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.
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.
In a prelude to the Sunday start of the inaugural Transat New York – Vendée Race 12 of the 14 competing IMOCA 60’s assembled on the Hudson River to compete in the Currency House Charity Race. Paul Meilhat and crew on SMA took lead from the start and continued to hold their lead up to the very end securing a win. Meilhat donate the US$ 5,000 prize to the Surf Rider Foundation, for which Meilhat is ambassador.
The fleet filled the Hudson River with brightly colored sails and some of the best of the ocean racing skippers currently on the circuit to show their boats off to New York in the shadow of the Freedom Tower and the iconic New York skyline.
The racing started upwind just off North Cove Marina and skirted down the Hudson past the Statue of Liberty towards Staten Island before turning and raising their spinnaker’s for the downwind run to the finish.
With 8 knots or so at the start knots of wind the conditions provided a comfortable upwind leg and built about 12 knots toward the end giving the spectators along Battery Park a spectacular view of the boats filled with press and guests cruising with filled spinnakers.
The fleet was filled with a mix of many seasoned circumnavigators with years of Vendée Globe races under their belt as well as some skippers new to the race out to prove their metal in unquestionably one of the world’s toughest ocean races. In 5 months they will leave out from Les Sables d’Olonne, France in a quest to solo circumnavigate the globe non-stop and unassisted.
Meilhat commented about the racing after his win. ““We had a good start and after that it was easier. We were in front and we needed to control Maître CoQ and she was maybe 50m behind us at the top mark. So it was really close, really hard. But we made a good choice of spinnaker and Maître CoQ didn’t, so then it was easier because we were much faster downwind.”
“I am happy to have won for our association [charity],” said Meilhat. “The Surf Rider Foundation protects the environment, principally the sea and the shore. They have projects to clean beaches and to educate children. It also tries to control the pollution from maritime traffic such as oil spillages.”
Among SMA’s crew was two time Vendee Globe winner Michel Desjoyeaux.
And is the result of the Currency House Charity Race likely to be reflected in next week’s transatlantic race? “I hope so. We’ve been working towards that!” says Meilhat.
Enda O’Coineen, Chairman of Currency House commented: “Starting here in the heart of New York, berthed at North Cove, alongside Wall Street, the fleet which today competed in the Currency House Charity Race and which will be heading to France on Sunday is iconic. Today was the most incredible spectacle. We had the Big Apple to port and the Statue of Liberty to starboard and Sunday the fleet will head for France out into the fierce Atlantic Ocean, which is never to be underestimated.
“At Currency House, as leading-edge Forex company, we take pride in supporting the most advanced ocean racing fleet in the world, which this year is pushing the boundaries of yacht design with the latest in foil technologies. For us, also as the most advanced trading platform – and relating directly to the lone solo skippers (as a lone Forex trader is at their desk) this is a brilliant event for Currency House to get in behind. We wish all team fair winds and safe sailing and trading….”
Sunday will mark the start of a new race and a new tradition of racing for New York as the racers will assemble every four years to compete in the IMOCA Ocean Masters New York – Vendée Race.
For more images of the Currency House Charity Race by George Bekris visit www.georgebekris.com
Currency House Charity Race Results:
2. Yann Eliès – Groupe Quéguiner – Queguiner Leucémie Espoir
3. Jérémie Beyou – Maître CoQ
4. Vincent Riou – PRB – Vendée Globe
5. Morgan Lagravière – Safran Sailing Team
6. Sébastien Josse – Edmond De Rothschild
7. Alex Thomson Racing – HUGO BOSS
8. Jean-Pierre Dick – StMichel Virbac
9. Fabrice Amedeo – Newrest-Matmut
10. Armel Le Cléac’h – Voile Banque Populaire
11. Tanguy de Lamotte – Initiatives Cœur
12. Kojiro Shiraishi – Spirit of Yukoh
DNS. Pieter Heerema – No Way Back
DNS. Conrad Colman Ocean Racing – 100% Natural Energy
Fourteen IMOCA 60s will set sail from New York this Sunday in the last major singlehanded race before November’s singlehanded non-stop round the world marathon, the Vendée Globe.
More than half of the Vendée Globe fleet is taking part in the New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) Race presented by Currency House and SpaceCode. This, the fourth event in the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship 2015-2016, will see the solo skippers and their boats leaving set sail from New York on a 3100 mile course across the North Atlantic, bound for the Vendée Globe start-finish port of Les Sables d’Olonne on France’s Atlantic coast.
The fleet, currently berthed in Manhattan’s North Cove Marina close to ‘Ground Zero’, includes the six latest generation IMOCA 60s. These futuristic-looking machines represent the cutting edge of offshore yacht racing technology, fitted with retracting J-shaped foils that enable the boats at times literally to fly.
Among the six are Armel le Cleac’h and Banque Populaire, recent winners of the Transat bakerly. Runner-up in the last two Vendée Globes, Le Cleac’h is favourite for the race to the Vendée. He will be up against Hugo Boss skipper, Britain’s Alex Thomson, who finished the last Vendée Globe in third and who now also has a new generation design and Sébastien Josse on Edmond de Rothschild, stand-out winner of December’s Transat St-Barth – Port-la-Forêt.
