Updated Friday January 15th, 2021
Here’s the latest news and updates on the Vendée Globe sailing race. This is the most challenging, round-the-world non-stop race without assistance for single-handed sailors.
It started on Sunday November 8th, 2020 at 13.02 from Les Sables d’Olonne on the French Atlantic coast in the Vendée department.
33 boats started the race, but already there have been casualties.
There’s plenty going on in the world’s most dangerous oceans.
Read the major article on the Vendée Globe race on the route, the history, the skippers, the boats, the ‘super foilers’, and the pitfalls.
Vendée Globe Update: Friday January 15th, 2021 – Day 68
It’s all change in the tight, nail-biting race for the leading yachts. Ahead again is Charlie Dalin in Apivia; 2nd is Louis Burton in Vallée 2, Boris Herrmann is 3rd in SeaExplorer – Yacht Club de Monaco; Thomas Ruyant 4th in LinkedOut, Damien Sequin 5th in Groupe APICIL, and Yannick Bestaven, who was leading for a long time, in Maître Coq IV is 6th. The first two are a mere 20 miles apart and the following yachts are very close together.
There are still three women left in the race. Clarisse Kremer in Banque Populaire X is 12th; Pip Hare has overcome big problems and is back at 17th, and Miranda Merron in Campagne de France is 22nd.
26 yachts are left in the race.
Updated Monday January 11th, 2021
Less than 5,000 nautical miles to Les Sables d’Olonne and the end of the Vendée Globe race!
Yannick Bestaven in Maître Coq IV is still ahead but his lead has shrunk from 400 miles to 226 ahead of Charlie Dalin in Apivia 2nd and Thomas Ruyant in LinkedOut 3rd. Paralympic sailor Damien Seguin in Groupe Apicil is 4th, just 51 miles behind.
Dalin has perfect conditions for his boat; foils suit the flat seas and 15 to 17 knots of breeze giving him 22 to 23 knots of boat speed.
This leading pack is expected to run a very close race, though Ruyant needs to make another mast climb to repair a wind vane which will be the 5th time he has climbed the mast.
Fourteen of the boats are now past the Cape of Good Hope and are in the home stretch up to Les Sables d’Olonne and the finish.
British sailor Pip Hare in Medallia was 15th but has dropped back to 17th. She had a nail-biting and very tough time replacing her damaged port rudder in the South Pacific Ocean around 1,000 miles west of Cape Horn. She had to stop her boat and do the repairs in 20 knot winds and a big Pacific swell.
“Every part of my body aches. I have bloody knuckles on every finger, bruises all down my legs and muscles I didn’t know I had that hurt but YES!!!!! The new rudder is in and Medallia is back in the game.“
“I think the whole procedure took about an hour and a half with many hours of preparation and packing up before and after. My heart was in my mouth for the whole time. I ran around the cockpit, winding winches, pulling ropes, sliding over to the back of the boat to grab, yank, manhandle, rudder ropes and anchor chain.”
Pip Hare, Jérémie Beyou in Charal at 16th, Alan Roura in La Fabrique in 15th and Arnaud Boissières in La Mie Câline – Artisans Artipôle aat 14th place are all approaching the Cape of Good Hope.
Isabelle Joschke on MACSF has had to retire after a temporary keel fix which she had managed to achieve failed. It’s tough:
“This is not the easiest thing at the moment. I’m sailing in conditions that are fairly rough with quite heavy seas. There must be a swell of 5m and and between force 7-9 Beaufort. A bit like the conditions when I rounded Cape Horn. I spent the night bailing out the boat, as there is an ingress of water. I bailed and I pumped. I have managed to stem the flow of water. Now the most important thing is to get to a port and safety and to get myself to safety.“
Sebastien Destremau on Merci has a cracked bowsprit and is currently struggling at the back of the race.
