Thomson revealed yesterday that in order to stand a chance of overhauling French skipper Le Cléac’h before the finish of the solo round the world race he must get to within 50 miles of him in the next few days. At the 1400 UTC position report yesterday Thomson’s Hugo Boss was 216 miles adrift of Le Cléac’h’s Banque Populaire VIII as the pair passed to the west of the Cape Verde Islands. At the same time today that deficit was down to 131 miles as light winds forced Le Cléac’h to slow to just one knot compared to Thomson’s eight knots. Thomson too will see speeds drop as he hits the dead spot but with several days of light-wind sailing ahead before stronger south-easterlies fill in near the Azores even the smallest of gains were welcome.
Thomson was not the only one with reason to celebrate. Crossing the Equator yesterday 13 days, three hours and 59 minutes after rounding Cape Horn, Jean-Pierre Dick set a new race record for the passage. Incredibly he shaved almost 16 hours off the reference time of Vendée 2012-13 winner François Gabart of 13 days, 19 hours and 29 minutes. In fact, Dick was just the first of four skippers to beat Gabart’s time. Thomson posted a time of 13 days, five hours and 30 minutes, Yann Eliès took 13 days, seven hours and 20 minutes while Jean Le Cam was just 37 minutes behind. In stark comparison, race leader le Cléac’h was almost 32 hours slower than Dick over the same distance, but his woes did not stop there. His losses caused by a painful crossing of the Doldrums were today laid bare. Fifteen of the race’s remaining 18 skippers made gains on Banque Populaire over the past seven days. Frenchman Eric Bellion has been by far the biggest winner in the last week, pulling back 641nm on Le Cléac’h, with Jean-Pierre Dick was next in line making back 388nm. Only Thomson and 17th-placed Pieter Heerema lost ground on Le Cléac’h, Thomson dropping 26nm to the leader and Heerema losing 10nm.
The Vendée Globe finish line is now within 1,800 miles of Le Cléac’h, and his ETA in Les Sables remains Thursday January 19th. Race HQ has now moved from Paris and is set up in Les Sables ready for the opening of the race village tomorrow. Doors to the village, at Port Olona, open to the public at 10am local time and visitors can enjoy an exhibition on the race, shop for official Vendée Globe merchandise or relax in the race’s legendary bar and restaurant, the VOG. A huge screen will show the arrivals live from the finish line to the pontoon, and skippers will then be interviewed on the main stage.
Tune in to the Vendée Live show tomorrow on the race website at 1200 UTC for the latest news from the Vendée Globe.
On Friday, 2nd December, the press conference for the official launch of THE BRIDGE was held in the prestigious setting of the Salle Turenne at the Hôtel des Invalides. THE BRIDGE, a unique, festive, maritime, cultural and popular event, will take place from June 15th until the beginning of July 2017, in Nantes, Saint-Nazaire and New York. Supported by the Centennial Mission 14-18, THE BRIDGE pays tribute to the arrival on the French coasts of the first US troops to defend Liberty alongside the Allies and to put an end to the First World War. THE BRIDGE places this historical event, which has nourished a hundred years of Franco-American friendship, at the centre of its festivities.
The Centennial Transat, an unprecedented and historic race
“1917, the Americans came ashore… 2017, THE BRIDGE brings us on board”.
Based on this idea, THE BRIDGE has invited the Queen Mary 2 to take part in an ocean challenge in a race against a fleet of giant trimarans following the route of the first landing of 1917. This will be an unprecedented maritime contest between the famous steel giant specially chartered for the occasion and the fabulous racing multihulls skippered by top offshore racers and their crews, THE BRIDGE will be the theatre of the Centennial Transat, a thrilling race between the bridge of Saint-Nazaire and the Verrazano Bridge in New York. Don’t miss it!
Departure on June 25th, 2017 under the bridge of Saint-Nazaire
“It is highly symbolic,” said François Gabart, one of the first four contenders of the Queen Mary 2, about his favourite challenge: a Northern Atlantic crossing from East to West. Departing on June 25th, 2017 and heading to New York where the prestigious liner, which will be cruising at 25 knots over the 3,150 miles (5,800 km) of the direct route, is expected to arrive in the early hours of the morning of July 1st, to be saluted according to tradition, by the torch of the Statue of Liberty.
Basketball and jazz on centre stage
Conceived and envisioned as a bridge of friendship, THE BRIDGE also gives pride of place to jazz and to basketball. These two symbols of American culture will be at the heart of the three weeks of festivities on the programme celebrating a hundred years of friendship between France and the United States. Tony Parker, who epitomises the exchanges and bonds that have been strengthened over the past century by two countries separated by an ocean but united by loyal ties, sponsors this France-USA event.
