Hanuman © George Bekris

After winning Tuesday’s 20 nautical miles opening race, Hanuman paired an initial fourth place to victory in the second of the two windward-leeward races today. They open up their leading margin at the J Class World Championship in Newport RI to three points ahead of the consistent Lionheart which has scored now three third places.

Although Hanuman lead across the finish line at the conclusion of a thrillingly tight first windward-leeward of the day, so closely were the chasing pack snapping at their heels that they dropped to fourth on corrected time. Topaz won their first race ever when they held off Velsheda by just seven seconds, while Lionheart’s margin for third over Hanuman was just two seconds.

There was not as much doubt in the second contest. After breaking clear of Velsheda which were overlapped with them at the first windward mark they gradually eked out their lead to finish one minute and 17 seconds ahead of the championship’s sole ‘original’ J Class.

The SW breeze came in on cue at between nine and 14kts, the second race starting at 1535hrs was the windier of the two. There were more than enough shifts in wind direction and pressure to keep the contests tight and even. Topaz battled back from sixth at the top mark in the first race to make a wholesale gain on the right, west side of the second upwind leg, tailgating Hanuman around the final turn, a gain orchestrated by local Newport ace Tony Rey in concert with tactician Ross McDonald.

While Hanuman carried on to the right after a conventional bear away, a nicely executed gybe set cashed in Topaz’s gain against a frustrating small error by Hanuman. But the hugely experienced Hanuman team, lead by skipper-helm Kenny Read, sailed smart and clean for their victory in the second race.

“There was a moment I think in the second race after the top mark where Jim and Kirsty Clark and myself all caught each others’ eyes and all three of us at the same time exhaled loudly at the same time, like, ‘Phew this is close!’ Such great sailboat racing.” Said Read on dock at the Newport Shipyard.

The opening upwind legs were gripping, no one side or the other paying an obvious dividend. Hanuman won out from the game of patience played between the four boats on the middle left of the first beat in the first race. But after having had to tack away to the right from a slowed, understandably cautious start at the signal boat, it was Velsheda which lead Hanuman around the first mark but then lost out to Hanuman and to Lionheart at the bottom of the run. Topaz’s comeback on the second beat was the foundation of their win, but it was the kite set which made the difference.

“The real key move was our hoist at the top mark which prevented Hanuman from gybing. To get the first win for the boat at these world championship is great for the while team and for the owner.” Peter Holmberg, helmsman of Topaz, said. Since being launched in 2015, Topaz has only raced at the Saint Barth’s Bucket regatta in the Caribbean twice, in 2016 and this year, before competing at both the Bermuda J Class events in June.

In fact Topaz lead the world championship after Race 2 but blotted their copybook when they had to take an expensive penalty on the first beat of the next race for tacking in front of Lionheart, going on to finish sixth, “One of my plans for this regatta was to avoid the stupid things, the big results. I don’t get to look much because these boats are so hard to steer I am just driving, so I did not really see what was happening until it was too late.”

Hanuman’s crew work was slick, pushing their sail handling technology to the maximum. Hanuman in particular successfully run with a furling headsail and with a dousing sock on their massive spinnakers.

Read comments: “The sock has bailed us out of a couple of tight spots. There is a fine line between the helmsman getting a little too greedy and reality. Listen it is give or take with a few metres at some marks between whether you are first or fourth. It all helps. A lot of the boats that are successful in this class have had their same crew for years and these guys do such a great job. We put them in ridiculously bad spots sometimes and they pull it off time and again. That is on the crew.”

He concludes, “This full on. Whoever would have thought that boats like these would be going like this at these speeds. You have to put a lot of trust in everybody. We have 25 crew and every person has a very specific job and if one person does not do their job this thing can fall apart in two seconds.”

In this fleet Hanuman’s three point lead is nothing, winners of the America’s Cup Superyacht Regatta and the America’s Cup J Class Regatta Lionheart are poised in second and Velsheda lie third, having been second and first at the first turn of today’s races.

