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 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Leg 6
DTL

(NM)

GAIN/LOSS

(NM)

DTF

(NM)

Speed

(kt)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_9727-001

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

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

Apr._29_2015_George Bekris--1-2-004

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Leg 6
DTL

(NM)

GAIN/LOSS

(NM)

DTF

(NM)

Speed

(kt)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Photo by Sam Greenfield/Dongfeng Race Team)

Team Dongfeng headed to Newport (Photo by Sam Greenfield/Dongfeng Race Team)

 

Leg 6: Itajai – Newport (5,000nm theoretical, close to 5,500nm sailed)

Days at sea: 17
Distance to finish: 
115nm
Position in fleet: First. 2nm ahead of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing
Weather: Transition from westerly winds to light easterlies (“Dong Feng” translated)
Boat speed: 12 knots
ETA Newport: Tonight.

America…the land of hopes and dreams and, right now, all of Dongfeng’s hopes and dreams are resting on the Chinese team trying to stay ahead of their main adversary, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, to arrive first in Newport. But like all hopes and dreams, they don’t come easy: “The last 24 hours of this leg are going to be a nightmare,” says Charles. “It’s going to be very difficult to stay ahead of the other boats”

Just over a hundred excruciating miles to go, the fleet are expected in tonight at some point. Over the last 24 hours, Dongfeng has had a whole mix of conditions – from light downwind sailing, to some strong gusty conditions of up to 30 knots whilst crossing the Gulf Stream. But now the brakes are on, and the leaders are tackling the final wind transition – from the strong westerly flow that has propelled them overnight towards Newport ahead of the predictions, in to a weak easterly flow. Dong Feng we should remind you means “a wind from the east bringing freshness and energy” – lets hope it blows in our favour!

“Everyone’s getting nervous,” said Horace (Chen Jin Hao). “Plus the wind is getting lighter now. The boat we couldn’t see before are now close to us, we can see them with our eyes. These days are like torture for us.”

For Horace his American dream is simple: “For a lot of people America is a place full of dreams and hopes. Lots of people would like to study in the US and start a business there. But for me, I’ve only got one American dream – get a good result for this leg. But of course I’ve got my little ‘classic’ American dream – I want to go to New York to see the Statue of Liberty.” Lets just hope Dongfeng Race Team are the first ones to see the Newport finish line…

Read Sam’s blog: The Gulf Stream – this one resembles a hot elevator shooting us towards Newport with an extra 2 knots over the ground. The past 48 hours have been nothing but ups and downs, hots and colds, so I challenge the guys to give me a few quotes with that theme in mind. “Arriving in the US our hearts are getting warm as the water is getting colder,” says Kevin. Read more hereImage cr​edit: Sa​m Greenf​ield/Don​gfeng Ra​ce Team The next​ 115nm i​s going ​to be a ​nervous ​one for ​our navi​gator, P​ascal.

You can follow our story and interact with the team on all social media channels and our official website:

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Official website: Click here

 

May 3, 2015. Leg 6 to Newport onboard Dongfeng Race Team. Day 14. This boat gets so damn steep (Photo by Sam Greenfield/Team Dongfeng/Volvo Ocean Race).

May 3, 2015. Leg 6 to Newport onboard Dongfeng Race Team. Day 14. This boat gets so damn steep (Photo by Sam Greenfield/Team Dongfeng/Volvo Ocean Race).

The Volvo Ocean Race fleet found fair winds rather then the ill fortune of repute as they raced through the Bermuda Triangle in the thrilling Leg 6 race towards Newport, Rhode Island, USA, on Monday .

 

Leg 6
DTL

(NM)

GAIN/LOSS

(NM)

DTF

(NM)

Speed

(kt)

DFRT
DFRT 0.0 0.0 844 16.3
TBRU
TBRU 7.4 0.3 851 16.3
ADOR
ADOR 10.7 2.1 854 16.9
MAPF
MAPF 27.8 2.2 871 17.3
ALVI
ALVI 29.6 1.8 873 17
SCA1
SCA1 82.9 4.5 926 16.1
VEST
VEST Did Not Start

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

– Sailors admit fatigue in relentless ‘grinding of nerves’
– The Bermuda Triangle – a menace or a myth?
– Check out the run-in to Newport on our App

ALICANTE, Spain, May 4 – The Volvo Ocean Race fleet found fair winds rather then the ill fortune of repute as they raced through the Bermuda Triangle in the thrilling Leg 6 race towards Newport, Rhode Island, USA, on Monday. They all have under 1,000 nautical miles (nm) to go.

The six boats had feared a slow-down and fleet compression through an area of low pressure mid-Atlantic in the geographic triangle that separates Bermuda, Costa Rica and Miami, but instead the crews continued virtually unhindered.

Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA), so determined to close the seven-point gap on overall race leaders Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR), continued to hold a slight 7.4nm advantage in the latest position report on Monday (0940 UTC).

Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) led the chasing pack with Azzam hot on their heels 3.3nm astern of them (see panel above). The three had opened up a small gap over MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP), who were having their own dogfight with Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA), some 17nm behind Ian Walker’s crew.