“France and the United States together: this project speaks to me. It is also a little nod to history to say thank you for everything that happened before. It makes sense for me to join THE BRIDGE; it stirs something in me. It is a big project and is growing bigger, and I am looking forward to seeing the event”, says Tony Parker.
Nantes to host the 4th 3×3 Basketball World Cup
In Nantes, the hub of basketball, THE BRIDGE has organised three weeks of symbolic events. In partnership with the FFBB (French Basketball Federation) and Nantes Métropole, the event will host the 4th 3X3 Basketball World Cup from 17th to 21st June 2017. A great first in France on the iconic site of the Park des Chantiers of the island of Nantes for this discipline, born on the streets and taking off all around the world. 20 women’s teams and 20 men’s teams from thirty countries will share the infectious spirit of 3X3 basketball, which pits two teams of three players against each other. It is a fine way to echo the spirit of freedom and fraternity intrinsic to basketball, a century after the first demonstrations of the art of dribbling on European soil.
The grand return of the Queen Mary 2 to Saint-Nazaire…
After Nantes, THE BRIDGE will continue in Saint-Nazaire with the return of the Queen Mary 2 to its port of construction. This will be an important event in itself for the City of Liners, whose history, culture, and economy are intimately linked to the sea and its industries. This exceptional charter, the fruit of efforts by THE BRIDGE Association to bring together a large family of public and private partners, was also made possible thanks to the mobilisation of the companies in the region. Driven by a strong entrepreneurial vision, the event expects 2,640 passengers, individuals and financial decision-makers to embark on the famous liner to follow the Centennial Transat live from front row seats. A historic adventure!
… Under multinational escort
The Queen Mary 2 is expected on Saturday June 24th in Saint-Nazaire, escorted by the Centennial Armada, an exceptional fleet bringing together ships from twelve countries out of the fifty involved in the First World War. On the following day, Sunday 25th June, the 345-metre-long steamer and the maxi-trimarans will set sail to the estuary of the Loire and the starting area of the Centennial Transat.
IDEC SPORT, a new contestant for the Queen Mary 2
Four talented and experienced offshore racing skippers have already responded to the call of THE BRIDGE and will be there with five crew on the start line. François Gabart (MACIF), Yves Le Blévec (ACTUAL) and Thomas Coville (Sodebo) of the group Ultim are amongst the first candidates for this unusual historic race. Most recently joining them is Francis Joyon (IDEC SPORT) and his crew, the latest entry for this maritime challenge, currently competing on the Jules Verne Trophy alongside the most serious contenders of the Queen Mary 2. Together with a further crew of five, these great offshore sailors will have to race at the top of they abilities across the 3,150 mile course (5,800 km approximately) against a cruise ship who will cross the ocean at full steam regardless of the weather conditions.
They said during the press conference:
Francis Joyon (IDEC SPORT): “The IDEC SPORT trimaran, because of the absolute use of wind and ocean to move, represents the ideal link and symbolises the friendship between France and the United States . With the IDEC SPORT team, we are proud to participate in this premiere of THE BRIDGE. ”
Thomas Coville (Sodebo Ultim’): “Being a pioneer is the DNA of the Ultim’ collective which brings together the owners of the biggest multihulls. Today, with THE BRIDGE, we have a meeting with history, with this new race, with this new concept and with the Queen Mary 2 … “
Yves Le Blévec (ACTUAL):“A start in Saint-Nazaire, a finish in New York, it is a mythical journey that takes us back to the era of passenger ships and steamships. The race format, which brings together for the first time all Ultim’, suits perfectly. “
François Gabart (MACIF):“It really resonates. One hundred years after the landing of the Americans in Europe, THE BRIDGE gives us the chance to do the return trip, to go to the United States to create the link to sailing and beyond. What is interesting about it is that there is a slightly different way of approaching the race, potentially bringing the media and the public closer to our boats and enabling us to run the race from the inside and give those privileged cruise passengers an amazing opportunity to experience it first hand.”
