Rich WIlson Arrival Vendee Photo Olivier Blanchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Rich Wilson (USA), skipper Great American IV, 13th of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on February 21st, 2017 – Photo Olivier Blanchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe
Arrivée de Rich Wilson (USA), skipper Great American IV, 13ème du Vendee Globe, aux Sables d’Olonne, France, le 21 Février 2017 – Photo Olivier Blanchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

American skipper Rich Wilson crossed the finish line of the Vendée Globe solo round the world race off Les Sables d’Olonne on the west coast of France this afternoon (Tuesday 21/02) at 1250hrs UTC. From the fleet of 29 boats which started the 27,440 miles singlehanded race from Les Sables d’Olonne on Sunday November 6th, Wilson and Great American IV secure 13th place in an elapsed time of 107 days 48 mins 18 secs.

Wilson, at 66 years old the oldest skipper in the race, successfully completes the pinnacle solo ocean racing event for the second time. He improves his time for the 2008-9 edition of the race, 121 days and 41 minutes by a fortnight, thereby achieving one of the key goals which drew him back to take on the race for a second time. Whilst racing he also delivered a daily, multi faceted educational programme to over 750,000 young people in more than 55 different countries around the world, another of the fundamental reasons Wilson returned to the Vendée Globe. He becomes the fastest American to race solo non stop around the world, beating the 2004-5 record of Bruce Schwab of 109 days 19 hours.
 