Vendée Globe Update: Saturday January 2nd, 2021 – Day 55
There’s a change at the top. Charlie Dalin in Apivia was running first but had to slow down to repair his port side foil system and dropped back to third. But he’s now back in the race in second place. He’s just behind Yannick Bestaven in Maître Coq IV with Thomas Ruyant in LinkedOut and Damien Seguin in Groupe Apicil one day behind.
The leaders are approaching the Cape of Good Hope, the last of the three Great Capes the race has to overcome. To celebrate New Year, Charlie Dalin opened a bottle of bubbly, took a sip and sprinkled the cockpit of his boat. “A drop for me, a drop for the boat, a drop for Neptune, hoping he might be lenient with us.”
The two leaders should double the Horn on Saturday night/Sunday morning. It’s tough as they expect waves up to seven metres and winds of 40 to 45 knots to contend with.
The Pack Behind
Boris Herrmann is enjoying this.
The sailors behind him face low pressure and very cold seas. They’re very tightly bunched together. There’s less than a mile between Benjamin Dutreux on OMIA Water Family in fifth and Boris Herrmann on SeaExplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco in sixth. Jean le Cam in Yes We Cam! in 7th place is within sight of Isabelle Joschke in MACSF.
Miranda Merron in Campagne de France is 23rd. But the big news is that Pip Hare, sailing an old boat Medallia and on her first Vendée Globe is now 15th having passed young Alain Roura in La Fabrique after a rough time doing repairs.
Vendée Globe Update: Thursday December 24th, 2020 – Day 45
This race is more to do with strategy and patience than high speeds. It’s more like an inshore race in the Mediterranean in benign, fickle breezes, fighting with the track of a voracious zone of light winds. Charlie Dalin in Apivia, at the moment 2nd, joked that he would be back in Les Sables d’Olonne in July or August.
The leader, Yannick Bestaven in Maître CoQ is currently the leader and ahead of the dominant high pressure zone which is slowing Charlie Dalin and Thomas Ruyant in LinkedOut who is 3rd.
Behind them come the group running into the buffer zone of light winds. Boris Herrmann in SeaExplorer – Yacht Club de Monaco is 4th; Benjamin Dutreux in Omia – Water Family is 5th and just 7 miles ahead of Jean le Cam in Yes We Cam! Both Dutreux and Le Cam are sailing very similar boats – Farr designed 2007-8 generation.
30-year old Dutreux is doing well. Born in the north of France which makes him a ‘Chti’ but he sailed from a young age at his grandmother’s house on the Ile de Yeu. He was on the French youth team at 16 and won national, European and world titles before he was 18.
He and his brother have a boat renovation and repair yard in Les Sables d’Olonne.
In the roundabout way of sailing, Dutreux’s boat was previously Kojiro Shiraishi’s Spirit of Yukoh, which Dutreux brought from Japan. Jean Le Cam’s Yes We Cam has already won as Michel Desjoyeaux’s Foncia in 2008, and Dutreux’s boat was on the podium on the 2012 race as Alex Thomson’s Hugo Boss.
Of the Brits, Pip Hare in Medallia is doing incredibly well and is now 17th while Miranda Merron in Campagne de France is 23rd.
Vendée Globe Update: Wednesday December 16th, 2020 – Day 38
Charlie Dalin in Apivia hasn’t been as lucky as hoped for. His port side foil system was badly damaged last Sunday and he had to undertake a complicated repair.
“The hardest part was fitting it. I was going back and forwards between the cockpit and the foil exit location on the hull. I was suspended by a halyard to reach the point where I could fit the chock and I don’t know how many times I went back and forth, I don’t know 30 or 40 times to adjust the carbon piece to fit in the foil case. And in the end just before nightfall I managed to fit the piece in and tinker it. I was saying to myself ‘Charlie you really have to do this, you have to do this before it is dark because after that it is going to be too late.”
But it gave him a new perspective: “I have had a few problems. But this one puts the rest in perspective…I am glad this one is over…I now know the Vendée Globe is about surviving, managing to carry on with the boat.