The main dates of THE BRIDGE:
Thursday 15th June: Arrival of the multihulls
Friday 17th – Wednesday 21st June: 4th FIBA 3X3 World Cup
Tuesday 21st June: Music Festival
Thursday 22nd June: Descent from the Loire between Nantes and Saint-Nazaire
Thursday 22nd June: Arrival of the maxi-trimarans in the Port of Saint-Nazaire – Opening of the event village
Friday 23rd June: Arrival of the military ships coming from the Atlantic coast
Saturday 24th June: Event village – Arrival of the Queen Mary 2 and entry in the Louis Joubert Lock (port of Saint-Nazaire)
Concert, sound and light show for the general public
Sunday 25th June: Start of THE BRIDGE 2017
1st July: Arrival of QM2
Between 2nd and 4th July: Estimated arrivals of the first boats
The Queen Mary 2 will also host independent travellers.
During the Nautic, THE BRIDGE organisers open up the sale of cabins on board the Queen Mary 2 giving those interest the option to follow the event all the way to New York.
Meet at THE BRIDGE area – HALL 1/J8.
The 100 Club: a unique entrepreneurial dynamic
Nearly 80 companies have signed up to the adventure. They have reserved the first cabins on board the Queen Mary 2 which has allowed for the charter of the prestigious steamship for the event. The business impetus has been set up to engage and perpetuate an and workshops will analyse and look at how business is set to evolve.
“Visionary entrepreneurs of the Club of 100 are not sponsors. They are also the actors of THE BRIDGE and embark as skippers on the Queen Mary 2, “explains Damien Grimont, creator and organiser of THE BRIDGE.
TV FOOTAGE OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE AVAILABLE HERE
00:00-1:35 Images of the press conference
01:36 – 02:56 Interview with François Gabart, skipper MACIF Ultim’ (French)
02:57 – 03:52 Interview with Yves Le Blévec, skipper ACTUAL (French)
03:53 – 5:10 Interview with Damien Grimont, THE BRIDGE organiser
#TheBridge2017 #IDECSport #FrancisJoyon #Sodebo #MACIF #ACTUAL #FrancoisGabart #ThomasCoville #trimaran #multihull #YvesLeBlevec #NYC #QueenMary2 #VerrazanoBridge #Verrazano #NewYork
In a prelude to the Sunday start of the inaugural Transat New York – Vendée Race 12 of the 14 competing IMOCA 60’s assembled on the Hudson River to compete in the Currency House Charity Race. Paul Meilhat and crew on SMA took lead from the start and continued to hold their lead up to the very end securing a win. Meilhat donate the US$ 5,000 prize to the Surf Rider Foundation, for which Meilhat is ambassador.
The fleet filled the Hudson River with brightly colored sails and some of the best of the ocean racing skippers currently on the circuit to show their boats off to New York in the shadow of the Freedom Tower and the iconic New York skyline.
The racing started upwind just off North Cove Marina and skirted down the Hudson past the Statue of Liberty towards Staten Island before turning and raising their spinnaker’s for the downwind run to the finish.
With 8 knots or so at the start knots of wind the conditions provided a comfortable upwind leg and built about 12 knots toward the end giving the spectators along Battery Park a spectacular view of the boats filled with press and guests cruising with filled spinnakers.
The fleet was filled with a mix of many seasoned circumnavigators with years of Vendée Globe races under their belt as well as some skippers new to the race out to prove their metal in unquestionably one of the world’s toughest ocean races. In 5 months they will leave out from Les Sables d’Olonne, France in a quest to solo circumnavigate the globe non-stop and unassisted.
Meilhat commented about the racing after his win. ““We had a good start and after that it was easier. We were in front and we needed to control Maître CoQ and she was maybe 50m behind us at the top mark. So it was really close, really hard. But we made a good choice of spinnaker and Maître CoQ didn’t, so then it was easier because we were much faster downwind.”
“I am happy to have won for our association [charity],” said Meilhat. “The Surf Rider Foundation protects the environment, principally the sea and the shore. They have projects to clean beaches and to educate children. It also tries to control the pollution from maritime traffic such as oil spillages.”
Among SMA’s crew was two time Vendee Globe winner Michel Desjoyeaux.
And is the result of the Currency House Charity Race likely to be reflected in next week’s transatlantic race? “I hope so. We’ve been working towards that!” says Meilhat.
Enda O’Coineen, Chairman of Currency House commented: “Starting here in the heart of New York, berthed at North Cove, alongside Wall Street, the fleet which today competed in the Currency House Charity Race and which will be heading to France on Sunday is iconic. Today was the most incredible spectacle. We had the Big Apple to port and the Statue of Liberty to starboard and Sunday the fleet will head for France out into the fierce Atlantic Ocean, which is never to be underestimated.
