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British skippers Alex Thomson and Neal McDonald (Hugo Boss) are out of the Transat Jacques Vabre Race after hitting an object at sea this morning just a week into the offshore race.

The much-fancied British entry that has strong ties to Cork Harbour was 18th of the Imoca race to 484.84 nautical miles leaders Jérémie Beyou and Christopher Pratt (Charal).

Following the incident, Alex and Neal stopped the boat and carried out an inspection to assess the damage sustained. It became apparent that the keel is now only attached by the hydraulic ram.

The new yacht was launched in August as Afloat reported here.

Due to the damage sustained to the boat, the decision has been made that Alex and Neal will not continue on in the race.

The Alex Thomson Racing team is now working to assist the skippers to bring the boat to the nearest port.

Both Alex and Neal are currently safe inside the boat and did not sustain any major injuries.

Published in Offshore

#Offshore - A record 46 competitors have confirmed entry for the Transat Jacques Vabre 2019 with seven months yet to go till the start.

The numbers are already close to what organisers expected in January would be the full fleet to set out from Le Havre for Brazil this October — and entries are still open for another 12 weeks till Friday 12 July.

Despite promises that the previous race would stage a new dawn for multihulls like the Multi 50, much of the fleet will comprise IMOCA 60s but there will also be a sizeable contingent of Class 40s.

“The double-handed race allows well-prepared and seasoned amateurs to mix and measure themselves against the most recognised professional skippers,” says Class 40 president Halvard Mabire.

Published in Offshore

One of the largest fleets of IMOCA 60s ever gathered is due to set off on the Rolex Fastnet Race on Saturday, 3rd August. 29 of the boats, best known for their use in the Vendée Globe singlehanded non-stop round the world race, will assemble on the Cowes start line of the Royal Ocean Racing Club's premier event to take part in the biennial voyage to Plymouth via the Fastnet Rock - 26 competing in the IMOCA class, another three in the main IRC fleet.

This line-up is the third biggest in IMOCA history, after the 2016-17 and 2008-09 Vendée Globes, and is due to the Rolex Fastnet Race being a qualifier for the next Vendée Globe.

"However," adds Antoine Mermod, President of IMOCA, "the race means a lot and is important to French sailors because it is so historic. It also has a very nice course."

The IMOCA class is also now under the microscope internationally after its selection as one of the two classes for the next Ocean Race (ex-Volvo Ocean Race).

Newer IMOCA 60s incorporate the latest foiling technology. This has transformed their performance, reducing displacement and drag thanks to their foils partly, or at times fully, elevating them from the water. Since the last Vendée Globe in 2016-17 when this technology featured on a few top boats, second-generation foils are being fitted to the latest launches.

"At the best angle and boat speed the foils give a 15% jump in performance - it's huge," explains Mermod. "You sail at 13 knots and then when you start foiling the speed jumps to 18. You never do 15 knots!"

Eight new foilers are set to be on the start line of next year's Vendée Globe. Two are currently entered in the Rolex Fastnet Race - Jérémie Beyou's Charal, launched last year, and Sebastien Simon's Arkea-Paprec, a brand new design from Juan Kouyoumdjian, launching this June. Simon, the winner of last year's La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro, will be sailing with 2004-05 Vendée Globe winner Vincent Riou, who also won the Rolex Fastnet Race in 2015 aboard PRB. (PRB is also competing, but with new skipper Kevin Escoffier, who sailed Dongfeng Racing Team to victory in the last Volvo Ocean Race, alongside Jérémie Beyou).

Among the older foil-assisted boats are Bureau Vallée 2, formerly the 2016 Vendée Globe winner Banque Populaire, now skippered by Louis Burton. German skipper Boris Herrmann returns with Malizia (ex-Edmond de Rothschild), which he sailed to third place in the last Rolex Fastnet Race. Italian ex-Mini sailor Giancarlo Pedote has acquired the former St Michel Virbac previously campaigned by Jean-Pierre Dick and Yann Eliès.