For Thursday, the third racing day of the first ever J Class World Championship, the forecast is for lighter airs before the breezes are set to strengthen once more for Friday and Saturday.

RESULTS

Also on the dock at the Newport Shipyard is JH2 Rainbow

The International Maxi Association (IMA)
The International Maxi Association (IMA) represents the owners of Maxi yachts from all over the world. Recognised in 2010 as the World Sailing international class of Maxi yachts, the IMA is uniquely entitled to organise official sanctioned World championships for Maxi yachts. The IMA now has 70 members from all over the world, and more than a dozen honorary members including Gianfranco Alberini, who for more than 30 years was Secretary General of the Association up until his death in June 2013. The current President of the IMA is Thomas Bscher, owner of the Wally 107 Open Season, while Secretary General is Andrew McIrvine, also Admiral of the Royal Ocean Racing Club.

The IMA is registered in Geneva, has a base in Porto Cervo and an office in the UK, for rating and technical matters. With two affiliated classes (Maxi 72s, and, since 2017, the J Class) and one associated class (Wally Class), the IMA intends to “guide and structure maxi yacht racing. The IMA rule defines and categorises maxi yachts: it aims to embrace all maxi yachts and as such follows, instigates and encourages developments that are deemed to have a positive effect on the construction and racing of maxi-sized boats.” (www.internationalmaxiassociation.com)

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PARTNERS:

North Sails Group
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Hanuman Day 1 Winner (Photo © George Bekris)

 

Hanuman, skippered and steered by local ace Ken Read with his brother Brad among the afterguard, stole the show on a spectacular opening day of the first ever J Class World Championship on the waters of Newport, Rhode Island where J Class yachts made their America’s Cup debut way back in 1930 and where the Reads cut their teeth in competitive sailing.

Hanuman lead from the first mark around a 20 nautical miles ‘Navigators Course’. When challenged by the newest J Class yacht in the fleet Svea, which is guided by wily America’s Cup Stars & Stripes veterans Peter Isler and Tom Whidden, Hanuman fought back downwind with smooth, well executed manoeuvres. When they took their well earned winning gun, Hanuman were extending into the mist, stepping clear of a spirited scrap over places second to sixth,

“That was one of the very coolest sailboat races I have ever been in my entire life.” Newport born and bred Ken Read enthused, “Honestly, it had everything. Home town. Gybing and tacking around all the little nooks and crannies, such a great crowd of boats out there watching. That is what we always hoped this regatta would show, how special this can be. And I am sure it did just that.”

“It was fun and special having my brother Brad on board. This whole team has been working for this for years and also to see the smile on Jim and Kristy’s faces today. It was just great.”

The opening race of the inaugural J Class World Championship delivered it all, spectacle, majesty, close competition over a decent length course and just enough drama. The New York Yacht Club race team took full advantage of the forecast for a building, pre frontal breezes to sail a spectacular, tight coastal course up and back under the Newport-Jamestown bridge, checking off in turn historical local landmarks made famous over the dozen editions of the America’s Cup raced here, entrancing the huge spectator fleet and treating the viewers who crowded the headlands and car parks that fringed the course to the close, spectacular competition they turned out for.

The fleet of six J Class yachts revelled in the perfect flat water and brisk 14-18kt SW’ly breezes. Places were traded back and forth throughout the fleet from first mark to the last. The sun split through the hazy cloud cover at key moments. Ranger shut out Velsheda at the windward end of the start line and with nowhere to go Velsheda clipped the signal boat. Harrying Hanuman around the first top mark Svea – in just their fifth ever J Class race – split their kite on a botched hoist, forcing them to make their first ever in line spinnaker peel. Double winners in Bermuda Lionheart came from behind on the beat to the finish, holding west of Gould Island, enjoying a huge starboard tack lift which got them back up to a useful third. There were even a pod of dolphins out to play around the bows of Ranger and Topaz early on the first 3.5 nautical miles beat.

