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

 

Maxi Trimaran IDEC SPORT, Skipper Francis Joyon and his crew, prior to their Jules Verne Trophy record attempt, crew circumnavigation, in Brest on November 20, 2016 - Photo Jean-Marie Liot / DPPI

Maxi Trimaran IDEC SPORT, Skipper Francis Joyon and his crew, prior to their Jules Verne Trophy record attempt, crew circumnavigation, in Brest on November 20, 2016 – Photo Jean-Marie Liot / DPPI

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…”

Training for the maxi tri IDEC Sport, skipper Francis Joyon, and his crew, prior to their circumnavigation crew record attempt for Trophy Jules Verne, off Belle Ile, on october 12, 2016 - Photo Jean-Marie Liot / DPPI / IDEC

Training for the maxi tri IDEC Sport, skipper Francis Joyon, and his crew, prior to their circumnavigation crew record attempt for Trophy Jules Verne, off Belle Ile, on october 12, 2016 – Photo Jean-Marie Liot / DPPI / IDEC

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.

Maxi Trimaran IDEC SPORT, Skipper Francis Joyon and his crew, prior to their Jules Verne Trophy record attempt, crew circumnavigation, in Brest on November 20, 2016 - Photo Jean-Marie Liot / DPPI

Maxi Trimaran IDEC SPORT, Skipper Francis Joyon and his crew, prior to their Jules Verne Trophy record attempt, crew circumnavigation, in Brest on November 20, 2016 – Photo Jean-Marie Liot / DPPI

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.

Gwenole Gahinet portrait, crew member of IDEC Sport Maxi Trimaran, skipper Francis Joyon, prior to their circumnavigation record attempt, in La Trinite sur Mer, France, on october 13, 2015 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / IDEC

Gwenole Gahinet portrait, crew member of IDEC Sport Maxi Trimaran, skipper Francis Joyon, prior to their circumnavigation record attempt, in La Trinite sur Mer, France, on october 13, 2015 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / IDEC

Clement Surtel portrait, crew member of IDEC Sport Maxi Trimaran, skipper Francis Joyon, prior to their circumnavigation record attempt, in La Trinite sur Mer, France, on october 13, 2015 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / IDEC

Clement Surtel portrait, crew member of IDEC Sport Maxi Trimaran, skipper Francis Joyon, prior to their circumnavigation record attempt, in La Trinite sur Mer, France, on october 13, 2015 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / IDEC

xxxx portrait, crew member of IDEC Sport Maxi Trimaran, skipper Francis Joyon, prior to their circumnavigation record attempt, in La Trinite sur Mer, France, on october 13, 2015 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / IDEC

xxxx portrait, crew member of IDEC Sport Maxi Trimaran, skipper Francis Joyon, prior to their circumnavigation record attempt, in La Trinite sur Mer, France, on october 13, 2015 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / IDEC

Bernard Stamm portrait, crew member of IDEC Sport Maxi Trimaran, skipper Francis Joyon, prior to their circumnavigation record attempt, in La Trinite sur Mer, France, on october 13, 2015 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / IDEC

Bernard Stamm portrait, crew member of IDEC Sport Maxi Trimaran, skipper Francis Joyon, prior to their circumnavigation record attempt, in La Trinite sur Mer, France, on october 13, 2015 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / IDEC

xxxx portrait, crew member of IDEC Sport Maxi Trimaran, skipper Francis Joyon, prior to their circumnavigation record attempt, in La Trinite sur Mer, France, on october 13, 2015 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / IDEC

xxxx portrait, crew member of IDEC Sport Maxi Trimaran, skipper Francis Joyon, prior to their circumnavigation record attempt, in La Trinite sur Mer, France, on october 13, 2015 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / IDEC

Alex Pella portrait, crew member of IDEC Sport Maxi Trimaran, skipper Francis Joyon, prior to their circumnavigation record attempt, in La Trinite sur Mer, France, on october 13, 2015 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / IDEC

Alex Pella portrait, crew member of IDEC Sport Maxi Trimaran, skipper Francis Joyon, prior to their circumnavigation record attempt, in La Trinite sur Mer, France, on october 13, 2015 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / IDEC

 

Francis Joyon portrait, skipper of IDEC Sport Maxi Trimaran, prior to their circumnavigation record attempt, in La Trinite sur Mer, France, on october 13, 2015 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / IDEC

Francis Joyon portrait, skipper of IDEC Sport Maxi Trimaran, prior to their circumnavigation record attempt, in La Trinite sur Mer, France, on october 13, 2015 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / IDEC