“At Currency House, as leading-edge Forex company, we take pride in supporting the most advanced ocean racing fleet in the world, which this year is pushing the boundaries of yacht design with the latest in foil technologies. For us, also as the most advanced trading platform – and relating directly to the lone solo skippers (as a lone Forex trader is at their desk) this is a brilliant event for Currency House to get in behind. We wish all team fair winds and safe sailing and trading….”
Sunday will mark the start of a new race and a new tradition of racing for New York as the racers will assemble every four years to compete in the IMOCA Ocean Masters New York – Vendée Race.
For more images of the Currency House Charity Race by George Bekris visit www.georgebekris.com
Currency House Charity Race Results:
2. Yann Eliès – Groupe Quéguiner – Queguiner Leucémie Espoir
3. Jérémie Beyou – Maître CoQ
4. Vincent Riou – PRB – Vendée Globe
5. Morgan Lagravière – Safran Sailing Team
6. Sébastien Josse – Edmond De Rothschild
7. Alex Thomson Racing – HUGO BOSS
8. Jean-Pierre Dick – StMichel Virbac
9. Fabrice Amedeo – Newrest-Matmut
10. Armel Le Cléac’h – Voile Banque Populaire
11. Tanguy de Lamotte – Initiatives Cœur
12. Kojiro Shiraishi – Spirit of Yukoh
DNS. Pieter Heerema – No Way Back
DNS. Conrad Colman Ocean Racing – 100% Natural Energy
Fourteen IMOCA 60s will set sail from New York this Sunday in the last major singlehanded race before November’s singlehanded non-stop round the world marathon, the Vendée Globe.
More than half of the Vendée Globe fleet is taking part in the New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) Race presented by Currency House and SpaceCode. This, the fourth event in the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship 2015-2016, will see the solo skippers and their boats leaving set sail from New York on a 3100 mile course across the North Atlantic, bound for the Vendée Globe start-finish port of Les Sables d’Olonne on France’s Atlantic coast.
The fleet, currently berthed in Manhattan’s North Cove Marina close to ‘Ground Zero’, includes the six latest generation IMOCA 60s. These futuristic-looking machines represent the cutting edge of offshore yacht racing technology, fitted with retracting J-shaped foils that enable the boats at times literally to fly.
Among the six are Armel le Cleac’h and Banque Populaire, recent winners of the Transat bakerly. Runner-up in the last two Vendée Globes, Le Cleac’h is favourite for the race to the Vendée. He will be up against Hugo Boss skipper, Britain’s Alex Thomson, who finished the last Vendée Globe in third and who now also has a new generation design and Sébastien Josse on Edmond de Rothschild, stand-out winner of December’s Transat St-Barth – Port-la-Forêt.
Other leading French entrants include Barcelona World Race two time winner, Jean-Pierre Dick on his new St Michel-Virbac, while leading the charge on ‘conventionally’ foiled older generation boats will be PRB’s Vincent Riou, winner of the 2004 Vendée Globe, and Queguiner-Leucemie Espoir’s Yann Eliès, a three time winner of the ultra-competitive solo offshore race, the Solitaire du Figaro. Another triple Solitaire winner racing is Jérémie Beyou, skipper of Maître CoQ, unique in the fleet for being an older generation boat, retrofitted with new generation foils.
Beyond Alex Thomson, there are three other non-French skippers competing.
The US home crowd will be rooting for Conrad Colman, the half US/half New Zealand skipper of 100% Natural Energy. Colman has spent the last eight years serving his apprenticeship to compete in the Vendée Globe, which has already included two round the world races.
Colman is proud to have his own campaign: “I’m proud to flag the flag for the United States and New Zealand. I went to high school not far away from NYC, so it’s great to return to my old stomping grounds. I hope to give local fans a friendly face to cheer for. I think these races have universal appeal and can attract a new American audience.”
Coming from furthest away is Japan’s Kojiro Shiraishi for whom competing in the Vendée Globe is a 30 year old dream. Of his ability to compete, there is no doubt: the Vendée Globe will be his fourth solo circumnavigation.
The New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) Race presented by Currency House and SpaceCode will be Shiraishi’s first race in his new boat (ex-Hugo Boss) and the first solo: “It is fantastic. I really love it. It is the newest boat I’ve ever had – very stable and more powerful,” says Shiraishi.
Approaching his campaign from yet another angle is Pieter Heerema. The Dutch businessman is an highly experienced yachtsman who’s sailed all his life, in dinghies and keelboats, where he is best known for his successes in the RC44 and Dragon classes.