Sam DaviesSam Davies will compete with past winner Paul Meilhat on Initiatives Coeur © Vincent Curutchet / Initiatives Coeur

Britain's Sam Davies is back on Initiatives Coeur (originally Michel Desjoyeaux's 2008-9 Vendée Globe winner Foncia), having taken over this campaign from Tanguy de Lamotte, with whom she claimed fourth place in the last Rolex Fastnet Race. This time Davies is sailing with Paul Meilhat, winner of last year's Route du Rhum and the last Rolex Fastnet Race.

With the next Vendée Globe now 18 months away, many skippers have acquired boats that are new to them and are using this season to get acquainted.

Having sold their 2016-17 Vendée Globe winning IMOCA 60 to Louis Burton, Banque Populaire is back in the class having acquired the former MACIF/SMA, originally Francois Gabart's 2012-13 Vendée Globe winner. For their latest programme they have recruited 29-year-old Clarisse Crémer, following her second place in the 2017 Mini-Transat La Boulangère's Series class. On board for the Fastnet race with Crémer will be the team's principal skipper, 2016-17 Vendée Globe winner Armel le Cleac'h, as he awaits the launch of his new replacement Ultime maxi-trimaran.

One of the most impressive aspects of the Rolex Fastnet Race's mighty IMOCA line-up are the seven female skippers, three British. In addition to Sam Davies is former Mini sailor Pip Hare, who has acquired Superbigou, the boat on which Swiss skipper Bernard Stamm won the 2002-3 Around Alone and subsequent 2006-7 Velux 5 Oceans solo round the world races.

Miranda Merron makes a welcome return to the IMOCA 60 after a long tenure in the Class40 with her latest Campagne de France - the former Temenos/Great American IV. Of the Rolex Fastnet Race she says: "I have been around the Fastnet Rock countless times in the RORC's races or otherwise, but it is still the same mythical place with the amazing lighthouse. It is always a pleasure to round it." She is racing with her partner and IMOCA coach, French offshore sailing legend Halvard Mabire.

Other female skippers competing are Ireland's Joan Mulloy, on Mike Golding's former Gamesa, France's Alexia Barrier on 4myplanet and Franco-German skipper Isabelle Joschke on MACSF.

While it is not yet as internationally diverse as the Class40, still ten different countries are represented including two from Scandinavia: Norway's Oliver Korte on Galactic Viking (ex-Solidaire) in the IRC fleet and Finland's Ari Huusela on Ariel 2 (previously Dee Caffari's Aviva/GAES).

Eleven of the last Vendée Globe's 29 skippers (albeit only five finishers) will be racing in this year's Rolex Fastnet Race. Since that race several have graduated up: Swiss skipper Alan Roura (who sailed Pip Hare's boat to 12th place) now has Marc Guillemot's Safran while French skipper Fabrice Amedeo, who came home 11th, has acquired Pieter Heerema's No Way Back, a first generation foiler from the last race, rechristened Newrest - Art & Fenêtres.

As a genre IMOCA 60s date back to the early 1980s when it evolved in singlehanded oceanic races such as the BOC Challenge and OSTAR, however their development accelerated once they were adopted for the first Vendée Globe in 1989. A piece of IMOCA history is taking part in this year's Rolex Fastnet Race in the IRC fleet, with Jean-Marie Patier's Le Cigare Rouge, the narrow lightweight yawl that was runner-up in the second Vendée Globe in the hands of Jean-Luc van den Heede, winner of the recent Golden Globe Race.

Several boats are entered from the 2000 Vendée Globe, the race in which Dame Ellen MacArthur memorably fought Michel Desjoyeaux for the lead all the way up the Atlantic. Most notable of these is Alexia Barrier's 4myplanet, which in the hands of original owner Catherine Chabaud, won the Fastnet Challenge Cup outright under handicap 20 years ago.

For more information go to the Rolex Fastnet Race minisite here

Published in Vendee Globe

British offshore skipper Alex Thomson and his crew sailing the IMOCA 60 Hugo Boss have officially broken the 24-hour distance record for a 60ft monohull, as Sail-World reports.

Thomson — who sailed with fellow 2020 Vendée Globe challenger Nin O’Leary on Hugo Boss last year — raced 539.71 nautical miles over the course of 24 hours, breaking his own extant record set last year by 2.9nm.