Now I have to cross the biggest ocean in the world, the Pacific and in my line of sight is Cape Horn, it seems so far, far away, so many thousands of miles, but believe me I am glad the Indian Ocean is over soon.”
He is only 150 nautical miles behind the leaders and confidently believes he can come back to lead again.
He is behind Yannick Bestaven Maître CoQ who is the new leader, with Thomas Ruyant in LinkedOut lying second a mere 15 nautical miles behind him. Jean le Cam is fourth; Damien Seguin in Groupe Apicil 5th and Benjamin Dutreux in Omia – Water Family is sixth.
Of the Brits, Pip Hare in Medallia is now 18th and Miranda Merron in Campagne de France is 23rd.
The jury has decided on the times they will credit to the three skippers who helped in the rescue of Kevin Escoffier: Yannick Bestaven in (10 hours 15 minutes), Jean Le Cam in Yes We Cam! (16 hours, 15 mins) and Boris Herrmann in SeaExplorer – Yacht Club de Monaco (6 hours).
The calculation happens when the race is finished.
Young Charlie Dalin in Apivia is really cruising along. He’s past Cape Leeuwin off Australia and is now averaging over 24 knots. Thomas Ruyant in LinkedOut crossed by Leeuwin 3 hours and 9 minutes later; Yannick Bestaven in Maître CoQ chasing hard and only nine minutes after Ruyant.
They are not as fast as previous races with Alex Thomson, now sadly out of the race, still holding the record.
However, Charlie Dalin has suffered damage to his port foil system. It’s not fatal and he can continue. But things might change very fast now.
Isabelle Joschke on her race so far
Isabelle Joschke in MACSF who is lying ninth, talked about the rigours of the race:
“Sometimes it goes fast and then it stops for a bit because you have to repair something or because the sea state is really hard to sail in and then it takes off all over again. It has been like that for a week… I need to preserve my boat. I would say that preservation is the one word to keep in mind on this round the world race.
Initially I was scared, really scared of the cold, of having problems in the cold and not having the resources to fix them. I have also found a sea that is much more uncomfortable than I had expected. I thought I would have more moments of enjoyment. I have had moments, but it has been very difficult and challenging, particularly mentally.
The seas have been truly chaotic and irregular. It is quite incredible. But I have discovered some stunning landscapes and a real sense of solitude. The fact that it is hard, it makes the solitude even more pronounced and the feeling of being all alone at the end of the earth. That is something that is not easy to live with but at the same time it is just so beautiful.”
How much time will the rescuers of Kevin Escoffier be awarded?
On Wednesday the five strong International Jury will decide on the time compensations for Jean Le Cam, Yannick Bestaven and Boris Herrmann who were all involved in the rescue mission for Kevin Escoffier. It could change the order. At the moment Jean le Cam is fifth and Boris Herrmann is eighth.
Of the British contenders left in the race, Pip Hare in Medallia is 19th and Miranda Merron in Capagne de France is 24th.
There are 27 sailors left from the original 33.
Those who have had to abandon the race are: Kevin Escoffier in PRB, Alex Thomson in Hugo Boss, Sébastien Simon in Arkea Paprec, Sam Davies in Initiatives-Coeur and Fabrice Amedeo in Newrest – Art et Fenêtres,
Vendée Globe Update: Wednesday December 9th, 2020 – Day 29
The Indian Ocean depression has taken its toll on the sailors. Fast progress has left Charlie Dalin in Apivia ahead by 250 nautical miles. Thomas Ruyant in Linked Out is second but has slowed down.
They have been caught up in the weather system – 800 miles wide with over 60 knots of wind and 8-metre waves near the centre.
Yannick Bestaven in Maître CoQ IV is now in third place. “I feel like I have lived several different slices of life in a very short time. “So much has happened in such a short space of time, you would just never imagine it.” But it’s not easy:
“I retracted the foils because the shocks are so violent. I just sail in all directions. I do everything to not be ahead of the routing, so as not to throw myself into the mouth of the wolf ”.