However his new No Way Back, a powerful, new generation design IMOCA 60, is very different to the one designs he has previously raced. And sailing it solo is even more challenging: All Heerema’s previous boats he has raced with crew.
“It is a piece of the puzzle of sailing that I haven’t done yet and one of the boxes that I have to tick,” says Heerema.
The New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) Race presented by Currency House and SpaceCode sets sail at 1100 local time on Sunday May 29th, from a line immediately off Manhattan’s North Cove marina. This will be preceded on Friday, May 27th by the Currency House Charity Race.
(Photo: Thierry Martinez)
Entry list for the New York- Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne)
- Fabrice Amedeo – NEWREST Matmut (France)
- Jeremie Beyou – MAITRE COQ (France)
- Conrad Colman – 100% NATURAL ENERGY (New Zealand/USA)
- Tanguy de Lamotte – INITIATIVES COEUR (France)
- Jean-Pierre Dick – StMICHEL VIRBAC (France)
- Yann Eliès – QUEGUINER-LEUCEMIE ESPOIR (France)
- Pieter Heerema – NO WAY BACK (Netherlands)
- Sébastien Josse – EDMOND DE ROTHSCHILD (France)
- Morgan Lagravière – SAFRAN (France)
- Armel Le Cléac’h – BANQUE POPULAIRE VIII (France)
- Paul Meilhat – SMA (France)
- Vincent Riou – PRB (France)
- Kojiro Shiraishi – Spirit of Yukoh (Japan)
- Alex Thomson – HUGO BOSS (Great Britain)
Facts and figures
- 1st edition of the New York-Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne)
- 14 entries
- 3100 nautical miles
- 4th leg of the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship
- Start on 29 May at 11.00am EST (16.00 BST)
- Estimated Arrival : from 5 June 2016 in Les Sables d’Olonne
- Official event of the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship 2015-2016
- 27 May: Press Conference and Currency House Charity Race on the Hudson River:
- 29 May at 11.00 EST: New York-Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) start – on the Hudson River off North Cove Marina.
- Position updates during the race: Every 15 minutes, with a blackout between 23.00 and 04.00 BST
- from 5 June: Arrivals in Les Sables d’Olonne – the Vendée Globe home port
IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship 2015-2016
- Rolex Fastnet Race (double-handed), Cowes-Plymouth (UK), winners Vincent Riou – Sébastien Col (PRB)
- Transat Jacques Vabre (double-handed), Le Havre (FRA) – Itajaï (BR), winners Vincent Riou – Sébastien Col (PRB)
- Transat Saint-Barth / Port-la-Forêt (FRA) (single-handed), winner Sébastien Josse (Edmond de Rothschild)
- IMOCA Ocean Masters New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) (single-handed), Starts on 29 May 2016
- Vendée Globe (single-handed), Starts on 6 November 2016
IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship Rankings after 3 legs:
- Vincent Riou (PRB) 69 points
- Fabrice Amedeo (Newrest-Matmut) 63 points
- Yann Eliès (Queguiner-Leucémie Espoir) 62 points
- Thomas Ruyant (Le Souffle du Nord) 61 points
- Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque populaire) 57 points
For further information:
In just under 100 days time, a growing fleet of first-class ocean racers and fearless adventurers will set sail on the world’s oldest solo transatlantic race from Plymouth to New York – The Transat.
This year’s race has attracted a star-studded line up of offshore greats, from the likes of Vendée Globe competitors Sébastien Josse and Armel Le Cléac’h in the IMOCA60, to Transat Jacques Vabre winner Erwan Le Roux and Route du Rhum winner Thomas Coville on the flying multihulls and seasoned offshore competitors Miranda Merron and Thibaut Vauchel in the Class40.
The Transat is a nostalgic race steeped in history, full of adventure and touched upon by tragedy. Established in 1960 by Sir Francis Chichester and Blondie Hasler, Hasler’s legendary vision for the race is still as relevant today as it was then – The Transat is about “one man, one boat, one ocean.”
But while the principle behind the race remains the same, a new generation of ocean racing machines sees a classic reborn in 2016. Giant Ultimes, flying Multi50s, powerful IMOCA60s and hardy Class40s, helmed by some of the world’s finest solo sailors, could make for one of the fastest crossings yet.
“We are absolutely delighted by the turn out and the calibre of the skippers who are taking on the challenge of one of the greatest solo races in the sport,” said Hervé Favre, Offshore Events Director for OC Sport. “With the right conditions we could see records tumbling in all four classes.”
