image licensed to Lloyd Images

The Transat Bakerly yacht race. The start of solo transatlantic race start from Plymouth UK – New York. USA.  Image licensed to Lloyd Images

SAILING - THE ARTEMIS TRANSAT - START - PLYMOUTH (GBR) - 11/05/08 PHOTO : VINCENT CURUTCHET / DPPI / THE ARTEMIS TRANSAT / OC EVENTS START

SAILING – THE ARTEMIS TRANSAT – START – PLYMOUTH (GBR) – 11/05/08
PHOTO : VINCENT CURUTCHET / DPPI / THE ARTEMIS TRANSAT / OC EVENTS
START

In just under 100 days time, a growing fleet of first-class ocean racers and fearless adventurers will set sail on the world’s oldest solo transatlantic race from Plymouth to New York – The Transat.

This year’s race has attracted a star-studded line up of offshore greats, from the likes of Vendée Globe competitors Sébastien Josse and Armel Le Cléac’h in the IMOCA60, to Transat Jacques Vabre winner Erwan Le Roux and Route du Rhum winner Thomas Coville on the flying multihulls and seasoned offshore competitors Miranda Merron and Thibaut Vauchel in the Class40.

The Transat is a nostalgic race steeped in history, full of adventure and touched upon by tragedy. Established in 1960 by Sir Francis Chichester and Blondie Hasler, Hasler’s legendary vision for the race is still as relevant today as it was then – The Transat is about “one man, one boat, one ocean.”

But while the principle behind the race remains the same, a new generation of ocean racing machines sees a classic reborn in 2016. Giant Ultimes, flying Multi50s, powerful IMOCA60s and hardy Class40s, helmed by some of the world’s finest solo sailors, could make for one of the fastest crossings yet.

“We are absolutely delighted by the turn out and the calibre of the skippers who are taking on the challenge of one of the greatest solo races in the sport,” said Hervé Favre, Offshore Events Director for OC Sport. “With the right conditions we could see records tumbling in all four classes.”

Paying homage to The Transat’s origins, the 14th edition will set sail from Plymouth – the first city to play host to the race. From Plymouth breakwater, the fleet will race 3,000 miles to Brooklyn in New York, where The Transat first finished 56 years ago.

Between the two cities, competitors will be alone faced with the towering waves of the Atlantic, blinding fog, ferocious winds and the danger of ice drifting down from the Arctic. The fleet will spend anywhere between eight and 18 days at sea, dependent on the boat. Racing upwind for the majority of the race, The Transat will be a hard slog for the skippers. Frequent rest, good nutrition and staying hydrated will be key to staving off fatigue and staying in the game.

The Atlantic is a dangerous playground and intelligent sailing will be the key to success in New York City, as Race Director Gilles Chiorri explained: “The Transat is the mother of all transatlantic races, it launched the trend for solo sailing. The Transat is the most challenging transatlantic to win. The race will be characterised by the low pressures and stormy conditions associated with heavy swell, sometimes within the vicinity of icebergs. The winner in each class (Ultime, IMOCA60, Multi 50, Class40) will step on the path of the previous winners, including Chichester, Tabarly, Colas, Poupon, Desjoyeaux, Joyon, and Loick Peyron, among others.”

With less than 100 days to the start of this epic, The Transat boasts an international fleet of almost 30 boats including three Ultimes, five Multi 50s, seven IMOCA 60s, 11 Class40s, two female skippers, two Brits, 21 French entries, one German and The Transat’s first Japanese entry.

You can read more into the colourful history of The Transat here and see the announced competitor line up below.

Entries for the 2016 Transat are open until 31st January. To enter, please click here.

Follow The Transat on Facebook, Twitter and find more on our website

 

The Transat 2016 will finish in New York (Photo© FreeImages.com/Dario Lucarini)

The Transat 2016 will finish in New York (Photo© FreeImages.com/Dario Lucarini)

 

ONEº15 B​rooklyn ​Bridge M​arina

ONEº15 B​rooklyn ​Bridge M​arina

 

Prestigious race returns for the first time in eight years to international sailing calendar and returns to New York for the first time since its 1960 inception

The Transat, the first and oldest single-handed trans-ocean race in history, is heading to New York City and will culminate at the new ONE°15 Brooklyn Marina, race organisers and rights holders OC Sport, announced today.

The marina will be an Official Host Venue Partner to the race alongside Plymouth, UK and is located in the heart of Brooklyn Bridge Park opposite Manhattan. It’s the newest marina to be built in New York City and is currently under construction with a grand opening set for Spring 2016 to be marked by this iconic and exciting race.

