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Displaying items by tag: Vendee Globe

Jérémie Beyou, the 44-year-old French Vendee Globe skipper who had to sail 600 miles back to Les Sables d’Olonne after damage to his Charal on the second evening of the solo non-stop around-the-world race, has confirmed that he will re-start the race on Tuesday afternoon despite the leaders being around 2,500 nautical miles south, approaching the Doldrums tomorrow.

Beyou, who was the outstanding favourite to win the race, hit a floating object on the third evening of the race. The impact damaged one of Charal's rudders, its mounting and control mechanisms, he broke a backstay and there was sundry composite damage to the deck of his IMOCA.

A round the clock team effort by up to 20 people who have been working flat out ever since the bitterly disappointed Beyou docked his boat back in Les Sables d’Olonne on Sunday afternoon, has returned the boat to 100% of its full potential, according the solo racer who finished third on the last Vendée Globe. Speaking during an online press conference from his apartment in Les Sables d’Olonne, he said: “It’s strange to be replying to your questions away from my boat, Charal. But I’ll soon be back there, as thanks to the work carried out after the past few days, we now know the boat will be ready tomorrow morning and ready to take off on the tide in the afternoon. Excellent news. I would like to thank the whole team, as they have given it their all since I arrived back here in Port Olona. The Vendée Globe is a team effort and if everyone pulls together, we can work miracles. The main problem, the one that made me turn back, was the issue with the rudder. Technically, however the most problematic to repair was the traveller, but actually, it was the rudder mounting and the control arm which had broken, and it is a structural part of the boat. We had to survey the damage first to see where the water had leaked in to and up to where we needed to repair this on both sides. We had to work with a whole series of experts to figure this out and all within the time constraints. We also had some wind vane issues, mainsail damage from the series of gybes when the rudder hit something. I really have to thank the whole team.”

Beyou has been locked down in isolation with his partner since arriving back. He purposely detached himself from all race updates and social media.

“It was very hard for me to not be there (during the repairs) but also I had to take my head out of the race and I did not look at the rankings. I shut out and did not look at any social media, all this whilst I was trying to stay close to my team and support them remotely. Since the start, we have been working as a very close-knit team. On the first night they sent me a message to say that they did not think they would manage to fix it within the time limit, but deep down I knew they would. So it was probably a good thing that I was not with them so I could get time to recover and really figure out the whole meaning behind the project. How everyone feels about it, the public, the Charal employees, the press, friends…I just did not answer any messages, but I knew that I had to go back to the race. I did hear about Nico’s dismasting...I know I said I cut myself out of the race coms, but I did hear that and I am so so sorry for him and his whole team. I know how much energy it takes to do a Vendée Globe and what is needed to get a project off the ground and going."

"There were 10 to 15 people who put all their combined efforts together to get the job done. The architects from VPLP, Gurit composites, Manu Le Borgne, and behind them you have the logistics team, the team who did the hardware components, the splicing and ropeworks guys, the team at North Sails ready to do repairs to the mainsail, the Pixel electricians. The list is endless. When I got to the pontoon the other day and saw what a team of experts was there waiting, I said to myself, my goodness! You also feel you need to be there and to be on site and respect all the work that has been done, that is being done and you just have to go. I have often said that the Vendée Globe is a race that is carried out by a team, and here you go, that is demonstrated by these people. Miracles can happen when you really try.”

Speaking about leader Alex Thomson he said, “I am happy for Alex being in the lead, I know he has a really good boat, and I am happy for him. He did a great move a few days ago. All I know is that Jean was in the lead for a bit and now that Alex is leading the charge. I did just try to disconnect a bit. After all that we will see what happens back on the sea. I really prefer to have no expectations, I don't want to set any goals. I don't know what we will discover. So we will see.”

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French skipper Nicolas Troussel, who was lying in seventh place in the Vendée Globe, has dismasted on CORUM L’Épargne this morning. He was racing south in brisk NE’ly trade wind conditions some 260 nautical miles NW of the Cape Verde islands.

Troussel, 46, was not injured and is in the process of securing the boat before further assessing the situation.

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As he leads onto the trade winds motorway down the Atlantic, between the Canary Islands and the Cape Verdes, British skipper Alex Thomson is expected to increase his lead at the head of the Vendee Globe fleet as his foiling Hugo Boss hits its stride.

