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.
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
“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.”
The Maxi Trimaran IDEC SPORT sailed by Francis Joyon, Clément Surtel, Alex Pella, Bernard Stamm, Gwénolé Gahinet and Sébastien Audigane won the Jules Verne Trophy, the outright round the world sailing record, this morning.
Francis Joyon and his crew sailed the 22,461 theoretical miles in 40 days, 23 hours, 30 minutes and 30 seconds, at an average speed of 22.84 knots.
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.
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
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
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.
Francis Joyon and his crew of five took the decision yesterday morning to turn back after six days of sailing in their attempt at the round the world record. Aboard IDEC SPORT, they are heading for Brest to await a better opportunity to conquer the Jules Verne Trophy.
After what was a more than satisfying start until the Cape Verde Islands, the maxi-trimaran IDEC SPORT found herself taken prisoner in the Doldrums, which were very active and expanding in front of them. Even experienced sailors like Francis Joyon, Bernard Stamm, Alex Pella and Boris Herrmann were surprised by the situation.
Francis Joyon looks back at this episode for us. “Aboard the red and grey bird, we are approaching the Doldrums feeling upbeat after these first few days at sea. We’re on schedule and our virtual rival is alongside us on the tracker. The weather models and satellite photos indicate a fairly rapid crossing of the 200 miles separating the winds in the North and South Atlantic. We’re entering a zone of leaden skies and heavy rain, but feeling quietly confident.”
“If you total up the experience of the six of us, you’re looking at several dozen crossings of this zone. But it is hell out here with rain that is getting heavier and heavier leaving several centimetres of water on the deck, while the skies are so black that it’s like night. Sudden violent gusts hit us, and we have to sail downwind for a few minutes before finding the sails flapping with no wind at all.”
Under full sail in the dark just to get out of there
“That was just the introduction to the thirty hours that would follow. I can remember one particular moment at night with Alex at the helm under full mainsail and big gennaker, when we were forced to run downwind in 40 knots of wind. This wasn’t one big gust, but wind that lasted a fairly long time, to the extent that we wondered how long it would be before the boat capsized if it got any worse. Under full sail in the dark with sails wide open, we sped along in the dark without paying attention to the route, just to get away from the worst. Last time Alex found himself in such a situation, aboard a MOD70 a few months ago, (Musandam Oman Sail – Transat Quebec/Saint-Malo, editor’s note), the wind proved too strong for the boat to keep her balance and she suddenly went over with Alex trapped under the net. It was a very lucky escape for him and this experience has strengthened his courage. Then, there were the calms with the trimaran drifting at 1 knot, a snail’s pace.”
Heading north to Brittany for another start
“The skipper’s mood sank as did that of the crew that are usually so upbeat. We saw the hours slipping by. Hours when we should have been hopping onto a low a long way south, which was heading for the Cape of Good Hope without us. The following morning we should have been in the SE’ly trade winds, but it was too late. The stopwatch, usually on our side, was against us, so all we could do was head north to go back across the Doldrums and towards Brittany to give it another go later. There’s no getting away from the Doldrums…”
It was at 21:14:45 UTC on Sunday 20th November that Francis Joyon and his crew crossed the start line for the Jules Verne Trophy, the outright round the world sailing record, on IDEC SPORT. “All we can see is the Créac’h Lighthouse. It’s pitch black. But we have the impression that this is the start of something big,” commented Francis Joyon, the skipper of IDEC SPORT, who was in a hurry not to avoid the weather opportunity ahead of the bows of the 31m long trimaran.
24 knots crossing the line
Francis Joyon, Bernard Stamm, Alex Pella, Gwénolé Gahinet, Clément Surtel and Boris Herrmann left the harbour in Brest shortly before 1845 UTC. They had intended to wait a while in the light airs at the centre of the low before making the most of some powerful and favourable winds generated to the west of this system. The weather however meant they did not have to remain patient for long, as they ended up crossing the line much earlier than scheduled. This commando force of exceptional sailors set off on Sunday to break the record, propelled along at 24 knots after a change of headsail over the line between the Le Créac’h lighthouse on Ushant and The Lizard at the SW tip of Britain.
The situation is very unusual for a record attempt and this is a first for Francis Joyon. The voyage is beginning with light airs, but northerly gales are on their way to the tip of Brittany. This is the system that Francis and his router, Marcel van Triest have been looking at. The skipper hopes to pick up these winds later this Monday morning to speed across the Bay of Biscay and get to the trade winds off Portugal and the Canaries without hitch.