The new record was ratified last week after the feat achieved on 19-20 July during a transatlantic crossing from New York to the UK. Sail-World has more on the story HERE.

Published in Offshore

#VOR - The Volvo Ocean Race has announced its partnership agreement with the International Monohull Open Class Association (IMOCA), which provides the exclusivity to use the IMOCA 60 for crewed round the world yacht races.

Last week, during the finish of the Volvo Ocean Race in The Hague, an educational session for interested parties was held around the IMOCA Class Rules.

Sailors from the most recent Volvo Ocean Race and IMOCA events, along with yacht designers currently involved in construction of new IMOCA Class boats such as Guillaume Verdier and Juan Kouyoumdjian, came to The Hague to brainstorm around the changes.

“This is a first step of many in preparing for the next edition of the race in 2021,” said Johan Salen, co-president of the race. “There is an ongoing co-operation process to put in place the elements we need to make the next race a success from a sporting and business point of view.

“This is a complex matter with many perspectives, and we are respectfully welcoming continuous input from all key stakeholders, from World Sailing to individual sailors, teams and partners. We are confident that this is the right way forward.

“Moving the race into foiling monohulls under the IMOCA class will motivate more sailors, teams and the wider marine industry to prepare for the next edition. Partnering with the existing IMOCA infrastructure means the professional offshore sailing calendar becomes more unified and efficient, this helps the sport as a whole and helps to build a sustainable business model for teams and sailors.”

“This agreement provides IMOCA owners and sailors with access to the premiere fully crewed offshore race in the world, which is also a great storytelling platform,” said Antoine Mermod, president of IMOCA.

“As we work together to bring the most important offshore races in the world – short-handed and fully crewed – to the IMOCA class boats, it will allow us to grow the class internationally and offer more value to our stakeholders.”

“RenderingRendering of a possible future design for the race

The move to include IMOCA boats has been made in an effort to ensure the race continues at the forefront of yacht design and technology while challenging the best sailors in the world in a fully crewed, offshore environment.

A joint committee is being formed to draft a specific section of the Class Rules for Crewed IMOCA 60, respecting the spirit and intent of the partnership, which includes cost control, security and sporting fairness.

The rule relating to crew numbers on board the IMOCA class in the next race is among the items under consideration, with the goal of retaining an On Board Reporter role.

The latest Volvo Ocean Race concluded this past weekend having seen the closest racing in the 45-year history of the event.

Three teams started the final leg with an opportunity to win the overall race title. With less than 10 miles left in the 45,000 nautical mile, 11-leg race, the outcome was still in doubt until Charles Caudrelier’s Dongfeng Race Team finally slipped ahead of their rivals to secure a thrilling victory off The Hague.

“This change is very exciting,” Caudrelier said after receiving a briefing on the changes. “The Open 60s are just amazing boats. I really enjoy sailing on these boats and I think when people see it, they will enjoy it. If the two best offshore races in the world are going to join the same class, to me it’s good news.”

“I think as a sailor, this is very exciting,” said Bouwe Bekking, a veteran of eight Volvo Ocean and Whitbread Round the World races. “For the younger generation of sailors, they’re all about foiling and surfing and going fast and you have to get the best sailors involved in the race. With the Open 60s, they’ve nailed it, because this is what the sailors want.”

“Of course there are some hurdles to negotiate,” said Torben Grael, Olympic champion and a Volvo Ocean Race winning skipper as well as a vice-president of World Sailing.

“But if we manage to join the two worlds together then it will be positive as it opens the race to many new sailors to join and creates a much bigger calendar of events for the teams racing in Open 60s.”

The partnership means the leading designers in offshore sailing will be engaged in the next edition of the race with the goal of producing the fastest fully-crewed offshore round the world racing monohull in history.

“Yachting is a sport that isn’t only about the crew, but it’s also about the equipment, so combining the two elements is what allows you to say you are at the pinnacle of offshore racing,” said Juan Kouyoumdjian, who has designed three Volvo Ocean Race-winning boats in the past.

“I think it is a very positive step forward. The future will allow for the sailors and designers to push to the next level which will inevitably trickle down to other classes.”