IDEC Sport Maxi Trimaran crew members, skipper Francis Joyon, prior to their circumnavigation record attempt, in La Trinite sur Mer, France, on october 13, 2015 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / IDEC

IDEC Sport Maxi Trimaran crew members, skipper Francis Joyon, prior to their circumnavigation record attempt, in La Trinite sur Mer, France, on october 13, 2015 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / IDEC

September 28th, 2016
IDEC SPORT will once again be tackling the Jules Verne Trophy, less than a year after their last attempt, when Francis Joyon’s crew only missed out on the record by two days. For the first time in the history of the Trophy, the crew will remain the same. For this wild bunch of just six, there is the feeling that the job needs to be completed.
At the finish in Brest last February, the six sailors on IDEC SPORT, without exception, stated that they wanted to get back together and sail around the world. A lot of people thought it was just a statement, a desire expressed in the heat of the moment at the finish, particularly as it is never easy to bring together such world-renowned sailors, who are often hired for other adventures or other races. It seemed that the likelihood of setting off with exactly the same crew was remote… but that is exactly what is going to happen.
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.
Francis Joyon portrait, skipper of IDEC Sport Maxi Trimaran, prior to their circumnavigation record attempt, in La Trinite sur Mer, France, on october 13, 2015 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / IDEC

Francis Joyon portrait, skipper of IDEC Sport Maxi Trimaran, prior to their circumnavigation record attempt, in La Trinite sur Mer, France, on october 13, 2015 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / IDEC

Francis Joyon presents…
Let’s leave the job of presenting the five sailors to Francis Joyon, who sailed 30,000 miles with them. They come from a range of backgrounds, but are all good all-rounders and motivated by the same goal – to become the fastest men around the world:
Alex Pella portrait, crew member of IDEC Sport Maxi Trimaran, skipper Francis Joyon, prior to their circumnavigation record attempt, in La Trinite sur Mer, France, on october 13, 2015 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / IDEC

Alex Pella portrait, crew member of IDEC Sport Maxi Trimaran, skipper Francis Joyon, prior to their circumnavigation record attempt, in La Trinite sur Mer, France, on october 13, 2015 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / IDEC

Alex Pella (SPAIN) 43
F.J.: “Alex was on watch with Bernard (Stamm) and they got on like a house on fire. You just have to watch the funny videos they did together to see that… Alex has a huge experience of sailing on all sorts of boats, in particular on 60-foot IMOCAs (the Vendée Globe boats). He is bringing us his wealth of experience from solo, double-handed and crewed racing. As there aren’t many of us, we don’t have defined roles on board and everyone needs to know how to do everything! Alex is a very good trimmer, helmsman, but is also good when carrying out manoeuvres on the bow…. In fact, I’m wondering what he isn’t good at!”
>Bon in Barcelona, the Catalan sailor began his career on a Mini 6.50 (2nd in the Transatlantic race) before winning the Route du Rhum on a Class40. He has also sailed a lot on bigger boats, in particular in the Barcelona World Race, in which he finished fourth in 2011.
xxxx portrait, crew member of IDEC Sport Maxi Trimaran, skipper Francis Joyon, prior to their circumnavigation record attempt, in La Trinite sur Mer, France, on october 13, 2015 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / IDEC

xxxx portrait, crew member of IDEC Sport Maxi Trimaran, skipper Francis Joyon, prior to their circumnavigation record attempt, in La Trinite sur Mer, France, on october 13, 2015 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / IDEC

Boris Herrmann (GER) 35
F.J: “Befoere coming out with us, Boris had already sailed around the world on a small boat, a project he ran himself. He sails a lot with a crew, but also has a lot of experience sailing solo. He’s a nice, friendly guy, who knows how to do a lot of things. He is also a good all-rounder. Our crew is basically a group of solo sailors who complement and help each other. He fits in perfectly with those criteria.”
>In 2009, Boris Herrmann became the first German to win a round the world record: the Global Ocean Race. He can do anything, has sailed on small monohulls and giant multihulls and has the experience having faced the hostility of the Southern Ocean. Like a Swiss army knife, he is multi-purpose.
Bernard Stamm portrait, crew member of IDEC Sport Maxi Trimaran, skipper Francis Joyon, prior to their circumnavigation record attempt, in La Trinite sur Mer, France, on october 13, 2015 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / IDEC

Bernard Stamm portrait, crew member of IDEC Sport Maxi Trimaran, skipper Francis Joyon, prior to their circumnavigation record attempt, in La Trinite sur Mer, France, on october 13, 2015 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / IDEC