The hugely experienced American skipper who is a lifelong mariner and a native of Boston,Massachusetts, adds to a remarkable catalogue of achievements under sail over an extraordinary career spanning nearly 40 years, including three record passages including San Francisco to Boston in 1993, New York to Melbourne in 2001, and in 2003 Hong Kong to New York.
Wilson crossed the finish line on a cool February afternoon, emerging from the grey skies of the Bay of Biscay, with scarcely a rope out of place. His Great American IV returned to Les Sables d’Olonne in almost exactly the same, near perfect condition as they left in early November. Wilsonhas dealt competently with a range of small technical problems, notably gripes with his autopilot system, his hydrogenerator system and some modest sail repairs. To finish two Vendée Globe races with both of his boats in great condition is testament to his impeccable seamanship, his ongoing focus and discipline to stay within the prudent protocols he sets himself, looking to achieve high average speeds and sail very efficiently while keeping the skipper and his boat safe. The efficiency of his actual course, that is how direct a route he sailed, is almost exactly the same as that of race winner Armel Le Cléac’h – sailing around 27,450 miles and is only bettered by the fourth to sixth placed skippers Jéremie Beyou, Yann Eliès and Jean Le Cam who sailed around 300 miles less.
Wilson is in no way a crusader looking to prove a point about the capabilities or achievements of older solo racers or athletes. Suffering from asthma since he was an infant, he has also considered age a mere number but strove to be as fit and strong as he could be prior to both races. ‘I am not ready for the pipe and slippers. Age is just a number.’ Wilson said many times before the start. That said his success today will be a huge inspiration to older people around the world to pursue their dreams and follow their passions. His boat for this edition of the race, an Owen-Clarke design which raced to seventh with Dominique Wavre in 2012-13, is faster but more physical than Great American III.
Along the route Wilson has told the story of his race with clarity and passion, his educated and inquisitive mind ensuring topics have remained interesting and informative with a broad appeal to all ages. A former maths teacher he has graduate degrees from Harvard Business School and MIT and a college degree from Harvard. He enjoyed regular communication with many of the other skippers in the race, most of all Alan Roura, the Swiss 23 year old youngest racer who finished yesterday.
Rich Wilson’s Race
7th Nov: Replacement of a batten car on the main mast track, sailed with conservative sail selection not wanting to make a mistake while tired. Hydrogenerator propeller pitch control pump leaked all of its hydraulic oil into the box.
12th Nov: In a squall the boat took off, and then the autopilot decided to stop. So the boat turned up toward the wind, and lay over at about 45 degrees, with both sails flapping. I rushed into the cockpit and grabbed the tiller. Unidentified autopilot problem fixed.
17th Nov: First part of the Doldrums further north than was predicted. Sudden squalls.
19th Nov: At 0450, Great American IV crossed the Equator. 12th crossing under sail for Rich.
24th Nov: Getting to know the boat well. Gained miles on those ahead. Nice chat with Tanguy de Lamotte.
1st Dec: Peak speed of 24.7 knots. “I don’t understand how the leaders can deal with the speeds, and the stress that comes with them”
6th Dec: Entered the Indian Ocean. More Work on the Hydrogenerator
9th Dec: Chats with Alan Roura, and with Eric Bellion. ‘The three multi-generational amigos, me at 66, Eric at 40, and Alan at 23’13th Dec: “Pushing very hard to get east across the top of the Kerguelen Shelf before the big depression gets here in 36 hours. Our plan is to then head southeast to get to where the strong winds will be. Eric has chosen a north route, Alan and Enda look as though they are working on a similar plan to mine.”
15th Dec: Average of 45 knots wind for a 16 hour period, and our thundering sprints of boat speed from 10-12 knots into the mid-20s, ricocheting off waves
20th Dec: “Interesting encounter last night with Enda O’Coineen”
21st Dec: “Fantastic encounter today when my friend Eric Bellion came roaring up from behind us and passed us close aboard”
25th Dec: “We are a long way from home, and have a long way to go. Usually in my voyages, I haven’t gotten too lonely. But today I did. I’m sure it was exacerbated by the big depression that is forecast to develop ahead of us.”
31st Dec: Crossing the International Date Line
1st Jan: “We are in the gale. We have 35-40 knots of wind now and it looks as though this will last for another 18 hours. The violence that the sea can heap on a boat is not describable.”
5th Jan: “the nicest day of sailing that we’ve had in one might say months”
7th Jan: Exactly halfway
13th Jan: “We were in the bulls-eye of the strong winds for the depression. Solent to staysail to storm jib, and 1 reef to 2 reefs to 3 reefs in the mainsail.” Autopilot malfunction.
17th Jan: Cape Horn
18th Jan: “We went west of the Falkland Islands, behind Alan Roura, who followed through the Lemaire Strait”
22nd Jan: “A very bad night last night. We had 35 knots of north, steady, up to 38, which created a big wave situation, with cresting seas 12-15′ high. This went on most of the afternoon. And then suddenly, nothing. The physicality of this boat is beyond description, and I am exhausted and, frankly, demoralized.”
25th Jan: “We just got clobbered through the night, with 30 knots of wind, upwind, into the big building seas, and crashing and crashing and crashing. The conditions are just chaotic. There is really nothing you can do on the boat, because you just have to be holding on at all times.”
29th Jan: “Latitude of Rio de Janeiro. Southwest winds, 2 – 3 knots, very bizarre. The boat went in circles for 3 hours, and it was very frustrating.”
5th Feb: back into the Northern Hemisphere
7th Feb: finally into the NE’ly trade winds
16th Feb: sailed close to Faial in the Azores.
21st Feb: finished
First words 
“It’s great to be back. To see France and all the French people here. It was great to see Eric (Bellion) and Alan (Roura) here. They were my brothers in the south. We talked almost every day by e-mail. In this race I think there was a lot more communication between the skippers than in 2008-2009 – Koji, Fabrice, Nandor, Stéphane and Didac who was chasing me. We talked about everything in the world. It was a little bit harder, because I’m older. The boat was easier because of the ballast tanks. You can use the ballast rather than put in a reef all the time, which is what I had to do on the other boat. What distinguished the race for me was that it was grey all the way. Across the south and then all the way up the Atlantic. Grey. Grey. It was so depressing. Four or five days ago, the sun came out for twenty minutes and I leapt out and stuck my face and hands under the sun. It was grey and just for so long. That was hard.”“I found all the calms that exist in the Atlantic. It was never-ending in the Atlantic. Eight years ago, I said never again. But now it’s too difficult. This is the perfect race course. The most stimulating event that exists. My goal was to finish this race and to work for SitesAlive, which has 700,000 young people following. What is fantastic about this race is the support of the public with all the people here. I remember the first time, someone said, if you finish the race, you’re a winner. I think that is correct. I could give you a quotation from Thomas Jefferson. When he was ambassador to France, he said everyone has two countries, their own and France and I think that is true.””The Vendée Globe is two Vendée Globes. It is very long. The oceans, the capes. It’s all very hard. But the other Vendée Globe is the one ashore. The welcome that our team and I have had here. It’s incredible. I felt older. I am 66! My thoughts go out to Nandor who finished two weeks ago at the age of 65. We sent back data each day concerning me and the boat. Each day, I did an average of 12,000 turns on the winch. But it was hard.””The worst thing was it was so grey. I had a map of the stars with me but I couldn’t use it. The best thing was communicating with the others. We’re a real community.”