Paying homage to The Transat’s origins, the 14th edition will set sail from Plymouth – the first city to play host to the race. From Plymouth breakwater, the fleet will race 3,000 miles to Brooklyn in New York, where The Transat first finished 56 years ago.
Between the two cities, competitors will be alone faced with the towering waves of the Atlantic, blinding fog, ferocious winds and the danger of ice drifting down from the Arctic. The fleet will spend anywhere between eight and 18 days at sea, dependent on the boat. Racing upwind for the majority of the race, The Transat will be a hard slog for the skippers. Frequent rest, good nutrition and staying hydrated will be key to staving off fatigue and staying in the game.
The Atlantic is a dangerous playground and intelligent sailing will be the key to success in New York City, as Race Director Gilles Chiorri explained: “The Transat is the mother of all transatlantic races, it launched the trend for solo sailing. The Transat is the most challenging transatlantic to win. The race will be characterised by the low pressures and stormy conditions associated with heavy swell, sometimes within the vicinity of icebergs. The winner in each class (Ultime, IMOCA60, Multi 50, Class40) will step on the path of the previous winners, including Chichester, Tabarly, Colas, Poupon, Desjoyeaux, Joyon, and Loick Peyron, among others.”
With less than 100 days to the start of this epic, The Transat boasts an international fleet of almost 30 boats including three Ultimes, five Multi 50s, seven IMOCA 60s, 11 Class40s, two female skippers, two Brits, 21 French entries, one German and The Transat’s first Japanese entry.
You can read more into the colourful history of The Transat here and see the announced competitor line up below.
Entries for the 2016 Transat are open until 31st January. To enter, please click here.
Happy to be in Grenada. Oakcliff Racing Team celebrate their finish. L-R: Andrew O’Donnell, Daniel Flanigan, Chris Kennedy, Hobie Ponting. RORC Transatlantic Race © RORC/Arthur Daniel & Orlando K Romain
Class40, Oakcliff Racing ghosted into Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina to a warm welcome and a case of cold beer, as a huge welcoming party cheered the team onto the dock. The four sailors, from Rhode Island, New York and Connecticut USA, are more used to match racing and Melges24 regattas than ocean racing, and this adventure started with crossing the Bay of Biscay in November in foul weather for the delivery to Puerto Calero, Lanzarote. The four crew, all in their 20s and crossing the Atlantic Ocean for the first time, leapt for joy in Grenada, rightly proud of their achievements.
|Oakcliff Racing Team cross the finish line
© RORC/Arthur Daniel & Orlando K Romain
Oakcliff Racing skippered by Hobie Ponting and sailed by an all-American crew, crossed the finish line of the 2014 RORC Transatlantic Race, off Quarantine Point, Grenada at 23:15:41 UTC on Friday 12th December 2014, with an elapsed time of 12 days, 13 hours, 15 minutes and 41 seconds. Oakcliff Racing is the current leader for IRC One and lying second overall in the RORC Transatlantic Race.
As Oakliff Racing crossed the line, there was an emotional scene on board as the team congratulated each other with handshakes and bear-hugs. Arriving on a Friday after 13 days at sea is a superstitious scenario for some, but as luck would have it, Friday night is Texas-style barbecue night at Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina. Skipper, Hobie had three portions of jerk chicken after eating freeze dried food for almost two weeks!
“That was epic. We have crossed an ocean and it’s the first time any of us have done it and it feels fantastic. The last 24 hours was the hardest of all. We had very little wind and it was frustrating having spent days charging along at 20 knots. We have all worked so well together and we have finished this race better friends than we started. We don’t know what day it is right now and a shower, some good food and a bed with sheets is top priority,” Exclaimed Skipper, Hobie.
The Oakcliff Racing Team for the RORC Transatlantic Race 2014 was: Hobie Ponting, Daniel Flanigan, Chris Kennedy and Andrew O’Donnell.
For the six yachts still racing in the RORC Transatlantic Race, the wind has become lighter, slowing their race to the finish. Aref Lahham’s Swan 68, Yacana is likely to be the next yacht to finish at around midnight local time (Saturday 13th December). Derek Hatfield’s Volvo 60, Spirit of Adventure has 278 miles to go and expected to finish the race on Sunday night or Monday morning, local time.