30-year old Benjamin Dutreux in OMIA – Water Family, comes from the Ile de Yeu near Les Sables d’Olonne is in his first Vendée Globe is now in third place. “Sometimes I wonder what the hell I am doing out here, absolutely in the middle of nowhere on this very rough sea.”
Isabelle Joschke in MACSF who is in ninth place was asked how she was feeling after one month’s racing, “I feel like a very small thing, very fragile.”
Pip Hare in Medallia is in 20th place, and Miranda Merron in Campagne de France is 23rd.
Vendée Globe Update: Saturday December 5th, 2020
Casualties continue in the Vendée Globe.
The British sailor Sam Davies in Initiatives-Coeur hit an obstacle which damaged the framework supporting the keel of her IMOCA. She decided to abandon the race and is made for Cape Town. She was 11th so making good progress so this is a real blow.
As she arrived in Cape Town she gave this emotional interview:
“The sun came out too which helps to ease the aches and pains – I went and sat outside in the warm sun. And then suddenly found myself in floods of tears – and this is a bit weird for me, who never cries, to deal with all these emotions. I wasn’t even sure why I was crying – whether it was sadness for my boat and for my place in this race, or relief that my boat and I are safe? Or a mix of all these emotions?…
At that particular moment I had no control over these emotions. I leant on the coach roof and looked out and there, right there, really close, unusually close, was the most beautiful albatross I have seen, gliding past silently and slowly. He was so close. Normally the albatrosses keep their distance but this was different, as if he could feel my emotion and wanted to help. He stayed close and gave me a wonderful display of effortless flight that was a welcome distraction. They say that albatrosses have the souls of sailors of the past and I can well believe that. I feel like I am being escorted to safety by these amazing creatures and I am grateful for their concern!”
But she says she is determined to make the repairs and return to the course as ‘hors course’. That is unclassified for the solo race. That leaves just two of the four British sailors who started the race: Pip Hare in Medallia is 21st and Miranda Merron in Campagne de France.
Current Race Positions
Charlie Dalin in Apivia leads; Thomas Ruyant in LinkedOut is second; Louis Burton in Bureau Vallée 2 is third, followed by Damien Seguin in Groupe Apicil (fourth); Yannick Bestavan in Maitre CoQ IV (fifth) and Jean le Cam in Yes We Cam! sixth.
Sébastien Simon in Arkean Paprec was fifth when disaster struck with damage to his starboard foil casing and his foil.
The great hopes for the super foiler boats are receding as so many have been damaged as they ‘fly’ through increasingly dangerous waters with so much floating debris.
Kevin Escoffier’s Dramatic Rescue
The rescue of Kevin Escoffier in PRB was more dramatic than previous thought. His boat broke in two after burying its nose in a wave while racing in 5-metre waves and 25 knot winds. He grabbed his survival suit before being washed off the boat and managed to climb into his liferaft automatically inflated. He was in the liftraft, drifting in cold seas for 11 hours. By this stage it was dark, with 3-5m waves, and blowing 22-25 knots.
“In four seconds the boat nosedived, the bow folded at 90°. I put my head down in the cockpit, a wave was coming. I had time to send one text before the wave fried the electronics. It was completely crazy. It folded the boat in two. I’ve seen a lot before but this one…”
He triggered his distress beacon: “I need assistance. I am sinking. This is not a joke.”
The nearest four skippers were sent to the area to search: Jean le Cam, Boris Herrmann, Yannick Bestaven and Sebastien Simon. They were given a grid search area using drift positions calculated by Météo France, and began sailing the area. It’s pretty difficult to short-tack an IMOCA in heavy seas whilst keeping a search look out.
Jean le Cam in Yes We Cam! located him but couldn’t manoeuvre the boat to pick him up. A few minutes later he lost sight of the life raft in the big seas and darkness. Directed closer to a locator beacon position which coordinated with the predicted drift pattern, he spotted Escoffier again and managed to pick him off the life raft.
