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

Actual, Winner Of The 2010 Vendee to St. Petersburg

Actual, Winner Of The 2010 Vendée Saint-Pétersbourg

 A clean race without any mistakes… a race that finishes for Yves Le Blévec and his crew with a win that they fought hard for showing both determination and intelligence. It offers Yves Le Blévec revenge in two ways: a revenge for the first leg, when they lost out by some 75 seconds, but above all revenge too after fate forced Actual to retire shortly after the start of the last Transat Jacques Vabre.

Right up to the finish, the pressure was on Yves Le Blévec. Even if, since the 0600 hrs rankings from this morning, the crew of Actual knew they were almost certainly heading for victory, the red and green trimaran had to cross the line before the skipper could express all his emotion.
Immediately, friends and family went on board, accompanied by Eric Loizeau, who raced with them in the first leg. An achievement that simply had to be celebrated by the four men, who were behind this success: Eric, Yves, but also Ronan Deshayes, who prepared the boat and sailed this time too, and finally, Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant, who brought along his skills as a trimmer and his experience of ocean racing on three-hulled machines.
A win achieved in several stages
Over the final miles, the trimaran flying the number 53, could be seen zooming along at more than twenty knots under gennaker with one reef in the mainsail. A few gybes later, Actual crossed the finishing line at 13 hrs 29 mins 25 secs GMT, after racing for 5 days 21 hours 10 minutes and 25 seconds.  In fact, Actual’s win has its origins back in the North Sea, before they made their way through the Dover Straits, as Yves and his crew made gains thanks to a small tactical option further west than Franck Yves Escoffier’s Crêpes Whaou ! 3. As they made their way into the English Channel, the two leaders were twenty-five miles apart, and hoping to close the gap, Franck-Yves Escoffier attempted an option close to the coast of Brittany, while Actual sought out the north-westerly wind that was forecast. The result of their respective strategies was that Franck-Yves’s red trimaran was some fifty miles behind by daybreak. Maintaining his sense of fair play, the skipper of Crêpes Whaou ! 3 admitted this was a do or die option, as he knew that it could worsen his situation… “It will either work out or be a disaster,” racers often say, as they make one last ditch attempt to regain control.
Franck-Yves Escoffier is due to cross the finishing line at around 1630 hrs GMT. Whatever happens, both crews will have contributed to making this race what it was and it should mark a new beginning in the development and promotion of the Multi50 class.
From the boats
Yves Le Blévec (Actual):  It’s difficult to describe. Obviously we’re very pleased. It was a really exciting race. On the outward leg as well as on the return leg. We overtook, got overtaken and overtook again. I’m just so pleased to be the first back to Saint Gilles. It was all really down to some small tactical choices. In the North Sea, we gained a slight advantage. We decided to continue with our option in the English Channel and it certainly paid off.
The crew really worked well together: Jean-Bapt (Le Vaillant), whenever he talked about us, called us the young ones. In fact, we’re really a crew of old-timers. It’s true that I sometimes am not in a good mood, but that livens things up for the others…”
Positions in the 1400 hrs rankings
– 1 Actual (Y Le Blévec) finished on 6th June at 13hrs 29mins 25secs
– 2 Crêpes Whaou ! 3 (FY Escoffier) 67.3 miles from the finish
– 3 Crêpes Whaou ! 2 (L Féquet) 211.2 miles from the leader
– 4 Région Aquitaine Port-Médoc (L Roucayrol) 349.3 miles from the leader
– 5 Naviguez Anne Caseneuve (A Caseneuve) 355.1 miles from the leader
– 6 FenêtréA-Cardinal (E Le Roux) 410.9 miles from the leader
– 7 La mer révèle nos sens (P Hingant) 452.2 miles from the leader
– 8 CLM (H Cléris) 525.3 miles from the leader

Vendee To St. Petersburg (Photo by Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendee -

Vendee To St. Petersburg (Photo by Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendée Saint Petersbourg)

 

Less than 150 miles to go. Next to nothing for these machines capable of speeding along at an average speed of twenty knots. That is all that faces the two multihulls which have been leading this first leg since the start. In which order will they finish? Between Crêpes Whaou 3 ! and Actual, the gap has remained so small, that no one is willing to make any forecasts. Behind them, the wind, which has finally freshened, is enabling the pack to close the gap a little bit, which means we can look forward to a fight in the return leg…
They may not be spending their holidays together but these two just seem to want to stick together out on the water. Yesterday evening the gap between Franck-Yves Escoffier and Yves Le Blévec widened to more than twenty miles for the first time in the race. But that was only to last as long as a night in the far north of Europe… A few hours later, the green trimaran was back up with her all-red rival. The only thing we can be sure of is that on Monday we are to see the conclusion of this first act. Franck-Yves Escoffier, used to clear wins, remains fully determined in spite of his cheerful disposition. Yves Le Blévec is only dreaming of one thing and that is achieving his first win. We cannot question the motivation of each of the two crews, who are vying for victory. It is all likely to be done to a few little details: a puff of air that someone picks up, a little more experience of multihull sailing for one, a slight advantage in a breeze for the other…Who knows? Whatever happens, between these two competitors history is being made, just as each time two close rivals battle it out for the finish and show utter respect for the other. There’s likely to be a lot of lively discussions in the bar in Saint-Petersburg Yacht Club.