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74j 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Thursday, 19th January French sailor Armel Le Cléac’h has today won the Vendée Globe, setting a new record for the solo non-stop round the world race in the process.

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, with flares in the channel of Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74j 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, with flares in the channel of Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Le Cléac’h, 39, from Brittany, crossed the finish line of the race in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, at 1537hrs UTC after 74 days, 3 hours, 35 minutes and 46 seconds at sea on his 60ft racing

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Oivier Blanchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74j 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Olivier Blanchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Oivier Blanchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe
Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74j 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d’Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 – Photo Olivier Blanchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

His time sets a new record for the race, beating the previous record of 78 days 2 hours 16 minutes set by French sailor Francois Gabart in the 2012-13 edition by 3 days, 22 hours and 41 minutes. Le Cléac’h, the runner-up in the 2008-09 and 2012-13 editions of the Vendée Globe, covered 24,499.52 nm at an average speed of 13.77 knots during the race, which began from Les Sables d’Olonne on November 6 last year. The Vendée Globe, which was founded in 1989, follows the ‘clipper route’ around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, Australia’s Cape Leeuwin and South America’s Cape Horn. Second-placed Alex Thomson is expected to cross the finish line on his boat Hugo Boss around 12 hours behind Le Cléac’h. The arrivals are being streamed live online. For more information about how to follow the finishes see

http://www.vendeeglobe.org/en/news/18197/how-to-follow-the-finish-this-thursday. 

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Olivier Blanchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Olivier Blanchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Olivier Blanchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74d 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74d 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74d 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, with flares in the channel of Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74j 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, with flares in the channel of Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, celebration with Mumm champagne at pontoon of Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74j 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, celebration with Mumm champagne at pontoon of Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, celebration with Mumm champagne at pontoon of Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74j 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, celebration with Mumm champagne at pontoon of Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, with media at pontoon of Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74j 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, with media at pontoon of Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74j 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74j 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74j 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

St Michel - Virbac Skipper Jean-Pierre Dick

St Michel – Virbac Skipper Jean-Pierre Dick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RANKINGS TODAY 

IMOCA 60 SMA, skippered by Paul Meilhat, winner of the Currency House Charity Race in New York City on May 27, 1016 (Photo © George Bekris)

IMOCA 60 SMA, skippered by Paul Meilhat, winner of the Currency House Charity Race in New York City on May 27, 1016 (Photo © George Bekris)

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.

Virbac and Hugo Boss pass the statue of Liberty in the Charity Race NY Vendee (Photo © George Bekris )

Virbac and Hugo Boss pass the statue of Liberty in the Charity Race NY Vendee (Photo © George Bekris )

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.

Charity Race NY Vendee (Photo © George Bekris )

Charity Race NY Vendee (Photo © George Bekris )

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.

Charity Race NY Vendee (Photo © George Bekris )

Charity Race NY Vendee (Photo © George Bekris )

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.

Charity Race NY Vendee (Photo © George Bekris )

Charity Race NY Vendee (Photo © George Bekris )

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.

Charity Race NY Vendee by George Bekris

Charity Race NY Vendee by George Bekris

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:

1. Paul Meilhat – SMAVoile
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
#NYVendee  #oceanmasters  #IMOCA   #CharityRace  #IMOCA60

 

Charity Race NY Vendee (Photo © George Bekris )

Charity Race NY Vendee (Photo © George Bekris )

 

 

 

 

Thierry Martinez Ocean Masters sails

Photo by Thierry Martinez / Sea&Co / Ocean Masters

 

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.

Fleet at North COve Marina. (Photo by Thierry Martinez / Sea&Co / Ocean Masters

Fleet at North COve Marina. (Photo by Thierry Martinez / Sea&Co / Ocean Masters

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.

Photo by Thierry Martinex/ Sea&Co / Ocean Masters

Photo by Thierry Martinex/ Sea&Co / Ocean Masters

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.”

