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.
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
“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.”
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.
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
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
“It’s the most stressful leg I’ve ever done in my life,” said a mightily relieved Caudrelier, minutes after crossing the line. “But the result is fantastic!”
After finishing narrow runners-up to Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) and Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) respectively in Legs 1 and 2, Dongfeng took a firm grip of the 4,670-nautical mile stage from Abu Dhabi to China virtually from the start on January 3.
At one stage, entering the treacherous Malacca Strait, they stretched their advantage over the fleet to more than 106nm but the fleet never gave up their chase and as they skirted along the wind-shielded Vietnamese coast, Caudrelier found his team’s lead cut to under 10nm.
But the 40-year-old and his crew of experienced French sailors mixed with rookie Chinese Cheng Ying Kit (‘Kit’) and Liu Xue (‘Black’) plus young Australian Jack Bouttell, stuck grimly to their game plan and slowly but surely stretched their lead once more as they entered the final day’s sailing.
An infuriating – for Caudrelier and his crew – lack of wind in the South China Sea kept the tension up into the small hours of Tuesday morning and once more the fleet led by Walker’s Azzam closed the gap a little but Dongfeng had come too far for too long to relinquish their advantage now.
At just past 0731 local time (2331 UTC), they crossed the finish on a glorious Sanya morning just after daybreak, some 45nm clear of second-placed Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) with Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) 13.5nm further behind.
They are expected to scrap all the way to the finish with MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP) and Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) hot on their heels.
Those boats are expected to finish within short order of each other later on Tuesday with Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) due to complete the leg later into the evening.
Leg 3: Abu Dhabi to Sanya (4,670 nautical miles)
Days at sea: 6
Boat speed: 6.4 knots (3 hours average), 5 knots (15 minute average)
Position in fleet: Latest position reports show Dongfeng still holding onto the lead, managing to steal a couple of miles back on Brunel.
Distance to finish: 3, 480 nautical miles although Caudrelier suggests this could be the longest leg in terms of time!
At 0940 GMT Dongfeng had managed to steal a couple of miles back on Brunel. Tense onboard with winds very very light, just 3 knots at time of poll – and Brunel sailing now in better wind and on a higher angle.
Well it was easy to think that once the big gybe decision was made the other day it would be ‘plain sailing’ down a straight line in northerly winds to the Sri Lanka turning point on the course. Whilst the fleet has generally maintained the same direction, the local effects have been very significant with the distances between the boats yo-yoing back and forth since yesterday. And right now, in what looks like a tactical move, Brunel have decided to sail higher than the rest of the fleet through this light airs zone, on a more direct route to the waypoint – and in doing so have closed to just 2 miles behind Dongfeng, albeit separated by nearly 20 miles on the water now. Local effects or a clear tactical move to get closer to the coast of India, time will tell.
A Fastnet Race in distance to the southern point of India (650 miles) and a further 200 to Sri Lanka’s southern tip and the transition in to the Bay of Bengal. As Ian Walker on Azzam commented yesterday, the first boat there could get a big advantage. For now its anyone’s guess who will be there first, with the distances shrinking and stretching up to 15 miles every couple of watches. The light airs and attention it requires in terms of keeping the boats going at 100%, and the prospect of a very long leg, are started to tire the sailors – the first team to blink will be ejected out the back of the peloton. The separation with Brunel, whether accidental or a Dutch master plan, finally means we could see a split in the leading trio, with Abu Dhabi for now taking a similar course to the determined men of Dongfeng.
“The first part of the leg was clear – but now its getting complicated” commented skipper Caudrelier. Kit confirmed on a video call earlier that ‘the wind is not at all what is forecast, we’re sailing dead downwind when we should be reaching”. Caudrelier confirms “It might just come down to who is lucky on this leg”. It could come down to a roll of the weather and cloud dice this next 600 miles to the corner.
Its going to be a tense couple of days.
Thousands of miles away from home, Charles Caudrelier, writes a few words to reflect on the Charlie Hebdo atrocity which has shocked the world:
My name is Charles, sometimes I’m called Charlot but today I am Charlie.