Accelerating through the day Thomson has shaken off veteran Jean Le Cam, averaging two knots faster, and is the only skipper in the race to have sailed more than 380 nautical miles in the last 24 hours.

NEE’ly Trade winds of 20-22kts are expected to blow for Thomson and the leading peloton over the coming days. Sunday, one week into the race, has offered many skippers in the top group to take essential time to look after themselves, to wash, to make a ‘treat’ meal or drinks, to change into fresh clothes, as they prepare for what will still be a demanding, active period, even if it is a boatspeed drag race on port gybe for several days.

“You can’t forget the trade winds are not as stable as you maybe think, the direction still changes ten to fifteen degrees and the wind will go up and down, there are still gusts and so you have to be attentive and there will be a lot of trimming to do.” cautioned Seb Josse, who is serving as one of the Vendée Globe’s meteo advisers.

Skippers today expressed their admiration for Thomson’s race so far.

“He has mastered the start of this race perfectly with his ingenious, efficient and well-prepared boat,” commented guest of the Vendée LIVE French show this afternoon. “Alex is going to take the fast train south and that can quickly turn into a big lead,” notes Thomas Ruyant from fourth placed LinkedOut at over 120 miles behind Thomson. “And Alex is hungry for it, but so am I.”

One of the pre-race favourites Charlie Dalin, in sixth at 168 miles adrift of HUGO BOSS, wants to stay in the match but acknowledged: "My decision to move out west was because the storm was too early on into the race to take any risks and I did the calculation of what I could afford to lose and try and make up, Alex went full on in the Theta depression and that can give him to make a big margin". Dalin, the Apivia skipper chuckled on the live show "Wait for me guys, I am stoking up the coal, I'm coming! "

HUGO BOSS is due at the latitude of the Cape Verde islands tomorrow and is expected to pass the doldrums on Tuesday. According to Vendée Globe weather specialist Christian Dumard the leaders may be treated to a relatively straightforward crossing into the Southern Hemisphere.

At the Port Olona pontoon in Les Sables d’Olonne, the technical team of experts have been working round the clock onboard Charal, the damaged IMOCA of Jérémie Beyou, aiming to have it ready for Beyou to return to the course. A press conference is planned for 1700hrs CET Monday to announce the decision.

Japanese skipper Koji Shiraishi has managed to lower his damaged mainsail on his DMG MORI and is evaluating the options to repair the tear.

TREATS ALL ROUND

Skippers have been rewarding themselves as they break into warmer climes. "It has been the first day with some time for me, it feels good," admitted third placed Benjamin Dutreux (OMIA - Water Family). “I have been on the terrace (cockpit) having a good coffee”. Each has enjoyed their own way of treating themselves, Alan Roura (La Fabrique) had his first shower, 1 litre of salt water then 1 litre of fresh water. Yannick Bestaven (Maître CoQ IV) took the time to listen to a "rock" playlist, Boris Herrmann "had a little aperitif and called up his friends".

Damien Seguin, slept seven hours last night, treated himself to a small feast with Parmentier hash and Beaufort cheese. Sunday morning, Manuel Cousin (SÉTIN Group) started the day with a good roasted coffee - “just like at home” - and a piece of chocolate from a chocolate maker sponsor. Clarisse Crémer (Banque Populaire X), too, looked more relaxed. On the deck of her IMOCA she was appreciating the beautiful seascape, "This is the picture-postcard image that you have in your mind of ocean racing.” Said the skipper who admitted to being ‘a bit freaked out’ by the prospect of dicing with the storm Theta, “It feels good to have a lighter heart! "

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On a chill, grey November afternoon a drawn and disappointed Jérémie Beyou was touched by the size and warmth of the welcome afforded to the French Vendee Globe skipper on his premature return to Les Sables d’Olonne with his damaged Charal.

Forced to return 600 miles back to the start port after his IMOCA was damaged on the third day of racing, hundreds of local fans turned out to see the 44-year-old return down the famous channel. At a brief, carefully choreographed, distanced reunion with selected media, Beyou made it clear he wants to return to the race course if the damage to his boat can be 100% repaired.

“If technically it can be done, the plan is to go. That is the objective.” Stated an emotional Beyou beside his black and silver hulled Charal. “I really want to go, that is not the issue, I want to maintain this frame of mind. I will be 3,000 miles behind so it is no longer a race, but we will see.”