“We are thrilled to kick off our grand opening season by hosting the finish of this iconic and historic sailing race,” said Arthur Tay, Chairman of SUTL Group, the majority owner of the Brooklyn marina and the visionary behind the ONE°15 Marina brand.

“Our goal in designing this marina was to offer an unparalleled level of access to the water for the local Brooklyn community, New Yorkers, and boating enthusiasts from around the globe. The prestigious Transat race will certainly bring a wide audience to the waterfront in Brooklyn and solidify its place as a sought-after international sailing destination.”ONEº15 B​rooklyn ​Bridge M​arina

It seems only natural that the city that never sleeps should host this race. As many involved in sailing will know, there is no predicting what time the boats will arrive, so at least we can count on New York to be awake should the skippers dock in at 4am.

“We are extremely happy to announce ONE°15 Brooklyn Marina as our Host Venue Partner for The Transat’s exciting finish,” said Hervé Favre, The Transat’s Event Director.

“The marina will have many promising features but a key one for us, as organisers, is that the entire fleet will be able to stay together in one place, which I believe is unprecedented in New York for a multi classes event including giant multihulls. This is a game-changer for New York Harbour, and I believe The Transat will be the first of many races to come to this state-of-the art marina,” added Favre.

The Transat charts a course from Plymouth in the United Kingdom to New York, a dangerous route that tests the best single-handed sailors in the world to their limits. Returning for the first time in eight years, the race is set to cement its status as one of the most important and prestigious events on the international sailing calendar.

The Transat is scheduled to depart from Plymouth on the 2nd May 2016 with ONEº15 Brooklyn Marina expecting the first boat around the 9th May. There are four classes of boats in the race, the fastest of which are some of the most spectacular multihulls in world sailing.

The race has not visited New York since its first year in 1960 and makes it first triumphant return to the city at this new state-of-the-art marina. ONE°15 Brooklyn Marina is ideally located between Piers 4 and 5 in the lush and beautiful Brooklyn Bridge Park, an 85‐acre sustainable waterfront park stretching 1.3 miles along Brooklyn’s East River shoreline. The creation of the marina furthers the Park’s mission of making the waterfront more accessible to the public.

The Transat promises astonishing sporting performances and fascinating stories of human drama as the skippers take on the North Atlantic on one of the most treacherous routes known to sailing.

The Notice of Race is now available and entries are open for teams interested in competing. Please visit www.thetransat.com for more information.

 

About The Transat

The OSTAR (Observer Singlehanded Trans-Atlantic Race) was created in 1960 by a handful of pioneering sailors. The race was organised every four years by the Royal Western Yacht Club (RWYC) from 1960 through to the 2000 event, albeit with a lot of involvement from the French event organiser Pen Duick in the 90s, in order to cater for the demands of the professional campaigns that dominated the event. After the 2000 edition, OC Sport stepped in to develop the event and acquired the rights to the professional part. OC Sport organised The Transat in 2004 and 2008, the 2012 edition was deferred at the request of IMOCA (the largest competing class).

The RWYC continues to organise a solo transatlantic race for Corinthian and non-professional sailors that is still known as the (O)STAR,. This race usually falls a year after the professional big boat race i.e. 2005, 2009, 2013, 2017. Both the amateur Yacht Club event and The Transat have the right to link to the history of the original race created in 1960, and to the rich history it has produced.

The first race was competed by just a handful of pioneering sailors including Francis Chichester and Blondie Hasler who coined the phrase: “One man, one boat, the ocean.” There has been tragedy, dramatic rescues and exceptional drama since the race began in 1960. Over time The Transat, as it is known today, has evolved and now serves the professional end of offshore sailing. But there are few modern day races that can reflect on such a long and outstanding history.

Monohull IMOCA 60 record: 12 days, 11 hours and 45 minutes set by Loick Peyron (FRA) on board Gitana in 2008. Multihull 60ft record: 8 days, 8 hours, 29 minutes set by Michel Desjoyeaux (FRA) on board Géant in 2004.