Yacana poses a threat to Oakcliff Racing for the lead in IRC One. At 1200 UTC 13 December, Yacana was 138 miles from the finish and estimated to be just 7 hours behind Oakcliff Racing on corrected time. The crew of Yacana are all friends, mainly from Greece. Here is an extract from their blog:
From Last Sunset to Sunrise: At sunset last night the whole crew was on deck. It was the first clear sunset we had seen. The sky was clear, temperature perfect and there was a sense of excitement in our chatter as we realised we had only three figure nautical miles to go. We could smell and feel the Caribbean and even for Christoforos, one of the clouds on the horizon looked like a palm tree. Then as the rest of the crew went to sleep and our watch took over, the sky offered a magnificent spectacle of stars in a moonless sky. We were cruising between 9 and 10 knots with no sound except for the flapping of our sails, and the surfing noise of Yacana on the small waves interrupted by the occasional “trim Aref trim” of Pericles, followed by the “Lasca Ligo” of Dimitri. Suddenly the moon comes up and everything is bathed in an unreal silvery light …a humbling privilege.
The watch is over, we go down and grab something to eat before sleeping for 4 hours when we are up again. The other watch was uneventful. Our watch starts again, and after a few hours, Dimitri decides that we are going to bring down our heavy spinnaker and put up the Orion lighter spinnaker that Don and the rest of the crew had repaired. The operation is delicate in the dark, but Dimitri issues very clear orders and procedural steps to all four of us, and we needed only to wake up Lefteri. Huge success. The heavy spinnaker pulled down and packed and the new one was up in no time, as one of the most magnificent sunrises appeared. Also, a flying fish flew into the small bathroom on the port side! No worries, he will join the other flying fish in our frying pan…..”
In IRC Two, Nigel Passmore’s British J/133, Apollo 7 leads on the water after time correction and is estimated to be lying third overall. Apollo 7 has been one of the most southerly yachts in the race, but as the wind has now gone to the north east, the team from Plymouth have gybed back towards the rhumb line. Frank Lang’s French X-40, Optim’X has consistently been to the north of Apollo 7 and is over 140 miles behind them. The estimated arrival time for Apollo 7 is Monday 15th December, local time.
In IRC Three, Denis Villotte’s French JNP 12, Sérénade is caught in a near windless trap over 770 miles from Grenada. The better breeze is tantalisingly close just a few miles in front of the yacht, but for now, Sérénade is only able to manage a very slow speed.
Sailors from the yachts that have finished the race have been wishing well to Denis Villotte’s team. Irish Olympic sailor, Tim Goodbody is the Boat Captain for Southern Wind 94, Windfall. “On Windfall we have luxury cabins, flat screen TVs and a full gallery with all the modern conveniences. Of course we raced across, but it was in a lot of comfort. I take my hat off to three guys in a stripped out 40-footer. Fair winds to Sérénade .”
by Louay Habib, Race Reports
Gale force winds sweeping in from the Atlantic over the weekend in Le Havre have forced the race committee to postpone the start of the 11th edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre. Initially scheduled for Sunday 3 November, the start will now be on Monday at 14:15 CET for the IMOCA 60, Class 40 and Multi 50 fleets.
Oman Air-Musandam will line up with fellow MOD70 Edmond de Rothschild for a 20 nautical mile prologue on Monday starting from the northern-most point of the race start line and racing up the coast and back, before returning to the dock in Le Havre to wait for their official start, currently planned for Wednesday 6 November.
The prologue results will define the starting time on Wednesday, so winning will be important, but as Oman Air-Musandam’s French skipper Sidney Gavignet pointed out: “Most importantly, the idea for the prologue is not to make a mistake and break something before the start of the race. We want to sail clean and simple and I think Edmond de Rothschild is on the same page as us.”
Co skipper onboard, Damian Foxall, Ireland’s most celebrated offshore sailor and recent winner of the Volvo Ocean Race onboard Groupama, explained the weather situation that has prompted the race committee’s decision: “We are into a typical November situation with intense lows following each other across the Atlantic and bringing a lot of wind to the North of France, the Bay of Biscay and the race course area. The tidal current is very strong as well, so for six hours twice a day we have wind over tide, which really makes the sea state very difficult and dangerous.
“For the race committee it is a case of finding the least dangerous and difficult window to get the fleet off safely. The start will be upwind and bouncy – there is a really big sea out there and it is really a case of finding the safest moment. The goal of trying to finish all the classes together is really out of the window now, the main thing is to get everyone started safely,” he added.