It is the second time I’ve been at sea during a major terrorist attack.
The first time it was 11 September 2001.
At sea we are cut of off from the world without internet access, TV or radio and we are living a long way from these dramas.
Since yesterday I really don’t know what to think about these insane actions. Since the beginning of time we’ve been killing in the name of God, or Gods.
I’m not going to write a long essay on this, writing is not my thing, and certainly I don’t feel qualified on this subject.
But we are doing the Volvo Ocean Race, a race around the planet, crossing all the oceans and continents during 9 months.
If God exists, then he will have created our planet and he can be proud of his work, because its amazing, but he must also be embarrassed about us humans, incapable of living together on it.
You can follow our story and interact with the team on all social media channels and our official website:
Chinese sailor Liu Xue (Black) crosses the Equator for the first time, aged 21
With the long term sporting mission of Dongfeng Race Team set to bring offshore sailing to China, a nation where 99% of the population don’t even know it’s a sport, it is moments like these when Chinese sailor Liu Xue (Black) crossed the Equator for the first time that should be documented and savored for years to come. The training process to get young sailors like Liu Xue and Chen Jin Hao to this point was (and still is) one of epic proportions. And as the project slowly gains recognition in China from media such as CCTV and China Daily, for this team, it’s only the beginning of what we hope will be the most widely followed Chinese sailing project in history.
Leg 2, Day 16
Boat speed: 13 knots as the fleet move into more solid westerly winds
Position in fleet: Lost a bit on Team Brunel last night but caught up today and now just 0.9 nautical miles behind them in third place
Distance to finish: Into the final third of this leg with less than 2,000nm to go
Two big milestones were passed recently for the Chinese team in the Volvo Ocean Race. Dongfeng Race Team returned to the northern hemisphere, resulting in Liu Xue (Black) crossing the Equator for the first time. “I will remember this moment forever, this is my pride, my honour. It’s something I will never forget, it’s very important to me to cross the Equator at sea during a race.” Liu Xue (Black) shared a special moment onboard with his mentor, French sailor, Pascal Bidégorry. The pair toasted the moment with a bottle of Baijiu, a sort of Chinese liqueur given to them by the team’s Platinum Partner Aeolus Tyres.
Image credit: Yann Riou / Dongfeng Race Team
The team now have less than 2,000 nautical miles to go of the 6,125 nautical mile leg from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi but judging by the close racing we’ve seen in this leg, it’s not over until it’s over.
Every meter, every mile is critical for the determined sailors onboard Dongfeng. Racing has got so close that on the race tracker it would appear Dongfeng has disappeared off the screen completely, when, in fact, our competitor’s Team Brunel icon is sitting directly over the Dongfeng icon! That’s how close racing has been this week.
Image credit: Yann Riou / Dongfeng Race Team
Weather wise looking ahead, in simplistic terms (and it rarely turns out simple), Dongfeng and the leading boats are sailing moderately fast in the westerly Monsoon winds right now, but they are going to have to traverse in the coming day or days a second Doldrums like area that spans a gap of almost 300 miles of their track. This could create a major park up and reshuffle of the entire remaining fleet. Out the other side they will sail in to moderate to strong north easterly winds that should last for days, but not give much option for any passing lanes or position changes, before what is likely to be another reshuffle with fickle winds once through the Straits of Hormuz and in to the Gulf for the final miles in to Abu Dhabi. Sounds simple, of course its not! All summarised perfectly in today’s blog from Onboard Reporter, Yann Riou here:
Four days. Four days that we’ve been locked together with our Dutch friends. Four days that we’ve been fighting for every meter of boat length. So when we lose a mile and a half in one night, it’s a bit hard to digest. So we try to put that in to perspective by reminding ourselves that there are still 2,000 miles to go.
And above all remember that we are learning so much [about how to make a VO65 go faster]. Because the best way to learn about boat performance is to do two-boat testing, two boats right next to each other. That’s what is done in just about every type of high performance sailing. That’s four straight days (and nights) of training we have just done. At different wind angles, strength and sail combinations…
« For sure the rhythm onboard would be different without a boat next to us. Its very tiring, but great learning » Eric Peron
This intensity has an impact on life onboard. Always trim, trim, trim (the sails). There is someone in front of the computer almost the whole time, talking to the helmsman [sharing performance data and the gains or losses, meter by meter, against the other boat]. It’s very positive, but very wearing!