Kojiro Shiraishai (Photo by Thierry Martinez/ Sea&Co / Ocean Masters)

Kojiro Shiraishai (Photo by Thierry Martinez/ Sea&Co / Ocean Masters)

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)

(14 registered)

  • 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

Schedule:

  • 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:

  1. Vincent Riou (PRB)  69 points
  2. Fabrice Amedeo (Newrest-Matmut)  63 points
  3. Yann Eliès (Queguiner-Leucémie Espoir)  62 points
  4. Thomas Ruyant (Le Souffle du Nord)  61 points
  5. Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque populaire)  57 points

Full Rankings of the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship

For further information:

www.imocaoceanmasters.com
www.imoca.org

Facebook : IMOCA Ocean Masters

Twitter : @IMOCA60


Instagram: @oceanmasters

#NYVendee
#oceanmasters
#IMOCA

14_15514-HugoBossCharityRace_09-copie

© Thierry Martinez / Sea & Co

  • 1st edition
  • 17 entries (7 nationalities represented)
  • 3050 nautical miles
  • 4th leg of the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship

Program Transat New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne)

  • 17 May : Arrival at the Newport Shipyard – Newport, RI
  • 21-22 May : Prologue race from Newport to New York (North Cove Marina, Brookfield Place, NY)
  • 27 May: Pro-am Charity Race in New York
  • 29 May : Race Start
  • 5/6 June : First arrivals in Les Sables d’Olonne, France
  • 11 June : Pro-am race / Prize-Giving and Closing Ceremony
17 skippers at the start of the New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) on 29 May. They will be heading off downwind from the Big Apple, surfing as if they were on the Southern Oceans towards the famous channel of the Sables d’Olonne. No less than 17 solo sailors from 7 different nationalities have signed up for the new Transat New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne). Five months before their round-the-world and in Vendée Globe configuration, they will be taking full advantage of this 4th leg of the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship to ratify the latest optimisations carried out on their Formula Ones of the seas, but also to observe with each other closely. This first ever edition of the Transat New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) – a real warm-up for the Vendée Globe – has caught the skippers’ inspiration. And a chance for the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship to shine well beyond the North Atlantic Ocean. Start date 29 May. In 100 days exactly.The teams had until last Monday 15 February to sign up for the New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne). Now, D-Day minus 100 we’re looking at a high-level and variety of fleet for this Vendée Globe warm-up.17 solo riders for a first edition is a very good score, especially when you consider the range of competitors: 6 – 7 foilers (IMOCA60s equipped with latest generation foils), and solid challengers…Starting from the foot of Freedom Tower, this new Transat takes the IMOCA Ocean Masters to an international public. On top of what is already an incredible race from a sporting point of view, the skippers are unanimous in saying that this international dimension of the New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) is a huge plus.Downwind sailing – advantage for the foilers? Or not…

The racecourse from New York will have the skippers doing their homework. The key will be to get into the downwind depressions that cross the Atlantic at the right place and at the right time, and to ride on their back towards the East. Next winter between the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn – about 2/3 of their round-the-world – the conditions will be the same.

These 3050 miles will then be mostly downwind – the chance for the foilers to show their full potential after their recent trip to the workshed for final optimisation?

“Anything is possible. It’s hard to say if the weather will favour the foilers. If it’s the case it will be a great occasion to see their real advantage.” Vincent Riou (PRB)

“We’ve been waiting for this race impatiently. It will be a key moment to test the reliability and integrity of our choices.” Jean-Pierre Dick (StMichel – Virbac).

Full Fleet

The IMOCA60s will all be in Vendée Globe mode during the New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne). So potentially all the machines (and skippers) competing will be the same as those leaving les Sables d’Olonne on 6 November. The seeded players will take the time during the 8 or 9 days of Transatlantic sailing to take the temperature and check out their competitors.

“This race is a perfect opportunity to take stock of the various forces.” Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire).

“It will be interesting to go looking for confrontation, and to see how each one manages to push his boat during the 8 or 9 days of racing.” Yann Eliès (Quéguiner – Leucémie espoir).

© Thierry Martinez / Sea & Co

From the Statue of Liberty to the Chaume Channel. Stuff of myths and dreams

Last but not least, this west-east race course is a party in itself. It’s not every day you get to moor your boat at the foot of the Statue of Liberty. “It’s incredible, once-in-a-lifetime!” All those who have been there remember it forever.

Conrad Coman – the only American skipper (of New Zealand birth) can’t wait for this “home-start” to show his compatriots how fabulous ocean racing is and why not to attract partners from that side of the Atlantic!