Underlining the urgency to have the boat ready as quickly as possible there was a diver in the water as the IMOCA docked to evaluate the underwater surfaces following the strike by a floating object, the cockpit was quickly covered to facilitate the composite repairs required and the damaged rudder was quickly removed.

“I am convinced that we will try and fix it, but the devil is in the detail. I see that everyone is here. The designers, the builders, all the experts and shore team will collaborate and so we will know within 24 hours. Then we will take a decision.”

The start line closes on Wednesday 18th at 1420hrs, ten days after last Sunday’s start.

“Stopping was brutal for me.” He recalled, his voice shaking at the memory.

“I hope Jeremy re-starts and I hope it is good for him. You just never know on this race.” Commented Mike Golding on the Vendée Globe LIVE show today. Golding was dismasted hours into the 2000-2001 race and restarted a week behind the fleet going on to finish seventh, setting several records in the Southern Ocean, some of which still stand today.

Foilers To Stretch?

At the top of the fleet Jean Le Cam (Yes We Cam!) still holds the lead by 21 nautical miles from Alex Thomson (HUGO BOSS) as the pair open the route into the Ne’ly trade winds.

“Everything is good on board with Alex. He has been resting a bit. He was quite happy through the low (Theta) really. He has seen plenty of big winds before, 50,60 knots, and so if there is a gain to be made he will go there. I think we will start to see the foilers dominate now a bit more. With the winds around 100 degrees true they should be quick for the next 4-5 days.” Commented Ross Daniels, Alex Thomson Racing’s Technical Director this afternoon.

Located furthest to the west, Charlie Dalin (Apivia) was the first to gybe followed by Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) and Kevin Escoffier (PRB). 150 miles to the southeast of them, Le Cam and Thomson gybed early in the afternoon on to a more favourable angle and more wind, and therefore a slightly more direct course.

“It's going to be a long gybe straight into the doldrums and the foilers, who haven't yet had the chance to show their potential, will finally be able to do it. We should fly" Thomas Ruyant added on Vendée Live, “We will get good reaching angles and start to accelerate."

But vigilance will be required, explains Sébastien Josse, with three Vendée Globe's under his belt: "It will not be a cruise with the force of the wind - 20 to 25 knots - and on the crossover of a sail choice between Code 0 and fractional gennaker."

Mainsail Damage For Kojiro

In the middle of the afternoon Kojiro Shiraishi’s DMG Mori Global One team reported a rip at the top of the Japanese skipper’s mainsail and damaged battens. After a gybe to exit the Theta depression, Shiraishi, 19th at 3pm, suffered an autopilot malfunction. During a 3rd gybe, his mainsail tore above the 2nd batten. His team commented: "The skipper is not injured and the boat is not in danger. We will be offering different solutions to repair the mainsail and continue the race."

Meantime the peloton has raced off and left a group of competitors in next to no wind, Ari Huusela (Stark), Miranda Merron (Campagne de France), Alexia Barrier (TSE - 4myplanet), Clément Giraud (Compagnie du Lit / Jiliti), Sébastien Destremau (Merci) and Armel Tripon (L'Occitane en Provence). "The corridor of wind between the depression and the front above has narrowed down, and they are in the heart of a windless zone and behind thate there is not much with either.” Christian Dumard, the Vendée Globe meteorologist explained.

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Passing the Azores, some 100 miles to the east of São Miguel island, Britain’s Alex Thomson leads the Vendée Globe fleet this afternoon on Hugo Boss. He moved south away from his closest rivals on the water early this morning, choosing a time when he thought they would be at their most tired, perhaps resting, to slide away.

Pacing himself against the newest generation of foilers like his HUGO BOSS, he is 13 miles up on Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) and Charlie Dalin (Apivia) as the lead group slide south on the western side of a low-pressure system, described today as a ‘baby low’ when compared with tropical low Theta which lies in wait for them from tomorrow Friday.

Five days into the race and the head of the fleet comprises a slightly unexpected mix of the latest foilers intertwined with older generation non-foiling boats, such as sailed by the wily 61-year-old Jean Le Cam on his fifth Vendée Globe and lying second to Thomson who is also on his fifth race.

Thomson has been no stranger to adversity over his 16 years chasing his holy grail, victory in the Vendée Globe. And so his message of solidarity today for French title favourite Jérémie Beyou, who had to U turn back to Les Sables d’Olonne with rig and rudder damage yesterday, came from the heart.