Bernard Stamm (CH) 52
F.J: “Out of all of this, it is Bernard, who has clocked up the most round the world voyages. He is our most determined helmsman. He knows how to speed the boat up, but keeps that speed going. During our last attempt, he gave us something extra in terms of strategy, navigation, finding the ideal route. It’s always worth listening to his advice. Having taken part in the Vendée Globe, where routing is not allowed, he has really worked hard on these matters. He is very clever at analysing satellite photos.”
Ø The only member of the IDEC SPORT gang, who has already held the Jules Verne Trophy (in 2005 as part of Bruno Peyron’s crew), Bernard has already won three round the world races on monohulls – the solo race, Around Alone twice and the double-handed Barcelona World Race once with Jean Le Cam. An impressive CV.
Clement Surtel portrait, crew member of IDEC Sport Maxi Trimaran, skipper Francis Joyon, prior to their circumnavigation record attempt, in La Trinite sur Mer, France, on october 13, 2015 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / IDEC

Clement Surtel portrait, crew member of IDEC Sport Maxi Trimaran, skipper Francis Joyon, prior to their circumnavigation record attempt, in La Trinite sur Mer, France, on october 13, 2015 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / IDEC

Clément Surtel (FRA) 37
F.J: “With Corentin (Joyon, his son) and me, Clément takes care of the boat throughout the year, and he did that before for the previous skippers. So, he is the one, who know the equipment best of all. Whenever there is a technical question, a risk of wear and tear or a part that looks like breaking, he is able to answer all our questions. He is a key figure, as he has known the boat for years. He’s a nice chap, who gets on with everyone, who has a great character. He loves trimming, carrying out manoeuvres and being at the helm. He has a wide range of talents, is a good all-rounder, but also an experience of solo sailing…”
Ø Fascinated by multihulls, Clément has a huge experience of giant trimarans. He was in charge of preparing the boat, when she was in the hands of Franck Cammas. Before going aboard IDEC last year for the round the world attempt, he was a member of the shore team for two Jules Verne Trophies in 2005 and 2010.
Gwenole Gahinet portrait, crew member of IDEC Sport Maxi Trimaran, skipper Francis Joyon, prior to their circumnavigation record attempt, in La Trinite sur Mer, France, on october 13, 2015 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / IDEC

Gwenole Gahinet portrait, crew member of IDEC Sport Maxi Trimaran, skipper Francis Joyon, prior to their circumnavigation record attempt, in La Trinite sur Mer, France, on october 13, 2015 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / IDEC

Gwénolé Gahinet (FRA) 32
F.J: “Gwéno is someone, who is appreciated by all the crews he has sailed with. He was maybe lacking in experience in comparison to the older guys, who accompanied him during the last round the world attempt, but now he knows the score as well as the rest of us. He spent a long time at the helm last year, carried out a lot of manoeuvres and trimming… He is another of those all-rounders, whom you can always count on.”
Ø Son of the late Gilles Gahinet,a legendary sailor, “Gwéno” is also an engineer in boat design and worked a lot with the VPLP design team that came up with IDEC SPORT. He is above all an excellent navigator, who achieved several major victories on a Mini 6.50 and in the Figaro class before tackling the round the world adventure.
Router back on dry land: Marcel Van Triest (NDL), 52
F.J: “A fantastic router… whom we hope to have sailing with us on IDEC SPORT in early October. This will be useful, as he will get a better idea of what life is like on board. We’ll be thinking of him a lot, as he works in the sunshine of the Balearic Islands, while we’re in amongst the ice in the Southern Ocean. It was like that several times last year (laughs).”
Ø The Flying Dutchman, as he has been nicknamed, is one of the top routers in the world. He will be trying to beat his own record, as he worked with Loïck Peyron in 2012. Another detail: Marcel is also a great sailor himself having clocked up five round the world races.
Francis Joyon (FRA), 60
F.J: “It’s never easy to present yourself… Let’s just say I’m the youngster in the crew! One of the most important things for me before our last attempt was to manage to experience a round the world voyage, where the sailors enjoyed themselves… because it’s more fun like that, but also because if you enjoy something, you do it well. I think we were successful from that point of view. The proof being that we only just missed out… and now they’re all returning. As there aren’t many of us, it is vital that we all get on well together. I leave them use their own initiative. The watch system for example is something they came up with, not me.”
Ø The only sailor in the world to have the four major solo sailing records at the same time – the Round the World record, the Atlantic record, the 24-Hour record and the Columbus Route record, Francis Joyon’s attempt with a crew was closely followed last year. He certainly passed the test. Will he become the first sailor to hold the outright round the world record sailing solo and with a crew?
In brief
The IDEC SPORT crew
Francis Joyon (FRA), skipper
Bernard Stamm (CH), helmsman-trimmer
Gwénolé Gahinet (FRA), helmsman-trimmer
Alex Pella (ESP), helmsman-trimmer
Clément Surtel (FRA), helmsman-trimmer
Boris Herrmann (GER), helmsman-trimmer
Marcel Van Triest (NLD), on-shore router
. The Jules Verne Trophy
Record to beat: 45 days, 13 hours, 42 minutes and 53 seconds set by Loïck Peyron and his crew of 13 in January 2012 on the trimaran Banque Populaire V (40 m)
Average speed to beat: 19.75 knots
Course: around the world via the three capes, Good Hope, Leeuwin, Horn.
Great circle distance: 21,600 miles
Start and finish line between Ushant (Créac’h Lighthouse and The Lizard (Cornwall).
. The IDEC SPORT trimaran
Trimaran with foils
Designers: VPLP
Previous names: Groupama 3, Banque Populaire VII
Initial launch: June 2006
Length: 31.50 m
Beam: 22.50 m
Displacement: 15 t
Draught: 5.70 m
Mast height: 33.50 m
Structure: carbon-nomex