OC Sport is a global sports marketing and events company specialising in professional sailing and outdoor events ranging from running, cycling and winter sports. OC Sport organise the award-winning and original stadium racing event, the Extreme Sailing Series; created and manage the Artemis Offshore Academy – the only UK-based training school for solo sailors; and managed the Dongfeng Race Team in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15. www.ocsport.com

About ONE°15 Brooklyn Marina

ONE°15 Brooklyn Marina, Brooklyn’s gateway to New York Harbor, is a new marina that will offer unparalleled water access to the local Brooklyn community, New Yorkers, and boating enthusiasts from around the globe. Located just south of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Marina will feature an exceptional community program that will make boating and kayaking available to residents of all ages, abilities, and incomes as well as seasonal docking facilities of the highest quality, a Sailing Club & School and a Harbor Club. An integral hub of community activity, primely located along Brooklyn’s resurgent waterfront, this new facility will be a part of the vibrant Brooklyn Bridge Park and offer the calmest marina basin in New York Harbor. A joint venture between majority owner SUTL Group and Edgewater Resources, the marina brings together the US design team responsible for the world’s “greenest marina” and the marina management skills of SUTL which earned ONE°15 Marina Singapore the title of Best Marina and Yacht Club in Asia (2009, 2012-2014). For more information: www.ONE15BrooklynMarina.com

 

 Skippers Morgan Lagraviere and Nicolas Lunven (Fra) training onboard IMOCA SAFRAN before the start of the duo race Transat Jacques Vabre 2015, from Le Havre (France) to Itajai (Brazil), off Groix, south brittany on september 16, 2015 - Photo Jean Marie LIOT / DPPI

Skippers Morgan Lagraviere and Nicolas Lunven (Fra) training onboard IMOCA SAFRAN before the start of the duo race Transat Jacques Vabre 2015, from Le Havre (France) to Itajai (Brazil), off Groix, south brittany on september 16, 2015 – Photo Jean Marie LIOT / DPPI

 

Following a leak found on Safran on Monday night, Morgan Lagravière and Nicolas Lunven diverted to Brest where they arrived at 2330hrs (French time) yesterday (Tuesday). It quickly became clear that the state of the IMOCA 60, Safran, would not allow it to rejoin the race. The decision was therefore taken to abandon the Transat Jacques Vabre.
Safran, with Morgan Lagravière and Nicolas Lunven on board, moored at the Port du Château in Brest at 2330hrs last night and was received by its technical team and a member of the CDK Technologies boatyard, where the monohull was built. The damage was clear to everyone: cracks in the starboard side of the hull and damaged bulkheads. It needs the attention of a boatyard so Morgan Lagravière had no other choice but to abandon the Transat Jacques Vabre.

For Lagravière and Lunven, who were participating in their first major IMOCA race, it is a great disappointment. However, as good sailors, they can appreciate being able to get their monohull back to port with no further damage. “The sense of relief takes over from the disappointment,” both skippers said. “We saved the boat and we’re fine. The outcome could have been much more complicated.”

Safran supports its skippers and can confirm that everything will be done to get the boat back to competition at 100% of its potential as quickly as possible with a year to the start of the Vendée Globe.

 

For more information, www.safran-group.com  / Follow @SAFRAN on Twitter

Team Dongfeng crossing the finish line to Win Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race (Photo by George Bekris)

Team Dongfeng crossing the finish line to Win Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race (Photo by George Bekris)

Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) edged overall Volvo Ocean Race leaders Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) by just three minutes and 25 seconds to win Leg 6 to Newport after an enthralling duel over the past 24 hours

Team Dongfeng holds off Abu Dhabi Racing Team to Win Leg 6, (Photo by George Bekris)

Team Dongfeng holds off Abu Dhabi Racing Team to Win Leg 6, (Photo by George Bekris)

 

Leg 6
DTL

(NM)

GAIN/LOSS

(NM)

DTF

(NM)

Speed

(kt)

DFRT
DFRT FIN – 017d 09h 03m 00s
ADOR
ADOR FIN – 017d 09h 06m 25s
TBRU
TBRU FIN – 017d 09h 56m 40s
MAPF
MAPF FIN – 017d 10h 34m 25s
ALVI
ALVI 0.0 22.2 14 9.4
SCA1
SCA1 42.4 22.1 56 9.3
VEST
VEST DID NOT START

Latest positions may be downloaded
from the race dashboard hereº MAPFRE given two-point penalty – read more

– Skipper Caudrelier praises shore crew after thrilling win
– Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing within four minutes of victors
– Follow the final boats in on our App

May 6, 2015. Dongfeng Race Team winners of Leg 6 arriving to Newport celebrate the victory on stage. (Photo by Billie Weiss / Volvo Ocean Race)

May 6, 2015. Dongfeng Race Team winners of Leg 6 arriving to Newport celebrate the victory on stage. (Photo by Billie Weiss / Volvo Ocean Race)

NEWPORT, Rhode Island, USA (May 7) – Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) edged overall Volvo Ocean Race leaders Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) by just three minutes and 25 seconds to win Leg 6 to Newport after an enthralling duel over the past 24 hours.

The result cuts the Emirati boat’s lead over the Chinese-backed challengers to six points and marks a fantastic comeback for Caudrelier and his crew after they were forced to pull out of the previous leg to Itajaí because of a broken mast.