Many of the skippers have already sailed up the famous Sables d’Olonne channel, but to do it in an IMOCA at the end of a race and 5 months prior to the Vendée Globe is really something else.

“Sailing up the channel to meet the fans – That’s about as good as a finish can get!” Paul Meilhat (SMA).

“Arriving in les Sables d’Olonne just makes sense.” Sébastien Destremau (Face Ocean).

“The finish in Vendée is perfect for us, for our partners for the Vendée people. And the timing just ahead of the Vendée Globe is ideal.” Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ).

Jean Kerhoas (IMOCA President)

« This new race will be the dress rehearsal for the Vendée Globe and the impressive fleet of 17 skippers shows how much the skippers have welcomed it. Of course, some of the skippers are looking to qualify for the solo round-the-world, but many of the competitors are favourites for the up-coming Vendée Globe. The new IMOCA rookies will be rubbing shoulders with the more experienced skippers, while the new foilers – which are still in the development stages – will be up against boats that have already proven their worth. We’re looking at some very exciting sport after a week spent in Manhattan, which I’m delighted to see as a sign of the international development of the race. »

Yves Auvinet (President of the French Department of Vendée)

« The Vendée region will do everything in its power to ensure that the New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) will be a big public party. I know the people of Vendée will come out in crowds to welcome the skippers just a few months ahead of the Vendée Globe. »

Didier Gallot (Sables d’Olonne Mayor)

« Beautiful race start, great race finish! » All of us here in the town of the Sables d’Olonne are preparing to welcome the skippers of the Transat New York – Vendée and their incredible boats from 6 June. »

Transat New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) Entry List
(17 entries)

Fabrice Amedeo – NEWREST MATMUT (France)

Jérémie Beyou – MAITRE COQ (France)

Conrad Colman – NC (New Zealand – USA)

Bertrand de Broc – MACSF (France)

Tanguy de Lamotte – INITIATIVES CŒUR (France)

Sébastien Destremau – FACE OCEAN (France)

Jean-Pierre Dick – STMICHEL VIRBAC (France)

Yann Eliès – QUEGUINER-LEUCEMIE ESPOIR (France)

Nandor Fa – SPIRIT OF HUNGARY (Hungary)

Pieter Heerema – NO WAY BACK (Netherlands)

Morgan Lagravière – SAFRAN (France)

Armel Le Cléac’h – BANQUE POPULAIRE VIII (France)

Stéphane Le Diraison – NC (France)

Paul Meilhat – SMA (France)

Vincent Riou – PRB (France)

PRB- HUGO BOSS (United Kingdom)

Ari Huusela – NC (Finland)

Facts and figures

  • 1st edition
  • 17 entries (7 nationalities represented)
  • 3050 nautical miles
  • 4th leg of the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship

Program Transat New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne)

  • 17 May : Arrival at the Newport Shipyard – Newport, RI
  • 21-22 May : Prologue race from Newport to New York (North Cove Marina, Brookfield Place, NY)
  • 27 May: Pro-am Charity Race in New York
  • 29 May : Race Start
  • 5/6 June : First arrivals in Les Sables d’Olonne, France
  • 11 June : Pro-am race / Prize-Giving and Closing Ceremony

– See more at: http://www.imocaoceanmasters.com/news/transat-new-york-vend%C3%A9e-les-sables-dolonne-first-timer-and-already-an-international-success#sthash.hd7oklLV.dpuf

 

The Rolex Fastnet Race fleet at Hurst Castle Lighthouse. The spectacular fleet fills the Solent between the Isle of Wight and the mainland shores © Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

The Rolex Fastnet Race fleet at Hurst Castle Lighthouse. The spectacular fleet fills the Solent between the Isle of Wight and the mainland shores © Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

Two months out from the start of the Rolex Fastnet Race, the Royal Ocean Racing Club has made public the latest entry list for its biennial 600 mile race from Cowes to Plymouth, via the Fastnet Rock, starting at noon on Sunday 16th August.

 The entry list makes for impressive reading in terms of scale, diversity and quality of the fleet taking part, confirming the Rolex Fastnet Race’s position as the world’s biggest and most popular offshore race by far.

As of today there are 387 boats entered with a further 74 on the waiting list. If all the boats currently entered were put bow to stern, the line from Cowes would stretch two thirds of the way across the Solent to the mainland (1635.75m).