The 20 nautical miles course was essentially a short upwind to a laid mark followed by a long run north against the ebb, funnelled spectacularly under the centre span of the bridge. Their choice of the Castle Hill, right side of the run looking downwind, prompted in part by their kite problems, yielded a useful dividend in tidal relief for Svea and they were all but leading as they passed Fort Adams, until Hanuman again eased away at the next gybe.

“The boat was going well.” Read confirmed, “We got out a bit of a jam off the start line. Being able to hang off Lionheart was key to start. Lionheart has been a very high pointing boat for a while. Being able to hang there until almost to layline was critical for us. And then once we got clear air we let the boat do its thing. It is a bit like a horse race, you let the horse do its thing. We picked the right jib, on the number two, a couple of the boats had bigger jibs and I think that the trimmers did a spectacular job, the communication was good. It was just fun.”

Asked if there was any local knowledge contributing to their win, Read said,
“Actually no, we nearly lost out to Svea on the right of the run. But actually we talked about it, Brad said ‘if we were by ourselves that is what we’d do, but we were not. But it is the first race of the world championship and everybody gybed away and so ‘don’t be an idiot’ we stayed with the pack. Svea made a six boat length gain but we picked the right kite (symmetrical), we gained a length or so on every gybe against the asymmetrics and on the last beat we just sailed smart.”

For the Svea team which only put their rig back in the boat just over a week ago after having their Bermuda J Class America’s Cup halted by a forestay problem after just two races, second place today was a welcome reward. The newest, biggest J ever shows great speed but they are still early on the learning curve when it comes to smooth, effective manoeuvres compared to the teams polished by more than five years of J Class racing.

Svea’s tactician and project manager Charlie Ogletree commented, “We are happy to get a second and start the series with a good result, a ‘keeper’ and we learned a lot today. That was our first spinnaker peel in anger after tearing our kite on the set. We took so long to get the peel done we were committed, we had discussed it but the boat handling pushed us in that direction.”

“There was less current down that side, staying close to Castle Rock, we had good local knowledge, some good navigating from Peter Isler. We changed our tactics towards the end to consolidate against Lionheart. Downwind we are quick and upwind we are still learning our modes.”

After being bounced around downwind Lionheart made the most of their recovery up the beat and were pressing Svea hard to the line losing out by just five seconds on corrected time. Tactician Bouwe Bekking, who has two of his Team Brunel Volvo crew on board Lionheart – and one from rivals MAPFRE – recalled, “It was a good day. We had a good start and squeezed off Hanuman and were in a good position when the breeze went too far to the left, the guys underneath us laid and we overstood and that is expensive in these boats. You crack the sheets and only go one or two tenths of a knot quicker.”

J Class World Championship
Race 1
1 Hanuman 2h 8m 13s
2 Svea 2h 10m 15s
3 Lionheart 2h 10m 20s
4 Topaz 2h 11m 37s
5 Ranger 2h 12m 4s
6 Velsheda 2h 10m 17s

 

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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

The Seven Star Round Britain and Ireland, race start.Cowes. Isle of Wight. Oman Sail MOD70 trimaran skippered by Sidney Gavignet (FRA) (Photo by Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images)

The Seven Star Round Britain and Ireland, race start. Cowes. Isle of Wight. Oman Sail MOD70 trimaran skippered by Sidney Gavignet (FRA) (Photo by Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images)

Musandam-Oman Sail, the Sultanate of Oman’s flagship trimaran, will join a small fleet of MOD70s at the start of the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s classic Round Ireland Race on 18 June to kick off the European season.

Sidney Gavignet, Skipper Oman Sail Musandam (Photo © Mark Lloyd/ Lloyd Images)

Sidney Gavignet, Skipper Oman Sail Musandam (Photo © Mark Lloyd/ Lloyd Images)

French skipper Sidney Gavignet’s crew of Omani sailors and Irishman Damian Foxall are no strangers to the 700 mile Round Ireland race track having famously smashed the record in 2015 after completing the course in 40 hours, 51 minutes and 57 seconds, some four hours faster than anything achieved previously.