Dealing with his shattered ambitions of winning, founded on a four-year plan which included building a state of the art foiler Charal, launched one year ahead of the rest of the new boats, he spoke to the French media on a recording for the Vendée Globe LIVE show. Beyou’s pain was palpable today.

Beyou is expected to reach Les Sables d’Olonne on Saturday. His team will make an immediate evaluation of the repairs required and ensure they have the logistics in place.

Repairing man and machine

Sébastien Destremau has survived the stormy hours on his IMOCA MERCI, which he struggled to have ready on time for last Sunday’s race start. Last night, exhausted from the first few days he fell asleep and spent several hours asleep inside the boat heading northwards. His day was then spent tinkering on the deck and climbing the mast to untangle twisted halyards. The list of minor technical issues grows as sailors check the condition of their boats. Maxime Sorel also climbed the mast to retrieve a halyard.

After jumping the start gun last Sunday by a matter of seconds, Louis Burton completed his five hours penalty last night, losing more than 70 miles in the process. In addition to that the skipper from Saint Malo has had to mop up litres of oil (coming from his keel cylinder) spilled inside his boat before grabbing the grinder to repair a small crack on his bulkhead.

All of the skippers have been making sure they are rested as tomorrow morning they will have to tackle the big tropical depression Theta which blocks their way.

Theta, the 29th tropical depression of the year

It is front of mind for all the sailors. It's a big red ball sitting right in the middle of the map. The solo sailors will have to pass round it to the west. Those who come in too close could be severely punished, because this subtropical depression contains winds of 50 to 60 knots and waves of 6 meters. It’s name is Theta. And this is the 29th tropical depression of the year, a record in fact. Tropical and subtropical depressions are named after the letters of the alphabet, and with 21 letters from the Latin alphabet now passed, we switch to the Greek alphabet. Theta is the 8th.

“ Everyone has their own goal. For four years my life has been focused on trying to win the Vendée Globe. I’ve been giving it my all.” Beyou said, “ So when it suddenly comes to an end, it hits you hard. That’s why it took me so long before deciding to turn back. I could have taken the decision earlier, as dealing with the front meant there was collateral damage. It doesn’t feel good waking up to this.

Earlier in the day before the wind got up, the attachment holding the headsail clew came away. That damaged the bulkhead and ripped through the deck. While I was inspecting that, I saw a hole in the rudder that was half up but I told the team that I could cope. I went through the front, tacked and then the runner exploded after losing the gear at the top of the mast a few hours before. The runner was the final straw, so I changed route and turned back.

I haven’t seen what’s been going on around me for four years. My Dad was taken to hospital with a stroke a week before the start. I missed out on all that. So now, I’ll be bringing the boat home and dealing with that too.” Jérémie Beyou - Charal

Thomson, who as he noted today is ‘two from four’ for Vendée Globe starts and finishes, said,

“It is terrible news, and nobody would wish that on anybody, Jérémie has worked harder than anybody probably. He has done an extra year with his boat. He has a great team, a great technical director, he has done it all and he amazed the world when he brought Charal out. He was the first one flying in the sky, so I am devastated for him. I know myself how hard it is to pick yourself up and particularly going back to Les Sables d’Olonne and racing all on your own. But I am sure he will make the right decision. It will probably be governed by the damage and how long it takes to fix it. I guess the worst thing to do would be to set off in the knowledge that you can't do a proper 100 per cent repair and then you are on your own in the Southern Ocean. I feel for him, I feel for his team, I feel for the sponsors. Unfortunately, that is a thing that happens in this race. I am two out of four myself. I hate the feeling. I hate seeing it happen to someone else, particularly Jeremie.” Alex Thomson - Hugo Boss

“I'm glad I got off the ridge yesterday and I’m happy with my placement, not too north and not too south. At the moment we’re going around a small depression that is forming ahead of us, going around it from the north. There are four of us in this small group. There is a little more wind than what was forecast, it's moving pretty fast here! On the horizon is Theta, the tropical depression which is very strong. It will be the last big obstacle to deal with before we get a taste of the trade winds.