Looking forward to Wednesday’s MOD70 start, Sidney Gavignet said: “It is going to be very hard for the whole Transat Jacques Vabre fleet until we reach Finisterre – Biscay is very rough with a 4-5metre swell. We will have a strong upwind start to the race, but the committee is open to delaying more if necessary. The conditions at this time of the year are constantly changing and evolving. Their decision to delay is a good one.”
In the meantime, the Oman Air-Musandam duo is looking forward to getting cold and wet again on Monday: “We went out last Tuesday to sail the area a bit and to stay fresh and sharp and we are looking forward to going out again on Monday. We have been sitting around for a week so it is time to get back out there and stay fresh!” said Foxall.
News ashore for the Sultanate of Oman’s Ministry of Tourism “DISCOVER OMAN” exhibition is excellent with thousands of people passing through to sample the traditional coffee and dates on offer and to watch the henna artist in action. “In just one day last week, 1,000 people entered the Visit Oman competition. The numbers of people we are seeing at our exhibition has exceeded all our expectations. We are very excited by the favourable reaction of the French public. This is a very important tourism market for the Sultanate of Oman,” said Salma Al Hashmi, marketing and communications director for Oman Sail.
Oman Air-Musandam team for the Transat Jacques Vabre 2013
Sidney Gavignet (FRA) skipper
Sidney is one of the most highly respected French offshore sailors with multiple Volvo Ocean Race and America’s Cup campaigns to his name, including a VOR win in 2005-06 onboard ABN AMRO. He joined the Oman Sail project in 2010 as skipper of the 105ft trimaran, Oman Air-Majan, on which he broke the Round Britain and Ireland record. In 2011 he joined the Oman Air Extreme 40 team before switching his focus to the MOD70 project for 2012. He led the team for the 2012 MOD70 European Tour and returned as skipper in 2013. With 20 transatlantics, of which three were double-handed, four round the worlds, two Solitaire du Figaro races, one transatlantic record and a Volvo Ocean Race win, he brings much experience to the team.
Sidney Gavignet bio
Damian Foxall (IRL) co skipper
Damian is one of the world’s greatest offshore sailors and Ireland’s most accomplished yachtsman. He is a Volvo Ocean Race veteran in his own right with four campaigns behind him, including the recent Groupama victory in 2011-12.
He won the Barcelona World Race in 2007-08, raced with the K-Challenge America’s Cup team in 2004. With 30 years of ocean and dinghy racing experience, 350,000 nautical miles, 18 transatlantics and nine round the world events to date he makes a solid co skipper on the Oman Air-Musandam team.
British solo sailor, Alex Thomson has smashed the single-handed monohull transatlantic record, by more than 24 hours, crossing the finish line at Lizard Point, off Falmouth in Cornwall, in time to get back for the London Olympic Opening ceremony.
The 38 year old sailor crossed the line at 17:17 GMT (18:17 BST) setting the new time at 8 days 22 hours 8 minutes, beating the previous record, subject to ratification by the World Sailing Speed Record Council, which had been held for 10 years.
“It has been a long few days,” said Alex. “The first half from New York was great with weather conditions in our favour, but things started to slow down the closer I got. But the wind has held out this morning and it’s so fantastic to have broken this record.”
Alex set sail from New York on July 17th at 19.09GMT to cover 2800 nautical miles in a quest to break the record for what is officially known as the ‘West to East Ambrose Lighthouse to Lizard Point Under 60ft Single-Handed Monohull Record, Male’, which sat at 10 days, 55 minutes and 19 seconds, and was set by Swiss sailor Bernhard Stamm 10 years ago.
His secondary aim was to get home in time for the 2012 London Olympic Games Opening Ceremony in order to support Chairman and good friend, Sir Keith Mills.
“When I set off I had no idea if I was going to be able to do it. And it has been hard. Lack of sleep, broken instruments on the boat and constant exposure to the elements has really taken it out of me. But it’s such a good feeling to have beaten it by such a great margin,” said Alex.
But the record breaking achievement is only half of the story. Alex is in fact lining up to attempt to be the first Brit ever to win the gruelling single-handed round-the-world race, the Vendee Globe, leaving from France in November on board his 60ft monohull, HUGO BOSS. And this record breaking achievement puts him in good stead.
“This record attempt was also a training exercise for the Vendee Globe,” said Alex. “We felt this record attempt would put me under real pressure and stimulate race conditions and I have felt a real value in it.”
He is one of three British competitors who will take part in the non-stop, solo, unassisted round-the-world yacht race starting in Les Sables d’Olonne in France, on November 10th. Currently only 50% of attempts to complete the race have been successful in the race known as the ‘Everest of sailing’