TROPHEE JULES VERNE

 

Francis Joyon on IDEC SPORT (Photo courtesy IDEC SPORT)

Francis Joyon on IDEC SPORT (Photo © IDEC Sport)

December 9th, 2015

The happy faces on the sailors during this morning’s video conference live from IDEC SPORT were a pleasure to see. Francis Joyon’s crew is in the process of seeing their gamble pay off and ending up on the right side of the area of low pressure coming down from Madagascar. The big, red trimaran is smoking: 450 miles regained in two and a half days.

Less than 350 miles behind the record pace in comparison with 800 on Sunday, IDEC SPORT is clocking up the miles at very high speed. Deep in the Southern Ocean, Francis Joyon and his crew of five have put their foot down, clearly stating their goal: to attempt to stay above 30 knots for as long as possible and weave their way around the Great Circle Route low down in the Furious Fifties between 52 and 54 degrees south.

Maxi Trimaran IDEC SPORT in the Indian Ocean (Photo © IDEC Sport)

Maxi Trimaran IDEC SPORT in the Indian Ocean (Photo © IDEC Sport)

As fast as possible on the shortest route
This is not some miracle that has suddenly happened, but the result of a carefully thought out strategy developed with their onshore router, Marcel van Triest. According to him, the risk of encountering icebergs is not as great as 48 hours ago, when a 150m long monster was spotted on the radar. The race track looks clearer now and they can get the speed back up.
So they are on the attack, sailing as fast as possible on the shortest route, even if this means diving down to where no multihull has gone during such a record attempt. Yesterday evening, IDEC SPORT gybed at 54°31 south, after passing to the south of the volcanic Heard Island. “It’s a snow-capped volcano, which is still active. We hoped to see the smoke, but we didn’t get to see anything,” said Francis Joyon. Marcel Van Triest – with five round the world voyages under his belt – remembers that during the first Whitbread and Vendée Globe races, when there were no Ice Gates, a few monohulls sailed as far down. But no multihulls. So, in short, this is a long way south and it is very cold. Outside, your hands and face freeze, and they have to change over at the helm very often, sometimes every half hour. Inside the boat, in spite of the very basic heater, fitted above all to get rid of some of the dampness, it is between 6 and 8 degrees. However, in spite of the harsh conditions, the sailors on IDEC SPORT have a smile on their face. A beaming smile, as it looks like after their hard efforts, their gamble has paid off.
On the right side of the Low
The race against the area of low pressure is being won. That’s today’s good news, as Francis Joyon explained, “The area of low pressure has slowed down, while we managed to go faster than expected, so things are looking up. We are in with a very good chance of making it to the other side of this tropical low.” To be more precise about the movement of the low, it is expected to move behind them on Thursday evening. “Unless they have a major technical problem, they should get ahead, and that is almost certain now,” declared Marcel Van Triest this afternoon.
Francis Joyon added, laughing, “In any case, we have to pull this one off, as otherwise Bernard (Stamm) has threatened to turn us around and come back!” The Swiss sailor made it clear he was joking and that he won’t need to carry out his threat anyhow, as the boat is sailing at 100% of her potential… and the sailors are feeling very upbeat today. In two and a half days, the troops on the red boat have cut their deficit in comparison to the record pace in half, regaining 450 miles. Around a thousand miles from the longitude of Cape Leeuwin that they are expecting to cross early on Friday morning, they are now only 350 miles behind the record run.
450 miles regained
It is true that they are not going to be able to keep on making such gains and at some point in a few days from now, they are going to have to climb back up to fifty degrees south, if we look at the weather charts. But they have already accomplished something. While the end of last week was difficult in terms of the numbers, the start of this week has been very positive and exciting. “When we are at the helm, we remain focused and the goal is to keep up a good VMG, with a compromise between speed and bearing,” the German sailor, Boris Herrmann explained. He went on to talk about the food they were getting on board. In general, they have all they require, but the freeze-dried stuff doesn’t taste that good “while the bits of ham that Bernard prepared are well received.”
Gwénolé Gahinet, the youngest member of the crew and a rookie as far as the Southern Ocean is concerned, feels positive too. Apart from his obvious talents as a sailor, he has also been using software to identify sea birds to teach the crew about what they can see. “Here, under the protection, it’s a bit like a gathering in the pub,” joked Francis Joyon during the live link-up, encouraging his crewmen to take the microphone. It shows what the master of IDEC SPORT is like. He willingly shares the microphone and his experience of adventures at sea. This adventure is up there with the best. The boat is at 100% of her ability, the weather strategy has worked out (more gybes at 1200 and 1400hrs UTC), high speeds and all clear ahead… all the lights are on green for the big red boat.
In short