The gang of four

While third place is most likely to go to Loïc Féquet and his mates, unless there is a major upset on board Crêpes Whaou ! 2, the battle is raging for fourth place, and honour is at stake for the older multihulls. While we had imagined a duel between Pierre Hingant’s crew (La mer révèle nos sens) and Anne Caseneuve’s (Croisières Anne Caseneuve), two other competitors are now fighting over the remains of the feast: Lalou Roucayrol (Région Aquitaine Port-Médoc) has continued to assert the qualities of his multihull, when the breeze gets up. He has now given us proof of that by entering this battle for fourth place, after being more than fifty miles behind yesterday at the same time. In his wake, Erwan Le Roux (FenêtréA Cardinal) wants to show too that they still have that talent and determination. Erwan has just achieved two consecutive wins, as a tactician in the Tour de France Sailing Race, one of the most demanding crewed events in the European circuit, and it was certainly not luck that enabled him to do that. As for Hervé Cléris (CLM) he is not so far back and can still hope for them all to bunch up as he aims for fifth place. Only the  c r e w   o f   ÀR 2   f r e e l y   a d m i t s   t h a t   t h e y   a r e   o u t   o f   t h i s   f i g h t :   f o r   E t i e n n e   H o c h é d é   a n d   h i s   c r e w m e n ,   t h e y   a r e   j u s t   l o o k i n g   f o r w a r d   t o   b e   a b l e   t o   t a k e   p a r t   i n   t h e   P a r a d e   o f   V e s s e l s   i n   f r o n t   o f   t h e   P e t e r   a n d   P a u l   f o r t r e s s .   T h i s   i s   n o t   d o w n   t o   a   l a c k   o f   a m b i t i o n   b u t   m o r e   a   q u e s t i o n   o f   g e t t i n g   t h i n g s   i n t o   p e r s p e c t i v e   a n d   b e i n g   r e a l i s t i c   a n d   a l s o   m a k i n g   a   w i s e   c h o i c e .  
 F r o m   t h e   b o a t s :
 E t i e n n e   H o c h é d é   ( ÀR 2 )
    W e   a r e   d u e   t o   p a s s   t h e   E u r o p e   B r i d g e   f o u r   o r   f i v e   h o u r s   f r o m   n o w .   W e  r e   m o v i n g   a l o n g   n i c e l y   d o i n g   1 4 – 1 5   k n o t s . It’s not very warm on board the boat, as aluminium is not a good insulator and with the sea temperature down to around 8-9°… The end of this voyage is likely to be faster and we should see the full potential of our old boat. As soon as the wind freshens, she rises up on her foils and can start to achieve great speeds. But in light airs… I had thought of taking off the foils as they have slowed us down so much up until now.”
Franck-Yves Escoffier (Crêpes Whaou 3 !)
“What was destined to happen is happening. We thought we had got ourselves a good lead last night and there you go, Actual is coming back at us again. This is going to be the umpteenth time we have found ourselves racing together. It all starts again with everything to play for. We’re determined to lead the way right up to the finishing line. We’ve been enjoying some exceptional moments: it was a fantastic night as we sailed along at twenty knots on smooth seas. Up here, night only lasts for a couple of hours. Yesterday there was a crescent moon. The moonlight, semi-darkness and clear skies… One of those moments that we’ll never forget, as it was so magical… For the finish, we’ll see. We’ve got a joker up our sleeve with Antoine (Koch) on board. He has just completed the transatlantic race from Concarneau – St-Barts, and is still hot and also an excellent navigator…”
Yves Le Blévec (Actual)
« Franck-Yves is a nice fellow: he always says nice things about you, but that isn’t stopping him from going that bit faster! For the moment, he still has the advantage. We’re going to try to keep fighting right up to the end. We took turns in getting some rest to be able to think clearly about this final stretch. We know that the slightest mistake could cost us a lot, so we want to be in good shape for these final miles. The race is fascinating and we’re also discovering some magnificent landscapes; our only regret is that we can’t stop.”
Reminder

ETA for the first two boatsThe ETA is now between 0400 and 0500 hrs GMT. A radio session with the winners is planned for 1000hrs GMT.  (You have to add on six hours of sailing to get from the finishing line to the pontoon in St-Petersburg).
Rankings at 1400hrs GMT
– 1 Crêpes Whaou ! 3 (FY Escoffier) 147.7 miles from the finish
– 2 Actual (Y Le Blévec) 6.1 miles from the leader
– 3 Crêpes Whaou ! 2 (L Féquet) 291.3 miles from the leader
– 4 Naviguez Anne Caseneuve (A Caseneuve) 403.8 miles from the leader
– 5 La mer révèle nos sens (P Hingant) 422.4 miles from the leader
– 6 Région Aquitaine Port-Médoc (L Roucayrol) 433.4 miles from the leader
– 7 FenêtréA-Cardinal (E Le Roux) 439.1 miles from the leader
– 8 CLM (H Cléris) 456.5 miles from the leader
– 9