Fahad Al Hasni, Yasser Al Rahbi and Sami Al Shukaili were all on board for the record-breaking voyage and all return to action for the Round Ireland Race.

Oman Sail Crew on Musandam (Photo © Mark Lloyd/ Lloyd Images)

Oman Sail Crew on Musandam (Photo © Mark Lloyd/ Lloyd Images)

The team has developed a strong bond, says Gavignet so the prospect of lining up against other professional MOD70 crews in June for the start in Wicklow, to follow a course that leaves Ireland and all its islands excluding Rockall to starboard, serves to stir their competitive spirits.

“This Omani crew has a long history – last season especially was very demanding – so we have a very good team with a great team spirit,” said skipper Gavignet.

Oman Sail Crew on Musandam (Photo © Mark Lloyd/ Lloyd Images)

Oman Sail Crew on Musandam (Photo © Mark Lloyd/ Lloyd Images)

“We would like to win the race but know it will not be easy because the other MOD70s have been sailing a lot in the past few months. We have trained hard and the guys are performing at a different level now so we are very happy to go and do our best against the others.

“We hold the record but it is possible to do better and it is likely that whoever wins will set a new record, depending on the conditions. It is very exciting to be racing against Phaedo and Concise – it will be a good contest.”

Oman Sail Crew on Musandam (Photo © Mark Lloyd/ Lloyd Images)

Oman Sail Crew on Musandam (Photo © Mark Lloyd/ Lloyd Images)

Preparations for the race have included some intensive training offshore as well as participation in the Grand Prix Guyader in Douarnenez, France, last weekend where the Omani Diam 24 team onboard Oman Airports by Oman Sail finished in 3rd place.

This weekend MOD70 sailors Fahad, Sami and Yasser are due to compete on Oman Sail’s J80 at the Grand Prix Ecole Navale at the French Naval Academy in Lanvéoc to get some crucial fleet race practice.

Oman Sail Crew on Musandam (Photo © Mark Lloyd/ Lloyd Images)

Oman Sail Crew on Musandam (Photo © Mark Lloyd/ Lloyd Images)

Success in sailing against the clock for a speed record requires a different mindset to racing in a fleet, said Fahad, Oman’s most experienced and successful offshore sailor.

“Competing with other boats in the Round Ireland race will be different to breaking the record and probably a lot more difficult,” he said.

“The other MOD70s have been training and racing all year and have achieved some good results so they will be hard to beat. But we will be sailing the boat as fast as we can and if we can win, it will be fantastic for us because this is a two thirds Omani crew.”

Records are one thing but when you get two boats racing side by side, the results speak for themselves, commented Damian Foxall, acknowledged as Ireland’s most accomplished ocean sailor.

Damian Foxall ,Oman Sail Crew on Musandam (Photo © Mark Lloyd/ Lloyd Images)

Damian Foxall ,Oman Sail Crew on Musandam (Photo © Mark Lloyd/ Lloyd Images)

“This season, our campaigns are all about fleet racing. When you are racing against the clock, you never know if you are performing 100% but in fleet racing, if you are not going 100%, you probably aren’t winning. And you know pretty quickly whether you have taken a good or bad option.

“Fleet racing is more like a game of chess and what the other boats do on the course can affect your own tactics. So you have to be on your game 100% all the time and sail a lot harder. Our guys understand that completely.”

A couple of years ago, Musandam-Oman Sail would have been favourite to win the multihull class, Foxall continued but an upsurge in activity on the other MOD70s means they have a contest on their hands.

“The guys on Phaedo and Concise are sailing extremely well now so a couple of years ago, we might have been favourites but that is certainly no longer the case and we are going to have to compete really hard to get a result this year. But we know how to sail the boat so this is great and exactly how it should be.”

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Oman Sail Crew on Musandam (Photo © Mark Lloyd/ Lloyd Images)

 

To stay up to date: www.omansail.com

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Oman Sail Crew Mark Lloyd

Oman Sail Crew on Musandam (Photo © Mark Lloyd/ Lloyd Images)