“We’re trying to make a boat for the future that is capable of doing both short-handed and fully-crewed races,” said Guillaume Verdier, among of the busiest of the current IMOCA class and America’s Cup designers. “My opinion is that it is doable with a bit of compromise from both worlds to meet in the middle.”

The partnership with IMOCA will also ensure that the boats will allow for the production of cutting-edge media, as was the case on the current edition of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Live access to the boats while they were racing in some of the most remote oceans of the world, as well as drone footage and media produced by on-board reporters made for ground-breaking coverage that produced record fan engagement.

This remains an important priority for the next race, as does crew diversity. The 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race featured 23 female sailors as well as 30 sailors under the age of 30. Both were records for the race. This is a trend to be encouraged for the future, race organisers insist.

“The process is just starting,” said Nick Bice, who is leading the project to develop the Open 60 rule for the next race. “We’ve had four of the current IMOCA designers with us to help us understand the issues we’re going to face.

“We’ll forward everyone’s input to the joint committee and get started on developing the rules that will be used for Open 60s to participate in the next race. Our goal is to have this ready to go by the end of the year.”

The future of the VO65 class of boats, used in the last two editions of the race, will be revealed in the coming weeks.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race
Tagged under

George David’s Rambler 88 has taken line honours for the owner’s third time in the 608-mile Rolex Middle Sea Race currently finishing in Valetta writes W M Nixon. But Nin O’Leary and Alex Thomson in the IMOCA 60 Hugo Boss have turned in a virtuoso offshore performance to be third home across the line, bested only by the significantly larger Rambler and the 100ft Leopard.

Unlike the Fastnet Race 2017, where Hugo Boss suffered from having to beat the whole way from Cowes to the Fastnet Rock, thereby leaving inadequate space and distance to demonstrate her formidable offwind capacity, in this race the “lovely black boat” was able to lay the course – albeit in often very light winds – most of the way on the anti-clockwise circuit towards the most northerly turning point, the volcanic island of Stromboli.

hugo boss starts2Hugo Boss gets smoothly away from Valetta at the start. Although winds were light all the way to the northerly turn at Stromboli, they were seldom dead on the nose and the specialised IMOC 60 was able to stay well placed. Photo: Kurt Arrigo

There, with a west to nor’westerly filling in to eventually become a classic Mistral-generated Mediterranean gale, most of the fleet elected for long tack/short tack progress towards Sicliy’s decidedly rugged northwestly coast’s series of massive headlands. But Hugo Boss’s crew chose to continue to lay on port tack far offshore, accepting the reality that right-on windward work is not their boat’s strong suit.

Thus they found both a slightly more favourable slant of wind well offshore, and a more regular sea state. The northwest corner of Sciliy is notorious for its confused back-wash ridden sea, and when Hugo Boss closed with the fleet again yesterday morning, they were already approaching Sicily’s most westerly race turn at Favignana island, finding themselves in company with the larger boats, and now well ahead of 50ft to 65ft craft which had been hassling them earlier in the race.

caro off sicily3The Botin 65 Caro (Maximilian Klink, Germany) kicks her heels in heavy winds in the backwash-plagued rough seas off Sicily’s northwest coast. Boats that gave much of this coast a good offing, such as XP-ACT and particularly Hugo Boss, benefitted from more regular seas Photo: Kurt Arrigo

With Favignana astern, it was all systems go, and at the front of the fleet while Rambler 88 – which was to cover the final 300 miles in 14 hours – was unassailable, for a while Hugo Boss looked as though she might be able to pip Leopard for second place on the water.

It was not to be, as things were easing slightly as the leaders came into Valetta late last night and in the small hours of this morning. With the pace dropping. Rambler 88 was able both to finish first and beat Hugo Boss on corrected time, albeit by just 5 minutes and 26 seconds. But O’Leary and Thompson and their crew of Will Jackson and Jack Trigger (there’s only room for two extra on the very purpose-designed IMOCA 60) were able to beat Leopard (Pascal Oddo, France) by 55 minutes on CT, while Udde Ingvall’s super-skinny Maxi 98 CQS from Australia has finished fourth across the line, almost ten hours astern of Hugo Boss on corrected time.