The French skipper paid tribute to his shore crew who managed to fit a new rig in under a week in Brazil and prepare the boat for the 5,010-nautical mile (nm), ultra-competitive next stage through the Atlantic.

Team Dongfend pass Castle Hill headed for the finish in Newport, Rhode Island (Photo by George Bekris)

Team Dongfend pass Castle Hill headed for the finish in Newport, Rhode Island (Photo by George Bekris)

“For this leg, the goal was to be ready in Itajaí and the (shore) crew did a fantastic job. I’d like to give them the victory,” said Caudrelier.

“I’m very proud of them and very happy to take this first place. They worked very hard to get this boat ready. I’m really, really happy.”

IMG_9727-001

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing heading for the Leg 6 finish at Fort Adam in Newport, RI just 3 minutes behind Team Dongfeng after thousands of miles. (Photo by George Bekris)

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing made Caudrelier and his men work all the way for the win after 17 days at sea and even threatened to overturn their lead as they passed Block Island 30nm from the finish.

Apr._29_2015_George Bekris--1-2-004

Up the Mast of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Photo by George Bekris)

“We were within a couple of lengths of getting over them at Block Island – literally three or four boat lengths from rolling them – but they held on and dug deep. Very well deserved win,” said Walker.

Caudrelier’s hopes of bouncing back for the triumph had looked in serious jeopardy just two days into the leg, which started on April 19, when the electronic water-maker, which converts sea water into drinking water, broke down.

He said if his crew had not been able to repair it, they would have had to make a 12-hour stop.

‘We wouldn’t have had to retire, but we would have had to stop and fix it. When you stop in this race, you see the difference between the boats, and that means the leg is over because it means you lose at least 12 hours,” said Caudrelier, whose boat finished in an elapsed time of 17 days, nine hours and three minutes exactly after leaving Itajaí.

“That would have meant another leg where we would have finished last.”

Dutch challengers Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) finished just over 55 minutes afterDongfeng to claim the final podium spot following yet another closely-fought leg.

It will have been a big relief to Bekking whose boat has been pipped in similar close finishes in earlier legs.

“It’s always good to be back on the podium. But the race is lost for us, we have to tell the public about that, because Abu Dhabi has an inaccessible lead now compared to us,” he said.

Dongfeng still has a good chance. They sailed an excellent leg, congratulations to them. And to Abu Dhabi too – they both sailed very well.

“We’re aiming for second and we still want to win the In-Port Series as well. We’re in the lead over there. We’ve got a couple of things to sail for – and of course we want to win a couple of legs.”

MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP) followed Team Brunel home in fourth spot with an elapsed time of 17 days 10 hours 34 minutes and 25 seconds with Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) heading for a home town welcome in fifth place ahead of Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR), who were expected to finish later on Thursday.

Current latest standings (low points wins, Team Alvimedica* and Team SCA* yet to finish Leg 6): 1) Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 11 pts, 2) Dongfeng Race Team 17, 3) Team Alvimedica 19*, 4) Team Brunel 21, 5) MAPFRE 24, 6) Team SCA 29*, 7) Team Vestas (Denmark) 44.

Team Dongfeng win Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race (Photo by George Bekris)

Team Dongfeng win Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race (Photo by George Bekris)

 

May 4, 2015. Leg 6 to Newport onboard Dongfeng Race Team. Day 15. Some waves hit harder than others.

Leg 6 to Newport onboard Dongfeng Race Team. Day 15. Some waves hit harder than others. (Photo by Sam G reenfield/ Dongfeng Race Team/ Volvo Ocean Race)

Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) felt the familiar presence of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) to their stern on Wednesday as the thrilling Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race headed for a potential ‘photo finish’ in Newport, Rhode Island .

May 5, 2015. Leg 6 Newport onboard Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. Day 16.  Roberto Bermudez 'Chuny' wipes his eyes backlit by a magnificent sunset over the Atlantic Ocean.  (Photo by Matt Knighton / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing / Volvo Ocean Race)

May 5, 2015. Leg 6 Newport onboard Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. Day 16. Roberto Bermudez ‘Chuny’ wipes his eyes backlit by a magnificent sunset over the Atlantic Ocean. (Photo by Matt Knighton / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing / Volvo Ocean Race)

 

Leg 6
DTL

(NM)

GAIN/LOSS

(NM)

DTF

(NM)

Speed

(kt)

DFRT
DFRT 0.0 0.0 157 22.2
ADOR
ADOR 6.0 1.7 163 21.7
TBRU
TBRU 18.7 0.5 175 21.7
MAPF
MAPF 29.4 0.9 186 21.8
ALVI
ALVI 53.7 3.3 210 20.6
SCA1
SCA1 129.8 27.3 286 12.8
VEST
VEST Did Not Start

Latest positions may be downloaded
from the race dashboard here º MAPFRE given two-point penalty – read more

Dongfeng and Azzam set to battle it out to the finish
– Block Island decision could make or break leaders
Follow the Leg 6 climax all the way to Newport

ALICANTE, Spain, May 6 – Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) felt the familiar presence of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) to their stern on Wednesday as the thrilling Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race headed for a potential ‘photo finish’ in Newport, Rhode Island.