The first few hours were more of a slow trot as they make their way across a ridge, where there are light winds and calms. So the maxi trimaran is practically stopped waiting for the big blow to head towards the SW. As usual, the sea state will determine how fast they can go. The storms which swept across Western France this weekend led to a heavy swell, but this has eased and is in the same direction as the wind, so it should not be too much of a problem for the multihull.
Same people to try again
After making an initial attempt last year and getting ever so close to the record, the crew of IDEC SPORT has set off in the same configuration as last time. There is no point in changing such a fantastic combination. To smash the record set by Loïck Peyron and his crew of thirteen dating back to January 2012 and see his name in the record books for the eighth time, Francis Joyon along with his crew of five must return to cross this same line between Brittany and Cornwall by 10:56:38 UTC on 5th January 2017.
They will all be there again ready to sail around the world, as soon as the opportunity presents itself. Maybe in late October, but in any case, “as early as possible,” declared Francis Joyon. In particular, because “there aren’t many of these opportunities between October and February” and by setting off early in the season, there is a greater likelihood of moving from one system to another on the final climb back up the Atlantic. Taking advantage of their first round the world voyage together, when they pulled off some remarkable achievements (Indian Ocean record, in particular) but above all, experienced an extraordinary human adventure, the six sailors on IDEC SPORT are going to do it all over again, hoping that they will be luckier this time and grab the record held by Loïck Peyron’s crew since 2012 – 45 days, 13 hours, 42 minutes and 53 seconds.
The trimaran skippered by Yann Guichard has finished its first Jules Verne Trophy, registering the second fastest time in history, and with Dona Bertarelli becoming the fastest woman to have sailed around the world.
– Spindrift racing has finished its first voyage around the world
– Spindrift 2 crossed the line at 15:01 UTC after 47 days 10 hours 59 minutes and 02 seconds at sea
– The trimaran is expected to arrive in La Trinité-sur-Mer at around 21:00 UTC
The sailors on Spindrift 2 crossed the finish line of the Jules Verne Trophy off Ushant at 15:01 UTC on Friday, after 47 days 10 hours 59 minutes and 02 seconds at sea. After nearly 29,000 miles travelled at an average speed of 25.35 knots, Spindrift 2 completed the circle on its first voyage around the world by claiming the second fastest time in history. The crew, led by Yann Guichard, did not better, on this attempt, the time set by Loïck Peyron (they were slower by 1d 21h 16’ 09”), whose record of 45 days 13 hours 42 minutes is still the one to beat. However, they were 20 hours 45 minutes 50 seconds faster than the time set by Franck Cammas in 2010, over this always demanding course. During its high-speed journey, the black and gold trimaran also improved three record times (Ushant-Equator, Ushant-Tasmania and Ushant-Cape Horn) and held, for a few hours, the record for the crossing of the Indian Ocean. One woman among 13 men on this record attempt, and the first to complete a Jules Verne Trophy course, Dona Bertarelli is now the fastest woman to have sailed around the world.
The crew is sailing to its home port and base in La Trinité-sur-Mer and is expected to arrive there at 21:00 UTC on Friday night. They will be greeted by the public and notably the schoolchildren who shared the adventure, along with the families, friends, project partners, supporters and onshore members of this young Spindrift racing team, who have prepared a warm welcome on the harbour. After the arrival of the trimaran, the sailors will enjoy sharing a drink and some oysters with the public.
They left in the dark of night on November 22, and in the afternoon of January 8, just before sunset, the three bows of Spindrift 2 emerged from the great Atlantic swell with Dona Bertarelli, Yann Guichard, Sébastien Audigane, Antoine Carraz, Thierry Duprey du Vorsent, Christophe Espagnon, Jacques Guichard, Erwan Israël, Loïc Le Mignon, Sébastien Marsset, François Morvan, Xavier Revil, Yann Riou and Thomas Rouxel on board.
Yann Guichard, skipper: “The passage south of the Cape of Good Hope was one of the most important moments for me, but then, finishing in front of Ushant is also a relief. Not in the sense of liberation, because I wasn’t a prisoner and I really enjoyed this round-the-world voyage, but it’s time I have a little break. Of course, there was a bit of stress, but that’s part of my job.