After 17 and a half days at sea, at 1430hrs UTC on Wednesday 9th December, IDEC SPORT is sailing at 31.4 knots at 53°55 south and 87°46 east. Bearing: east (86°) 345 miles behind the record pace.
The crew
The international crew on IDEC SPORT includes just six men: Francis Joyon (FRA), Bernard Stamm (SUI), Gwénolé Gahinet (FRA), Alex Pella (ESP), Clément Surtel (FRA) and Boris Herrmann (GER)
Start
IDEC SPORT set off at 02:02:22 on Sunday 22nd November.
The time to beat
Loïck Peyron and his crew (Banque Populaire) with a time of 45 days, 13 hours, 42 minutes and 53 seconds.
Deadline
To smash the Jules Verne Trophy record, IDEC SPORT has to be back across the line before 1544hrs on Wednesday 6th January.
A peek on IDEC Sport (Photo © IDEC Sport)

A peek on IDEC Sport (Photo © IDEC Sport)

08/02/2015, Barcelona World Race 2014-15, Onboard One Planet One Ocean & Pharmaton with Aleix Gelabert and Didac Costa, Clothing equipment for the Southern ocean ( Photo ©  Aleix Gelabert and Didac Costa)

08/02/2015, Barcelona World Race 2014-15, Onboard One Planet One Ocean & Pharmaton with Aleix Gelabert and Didac Costa, Clothing equipment for the Southern ocean ( Photo © Aleix Gelabert and Didac Costa)

  • Ice Monitoring for the race plays a unique role in research
  • Round the World Races commision 90 per cent of ice tracking research
  • Neutrogena pit stopped

The Barcelona World Race and the competing skippers are playing an important role in one aspect of the monitoring of climate change.
Ice is now seen more frequently and more accurately when it breaks away from the Antarctic ice cap and as it drifts into the areas which have been the traditional southern oceans routes for round the world races.

As a consequence it is vital for the absolute safety of the crews that the positions and movement of ice is tracked and the racing area restricted to avoid danger to the crews.

In fact this comprehensive, accurate level of tracking is done almost exclusively for the Barcelona World Race – and other round the world races – but over time this level of tracking will deliver a direct benefit to scientific research.
Proof of climate change is hard to measure, but even in the Furious 50s and Roaring 40s latitudes Barcelona World Race duos have recently been experiencing warm, sunny interludes.

We are enjoying our summer holiday in the Southern Ocean” quipped Spirit of Hungary’s Conrad Colman a couple of days ago, basking in sunshine and temperatures akin to summer in northern Europe.
At 50 degrees south today Anna Corbella on GAES Centros Auditivos today reflected on a sunny, almost warm respite from the usual cold weather. Renault Captur’s Jorg Riechers and Sébastien Audigane were sailing in short and t-shirts in the Roaring 40s a few days ago.

Such intermissions become part of anecdotal evidence but it is the round the world race’s safety requirement for in-depth study of iceberg detection and the circulation and drift patterns that will help scientists understand the evolution of climate change.

Ice Day in BCN
It was Ice Day at the Barcelona World Race HQ today. In the media studio were Franck Mercier (FRA) of CLS, the organisation which is charged with the actual ice tracking, and Marcel van Triest (NED) who coordinates the safety zone in collaboration with Race Direction. He serves as the race meteorolgist.