The severe conditions north of Sicily have taken their toll of the fleet and Irish entries, with Two-Handed favourites Brian Flahive of Wicklow and Sean Arrigo of Malta with the J/122 Otra Vez an early retiral, while Conor Doyle of Kinsale with the DK 46 Hydra had managed to get as far as the great headlands of northwest Sicily before pulling out.

george david gets flag4He’s done it again. George David (left) receives the line honours flag for the third time from Royal Malta YC Commodore Godwin Zammit

But Ireland’s most experienced participant, Middle Sea Race 14-times veteran2012 Barry Hurley, is sailing a really cool race with Shane Giviney and other noted talents on the Xp44 XP-ACT. Having given those bouncy northwestern headlands a decent offing to get them quickly clear while maintaining a good fleet place, they’ve just passed Pantellaria and are lying fourth overall on corrected time.

Current handicap leader is the 2012 Swan 53 Music (James Blackmore, South Africa) while the Russian JPK 10.80 Bogatyr (Igor Rytov) is second and the former Round Ireland star Tonnere de Breskens, the Ker 46 now known as Tonnere de Glen and owned by Tian Domonique of France, is third, with XP-ACT in fourth overall and well clear of the next boat.

Speeds are still well up, but with the wind easing it’s going to be a long day getting past Lampedusa and across to the finish at Valetta.

Race tracker here

Published in Offshore

#VOR - Just over three months ago, the Volvo Ocean Race unveiled the new generation of boats for the next decade and beyond, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

In its answer to the big question ‘monohull or multihull?’, the VOR opted for both: a one-design foil-assisted 60ft monohull for the ocean legs, and a one-design 32-50ft foiling catamaran for use inshore at the stopovers.

Now, with the 2017-18 edition already apace following a thrilling Leg Zero, work on the two new boats has been moving fast in the background, as the VOR website reports.

Last week, the first mock up of the Guillaume Verdier-designed offshore monohull was revealed at the Boatyard in Lisbon.

“We contacted several designers and asked them to submit their ideas for both a complete stand-alone Volvo Ocean Race boat, or with the potential to convert to an IMOCA boat,” said Boatyard head Nick Bice.

“All the designers that we invited to present were very strong, it wasn’t clear cut – we had some pretty serious soul-searching to decide what we wanted to do. I went to New Zealand and spent a day with Guillaume to get to know him, and we decided he was our man.”

Verdier is best known as a designer for the foiling 2016 Vendée Globe boats, and for the 35th America’s Cup winners Emirates Team New Zealand.

“We’ve created the Volvo Ocean Race Design Team as a collaboration, getting the best input from everywhere,” said Bice. “It’s going to be a very cool boat; imagine coming into the finish, in a harbour in 20 knots of breeze and you are going to see this thing fully airborne, foiling, at 35 to 40 knots.”

Verdier's team is already working hard on the hull lines. The design has developed in a way that will enable IMOCA 60 compatibility, making it convertible for events like the Vendée Globe.

And they’ve got not time to lose, with Bice emphasising the “critical path” till the scheduled launch in June 2019.

“Working all the way back from that, we need to start machining the moulds in September. Then we need to start laminating the first boat at the end of February, early March next year,” says Bice, who adds that Persico Marine in Italy is the lead contractor for the ambitious project.

As for the inshore foiling multihull, the tender period closed on Monday 31 July with 16 proposals received. Now Bice, as chief technical development officer, and his team must make their decision in view to an announcement during pre-race events in Alicante this October.

The VOR website has more on the story HERE.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

Ireland’s first-ever Vendee Globe entrant, Enda O'Coineen with his IMOCA 60 Kilcullen Voyager, was in his home port of Galway this week for the presentation to First Port of Galway Sea Scouts of a cheque towards the renovation of one of their boats at Galway docks. Rasa is a 24–ft sailing cruiser which has been put back into service through a work programme over the past two seasons by an enthusiastic group of leaders and young scouts under the leadership of Alan Delaunty and Kieran Oliver. The boat, entirely crewed by the young scouts, participated in the Annual Blessing of the Bay last Sunday.