I was in the leading group yesterday evening and for part of the night. So much the better! It means things are going well for me. For the moment, I don't have a lot of worries and I hope I won't have any by saying so. I hope it lasts! I'm trying to find my rhythm between going fast and preserving the boat, space out the manoeuvres to avoid any risks. Since the beginning, we've been in pretty difficult conditions, we haven't yet been able to really use the potential of the foilers. I hope that once Theta has passed, we'll be able to take advantage of more favourable conditions to use the foils. I'm constantly restricting myself, braking in order to save my boat for later, but also to save myself up because the Vendée Globe is long! But I don't have both feet on the brakes for too long. Concerning Jérémie Beyou's damage, well I know all too well the commitment that our projects require – for the skipper, the team, the partners…It's years of work, of deliberation, and it's certainly something we wouldn’t wish on anyone. My stomach turned to knots when I heard the news. My heart goes out to Jérémie and his team." Charlie Dalin - Apivia

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The Vendee Globe Race has finally started to get serious after several days of faffing around in flukey winds off northwest Spain and Portugal in conditions so volatile that last night they'd a messy frontal system going through to provide everything from flat calm to 50-knot gusts in the space of half an hour. But now with the weather pattern becoming clearer with a low pressure area to the south of them moving west-east to pass between Madeira and the Canaries, the challenge is to place yourself northwest of this system in favourable winds.

This means that getting well west was the Number One priority for those who thought more in terms of strategy rather then tactics, and none did this more assiduously than Thomas Ruyant with the new foiler LinkedOut, whose shore manager is Marcus Hutchinson of Kinsale. At times LinkedOut was showing a best overall placing of third in her sometimes very solitary progress southwestward, while others took the short term gain of working local winds relatively close inshore off Cape Finisterre.

None did this more assiduously than Maxime Sorel with the veteran daggerboard boat V & B Mayenne, and he did it so successfully that for a day he was showing repeatedly as the overall leader. There's an enormous irony in this, as one of V & B Mayennne's previous manifestations was as Souffle du Nord, which was of course Ruyant's entry in the 2016-17 Vendee. She was doing very well in that, but was invalided out into New Zealand in a decidedly separational state. However, nothing daunted, she was re-glued with Kiwi ingenuity and finished back in Les Sables-d'Olonne on St Patrick's Day 2018 as Enda O'Coineen's Team Ireland Souffle du Nord, and soon afterwards was sold to Maxime Sorel.

Enda O Coineen's Team Ireland Souffle du Nord in 2018. Re-incarnated as Maxim Sorel's V & B MayenneEnda O Coineen's Team Ireland Souffle du Nord in 2018. Re-incarnated as Maxim Sorel's V & B Mayenne, she was showing as overall leader in the current Vendee Globe for more than a day

Thus while the hot favourites were trying either to keep a middle course as per former Crosshaven schoolboy Alex Thomson (his dad was a helicopter pilot out of Cork Airport at the time) with Hugo Boss, while Ruyant stayed doggedly further west, there was the old Souffle du Nord to the eastward staying persistently at the top of the leaderboard even if, like all good things, it was just too good to last.

The long-expected meandering front came in with so much peculiarity in in that at one stage it was shaping up to form a completely new low pressure area, which put everybody's strategy haywire for a while. But as things have been settling down today, there are certain boats of very sharp performance starting to emerge at the top of the leaderboard.

Thus now, four days after the gun was fired, we can finally say the Vendee Globe has really started - we have a race rather than a lottery. And it's Kinsale up against Crosser as they start facing up to the next tactical decision of whether or not to cut through among the eastern islands of the Azores, because staying on the right (or rather top left) side of that low is paramount.

And it's certainly time to get a move on. Yesterday afternoon, three days after the start, they still had to pass the point which Armel le Cleac'h with Banque Populaire had put astern after just two days in 2016 when he set the 74 day record which the stars reckon could be brought below 70 days this time round, and 60 was theoretically possible.

"The Kinsale Boat" – Thomas Ruyant's LinkedOut shortly after the start"The Kinsale Boat" – Thomas Ruyant's LinkedOut shortly after the start.

For now, though, it's definitely Game On with Alex Thomson in Hugo Boss first at 18.4 knots, Benjamin Dutreux second but only showing 11.1 knots, Thomas Ruyant still well west of Thomson and showing 16.9 knots in third place with LinkedOut, and Charlie Dalin right beside him with near-sister Apivia in 4th place at 15.1 knots.

Tracker linked here

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One of the Vendee Globe race favourites Jérémie Beyou is returning to the start port with rudder damage on his new IMOCA 60 yacht.