Image credit: Yann Riou / Dongfeng Race Team
Involved in the RC 44 Championship Tour since 2007, Team Aqua has won its fourth RC 44 Championship Tour in a row. A remarkable achievement for team owner Chris Bake, tactician Cameron Appleton and the entire team.
December 3, 2014 – Chris Bakes’ Team Aqua has just accomplished one of sailing’s greatest achievements in 2014, winning the RC 44 Championship Tour for the fourth consecutive year. Team Aqua’s opponents are no les than Terry Hutchinson, Iain Percy, Mathieu Richard, Tom Slingsby, Nathan Outteridge, Vasco Vascotto or Ed Baird, to name a few…
’It has been another fantastic year for us‛, admits team owner Chris Bake. ’We’ve managed to remain consistent throughout the year, and to keep our heads down when things didn’t work the way we wanted, like in Sotogrande. It is harder every year to remain at the top in this class, as the other teams become more competitive. I consider it a privilege to still be there, and to sail with great people like Cameron Appleton and all the members of our team!‛
A founding member of the RC 44 Class, Bake’s Team Aqua has won the Championship Tour for the first time in 2007, and then back-to-back in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.
’The end of the season is always a good time to look back at what we have achieved and to reflect on what our team is all about‛, says team manager Cameron Appleton. ’For me, the last few years have been hugely successful and when I look back, I can see many great moments and achievements. It’s really pleasing!‛
Appleton attributes the team’s success to the ’fantastic group‛ he has developed around owner Chris Bake. ’It’s a very strong, and united group‛, he says. ’Matt Cassidy on the bow, Ben Graham grinding, Andy Estcourt at the main, and Chris Noble have been members of this team for many years. They are all key to our success. We’ve also benefited a lot from our coach Brett Jones, who’s helped us get to top speed. Per Andersson, from North Sails, was also instrumental and contributed a lot to our excellent speed, especially downwind.‛
Unlike last year, the team didn’t manage to win both the fleet and match race titles this year, the latter going to Synergy Russian sailing Team, helmed by Ed Baird. ’Every day you go out sailing you get reminded how hard it is…‛, says Appleton. ’I think we sailed very well this year, but Synergy simply outsailed us. They fully deserved to win the match race title and I am happy for them.‛
In 2014, Team Aqua has once again given the opportunity to young sailors to compete at the highest level thanks to their youth program, developing a great network of young, passionate and competent sailors worldwide.
The team carries the colours of the World Land Trust and 2041. The World Land Trust is an international conservation charity that works to preserve rainforests and other threatened wildlife habitat. The World Land Trust also participates actively in raising awareness and improving understanding of the importance of wilderness conservation through education and information programs.
2041 is an organisation founded by polar explorer, environmental leader and public speaker Robert Swan, OBE, the first person in history to walk to both the North and South poles, and dedicated to the protection of the poles. Team Aqua offsets its carbon footprint and promotes sustainable development by following the challenges set by 2041.
Team Aqua will once again compete in the RC 44 Championship Tour 2015, with competitive objectives although Chris Bake won’t be able to attend all events due to other commitments. ’It’s always a challenge to find the right balance between work, family and sport‛, he confesses. ’It will also be nice to make different experiences next year, and to change a little bit from our routine although I remain fully committed to the RC 44 class.‛
Team Aqua members:
Chris Bake, owner & helmsman
Cameron Appleton, tactician, helmsman and project manager
Matt Cassidy, Bowman
Andrew Estcourt, Mainsheet trimmer
Ben Graham, Grinder
Chris Noble, Boat captain and offside trimmer
Jono Swain, Trimmer
Dylan Clarke, Shore team
Simon Johnson, Pitman
Brett Jones, Sail Design, Downwind Trimmer
Photos: ©Nico Martinez http://www.martinezstudio.es
Monday, November 10, 2014
Thirty two years after the first of his seven attempts, French ocean racing star Loick Peyron won the mythical Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe this Monday morning (TU) when he crossed the finish line of the solo race from Saint-Malo France to Pointe-a-Pitre at 04:08:32 TU/05:08:32 CET/00:08:32 local The lone skipper of the 31.5m (103ft) Ultime trimaran Maxi Solo Banque Populaire VII completed the 3,542 miles course in 7d 15h 8m 32s.