The presentation was made on behalf of the Cruising Association of Ireland, which has about five hundred members around Ireland. Clifford Brown, CAI Commodore, says they are delighted to contribute to such an excellent project giving training in sailing and seamanship to young people in Galway, and hopes the Rasa would next year be able to join one of the local CAI cruises.

The presentation was made aboard Kilcullen Voyager shortly before Enda O’Coineen set off a training session of four hundred miles out into the Atlantic prior to his single-handed handed Vende Globe challenge, starting on 6th November from Les Sables-d’Olonne in the Vendee region of Biscay France. Before departure for this week’s venture, he told the young Sea Scouts that he started his sailing in their troop back in the 1960's under Captain Whooley.

Published in Vendee Globe
Tagged under
A yacht abandoned in this weekend's Transat Bakerly Transatlantic race may yet end up in Irish waters after her skipper was rescued by a passing container ship.

British sailor Richard Tolkien (61), one of the competitors in the race from Plymouth to New York, abandoned his yacht '44' and boarded the Cargo Ship ANTON TOPIC on Friday. Tolkein, who sustained head injuries in the abandonment, say it is his intention to recover the boat that is currently believed to be in a location nearly nine hundred miles north west of the Azores.

“I had to leave the boat which has a tracker on it – not an easy situation - and I hope to rescue the boat he said after the ordeal.

Locating the boat will not be easy according to Kinsale based Marcus Hutchinson who co-ordinated and recovered another abandoned IMOCA yacht last January. Hutchinson and a team set out from West Cork and rescued the SMA sponsored IMOCA Yacht last January. 

Hutchinson told Afloat.ie he wasn't sure if the boat would make it into Irish waters: 'it is a lot further south and west and the weather is a bit different at this time of year so would take a lot longer. Also, I think the tracker, which is yellow brick, won't last for more than a couple of weeks', he said.

The movement of the yacht depends on the rig set up and what sails are still flying. It is unlikely to reach Ireland on the basis of current alone as it’s too far south and as it moves east there is a southerly element to the ocean current so it will probably end up moving south on the Canary current.

However, like SMA, the sail set up could promote sailing and more than counteract current if there is a south westerly and if it is more wind influenced it could “sail” in a north easterly direction – if it did this at 5 knots, it would be 300 hours or around two weeks before it got to the Irish coast.

Published in Offshore

He is known as the Jackal in French sailing because of his relentless competitive zeal and Armel Le Cleac’h lived up to his name with an impressive win in the IMOCA 60 class of The Transat bakerly today – his first victory in the class in 10 years. It puts the French man as favourite for the non–stop single handed round the world Vendee Globe race that will have its first ever Irish competitor when Enda O'Coineen races on November 6th. 

Le Cleac’h’s elegant blue and white monohull, Banque Populaire, with its trademark dark blue sails, crossed the finish line under clear blue skies off Sandy Hook at 11:27 local time – 16:27 CET.

The two-time Vendée Globe runner-up had completed the 3,050-nautical mile course from Plymouth in 12 days, 2 hours and 28 minutes and 39 seconds. His total time includes a 31-minute penalty for the accidental breakage of his boat’s engine seal. Le Cleac’h informed the Race Director about this at 16:26 local time yesterday.

The French skipper had sailed a total of 3,751 miles through the water at an average speed of 12.91 knots. As he crossed the finish line, waving in his moment of victory to his shore team on their coach boat, Le Cleac’h’s main rival for line honours in the IMOCA 60 class, Vincent Riou on PRB, was 31 miles out to sea.

Ever since day three, as the leading IMOCA’s surged westward after turning to starboard at Cape Finisterre, Le Cleac’h has kept Riou at bay and covered his every move.

This was a fascinating battle between the foiling Banque Populaire and the more conventional hull on PRB as two of the favourites for this year’s Vendée Globe went toe-to-toe. In the end, it was as Le Cleac’h was docking his boat at Brooklyn Bridge Park, that Riou was crossing the line, just 2 hours, 21 minutes and 32 seconds behind him.