The bulk of the fleet – 340 entries to be precise – are competing under IRC for the race’s overall prize, the Fastnet Challenge Cup. With the two American maxis: Jim and Kristy Hinze Clark’s 100ft Comanche and George David’s Rambler 88, due to be the pace setters on the water, the IRC fleet will, in due course, be divided into classes and class sub-divisions.

The remaining 47 are not competing under IRC but represent some of the world’s leading professional race boat classes. These include the latest generation foil-born IMOCA 60s, lining up for their first major event in the build-up to next year’s Vendée Globe, plus a large and highly competitive fleet of Class40s. Then there is the 13 strong multihull class featuring Dona Bertarelli and Yann Guichard’s 40m long trimaran, Spindrift 2, the world’s fastest offshore sailing yacht; in 2009 she covered 908.2 nm (ie 50% further than the Rolex Fastnet Race course) in 24 hours at an average speed of 37.84 knots and in 2011, as Banque Populaire V, set the Rolex Fastnet Race multihull record.

The average size of yacht competing in this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race is 44.34ft (13.52m) with Spindrift 2 being the largest multihull, Comanche and Leopard the longest monohulls at 100ft and at the smallest end of the fleet, three 30ft yachts including Myles and Ashley Perrin’s Capo 30, Santana from California.

In IRC rating terms, Comanche and Rambler 88 lead the charge with Time Correction Coefficients (TCC) of 1.973 and 1.869 respectively, while the slowest boat in the fleet is Tony Harwood’s Nicholson 38, Volante,on 0.864 (the minimum permitted TCC this year is 0.850).

An impressive 52 entries are sailing two handed, up from 45 in 2013 when the race was won for the first time in its history by a two handed crew: French father and son, Pascal and Alexis Loison aboard their JPK 10.10,Night and Day.

Hoping to emulate the Loisins’ performance this year is another father and son crew, Derek and Conor Dillon from Listowel in southwest Ireland, who are competing on their Dehler 34, Big Deal. Despite owning the boat for 10 years and campaigning her in many regattas in Ireland, the Dillons have only recently ventured into offshore racing, but nonetheless won the Two Handed class in last year’s Round Ireland Race. With the Fastnet Rock on their doorstep in Kerry, the RORC’s flagship event was an obvious ambition.

Conor Dillon will race Two Handed with his Father Derek on their Dehler 34, Big Deal.
© Dillon Family

As Conor puts it: “We have rounded the Fastnet many times and always dreamed of doing it in the Rolex Fastnet Race. This will be a memorable moment for us for sure. I just hope it happens in day time…

“Every year we are trying to go bigger and bolder. This is an opportunity to compete in a legendary race against the best the world has to offer as well as, of course, making lifetime memories together. There are some seriously talented sailors in this race. You can give it your absolute all, and still not touch the leaders.”

Among the present line-up 180 boats will be competing in the race for the first time, while 163 took part in 2013. Some of the most regular participants are Dutch old hands such as Piet Vroon, winner of the race in 2001 and, at the tender age of 85, back this year with his latest yacht, Tonnerre 4. Then there’s Harry Heijst who has raced his classic Royal Huisman-built S&S 41, Winsome, in seven Fastnets, the first back in 1999.

“The most memorable Rolex Fastnet Race for us was in 2005 when we won Class 2 and came fourth overall,” recalls Heijst. “We were looking good for a first overall until three Class 4 boats suddenly got a lot wind at the Lizard and beat us in.”

Harry Heijst's Winsome
Harry Heijst’s Royal Huisman-built S&S 41, Winsome competing in the RORC Easter Challenge earlier this year
© Paul Wyeth/pwpictures.com

Celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2015, the RORC, for the first time, gave their members priority entry to the race. RORC Commodore Michael Boyd expressed the delight of the club at the overwhelming interest in its flagship event: “Naturally, we are delighted with the enormous interest in the 2015 Rolex Fastnet Race. We now expect almost 400 starters and may have to disappoint many currently on the waiting list.  Of course, there is a way to avoid a let-down in 2017…join RORC! I will be aboard Peter Rutter’s Grand Soleil 43, Quokka 8, in IRC 2 as we continue our ‘joint adventure’ and we hope to have our cruising boat, Southerly, to welcome finishers in Plymouth.”