After last night reporting damage to one of his rudders having hit an object in the water and making a temporary repair, this morning a complete check of the boat has revealed the damage to be worse than it was believed. Beyou and his team, therefore, made the decision to head to Les Sables d'Olonne.

Third in the 2016, Vendee Globe, 44-year-old Beyou retired from both the 2012 and 2008 circumnavigations.

After suffering a succession of problems including rudder damage and a broken backstay after three days of racing, Beyou is more than 600 nautical miles from the French port where the solo, non-stop round the world race started last Sunday afternoon. He is expected back in Les Sables d’Olonne late on Friday. The race rules leave the start line open for ten days since the start, so until Wednesday 18th November at 1420hrs.

At 0915hrs this morning Vendée Globe Race Direction contacted Charal's team manager, Vincent Beyou, after noticing a change of course of Beyou’s black IMOCA on their race tracking system.

A few minutes later the team manager confirmed the solo skipper Jérémie Beyou had made the tough decision to turn around towards Les Sables d'Olonne.

Beyou, 44, third on the last edition of the Vendée Globe, was widely considered among the favourites to win, not least a key rival for British skipper Alex Thomson.

The French solo racer, launched his boat earliest of the newest generation of foiling IMOCA 60s and most recently confirmed his favourite status when he won the Vendée Arctique Les Sables warm up course in June.

The Charal team issued the following statement: “After an ideal start to the Vendée Globe being in the leading pack after two days of racing, Jérémie Beyou suffered problems on Tuesday afternoon."

Technical Director of the Charal Sailing Team, Pierre-François Dargnies details: “It started around 2pm on Tuesday when a sheet block tore off, which sprayed carbon all over the cockpit. Jérémie had to do a little repair, he got in the boat to get it all set up, and while he was inside the boat he hit something. In so doing the boat gybed it ended up on the other side. He then realized that the starboard rudder was damaged. He decided to wait for the passage of the front in last night to start the repairs on the rudder. He tacked this morning while waiting for the sunrise to be able to tackle this repair, but after a few hours later the starboard backstay (cable that supports the mast from the rear) broke suddenly, probably because the sheet block is quite close, beside backstay and the carbon shards must have sheared it."

After discussions with his team Beyou therefore took the decision this Wednesday morning to return to Les Sables d'Olonne to repair as quickly as possible: "With a torn off sheet block base, a damaged rudder, knowing that it is possible that the foil might also have been hit, and a broken runner-uphaul that is quite a bit for the third day of the race”, adds Pierre-François Dargnies who has put in place the logistics necessary to receive the IMOCA Charal, expected back in Les Sables d 'Olonne Friday at the end of the day.

"The ETA will depend on the speed and routing as long as he is on the port tack, as is currently the case he can go at more or normal speed, but on the starboard side, since he has no backstay he will have to go quite slowly. The good thing is that it is mostly downwind. As for the repairs, we have a spare rudder, so that's not a problem, and for the rest, everything will depend on the exact extent of the damage, we will obviously do everything to repair the boat in the best possible way, meet the deadlines to allow our skipper to leave ”.

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The Royal Ocean Racing Club in London has released a special edition of its Time Over Distance video series with Louay Habib talking to Alex Thomson just days before Alex and HUGO BOSS started the 2020 Vendee Globe.

This is Alex Thomson's fifth race and having come second last time, Hugo Boss is one of the favourites.

The interview was recorded live with Alex exploring the physical and mental strength required for the race, plus details of the radical IMOCA 60 design and the cutting-edge technology on board.

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Heading west this afternoon and encountering building winds, Vendee Globe skippers of the many of the faster-foiling IMOCAs are preparing themselves for an overnight pounding, set to last five or six hours, when they punch through an active weather front which is forecast to bring them 40-knot gusts and big seas.

The reward for looking after their boats and themselves as best they can tonight will be some faster, albeit bumpy miles in a more direct, southerly direction.

While 30-year-old Les Sables d’Olonne hometown favourite Benjamin Dutreux tops the afternoon classifications due to his more southerly position, some 50 miles north-west of the Ria de Vigo on the Galician coast, so also Nico Troussel on the new Juan K IMOCA Corum L’Épargne has broken from the other foiler and taken this southerly option which is considered to be safer.