Van Triest explained: “Now we know there are large pieces of ice floating in the ocean as it warms up and Antarctic ice is melting and breaking”.
The most immediate recent example are the icebergs which are near the Crozet Islands, quite north of usual expectations. A few days ago One Planet One Ocean Pharmaton were sailing within 70 miles of three or four big icebergs. They were alerted to the exact positions by Race Direction. Aleix Gelabert recalled:

“We had a warning last night from race management about this situation, that there may be a possible growlers in our route and so we changed our course a little bit just in case. There is no need to put ourselves at any additional risk. We are in contact with race management and are very confident about this. There is no problem.”

This race has opted for an exclusion zone rather than ice gates. Speaking today he highlighted how difficult it can be to avoid ice van Triest said:

” If you sail at 10 m/s speed and see an iceberg 200 m away from you, you have only 20 seconds to maneuver, that’s nothing. That’s why we have an exclusion zone, a prohibited zone. It’s better than ice gates. In my first round the world race there were no ice limits, we went down to latitudes 60ºS and 61ºS. Today the technology to detect the ice exists, so we control it, we just can’t send people down there knowing what we know. ”
” With the exclusion zone it gives more control and security. We can go closer to where we know there is ice, like we have done with the icebergs which were at the north of Crozet islands. And the limit can be set more to the South than with the ice gates. Down there there is of course more wind and the route is shorter.”

It may seem remarkable that ocean races like the Barcelona World Race are almost alone in pushing forwards the study of floating ice detection and its tracking.
Van Triest highlights:
“Ocean racing commissions do 90% of ice detection work. And this work has really only been going on for 15 years.”

Franck Mercier of CLS: ” Because of this, round-the-world races like BWR help to work on understanding the climatic change. It’s very expensive to study the ice detection, nobody does it except round-the-world races because it’s very expensive, although it’s very interesting for the understanding of climate change. ”

Also as part of the Barcelona World Race’s drive to propagate scientific understanding, the Argo beacons which were launched recently are already providing interesting information. The one which Neutrogena launched is at 44 deg S and shows a surface sea temperature of 12 Deg. Cheminées Poujoulat’s is at 43 Deg South showing a sea temp of 17 Deg.

Meantime, asked if this is a year of moderate conditions in the Big South for the fleet, both Van Triest and Mercier chorused:
“….for the moment….”

In the Dock, In The Race
In Bluff by Invercargill, South Island New Zealand, repairs to Neutrogena’s failed charging system are reported to be on schedule. Skippers Guillermo Altadill and José Munoz are described as having a good night’s sleep in readiness for their departure which the team believe will be at 0522hrs UTC Saturday morning as per the mandatory minimum 24 hours duration.
Race leaders Cheminées Poujoulat were taking some brief respite in lighter airs today and expect more of the same tomorrow. Jean Le Cam and Bernard Stamm are now nearly 800 miles ahead of the pit-stopped Neutrogena. In turn GAES Centros Auditivos have reduced their deficit to Neutrogena from 1100 miles to 657 miles.

Skippers’ quotes:
Anna Corbella (ESP) GAES Centros Auditivos: ” We are pushing as hard as we can. It is not easy to push harder. But if we have any opportunity to catch Neutrogena then we take it.  
At the moment we feel safe. We did not see any ice. I hope it will continue like this. I think it is safe. I feel confident with the people in the people working on it and I think it is working. I don’t know which system I would prefer, I dont know whether ice gates or the exclusion zone is better. For the moment the exclusion zone for us is not very good. We had some problems in the Indian Ocean because of it. I dont know which I prefer.”

Jean Le Cam, FRA, Cheminées Poujoulat:“The atmosphere on board has changed a bit. After a week when it was hard to do anything less than 19kts average it is quieter again and we are under spinnaker. It is not really that nice but at least the boat is going forwards and it is not slamming. You can drink a coffee quietly and rest. We will make the big general check of the boat tomorrow. It is good.

Stop for Neutrogena
We go as fast and best we can. We are in the rhythym and try not to break it. We route by our weather options and so nothing changes for us. Yes we are comfortable now, that is clear. And it is good. But you still have to stay on it all the time, because no one is immune to a technical problem. Tomorrow we will take full advantage of a little time to make a general check of everything. Neutrogena will get going and it is true we will have a little advance, you can say we are comfortably off. But, hey, we are not immune to shit happening.”