Kevin Escoffier has now been successfully transferred to a French naval frigate. And Jean le Cam battles on!
The four competitors involved in the recovery have returned to the race, with the hours taken during the rescue deducted from their overall time to keep them in the competition.
Vendée Globe Update: Tuesday December 1st, 2020
The latest Vendée Globe update is dramatic. It’s been a dangerous couple of days. Yesterday, Monday Nov 30th, Kevin Escoffier in PRB triggered his emergency on board BEPIRB distress beacon which recorded his position at the time.
The nearest skipper, Jean Le Cam in Yes We Cam! altered course to try to find the boat. He found no boat at the given location so continued southeast for around an hour, sailing at 1.5 knots in a 20-25 knot wind under very reduced sail of 3 reefs in the mainsail and no engine. A few tense hours followed, then Le Cam found Escoffier who had abandoned his boat and was in a life raft in his survival gear at 01.18 this morning.
He wasn’t the only skipper who had temporarily abandoned the race to search for the missing boat; Boris Hermann, Yannick Bestaven and Sébastien Simon all searched as well.
It means that Jean Le Cam has lost his third place for the moment and is currently 7th. Leading the race is Charlie Dalin in Apivia; Thomas Ruyant in LinkedOut is second; Louis Burton in Bureau Vallée 2 is third, followed by Damien Seguin in Groupe Apicil is fourth; Sébastien Simon in Arkean Paprec fifth and Boris Herrmann in Seaexplorer – Yacht Club de Monaco is sixth.
Vendée GlobeUpdate: Sunday November 29th, 2020
The worst Vendée Globe updates. The favorite, Alex Thomson has had to abandon the race. After completing repairs to his boat HUGO BOSS between last Sunday and Thursday, the British sailor managed to pick up speed and was back to 15th place yesterday, around 650 miles behind the leader, Charlie Dalin in Apivia. Then disaster struck with damage to the starboard rudder. He was about to enter the Roaring Forties where his super latest generation IMOCA was specifically designed to be at its best.
He believed that some discarded or lost fishing equipment caused the damage:
“I was averaging 21 knots, flying the small gennaker and one reef in the mainsail. I was down below when there was a huge bang and the boat broached violently. The steering system was jammed and all I could do was roll the sails away. Once on deck I could see the rudder blade was broken and swinging around with a large piece of fishing gear jammed into the cracks. So I think I must have hit something. It certainly looks that way. Now I am having to keep the boat flat while I sail the boat now with just one rudder to Cape Town.”
Even after losing four days and nights slowed to make structural repairs, Thomson was sure he had the capacity to win, “I still felt that we could win it, I really did. I’m obviously devastated.”
It is the great sailor’s fifth attempt to win the Vendée Globe after 20 years and five race of trying. It’s a blow not just to Thomson and his team but to the whole Vendée Globe race and other skippers. There is nothing but sympathy and support for the popular skipper.
Support from his fellow skippers
French rival Jérémie Beyou, who restarted nine days after the original start due to rudder damage on his boat Charal:
“It is so tough for Alex. I know how hard it is to be in his place. I have been there and even this time was just inches from being in the exact same situation. I know how hard it is to prepare a Vendée Globe and to do it, three, four, five times, to always be reaching for that holy grail, that first place.
I know all the things he has had to do to prepare his boat, all he has been through to get here, and then he has nothing, no comeback, no closure. I feel so bad for him as bad as if it were happening to me. He called me when I had to turn back and he had some very nice words to say. I told him yesterday to hold his head high because there will be time to analyse it all, but all that he has done to prepare this race is something to be proud of.”
Beyou added, “Hearing Damien Seguin talk earlier and seeing the conditions they have in the Southern Ocean makes me really want to be with those friends up ahead; it is not so easy to be this far behind. I am trying to make the boat go as fast as possible and have chosen a course that is direct down the Atlantic and cut off the corner.”
It does also bring up the question of the reliability of the new super foiler IMOCA boats (International Monohull Open Class Association), which are designed to ‘fly’ and achieve huge speeds. And the boats have not yet encountered the worst conditions.