His elapsed time is a new outright record for the course passage, which was first raced in 1982, breaking the 2006 reference time set by Lionel Lemonchois (7 days 17 hours and 9 minutes) by 2hrs 10mins 34secs.
Peyron sailed the 3,524 NMs theoretical course at an average of 19.34kts. In reality he sailed 4,199NM at an average of 22.93kts.
Skipper of the 14 man 2011-2012 Banque Populaire crew which holds the outright Jules Verne Trophy sailing non-stop around the world record, Peyron has a longstanding special affection for La Route du Rhum as it is the Transatlantic race which launched his solo ocean racing career as a 22 year old. Until today he had finished fifth twice and was forced to abandon three times in the ORMA 60 trimarans in 1990, 1994 and 2002.
At the age of 54, his Route du Rhum triumph is another new summit for the sailor from La Baule, Brittany who turns his hand with equal skill to all disciplines of sailing from foiling Moth dinghies to the giant multihulls as well as the America’s Cup.
Ironically he was only enlisted two months ago to replace skipper Armel Le Cléach’h who injured his hand.
Maxi Solo Banque Populaire VII’s win was built from the first night at sea. After negotiating a difficult upwind section Peyron was the first to turn off Ushant, perfectly timing his key passage through the front. He opened his lead in almost all sections of the course, except momentarily when he lead into a bubble of light winds under the Azores high-pressure system. But his approach to Guadeloupe regained distance and when he crossed the finish line second placed Yann Guichard on the 40m Spindrift was 180 miles astern.
It is the second time in a row that the race has been won by the same trimaran, which was designed by VPLP. In 2010 Franck Cammas won on the same boat when it was Groupama, in a time of 9 days 3 hours.
His win is all the more remarkable for the fact that Peyron stepped in for the injured Le Cléac’h only two months ago and many times pre-start in Saint-Malo he voiced his concerns about the magnitude of the physical challenge he faced, playing down any suggestions or expectations.
In fact Peyron had originally planned to sail this Rhum in a tiny 11.5m trimaran called Happy. But his vast experience and technical skills on multihulls filled the gap, complemented by the accomplished skills of his routers ashore – who plot his course for him – Marcel van Triest and Armel Le Cléac’h. His two ‘guardian angels’ kept his course fast, simple, smooth and safe.
First words from Loick upon arrival: “It is a very nice victory but a team victory. I was not supposed to be on this boat two months ago. I was supposed to do the Rhum race on a very small yellow trimaran, which will be the case in four years time, I will be back. But it is not a surprise because I knew that the boat was able to do it. I knew that the team was able to help me a lot.
Armel is here but he does not want to be here on the pontoon. But he is here and in fact we spent the week together. We were talking all the time, before and during the race, and he gave me so much help.
It was really tough, but I am really impressed by the job that Yann Guichard has done since the start. His boat is bigger, this boat is big but it is nice.
The last day was difficult, from the early hours off the Désirade, there was a lot of maneuvering to be done. It’s been seven editions for me! This is an exceptional situation, to stand in for Armel and to be able to skipper such a beautiful boat. This victory is thanks to Team Banque Populaire, as whole team we did this.
I never imagined that I would win a Route du Rhum on a boat like this. A race like this is never simple and that is what is so exciting and incredible about it. It is also very stressful for the boat to withstand such high speeds in bad seas. I was able to sail the boat well but was scared. This is what the multihull game is all about. You have to constantly manage the boat. One night I fell asleep at the helm and nearly capsized the boat. This is a great victory; possibly one of the nicest and breaking the record is the cherry on top of the cake.”