Friday the 13th superstition?
“Yes, pfff, no … On Friday 13 you can take it both ways. So I will take it in the right way. Friday the 13th is called a lucky day. It always reminds me of the boat Yvon Fauconnier, Friday 13. Come on, let’s say it’s a lucky day! »

Antimériden
“For me, it’s a real border. The numbers are decreasing now and that means we are closer. You see, I’m at 173 ° 29 West, and the numbers decrease more, so the closer you get. It is a sign of reconciliation and not a sign of remoteness. It is in the phase of the course when you really start to feel you are going towards the finish.»
Standings Friday 13th February 1400hrs UTC
1 Cheminées Poujoulat (B. Stamm – J. Le Cam) at 10.756,7 miles to finish
2 Neutrogena (G. Altadill – J. Muñoz) + 796,0 miles to leader
3 GAES Centros Auditivos (A. Corbella – G. Marín) + 1.453,9 miles to leader
4 Renault Captur (J. Riechers – S. Audigane) + 1.729,9 miles to leader
5 We Are Water (B. Garcia – W. Garcia) + 2.605,0 miles to leader
6 One Planet, One Ocean & Pharmaton (A. Gelabert – D. Costa) + 3.503,3 millas del líde
7 Spirit of Hungary (N. Fa – C. Colman) + 4.176,9 miles to leader
ABD Hugo Boss (A. Thomson – P. Ribes)

Bernard Stamm (SUI) and Cheminées Poujopulat (Photo  copyright Cheminées Poujopulat / Barcelona World Race)

Bernard Stamm (SUI) and Cheminées Poujopulat (Photo copyright Cheminées Poujopulat / Barcelona World Race)

 

  • Kerguelens tomorrow for Cheminees Poujoulat
  • We Are Water break Cape of Good Hope
  • GAES Centros Auditivos stem their losses

Another landmark will be ticked off tomorrow for Barcelona World Race leaders Cheminées Poujoulat when they sail north of the lonely Kerguelen Islands.
Coralled north by the race’s Antarctic Exclusion Zone, Bernard Stamm and Jean La Cam will pass 300 miles north of the island archipelago which are in every sense one of the most isolated, lonely spots on planet earth, over 2000 miles from the nearest significantly populated area.

The Kerguelen or Desolation Islands were discoveed 240 years ago by the Breton navigator Yves-Joseph de Kerguelen Trémerec and claimed as French.  There are hundreds of small islands but the only inhabitants are between 45 and 100 French scientists, researchers and engineers stationed there.

As such they are important point on the race course, almost exactly half way from the Cape Good Hope to Australia’s Cape Leeuwin, 2300 miles from the South African cape, 2100 to Leeuwin. They are in effect equidistant from somewhere but quite literally in the middle of nowhere.
They are also the only possible haven for the race fleets when they are crossing this inhospitable stretch of the Indian Ocean. Indeed, just as Jean LeCam was pleased to have passed the Cape Verde islands where his Barcelona World Race ended prematurely, so co-skipper Stamm will subconsciously be pleased to check off the Kerguelens, passing at good speeds with their IMOCA 60 in good shape and with a lead of more than 270 miles. Stamm lost a previous Cheminées Poujoulat when it was grounded in December 2008 during the solo Vendèe Globe. Ironically fellow Swiss skipper Dominique Wavre was also stopped there with a keel problem.

Stamm was not making his memories obv ious indeed he was on good form today when he summed up the Barcelona World Race so far for himself and co-skipper Jean Le Cam.

” A lot has gone on. But all in all the boat performs well , it goes well. Now we had some small technical problems that don’y exactly make our lives easier even now, but nothing is insurmountable. Apart from a passage a little close to the Azores high where we got light winds  we have sailed the course we wanted.”

Cheminées Poujoulat is now lined up 275 miles directly in front of second placed Neutrogena, benefiting from more wind which is more consistent than that of the pursuing duo Guillermo Altadill and José Munoz.
The biggest problem on the horizon for the two leading IMOCA 60s is the former tropical cyclone Diamondra which was more of a threat but which looks to be dissipating now after winds peaking at around 55kts. These storms lose their energy quickly when they pass over the colder water. Nonetheless it remains a concern for Cheminées Poujoulat and for Neutrogena and will certainly alter their relatively straightforwards regime in about three days time.
Their passage of the Cape of Good Hope this morning at 1106hrs UTC is the first Great Cape for the Garcia brothers Bruno and Willy on We Are Water. Considering how little preparation time they had prior to the start, and how both were carrying on their day jobs, Bruno as a heart doctor and Willy as a jewellery retailer until days before the start, their success to date is commendable. Indeed of the fleet they are the first genuine ‘amateurs’  in this race, sailors who make their li ving from outside of the sport.

Anna Corbella and Gérard Marin have meantime stemmed some of their worst losses on GAES Centros Auditivos and have been making double digit boat speeds for much of the day after being badly stuck in a high pressure system, although the light winds are moving east with them. In fact their nearest pursuers, fourth placed Renault Captur are now 416 miles behind when two days ago they were 602 miles astern, but the Spanish duo are now quicker again than Renault Captur’sJorg Riechers and Seb Audigane.