Dutreux on OMIA-Water Family (which was built in Cowes as BT), Troussel, Maxime Sorel (V and B – Mayenne) and Jean Le Cam have led a southerly pack inside the Cape Finisterre TSS (Traffic Separation Scheme no go area).

Troussel’s option may be related to taking a more conservative safe option, sailing more miles but with the benefit of less severe winds, to safeguard his boat which is in its first race. But the 46-year old double La Solitaire du Figaro champion was renowned in the world of the Figaro for taking flyers away from the fleet and often coming out smelling of roses. Such gambles and big gains gave rise to rise to the expression ‘doing a Troussel’.

Troussel was lying fourth on the afternoon standings, almost 100 miles south-east of rivals Jérémie Beyou (Charal), Charlie Dalin (Apivia) and the hard-driving Kevin Escoffier on the older PRB who is just seven and a half miles off Beyou’s leeward quarter.

The worst of the conditions will be tonight between 0200hrs and 0300hrs for this foiling peloton with average windspeeds above 30kts and gusts over 40, but by the morning they should be able to tack into the NW’ly wind and make faster miles down the track, albeit still in bumpy seas.

Nothing comes easily on the Vendée Globe and after breaking across a ridge of high pressure the next big question for this group especially will be dealing with Theta, a tropical storm which crosses their path between Thursday and Friday (13th!). Routings today show a possible timing which would allow these quickest boats to pass the west side of it in the NW’ly wind, but this system is evolving rapidly and being caught in its path is worth avoiding.

After that, the tradewinds are still not established and current timings to the equator are some three days behind the record of 9 days 7 hours set by Alex Thomson who led the 2016 race across into the south Atlantic.

“You have to be wise. This is not where the Vendée Globe is won, but this is where it can get lost,” says Damien Seguin on the Vendée Live program this midday. The Paralympic champion was speaking after diving to free a fishing net which was caught on the keel of his boat. Meantime Arnaud Boissières successfully scaled the mast of his La Mie Caline to free his halyard hook and release his trapped gennaker, a welcome relief for the Les Sables d’Olonne skipper on his fourth successive Vendée Globe.

Having had a composite expert add an additional pad and repair the hairline crack at the top of his mast Fabrice Amedeo is expected to head back out to restart at the Nouch buoy this evening.

“The plan is to leave this evening around 22:15 to rejoin the race, well to start really as we never really got going before!” said Amedeo.

It looks like being pretty nasty out here this evening and there could well be some damage in the fleet… I have got everything prepared with sails ready. The deck has been cleaned up and everything inside is tidy. Aboard the boat, everything is fine. I have managed to get some sleep. I haven’t eaten much, but I have been drinking a lot and I feel better. I’ll try to send you some videos and photos between now and this evening… if I manage it.

"I know that taking the southern option would maybe position me well for the short term and the gain is still there and it is a nice surprise to still be doing well close to the Galician coastline. Jean Le Cam and I crossed paths yesterday, and today again, it is great. We spent quite a lot of time together when preparing for the race at the boat shed and now we are here again here crossing paths. I feel fine after my dive this morning. I am dry and have had some food and a nap. Now I am going to tidy the boat a bit and then going to get another nap in to prepare for the storm tonight. We have had an intensive start to the race with lots of manoeuvres and we have to take care. It is not here that you will win the race, but you can lose it" Damien Seguin (Groupe Apicil)

RANKING 14:00 (French Time)

  1. Benjamin Dutreux, OMIA – Water Family at 23,866 miles to the finish
  2. Maxime Sorel, V and B Mayenne, at 1,2 miles to the leader
  3. Jean Le Cam, Yes We Cam !, at 4,5 miles to the leader
  4. Nicolas Troussel, CORUM- L’Epargne at 6,5 miles
  5. Damien Seguin, Groupe APICIL, at 9,1 miles
  6. Sam Davies, GBR Initiatives Coeur, at 39.9 miles
  7. Didac Costa, ESP, One Planet One Ocean, at 43.1 miles
Published in Vendee Globe
Tagged under

Vendee Globe Day One: France’s double Paralympic gold medallist and 2017 winner of the Tour Voile Damien Seguin leads the 33 boat Vendée Globe fleet as the early rankings favour a leading group of older generation IMOCAs as they race southwestwards across the Bay of Biscay towards Cape Finisterre.