The Emirati boat, overall race leaders with seven points to spare from Dongfeng, have stuck to Caudrelier’s crew like glue for the last 24 hours.

The arch rivals were still just over 150 nautical miles (nm) from the finish of a 5,010nm stage from Itajaí, Brazil, at 0940 UTC on Wednesday after nearly 17 days of head-to-head racing since setting out on April 19.

Dongfeng Race Team held a narrow 6nm lead, but the final few hours before a probable Thursday morning finish could yet upset their hopes of a second stage victory following their Leg 3 triumph sailing to their home port of Sanya back in late January.

The boats are shortly exiting the Gulf Stream in good winds and will sail into reaching conditions of some 18 knots, the Race’s official meteorologist, Gonzalo Infante, reported on Wednesday.

They will then run into squally conditions, again with gusts of around 18 knots, before the westerly wind which is driving them turns north-east late afternoon/early evening UTC time.

Towards the end of the day, between 2100-2400 UTC, the boats will run into a relative brick wall in the form of a cold front for the last 30nm or so from Block Island onwards.

That could finally split the two – laterally at least – when they opt to go east or west and the decision could make or break either of them.

No wonder, then, that Infante is predicting: “We could be in for a photo finish.”

 Leg 6 to Newport onboard Team Brunel. Day 15. Rokas Milevicius stacks the sheets to the high side of the boat when the wind suddenly picks up. (Photo by Stefan Coppers / Team Brunel / Volvo Ocean Race )

Leg 6 to Newport onboard Team Brunel. Day 15. Rokas Milevicius stacks the sheets to the high side of the boat when the wind suddenly picks up. (Photo by Stefan Coppers / Team Brunel / Volvo Ocean Race )

The three boats behind them – Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED), MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP) and Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) (see panel above) – were still battling desperately to stay in touch in the hope that either of the front two could make an error in the final straight.

 Leg 6 to Newport onboard MAPFRE. Day 15. Night watch under the moon with Rafael Trujillo (Photo by   Francisco Vignale / MAPFRE / Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 6 to Newport onboard MAPFRE. Day 15. Night watch under the moon with Rafael Trujillo (Photo by
Francisco Vignale / MAPFRE / Volvo Ocean Race)

Meanwhile, at the back of the fleet, Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) lost significant ground in the last 24 hours with all hope of a first podium finish seemingly lost.

May 3, 2015. Leg 6 to Newport onboard Team SCA. Day 14. Sam Davies drives through the evening gybe. (Corinna Halloran / Team SCA / Volvo Ocean Race )

May 3, 2015. Leg 6 to Newport onboard Team SCA. Day 14. Sam Davies drives through the evening gybe. (Corinna Halloran / Team SCA / Volvo Ocean Race )

The mood on board Azzam is of high excitement. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing have already won two legs including the toughest of them all, Leg 5 through the Southern Ocean, and are hungry for another.

Their onboard reporter, Matt Knighton, summed up on Tuesday night: “Right now we need to pull out all the secrets we’ve got. In the breezy downwind conditions of the darkness, they’ve (Dongfeng) managed to sail lower and faster towards the mark and extended to 3nm ahead.

“We’ve found at least 10 rabbits in this magic hat of ours this leg – we just need to find one more.”

The boats will spend 10 days in Newport, hosting the race for the first time, before heading back across the Atlantic to Lisbon in Leg 7 on May 17.

Leg 6 to Newport onboard Team Alvimedica. Day 15. Nick Dana finishes hanging on the J1 jib before peeling to the smaller sail in a building breeze. Through the cold front, it's back upwind in 15-20 knots north towards Newport and colder water, 750 miles away. (Amory Ross / Team Alvimedica / Volvo Ocean Race )

May 04, 2015. Leg 6 to Newport onboard Team Alvimedica. Day 15. Nick Dana finishes hanging on the J1 jib before peeling to the smaller sail in a building breeze. Through the cold front, it’s back upwind in 15-20 knots north towards Newport and colder water, 750 miles away. (Amory Ross / Team Alvimedica / Volvo Ocean Race )