Skippers quotes:

Anna Corbella (ESP) GAES Centros Auditivos:” In fact at the moment we are looking backwards because the meteo we have just now is dangerous for us because the boats in front are gone and the boats in the back are catching us, so at the moment we are looking back. It is our concern. I think after this high pressure we will look forwards again and try to catch some miles again on Neutrogena.
Right now we are going out and have 14kts of wind, downwind sailing now and sailing faster – at 12 kts – in the coming hours we will probably stop again and the wind will got to the front and we are going to have another problem with the high pressure. For the moment the night was not so bad we were sailing slowly but we it was not so bad.
From my side, I don’t know what Gerard thinks, it’s a different race from last time. I don’t know if it is harder. Maybe harder is not the word… but it is a little bit more  intense because since the first days we’ve been sailing with the head of the fleet and we’ve had more pressure and we’ve had to sail as fast as possible. And this makes the race more demanding but not harder. For the moment the weather is the same (as the last edition) and we are doing pretty much the same.
To us, particularly in our case, it is hurting us (the exclusion zone) because it really gives us absolutely no choice. With the ice gates we could have gone up and down a bit, and now all we do is go straight along the line of the exclusion zone. I think for other boats it will be different, I guess in every way it is better or worst. That’s it. I guess it depends on the case.

Bernard Stamm (SUI) Cheminées Poujopulat: “From the beginning we have been O K, we passed a little close to the high and had light winds but since then we have been able to do what we want with no problems, and we were doing everything we can to go as fast as we can, safely as possible. It has been a good first month.”

A month of racing , what conclusions do you draw ?
A lot has gone on. But all in all the boat performs well , it goes well. Now we had some small technical problems that did not make our lives easier even now, but nothing is surmountable . Apart from a passage a little close to the Azores high  we have sailed the course we wanted.
The gaps widen
It is more obvious now that GAES are caught by the anticyclone. With Neutrogena , maybe it will be a bit of concertina effect, I do not know. We make our way according to the the wind not really compared to other competitors.

Things are different from solo?
This is much more serene, sleeping much better. It is good proper slee. Frequently you sleep for three or four hours. Very rarely , much more. Evenother things it is much better . The maneuvers are two , the stacking is with two , it is much simpler.

Life with Jean
Normally , there is no problem. It’s always easier said before , we are not sphinxes , but for many reasons  it has to work. The bottom line is it work for many reasons . Jean said before  said that the biggest concern was the ego. If it was one of us that had this ego problem , but this is not the case, we are tools to make the boat go, so it ‘s going pretty well.

Course to Cape Leeuwin
In front of us on the east coast of Australia , there are two small tropical lows that will come down to us. And our course and strategy will be dicated by how we deal with them. We will have some bad weather, you just have to not push too hard and try and sail in the best, most normal conditions.

The gaps widen
It is more obvious now that GAES are caught by the anticyclone. With Neutrogena , maybe it will be a bit of concertina effect, I do not know. We make our way according to the the wind not really compared to other competitors .

Things are different from solo?
This is much more serene, sleeping much better. It is good proper slee. Frequently you sleep for three or four hours. Very rarely , much more. Evenother things it is much better . The maneuvers are two , the stacking is with two , it is much simpler.

Rankings at 1400hrs UTC Friday 30th January 2015
1. Cheminées Poujoulat (B. Stamm – J. Le Cam) at 15.736,5 miles to the finish
2. Neutrogena (G. Altadill – J. Muñoz) + 272,9 miles to the leader
3. GAES Centros Auditivos (A. Corbella – G. Marín) + 889,8 miles to the leader
4. Renault Captur (J. Riechers – S. Audigane) + 1.305,2 miles to the leader
5. We Are Water (B. Garcia – W. Garcia) + 1.889,4 miles to the leader
6. One Planet, One Ocean & Pharmaton (A. Gelabert – D. Costa) + 2.444,7 miles to the leader
7. Spirit of Hungary (N. Fa – C. Colman) + 2.955,8 miles to the leader
ABD Hugo Boss (A. Thomson – P. Ribes)

23/12/2014, Barcelona (ESP), Barcelona World Race 2014-15, Barcelona Trainings, We Are Water (Bruno Garcia, Willy Garcia)(Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget/Barcelona World Race)

23/12/2014, Barcelona (ESP), Barcelona World Race 2014-15, Barcelona Trainings, We Are Water (Bruno Garcia, Willy Garcia)(Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget/Barcelona World Race)