MAPFRE suffered a brief scare when the boat was knocked down to crash flat on its side, before it swifly righted itself courtesy of swift teamwork among the crew.

Team SCA, to the east of those two packs, were still struggling to keep pace, some 82.9nm behind Dongfeng.

The six boats are expected to escape the Bermuda Triangle later in the day and then face one last major gybe on Tuesday evening before the final sprint for the finish line after an absorbing 5,010nm leg.

Many of the sailors have been admitting that the relentless close quarter sailing of six well-matched crews on identical Volvo Ocean 65 boats is beginning to take its toll on nerves and body alike after seven months at sea.

Charles Caudrelier, skipper of the stage leaders Dongfeng Race Team, summed up: “According to the clouds and narrow corridors of wind, we have good and bad phases. It grinds down the nerves. The one-design (boat) has totally changed the regatta on the water.”

At the other end of the fleet, Sam Davies, of Team SCA, is equally feeling the pace. “I feel like the last seven months of racing is taking its toll on my body and I am trying to play catch-up in order to be able to do my job properly,” she wrote. “This racing is a crazy life.”

The boats are forecasted to arrive in Newport on May 7 after 17 days of sailing from Itajaí, Brazil. They will then have 10 days in dock for maintenance before setting off for the final transatlantic crossing to Lisbon, Portugal.

There are then two more legs taking in France (Lorient), The Netherlands (The Hague) and Sweden, with the race concluding on June 27 in Gothenburg after nine months of racing.

April 24, 2015. Leg 6 Newport onboard Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. Day 5.  Ian Walker looks at the nav computer to check positioning on the rest of the fleet as a front approaches in the sky. (Photo by Matt Knighton / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing / Volvo Ocean Race)

April 24, 2015. Leg 6 Newport onboard Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. Day 5. Ian Walker looks at the nav computer to check positioning on the rest of the fleet as a front approaches in the sky. (Photo by Matt Knighton / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing / Volvo Ocean Race)

 

The Volvo Ocean Race finally headed for the ‘homeward’ stretch after crossing the Equator for the fourth and final time on Tuesday – but there was no room to celebrate with a major decision facing all the boats in the next 24 hours (full story below).

– Fleet crosses the Equator for final time
– Big routing decision facing navigators
– Follow what they opt to do on our great App

ALICANTE, Spain, April 28 – The Volvo Ocean Race finally headed for the ‘homeward’ stretch after crossing the Equator for the fourth and final time on Tuesday – but there was no room to celebrate with a major decision facing all the boats in the next 24 hours.

The fleet still has a long way to go before the race reaches its climax in the final week of June in Gothenburg, Sweden, having set out on the 38,739-nautical mile (nm), nine-month marathon back in Alicante, Spain, on October 11.

But it has made its farewells to the Southern Hemisphere for the final time in this edition, with all six boats tightly bunched as they entered the north Atlantic with just under 3,000nm still to race in Leg 6 before arriving in Newport, Rhode Island, USA, around May 7.

Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) held a narrow lead of 4.1nm from Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) and MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP) with overall race leaders Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR), Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) and Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) still very much in contention (see panel above).

The fleet is heading for an area of light winds before entering what official race meteorologist, Gonzalo Infante (ESP), described as a ‘cone of possibilities and decisions’.

Each skipper and his navigator will need to decide whether east or west – or something in between – is the best direction and stick to that course. “It’s like arriving at a junction and having a variety of decisions about which road to take,” Infante explained.

“After they take an option, that route will not intersect with the others until they reach Newport. Mind you, it could be that they all take the same route.”

Meanwhile, several sailors were taking stock of passing the Equator and, effectively, completing a navigation of the globe – although this round-the-world race still has to take in its only North American stop in Newport before re-crossing the Atlantic and taking on its European ‘tour’ of Portugal (Lisbon), France (Lorient), The Netherlands (The Hague) and, finally, Sweden (Gothenburg).

“This is not a race to the Equator, but crossing the Equator for the last time is a part of our trip around the world,” said Team SCA skipper, Sam Davies, who is enjoying probably her best leg to date.

“My objective is to do really well in this race and particularly this leg. Having crossed the Atlantic more times than I remember, when we crossed last night I couldn’t help but feel a bit more at ease. I’m back in my territory, the north Atlantic.

“For the race, it’s not a big milestone, but for me personally, I’m happy to be back here.”

Abu Dhabi Ocean Race skipper, Ian Walker, felt similarly.

“To circumnavigate the world by ocean puts you in an exclusive group of seafarers and one which the whole crew is proud to be a part of,” the twice-Olympic silver medallist from Britain said.

“Returning to the north marks a change of pace for the race. From now on the legs become rapid-fire; they get shorter and quicker and there’s a lot at stake before the race ends in Sweden. Forty five per cent of the points are ahead of us.”

MAPFRE, however, were still cursing their luck after running under clouds over the past 24 hours, which sucked away wind pressure and slowed the boat.

“There’s some separation in the fleet and it depends on if you have luck or not with the cloud you catch, whether you gain or lose ground,” said navigator, Jean-Luc Nélias (FRA), on Tuesday.

“From yesterday, for us it’s been more loss than gain, but we will see further down the line whether the others also catch the wrong kind of cloud.”