While the fastest latest generation foiling boats worked a more northwesterly route last night and in the first part of the morning, Seguin, Maxime Sorel (V and B Mayenne) and veteran Jean Le Cam (Yes We Cam!) hold a small advantage on the afternoon ranking. But they are expected to lose out as they sail for longer in a north-south zone of lighter winds.

Seguin, who was born without a left hand, has scored successes in pretty much every different inshore and offshore discipline, including Class40, before taking on this Vendée Globe on the boat which Eric Bellion raced to ninth place last time. He has been helped in his round the world preparations by veteran Jean Le Cam, who was some seven miles behind the talented and competitive 41-year-old race leader.

After the excitement, indeed for some the sheer euphoria, of finally being on the solo round the world race course, the first full day of this Vendée Globe has offered a few hours of lighter winds allowing the skippers the chance to rest, to take stock, to work through their jobs list and to prepare for a moderately nasty front which will bring strong winds and steep seas during the night of Tuesday into Wednesday.

Nico Troussel on the Juan K designed Corum L’Épargne continues to be quickest of the fast foilers which are racing on the same angle this Monday afternoon some 50-60 nautical miles to the west and making similar speeds in the sunshine and lighter airs in the high-pressure ridge.

Troussel, a double winner of La Soltaire du Figaro, was more than seven miles ahead of Britain’s Sam Davies who has been going well on her Initiatives Coeur. Neither skipper seemed to have suffered the first night niggles – small technical problems – which cost miles. Both Jérémie Beyou (Charal) and Alex Thomson (HUGO BOSS) snagged fishing gear on their various appendages. The British skipper had a night-time battle with his J3 headsail when a sheet detached. Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) reported he lost 15 miles when a sail unfurled.

“These things are minor just now. In a few days they will look back and think them nothing much but some of them come from not having been sailing for a while” commented Seb Josse on the Vendée Globe LIVE show this lunch time in Les Sables d’Olonne.

Josse has been working closely as a part of a dream team getting Corum ready, trying to ensure the May 2020 launched design is as reliable as possible,

“We worked a little bit like Alex Thomson, on our own not doing the races but we sailed as many longer race like passages as we could, trying to break things, which we did and repaired them.” Explained Josse.

Speaking of Tuesday’s strong winds the race’s weather expert Christian Dumard reports, “Gusts in excess of 40 knots are forecast with cross seas and waves building to 5 metres on Tuesday night. The whole fleet will be changing tack to head towards the SW in the NW’ly air stream ahead of the ridge of high pressure. Winds will become lighter as they advance towards Spain. For the leaders, it is going to be important to find their way south without getting becalmed in these calmer conditions. The precise moment at which they change tack will be crucial. There is therefore the choice now of diving south with a higher risk of getting stuck in light airs off Spain, along with the disadvantage of reaching the front after those further west, but on the other hand, conditions will be quieter by then. Those who decide to go further west are less likely to be caught in the light airs, but face a more violent front with the risk that entails for their gear. No doubt, they will all be seeking out their own personal compromise between the fastest route, no doubt be tougher on the boat and the skipper and a trajectory to the south, which is likely to be kinder to both.”

Speaking live this morning Alex Thomson said “The next big thing will be crossing this front. There is this light patch off Finisterre so I would prefer to be further West, but I am not and then we will be sailing towards the front which will be interesting. Last night I saw 2.5m waves average when we will be looking at 4.5 to 5m waves so my hull fibre optics were getting close to their limits last night. So, I am not sure I am going to belt into this too fast, if I can I will try and get a bit further south and avoid the worst of that.”

Damage at the top of his mast added more frustration for Fabrice Amedeo who is expected to return to the race course tomorrow morning after making a U-turn and arriving back at the race dock in Les Sables d’Olonne on this morning’s 0700hrs tide. A fast pitstop has not been possible after effecting the replacement of a gennaker hook (lock) after additional problems surfaced.

"Jérémie Beyou (Charal): The first hours were nice there was a flat sea with 20 knots of speed but things have become a bit more complicated now, I think something caught in the keel in the middle of the night. I think I’ve lost a bit of time. You get back into the swing of very quickly – the set up and the routine comes back quickly, afterwards it’s not easy to get into your sleep and physical rhythm. It’s not going to be easy but we’re waiting for the first ridge- we are going to get wind this afternoon. There will be a bit of difficulty with the storm tomorrow which is a bit worrying."

Published in Vendee Globe
Tagged under
Page 10 of 23

William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago

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