Riou reported earlier today that 24 hours after the fleet set sail from Plymouth on 2nd May, he lost two of his sails overboard, which forced him to rethink his tactics and routing for the race.

The Transat bakerly showed us two things. One, that even without two of his most important sails Riou can mix it with the best of the foilers, and two, that Le Cleac’h has a boat that is robust enough to deal with a full Atlantic storm. Just two days ago he said this race had given him the confidence he needs in his new rocketship to take on the Vendée Globe in it.

Speaking at the dockside, Le Cleac’h said he was delighted to take his first win in the IMOCA 60 class for a decade.

“I am very happy,” he said. “Ten years ago I came into the IMOCA class and this is the first time I have won. I have finished second a lot of times – in the Vendée Globe, The Transat, the Transat Jacques Vabre and the Route du Rhum, so today is a new day for me. I now I hope to be the first in the Vendée Globe.”

He paid tribute to Riou: “Vincent is a very good competitor. He has won all the races over the last year and he was favourite at the start. It was a pleasure to do this transatlantic race, because every day I could see Vincent behind me, and I said to myself, ‘OK, this race is for me.’”

Asked about his new boat, Le Cleac’h commented: “The foiling boat is a good choice. Last year it was the first year with this boat and we had some little problems and we didn’t have good speed.

“But now, we make a statement. And I hope it is the best boat for the next Vendeé Globe and I that I proved it during this race. So I am very happy for me, for Banque Populaire and for this very nice boat.”

Behind Riou the third-placed IMOCA 60 is Jean-Pierre Dick’s St Michel-Virbac which is still 138 miles from New York and expected to arrive at midnight tonight. Then comes Paul Meilhat on SMA who has been using The Transat bakerly as a qualifier for the Vendée. He still has 343 miles to go to reach the finish.

Two other IMOCA 60 skippers have failed to complete the course. Seb Josse on Edmond de Rothschild, retired mid-way through day two after the battens in his mainsail were damaged during a gybe. And yesterday Britain’s Richard Tolkien was forced to abandon his yacht 44, 880 nautical miles west, southwest of Horta in the Azores. After struggling with technical issues and sustaining an injury to his head, Tolkien has been taken on board the cargo ship Anton Topic which is bound for Philadelphia.

In the four-boat Multi50 class, Gilles Lamiré (Frenchtech Rennes St Malo) is less than 30 miles from the finish line, and is expected to arrive by 17:30 local time this evening, with a 320-mile advantage over Lalou Roucayrol (Arkema).

Trading places at the top of the Class40 fleet are Thibaut Vauchel-Camus (Solidaires en Peloton–Arsep), and Phil Sharp (Imerys). Earlier today, Isabelle Joschke (Generali-Horizon Mixité) officially announced her retirement from The Transat bakerly, after discovering serious damage to her boat’s structure yesterday. She is now en route to Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon in Newfoundland.

Track the race here.

PROVISIONAL STANDINGS
The class rankings at 20:00 BST - updated every four hours

ULTIME
1. François Gabart/Macif - 8 days, 8 hours, 54 minutes and 39 seconds at sea
2. Thomas Coville/Sodebo - 8 days, 18 hours, 32 minutes and 2 seconds at sea
3. Yves Le Blevec/Actual - 10 days, 12 hours, 15 minutes and 59 seconds

IMOCA 60
1. Armel Le Cléac’h/Banque Populaire - 12 days, 2 hours and 28 minutes and 39 seconds
2. Vincent Riou/PRB - 2 days, 4 hours, 50 minutes and 11 seconds
3. Jean-Pierre Dick/St Michel Virbac - 138.nm to the finish

MULTI 50
1. Gilles Lamiré/French Tech Rennes St Malo - 34.8nm to the finish
2. Lalou Roucayrol/Arkema - 350.50nm to the leader
3. Pierre Antoine/Olmix - 763.50nm to the leader

CLASS40
1. Thibaut Vauchel-Camus/Solidaires en Peloton-ARSEP - 910.6nm to the finish
2. Phil Sharp/Imerys - 16.13nm to the leader
3. Louis Duc/Carc - 64.81nm to the leader

Published in Vendee Globe
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