Michael Board on board Olivia,Contessa 32 at the RYS Fleet Review © Olivia Chenevix-Trench.jpeg
RORC Commodore, Michael Boyd on board Contessa 32, Olivia at the recent RYS Fleet Review bicentenary celebrations
© Olivia Chenevix-Trench
Comanche has unfinished business with Wild Oats XI after being bested by just a few miles due to light airs in the middle of the course (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

Comanche has unfinished business with Wild Oats XI after being bested by just a few miles due to light airs in the middle of the course (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

 

As far as the America’s Cup winning skipper Jimmy Spithill is concerned, there is now unfinished business between Rolex Sydney Hobart line honours winner Wild Oats XI and the US supermaxi she beat across the finish line, Comanche.

Spithill was one of six helmsmen on Comanche.

“We can’t leave it at that,” he declared after finishing in Hobart. He says that on his watch this morning the boat reached a top speed of 32 knots and knows what she is capable of.

“Everybody got to see the true potential of this boat at the start. I remember looking up at Kenny (Ken Read, the skipper) and he just had this huge grin from ear to ear. Unfortunately we just didn’t see those sort of conditions again until the end of Bass Strait.”

COMANCHE (USA), 2nd across the line in the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race Finishish Line COMANCHE, Sail n: 12358, Bow n: 58, Design: Verdier Yacht Design & Vplp, Owner: Jim Clark & Kristy Hinze-Clark, Skipper: Ken Read (Phot by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

COMANCHE (USA), 2nd across the line in the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race Finishish Line COMANCHE, Sail n: 12358, Bow n: 58, Design: Verdier Yacht Design & Vplp, Owner: Jim Clark & Kristy Hinze-Clark, Skipper: Ken Read (Phot by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

Of course, young James doesn’t pay the bills. Logistically it is impossible for Comanche to come back to Australia next year but is 2016 likely?

Skipper Ken Read deferred to co-owner Kristy Hinze Clark who said it was a matter for the Big Chief, husband Jim Clark.

Ken: “Kristy, they want to know if we’ll be back next year?”

Kristy: “They’ll have to talk to big chief!”

Ken: “Big chief is not going to talk about that now!”

Read reflected on the crucial point of the race – the high-pressure ridge in Bass Strait.

“We were about a quarter of the way into Bass Strait and expecting a westerly breeze, and all of a sudden Stan (navigator Stan Honey) came up from down below and said ‘I just got a new weather file, this is not looking good’.

“We were two miles ahead of them, in bumpy seas, and they literally went by us, probably going a knot or two faster at the time, and they just sailed into more pressure and just kept extending on the whole fleet.

“Both boats sailed a flawless race; but they had their day. They had 12 hours where they had Wild Oats’ weather, but that’s racing.

“You can already see Comanche is already changing sailing as we speak,” Read said.

So after this first race have they identified any changes they will make to the boat?

“Here’s the start of my list,” he said, holding up a piece of paper with top-secret to-dos written on it.

“It’s brand new, we’re just starting. Before this race started, we didn’t know what we didn’t know. We knew we had a good boat right off the start line, the way it just took off on that windy reach.

“Unfortunately we’ve always known we had that one blemish in light air, and that became a dominant feature in the race, so that’s unfortunate for us.”

Designer Xavier Guilbaud said he couldn’t take his eyes off the yacht tracker, keeping notes as Comanche changed angles and the wind circled the compass.

And, he was a bit more forthcoming with his list.

“I’m excited to see Ken’s list, but on top of my own list, what I can see, is work on the weight of the boat to try to lighten her up a bit more, to increase performances in light winds,” he said.

“I’ll discuss with the guys here, a little later, the little bits and pieces on the deck to improve manoeuvres, how the boat is sailed. Then on the sail configuration; how to use each sail, in which condition and improve the sail shapes.

“I think we do have a record breaker on our hands. The real answer will be in June next year when it does the Transatlantic Race. I think the boat is really fast.”

Read was effusive in his praise of the Wild Oats’ crew.

“Wild Oats deserves all its success,” he said, though fate had been against them on Day 2 in Bass Strait when Wild Oats made the better of negotiating a weather ridge that proved the defining moment of the race.

“This was their day; they had their 12 hours; they had Wild Oats’ weather; but that is boat racing,” he said.

“They deserve their eighth record, Lord knows we tried hard to take it from them. This team, our team, did an unbelievable job, and special credit to the boat builders and the design team because Lord knows we tried to break it, and it wouldn’t break.”

By Bruce Montgomery, RSHYR Media