Other leading French entrants include Barcelona World Race two time winner, Jean-Pierre Dick on his new St Michel-Virbac, while leading the charge on ‘conventionally’ foiled older generation boats will be PRB’s Vincent Riou, winner of the 2004 Vendée Globe, and Queguiner-Leucemie Espoir’s Yann Eliès, a three time winner of the ultra-competitive solo offshore race, the Solitaire du Figaro. Another triple Solitaire winner racing is Jérémie Beyou, skipper of Maître CoQ, unique in the fleet for being an older generation boat, retrofitted with new generation foils.
Beyond Alex Thomson, there are three other non-French skippers competing.
The US home crowd will be rooting for Conrad Colman, the half US/half New Zealand skipper of 100% Natural Energy. Colman has spent the last eight years serving his apprenticeship to compete in the Vendée Globe, which has already included two round the world races.
Colman is proud to have his own campaign: “I’m proud to flag the flag for the United States and New Zealand. I went to high school not far away from NYC, so it’s great to return to my old stomping grounds. I hope to give local fans a friendly face to cheer for. I think these races have universal appeal and can attract a new American audience.”
Coming from furthest away is Japan’s Kojiro Shiraishi for whom competing in the Vendée Globe is a 30 year old dream. Of his ability to compete, there is no doubt: the Vendée Globe will be his fourth solo circumnavigation.
The New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) Race presented by Currency House and SpaceCode will be Shiraishi’s first race in his new boat (ex-Hugo Boss) and the first solo: “It is fantastic. I really love it. It is the newest boat I’ve ever had – very stable and more powerful,” says Shiraishi.
Approaching his campaign from yet another angle is Pieter Heerema. The Dutch businessman is an highly experienced yachtsman who’s sailed all his life, in dinghies and keelboats, where he is best known for his successes in the RC44 and Dragon classes.
However his new No Way Back, a powerful, new generation design IMOCA 60, is very different to the one designs he has previously raced. And sailing it solo is even more challenging: All Heerema’s previous boats he has raced with crew.
“It is a piece of the puzzle of sailing that I haven’t done yet and one of the boxes that I have to tick,” says Heerema.
The New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) Race presented by Currency House and SpaceCode sets sail at 1100 local time on Sunday May 29th, from a line immediately off Manhattan’s North Cove marina. This will be preceded on Friday, May 27th by the Currency House Charity Race.
(Photo: Thierry Martinez)
Entry list for the New York- Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne)
- Fabrice Amedeo – NEWREST Matmut (France)
- Jeremie Beyou – MAITRE COQ (France)
- Conrad Colman – 100% NATURAL ENERGY (New Zealand/USA)
- Tanguy de Lamotte – INITIATIVES COEUR (France)
- Jean-Pierre Dick – StMICHEL VIRBAC (France)
- Yann Eliès – QUEGUINER-LEUCEMIE ESPOIR (France)
- Pieter Heerema – NO WAY BACK (Netherlands)
- Sébastien Josse – EDMOND DE ROTHSCHILD (France)
- Morgan Lagravière – SAFRAN (France)
- Armel Le Cléac’h – BANQUE POPULAIRE VIII (France)
- Paul Meilhat – SMA (France)
- Vincent Riou – PRB (France)
- Kojiro Shiraishi – Spirit of Yukoh (Japan)
- Alex Thomson – HUGO BOSS (Great Britain)
Facts and figures
- 1st edition of the New York-Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne)
- 14 entries
- 3100 nautical miles
- 4th leg of the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship
- Start on 29 May at 11.00am EST (16.00 BST)
- Estimated Arrival : from 5 June 2016 in Les Sables d’Olonne
- Official event of the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship 2015-2016
- 27 May: Press Conference and Currency House Charity Race on the Hudson River:
- 29 May at 11.00 EST: New York-Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) start – on the Hudson River off North Cove Marina.
- Position updates during the race: Every 15 minutes, with a blackout between 23.00 and 04.00 BST
- from 5 June: Arrivals in Les Sables d’Olonne – the Vendée Globe home port
IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship 2015-2016
- Rolex Fastnet Race (double-handed), Cowes-Plymouth (UK), winners Vincent Riou – Sébastien Col (PRB)
- Transat Jacques Vabre (double-handed), Le Havre (FRA) – Itajaï (BR), winners Vincent Riou – Sébastien Col (PRB)
- Transat Saint-Barth / Port-la-Forêt (FRA) (single-handed), winner Sébastien Josse (Edmond de Rothschild)
- IMOCA Ocean Masters New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) (single-handed), Starts on 29 May 2016
- Vendée Globe (single-handed), Starts on 6 November 2016
IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship Rankings after 3 legs:
- Vincent Riou (PRB) 69 points
- Fabrice Amedeo (Newrest-Matmut) 63 points
- Yann Eliès (Queguiner-Leucémie Espoir) 62 points
- Thomas Ruyant (Le Souffle du Nord) 61 points
- Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque populaire) 57 points
For further information: