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

St Michel - Virbac Skipper Jean-Pierre Dick

St Michel – Virbac Skipper Jean-Pierre Dick

Friday the 13th might be unlucky for some, but not for British skipper Alex Thomson who has pulled back 85 crucial miles on Vendée Globe leader Armel Le Cléac’h in the last 24 hours.

Thomson revealed yesterday that in order to stand a chance of overhauling French skipper Le Cléac’h before the finish of the solo round the world race he must get to within 50 miles of him in the next few days. At the 1400 UTC position report yesterday Thomson’s Hugo Boss was 216 miles adrift of Le Cléac’h’s Banque Populaire VIII as the pair passed to the west of the Cape Verde Islands. At the same time today that deficit was down to 131 miles as light winds forced Le Cléac’h to slow to just one knot compared to Thomson’s eight knots. Thomson too will see speeds drop as he hits the dead spot but with several days of light-wind sailing ahead before stronger south-easterlies fill in near the Azores even the smallest of gains were welcome.

Photo sent from the boat St Michel - Virbac, on January 12th, 2017 - Photo Jean-Pierre Dick

Photo sent from the boat St Michel – Virbac, on January 12th, 2017 – Photo Jean-Pierre Dick

Thomson was not the only one with reason to celebrate. Crossing the Equator yesterday 13 days, three hours and 59 minutes after rounding Cape Horn, Jean-Pierre Dick set a new race record for the passage. Incredibly he shaved almost 16 hours off the reference time of Vendée 2012-13 winner François Gabart of 13 days, 19 hours and 29 minutes. In fact, Dick was just the first of four skippers to beat Gabart’s time. Thomson posted a time of 13 days, five hours and 30 minutes, Yann Eliès took 13 days, seven hours and 20 minutes while Jean Le Cam was just 37 minutes behind. In stark comparison, race leader le Cléac’h was almost 32 hours slower than Dick over the same distance, but his woes did not stop there. His losses caused by a painful crossing of the Doldrums were today laid bare. Fifteen of the race’s remaining 18 skippers made gains on Banque Populaire over the past seven days. Frenchman Eric Bellion has been by far the biggest winner in the last week, pulling back 641nm on Le Cléac’h, with Jean-Pierre Dick was next in line making back 388nm. Only Thomson and 17th-placed Pieter Heerema lost ground on Le Cléac’h, Thomson dropping 26nm to the leader and Heerema losing 10nm.

The Vendée Globe finish line is now within 1,800 miles of Le Cléac’h, and his ETA in Les Sables remains Thursday January 19th. Race HQ has now moved from Paris and is set up in Les Sables ready for the opening of the race village tomorrow. Doors to the village, at Port Olona, open to the public at 10am local time and visitors can enjoy an exhibition on the race, shop for official Vendée Globe merchandise or relax in the race’s legendary bar and restaurant, the VOG. A huge screen will show the arrivals live from the finish line to the pontoon, and skippers will then be interviewed on the main stage.

Tune in to the Vendée Live show tomorrow on the race website at 1200 UTC for the latest news from the Vendée Globe.

RANKINGS TODAY 

25/03/2015, Barcelona (ESP), Barcelona World Race 2014-15, Cheminées Poujoulat (Bernard Stamm/Jean Le Cam) arrival in 1st place. (Photo © Gilles Martin-Raget / Barcelona World Race )

25/03/2015, Barcelona (ESP), Barcelona World Race 2014-15, Cheminées Poujoulat (Bernard Stamm/Jean Le Cam) arrival in 1st place. (Photo © Gilles Martin-Raget / Barcelona World Race )

It was just at sunset, in the end, when Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam broke the finish line off Barcelona’s iconic W-Hotel to complete their victory in the Barcelona World Race. They punched the air with delight as the gun sounded after 84 days and 5 hours of racing, a joyous release of elation and relief. Within seconds they had their technical team and family aboard on board Cheminées Poujoulat to share the moments.

25/03/2015, Barcelona (ESP), Barcelona World Race 2014-15, Cheminées Poujoulat (Bernard Stamm/Jean Le Cam) arrival in 1st place. (Photo © Gilles Martin-Raget / Barcelona World Race)

25/03/2015, Barcelona (ESP), Barcelona World Race 2014-15, Cheminées Poujoulat (Bernard Stamm/Jean Le Cam) arrival in 1st place. (Photo © Gilles Martin-Raget / Barcelona World Race)

Both Stamm and Le Cam have endured more than enough of their own histories of disappointments racing round the world to ensure that those seconds after the gun meant so much more.
Stamm was disqualified from the last Vendée Globe for inadvertently receiving outside assistance and in four campaigns has yet to be placed in the pinnacle solo round the world race.

Le Cam once had to abandon the Vendée Globe, in 2008, when his boat capsized off Cape Horn. He also had to retire from the last edition of this race in 2011 when the mast ofPresident, the IMOCA 60 he raced with Bruno Garcia, crashed down just north of the Cape Verde islands. So their success together was as much cathartic as it was a time for celebration.
So, when asked when he was really sure they would win this Barcelona World Race, despite a lead of nearly 1000 miles since before Cape Horn, Stamm admitted:
” When we crossed the finish line, we knew then that we could win.”  
And, following his short, curtailed experience of the 2010-2011 race,  Jean Le Cam was asked if ever he had specific worries about the mast of Cheminées Poujoulat coming down during the race. He responded immediately:
“No. Not at one point………. Only all the time. All the time. It is always with you. It is the most visible and important thing you can see. And when it has happened to you before, it is always in your mind.”
On the dock, below the statue of Christopher Columbus on Barcelona’s Portal de la Pau, they were quizzed for their first reactions:
What does it represent a victory in the Barcelona World Race?
Bernard Stamm: We are always happy and now we are happy because there is a victory after a great adventure …
Jean Le Cam: When we win, we can only be happy. We left Barcelona, it was a circumnavigation and we returned to Barcelona, it’s as simple as that.

Jean Le Cam at press conference (Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget / Barcelona World Race )

Jean Le Cam at press conference (Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget / Barcelona World Race )

What are your first feelings?
Bernard Stamm: First and foremost there is a great satisfaction. It all worked well, we managed to overcome all our technical problems and we can say that we have had enough of them.
Jean Le Cam: Certainly. I think that alone, we would not have finished the race. Fortunately Bernard knows well how to climb the mast.
Bernard Stamm: It’s a team effort. The guy who’s on the deck has to work as well, he has to grind to  hoist the one who will work up there. We had lots of problems but together we were able to find solutions.  That is what is different from being two soloists on the same boat.
Bernard Stamm: For three months you share your race with someone else. When we had a technical problem, we were both thinking, we exchanged ideas. And all the time you are keeping the boat moving.
Jean Le Cam: And we had plenty of worries. We went half way around the world with a wind vane cobbled together on a little mast on the back of the boat, which we changed depending on what tack we were on. We finally got one to the top of the mast as you will see there is an external cable running up to it.
Bernard Stamm: We had also had lock worries on the mainsail. I can say that when we successfully repaired them, it was a moment of true happiness.In the press conference:
What were the shared moments of happiness?
Jean Le Cam: Inevitably, when we get to find solutions together, then you share that happiness together. We can’t forget that we had a really windy south, it was a year to remember.
Bernard Stamm: And then there is also the pleasure of making a good move or two.
North of Canaries before reaching a Gibraltar that will be remembered. At first you are so focused and busy, but then like then you see the results and enjoy it.
Jean Le Cam: That’s it. Two up you can really share, it is a really rich experience.
Their relationship? Arguments?
Bernard Stamm: ” If we had any problems with each other it was because we were tired or stressed or both, it was a reflex reaction and these just come and then they are gone as quickly as they came. We generally got on very well. We just focussed on making the boat go well, and as that is a difficult boat to handle, we just basically did not ever have any time to do anything but work on the boat, there was no time for arguments.”
Jean Le Cam; “We are still together. It is not La Vie en Rose. It is like being a couple. We each have carry our own cross. It is not easy for us. You just have to concede things to each other and get on with it, get through each day.

Bernard Stamm at press conference (Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget / Barcelona World Race )

Bernard Stamm at press conference (Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget / Barcelona World Race )

Bernard Stamm: ” I have wanted to participate in the Barcelona World Race since the first edition but have  not been able to, so to be able to compete this time, and to win it, is a great reward. I have had a lot of adventures, bad experiences on races, but I have had some great victories too. I have only ever won races which are round the world races.
Jean Le Cam: We always watched all the others, it is always interesting to watch what they are doing, and especially Bruno Garcia who I did the last race with, to see how they were doing. You have an interest in everyone, it is part of the daily life.
Skills, how they worked the boat
Bernard Stamm: ” You have different skills. We covered everything together. I looked after the computer side of things and Jean did more of the techncial stuff on deck. We never, ever defined our roles as such. “

 

Barcelona World Race 2014-2015 Winners Jean Le Cam and Bernard Stamm at finish line in Barcelona after completing circumnavigation on their IMOCA 60   Cheminées Poujoulat, in 84 Days 5 hours. (Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget / Barcelona World Race )

Barcelona World Race 2014-2015 Winners Jean Le Cam and Bernard Stamm at finish line in Barcelona after completing circumnavigation on their IMOCA 60 Cheminées Poujoulat, in 84 Days 5 hours. (Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget / Barcelona World Race )

 

 

11/03/2015, Barcelona World Race 2014-15, Onboard Spirit of Hungary with Nandor Fa and Conrad Colman

11/03/2015, Barcelona World Race 2014-15, Onboard Spirit of Hungary with Nandor Fa and Conrad Colman

  • Neutrogena cross the Equator this evening
  • Spirit of Hungary walk a tightrope to Cape Horn
  • Catalan Match sees One Planet One Ocea & Pharmaton back on the charge

As Neutrogena crosses the Equator this evening there will be a certain disparity of feelings between the two skippers, Guillermo Altadill and José Muñoz, a rare situation in a partnership which is clearly working well.
For Muñoz, from Algarrobo, Chile, will look to the stars tonight and feel like he is sailing out of his home hemisphere, whilst Catalan Altadill will be marking his return to his home Northern Hemisphere.

They are very much a complementary duo, a team which is working well, lying in second place.  The sailing CV of Altadill extends to many pages, from Olympic coach to maxi multi record attempts. The boat they sail together was built for him in England for the first edition of the Barcelona World Race.  Muñoz started out with no IMOCA 60 experience at all, but has fed off the knowledge and experience of Altadill. And over recent days they have maximized their speeds to reduce their deficit to leaders Cheminées Poujoulat to 870 miles today.
Their gains have been halted by the passage of the Doldrums, slowed to eight to 10kts, but they should slide across the Equator around 2200hrs UTC.Cheminées Poujoulat continue their northwards climb, extending into slightly increasing trade winds. Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam are about 360 miles WNW of the Cape Verde islands today making just over 12kts.Spirit of Hungary have about 550 miles left to sail to Cape Horn, Nandor Fa said today he is expecting to round the lonely rock in the small hours of Monday morning. Spurred by the same strong low pressure system they have been with for five or six days, according to co-skipper Conrad Colman there is a ‘little bit of a tightrope walk’ during their approach. They have to press as hard they dare so that they can outrun a bigger, more active depression which is behind them and chasing hard. But the duo have it foremost in their minds that they need to preserve Spirit of Hungary and themselves for the climb up the Atlantic.  Conrad Colman said:
“Spirit of Hungary, despite out best efforts is not at 100 per cent. So we cannot push hard with these strong conditions that we have and so we need to throttle back to preserve the boat. But we cannot slow down too much because there is a new depression forming behind us, and it is due to bring with it anothe r round of 50kts. So if we stay with our routing we should pass the Horn with 20-25kts from the north, and if we are slow we get 50kts. Nandor and I are talking a lot to make sure we are both happy with the level of performance that we are aiming at. But it is tricky to get it right.”For Conrad Colman it will be his second passage of Cape Horn. He rounded on 22nd February 2012 leading the Global Ocean Race, passing 87 miles south of the island, also then being chased by a big gale.  And for Nandor Fa it will be his fourth time. He rounded for his first time during a 1985-87 round the world voyage on a 31 foot boat he and his friend and co-skipper had built and finished from a hull. The second time was in 1991-1992 on the BOC solo round the world race and the third was on the 1992-1993 Vendée Globe. Fa recalled today:” The last time when I was here it was in 1992 and we had 75 kts of wind in the gusts and 60 on average. So that was very tough weather then and it is looking similar this time. My last experience is strong winds, high seas, stormy conditions. And a very tough passage. That is my memory of this area in the past.
At the moment I have no imagination of what will happen at the Horn. I just try to go safely and we will see what it is like when we get there.  I think when we pass we will celebrate, somehow.”And meantime in the South Atlantic, due east of Florianopolis, Brazil the Catalan match between We Are Water and One Planet, One Ocean & Pharmaton sees them still separated by 64 miles, racing in a good vein of SE’ly pressure but they will run into a high pressure ridge which could see them compress closer together.

Skippers quotes
Conrad Colman (NZL) Spirit of Hungary:“It is very, very cold at the moment, especially because we just had a cold front come through in the depression which we are currently sailing in, and so we went from overcast skies and quite a lot of wind, to beautiful clear skies with more wind. So there is a nice moon and clear skies, but it is freezing cold.
We eat lots just now, there is a lot of soup and tea being drunk so we can fule the inner fire to keep us going. And then there is a lot of drying out of socks and things on the engine cover so we are warm and dry.
Strong winds and big depressions are nothing new for us at the moment. And so it is standard fare of 35-40kts, gusting 50, with big swells which we have had since the middle of the Pacific and so it is a very badly named ocean this one, there is nothing peaceful about it.
But it is fun. I am really enjoying it. It is pretty magical to be down here, it is far from easy. It is nice to be getting closer to the Horn because there we get to turn left and start heading back to Europe and home. But at the same time it is sad as well because I love it down here. I love playing with the Albatross and the big waves. There is something very special about being so far away from land and humanity, just relying on ourselves. It is an experience I am going to miss.
It is a little big of a tightrope walk for us at the moment because Spirit of Hungary, despite out best efforts is not at 100 per cent. So we cannot push hard with these strong conditions that we have and so we need to throttle back to preserve the boat, but we cannot slow down too much because there is a new depression forming behind us, and it is due to bring with it another round of 50kts. So if we stay with our routing we should pass the Horn with 20-25kts from the north, and if we are slow we get 50. Nandor and I are talking a lot to make sure we are both happy with the level of performance that we are aiming at. But it is tricky to get it right.
It is the accumulation of little problems we have had so far.
Memories?
I have yet to see Cape Horn. The last time I came through I was being chased by a monstrous storm with 60kts in it. So I passed the Horn 80 miles south and went all the way round and so I have not seen a thing yet. It looks like I will be going through in darkness and so I will just have to come back for a third time to see the Horn properly. But regardless it has been and will be magical to pass this famous line of longitude. And I am looking forwards to getting there in a little less than 48 hours.
We still have two small bottles of Cava on board and we will have some of that and scream with joy because it has been a long time coming. Sometimes we have doubted if we would get here. And so Nandor and I are looking forwards to it. We have worked pretty hard at but it is going to feel pretty good when we get there.

Rankings Saturday 14th March 2015 at 1400hrs UTC
1 Cheminées Poujoulat (B Stamm – J Le Cam) at 2310 miles to finish
2 Neutrogena (G Altadill – J Muñoz) + 871 miles to leader
3 GAES Centros Auditivos (A Corbella – G Marin) + 1162 miles to leader
4 We Are Water (B Garcia – W Garcia) + 2577  miles to leader
5 One Planet One Ocean & Pharmaton (A Gelabert – D Costa) + 2639 miles to leader
6 Renault Captur (J Riechers – S Audigane) + 3710 miles to leader
7 Spirit of Hungary (N Fa – C Colman) + 5143  miles to leader
ABD : Hugo Boss (A. Thomson – P. Ribes)

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)

 

Barcelona World Race 2014/2015 Start (Photo © Nico Martínez / Barcelona World Race )

Barcelona World Race 2014/2015 Start (Photo © Nico Martínez / Barcelona World Race )

 

As if to underline their billing as pre-race favourites to win, Alex Thomson and Pepe Ribes on Hugo Boss led the eight-strong fleet of IMOCA 60s off the start line of the third edition of the Barcelona World Race, two handed race around the world. The British-Spanish duo made the best of the very light winds, setting up with speed at the gun, to eke out a small lead to the turning mark, 1.5 miles away from the line.

NEWS  DEC 31, 2015

With 23,450 miles to sail, of course the early advantage to the British-Spanish duo might only appear to be psychological and within the first hour of racing they found themselves snared by the combination of very calm winds and wash from the sizeable spectator fleet, and were passed by the Swiss-French pairing Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam on Cheminées Poujoulat, but the main objective for all was to ensure they stay in the lead group on what will be a tricky, challenging descent of the Mediterranean to the exit doors at the Straits of Gibraltar.

As per forecast breezes were only very light for the start, 2-6 knots. But the sun shone brightly and brought out huge crowds to the beaches of the Catalan capital. To all intents it felt less like the last day of 2014 in the depths of winter, and more like a day stolen from summer.

The warmth of the sunshine leant an almost surreal air to the emotional scenes as the 16 skippers left the Barcelona World Race dock this morning. They may be heading for some of the most feared stretches of the world’s oceans, but there was a welcome serenity as the crowds bid farewell to each of the duos. To those observers and skippers more used to the oppressive atmosphere of other winter race starts, usually contemplating Atlantic storms, it was a pleasant change.

But for all that, emotions bubbled to the surface, tugging hard at the heartstrings. Who could fail to be moved when Alex Thomson and his four-year-old son Oscar shouted ‘Good bye’ to each other across the widening gap between the pontoon and the departing 60-foot monohull? In their private world it was a beautiful toddler waving his dad off to a day at the office – even if Thomson blinked back a tear behind the Hugo Boss designer shades – but to everyone else it was a harsh reminder of the imminent three months of separation from the son whose illness precluded his participation in the last edition.

Hugo Boss team-mate Pepe Ribes’ farewell to Pepe Ribes Jr was no less touching, considering the last time he left on this race his son was only three weeks old. This time GAES Centros Auditivos’Gérard Marin’s son is only a few months old.

The biggest cheer of the morning was for Anna Corbella, the only female skipper in the race who became the first Spanish woman to sail around the world when she finished the second edition of the race in April 2011 with Briton Dee Caffari. Corbella and Gérard Marin, both local to Barcelona, have been training for two years with their GAES Centros Auditivos and harbour high hopes of a podium finish.

Their partisan fan club were, predictably, the loudest. Corbella’s smile wavered as if to crack but as the docklines came aboard, her game face was fixed and she was immediately in ‘race mode’.
When the gun sounded at 1300hrs local time (1200hrs UTC) GAES Centros Auditivos looked to have made the best start along with Hugo Boss and Renault Captur (Jorge Riechers and Sébastien Audigane), but both GAES Centros Auditivos and One Planet One Ocean Pharmaton (Aleix Gelabeirtand Didac Costa) jumped the gun and had to restart.

As well as media, family, friends and team-mates, the dock was dotted with key figures of the race including twice winner Jean-Pierre Dick, who saw off the eight boats, and Race Director Jacques Caraës, who helped many teams slip their lines. FNOB president Maite Fandos, the depute mayor of Barcelona; IMOCA President Jean Kehroas; Peter Bayer, General Manager of Open Sports Management, and the President of the Spanish Sailing Federation José Ángel Rodríguez, all joined the farewell.

Meanwhile the city of Barcelona delivered a ‘tapas menu’ of live performance featuring wind instruments, spraying water, seashells, and performance artists by the Fura dels Baus as a fitting show as the Mayor of Barcelona Xavier Trias lowered a flag on the La Dona of Mil·leni sculpture to signify the start of the race.

Winds might only have been light at the start but the skippers know the pressure is absolutely on from the start. The race start sat between two wind zones. To the east the brisk NE’ly Tramontana is a strong lure, to sail more miles to reach this corridor of breeze does represent the high risk option but with potentially the biggest reward. A fast passage to the Balearics would allow the leader(s) to hold on to this wind longest. Conversely, this breeze will fade first, potentially leaving any gamblers on this flank downwind in very gentle winds. The alternative is to sail the direct, rhumb line – or to the west of it – and wait until the NE’ly has strengthened all the way to the Spanish coast.

The overall balance between the options remained unclear. For sure there is a ‘rich get richer’ scenario for anyone who breaks through the Strait of Gibraltar first, breaching the brisk, favourable trade winds first for quick train ride south. But the greater likelihood is of a period of very light winds in the busy gateway between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.

Follow the race:
See the Barcelona World Race Leaderboard, Tracking, Weather Guide, TV schedule and much more athttp://www.barcelonaworldrace.org/en/race-live. Tracker positions are updated at 0500, 0900, 1400 and 1900hrs (UTC).  http://barcelonaworldrace.geovoile.org/2015/

Ranking at 14:00 UTC December 31, 2014:

1 Cheminées Poujoulat (B Stamm – J Le Cam) 23 448.3 miles from the finish

2 GAES Centros Auditivos (A Corbella – G Marino) 0.3 miles to leader

3 Renault Captur (J Riechers – S Audigane) 0.6 miles to leader

4 Hugo Boss (A Thomson – Ribes P) 0.7 miles to leader

5 Neutrogena (G Altadill – Muñoz J) 1.2 miles to leader

6 We Are Water (B Garcia – Garcia W) 1.2 miles to leader

7 One Planet One Ocean & Pharmaton (A Gelabert – Costa D) 1.2 miles to leader

8 Spirit of Hungary (N F – C Colman) 1.3 miles to leader

 

Skippers’ quotes:

Guillermo Altadill (ESP), Neutrogena:

“The last GRIB files are showing a little bit variable conditions that are quite tricky. It’s going to be quite open to the Straits – you could go inshore, offshore, so I think it’s going to be quite tricky and very open for all the fleet. We hope to be at Gibraltar ahead, but it’s not very relevant in one race that’s 25000 miles to be ahead 10 miles at Gibraltar, it makes you feel better but it’s not very important.

“You make your own pressure, but it’s going to be pressure for everybody because everybody is going to push the boat and be the first one out to Gibraltar, but for us it’s about holding onto the fleet and to be with the fleet the first part of the race.”

“I’ve probably [raced to Gibraltar] 20 or 25 times. The Med is very unpredictable, so the more you know and the more you race here… you get more confused!”

Nandor Far (HUN), Spirit of Hungary:

“I’m quite relaxed. We did our best to be finished, to be 100 per cent prepared, but you never know. The boat is a very complicated piece so there is always something which is going wrong. Right now I feel the boat is well prepared.

“We are concentrating on the wind and the proper sail choice, and going out in a safe good way, that’s all. It will be nice to have time to think about everything. If we want to be in a good place we have to make good progress, but I’m not worried really.”

Anna Corbella (ESP), GAES Centros Auditivos:

“I’m feeling excited and happy. I want to get going! The weather is OK, it’s nice. It’s easy – in terms of physically, so it’s not going to be a lot of sail changes, I think it’s nice downwind to Gibraltar. Probably at some point it’s not [going to be] easy, but I think what is important is to be at Gibraltar in a good position, and to go out in a good position.”

Alex Thomson (GBR), Hugo Boss:

“I think the first 5-6 hours there probably won’t be very much wind, and then after that we should see some breeze, some fairly good breeze hopefully. Then the breeze will run out, but whether we get to Gibraltar or not I don’t know.

“I think for all of us the routing shows that the people at the front will gain and the people at the back will lose – so all the pressure is to be at the front of the pack and not to not lose too much is important. We feel fortunate that we’ve got a boat that can probably catch everybody up if we need to catch everybody up, but we don’t really want to be in that position really!

“As a team we feel very confident. We’ve put in a lot of work and a lot of prep. These last moments are always a bit heartfelt because of the family and leaving them behind for three months. I think it’s not something you would want to get used to, because if you got used to it then it would maybe mean you don’t care as much as you do.”