This Jules Verne Trophy has been a series of firsts for me: going around the world, rounding the three capes, having so many days on the clock… And I really want to get back out there. The boat is perfectly adapted for this task, we’ll just need the weather to be with us. And then the South Seas, they’re magical. The Indian Ocean was rather grey, but in the Pacific we were treated to some incredible light when we went down to almost 60° South… But I’ll remember all the birds most: the albatrosses, petrels, fulmars and Cape petrels constantly following us.
My biggest fear was when we hit an unidentified object with the foil: I thought we were going to have to give up. I’m glad we’ve finished because since Cape Horn – and this goes beyond just the effect on the record attempt – the climb back up the Atlantic was as severe on the boat as on the crew.”
Dona Bertarelli, helm/trimmer: “This ascent of the Atlantic has been long, laborious, and it felt like time was standing still. Fortunately yesterday, we could feel the finish line because we passed the symbolic mark of being 500 miles from Ushant: it was a special moment and I didn’t sleep much last night because there was so much emotion and adrenaline. Completing this voyage around the world allowed me to achieve the goals I had set myself, even if we didn’t beat the record for the Jules Verne Trophy. I have no regrets because the essential thing was to get back to Ushant as quickly as possible and we did everything we could to achieve that.
The voyage was a great experience for me because we all know each other very well and everyone respected each other’s individualities. It was really nice because it’s a team of real friends. But it’s also because of having been able, somehow, to exorcise my fears, those fears of plunging into the Southern Ocean or being so far from anything. Through writing articles for the schools in France and Switzerland and continuing to communicate with the world and share my experiences, I never felt isolated or alone on this adventure.”
A first one together
The crew was able to manage a journey across the oceans for over a month and a half. The incredible experience accumulated on a voyage around the world showed that the optimisations made the previous winter have paid off: with its rigging slightly shorter but much lighter and more aerodynamically efficient, Spindrift 2 was safer in the wind and easier to handle in moderate winds, without compromising its qualities in light airs. But the three storm fronts and ridges of high pressure that cluttered the Indian Ocean after the Kerguelen Islands, the Pacific before Cape Horn, and the South Atlantic off Brazil, were too much even for the efforts and perseverance of this crew. And that is without counting an arduous climb up the Atlantic due to adverse headwinds at the latitude of Argentina and Uruguay, and an uncooperative Azores High between the Canaries and Florida. The whole Spindrift team can be proud of what has been achieved, and that they rose to the challenge and finished the journey despite the problems pitted along the way, such as breaking the lower part of the port foil in the Indian Ocean after hitting a UFO (unidentified floating object). It was a collision that caused a crack in the port hull and could have cost them the Indian Ocean record. Then, later, there was the sudden weakness in the mast (repaired at sea) off Uruguay.
The 14 sailors have set three new record times on this voyage around the world. The first came from the start at Ushant to the Equator in 4 days 21 hours 29 minutes, a staggering average of 30.33 knots on the theoretical route (the shortest route). The second, between Ushant and the South of Tasmania, symbolising the entrance into the Pacific Ocean, was 20 days 04 hours 37 minutes. Incidentally, Spindrift 2 fleetingly held the record for crossing the Indian Ocean in 8 days 04 hours 35 minutes, which was broken a few hours later by IDEC Sport, who also left from Ushant on November 22. Finally, the third record: Ushant-Cape Horn in 30 days 04 hours 07 minutes, which brought a lead of 18 hours and 11 minutes over Banque Populaire V.
The women’s record
This Jules Verne Trophy has also finished with the confirmation of Dona Bertarelli as the fastest woman to have sailed around the world. During her standby watches, she also focused on the ocean environment of a voyage around the world and shared her feelings, discoveries and logbook. And she corresponded, in particular, with 2,000 children from schools in France and Switzerland, who are partners of the Spindrift for Schools programme, to help improve their understanding of these maritime areas and the species, so often under threat, which live there.
There has also been a lot of life experience garnered along the miles covered across three oceans. A voyage around the world is not for the faint-hearted: from suffering the coldness of the Southern Ocean, to enduring the blistering Equatorial heat, braving the icy spray hitting your face at more than 40mph, performing a succession of manoeuvres in fading and fickle winds, worrying about the approach of drift ice and being trapped with 13 other people in a 20m³ box…