Leading the race, Charlie Dalin is 380 miles ahead of Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) who had to cut two metres from the tip of a damaged foil in what was a dangerous repair. The redoubtable Jean le Cam in Yes We Cam! is sticking to the more northerly, direct routing, and also the safer passage.
Charlie Dalin is around 50 nautical miles north of the Antarctic Exclusion Zone. The group behind are taking advantage of good weather, including Louis Burton in Bureau Vallée, and Brit sailor Sam Davies in Initiatives Coeur.
As Sam Davies said: “We’re off now on the conveyor belt. I have been telling myself that this may be the last time we see blue skies for a while, as they are not very common in the Southern Ocean. The solar panels are being fully charged. I’m spending a lot of time outside to stock up with vitamin D before the South.”
A low pressure system is forecast for December 1st. I will bring you the latest Vendée Globe news & updates as they happen.
The Race Leaders
The current leader is Charlie Dalin in APIVIA with Thomas Ruyant in LINKEDOUT is 2nd, and Jean le Cam in Yes We Cam! third.
Alex Thomson has had to retire and is heading for Cape Town. Sam Davies in INITIATIVE – COEURS is 11th; Pip Hare in MEDALLIA is 24th, and Miranda Merron in CAMPAGNE DE FRANCE is now 28th.
Track them all on this official Vendée Globe map.
Vendée Globe Updates: Looking Ahead
The leaders are now facing the southern oceans as they approach the Cape of Good Hope and the Antarctic Exclusion Zone.
Previous Vendée Globe News & Updates
Update from Monday November 23rd.
The race is challenging all the skippers with damage being reported on many boats. The biggest news is that Alex Thomson on HUGO BOSS has had to slow his boat down to a crawl while he carries out repairs to a longitudinal beam near the bow of his IMOCA. He is currently in fifth place having been race leader for so long. The technical team with its ace engineers is advising him and he has all the back-up equipment to make the repairs on the boat.
Expert sailor Yoachim Richomme: “Supposing it takes Alex 24 hours to effect a repair and get going again he would rejoin the chasing group with Arkéa Paprec, Initiatives Coeur and PRB, he would lose quite a bit as that would put him 1000 miles behind at Cape of Good Hope. But I have been looking at the history of the race as well and remember that last time on the last race he rounded Cape Horn 800 miles behind Armel Le Cléac’h and so I would not call this ‘game over’”.
But it’s a tense time. Richomme, who is an expert sailor in the fast foil boats said that these boats are really tough to sail as they slam into the waves with a lot of power. In the last Vendée Globe race, all the boats took it extremely carefully, and with less speed through this part of the world.
“When these boats started taking off, they were slamming the hulls a little bit further back but now these boats are fully foiling, flying a lot of the time, it is now the bows which are hitting the waves in front, from 2-3m high at times and the impact on the bows is huge and we know a lot of the boats in France had reinforcements in the bow.”
Current Vendée Globe race problems
Thomas Ruyant on LinkedOut now second in the race, had to climb the 28 metre mast after his spare halyard broke. He is behind Charlie Dalin in APIVIA with Jean Le Cam in YES I CAM! in third.
The fleet now stretches for more than 3,000 miles with repairs being carried out by many of the skippers. It’s the name of the game as Armel Tripon on L’OCCITANE EN PROVENCE says:
“The boats want to go fast, the chase their predicted speeds and they are built for that and the teams and the architects are pushing all the time to go fast. Now it’s up to each of us to sail with our soul and our own peace of mind.”
Fabrice Amedeo in NEW REST – ART ET FENETRES had to return to Les Sables d’Olonne just after the start of the race as he discovered a hairline crack at the top of his mast. He’s restarted and is now in 30th position.
Kojiro Shiraishi in DMG MORI had to repair his mainsail and is currently 31st.
Jérémie Beyou in CHARAL had to sail 600 miles back to Les Sables d’Olonne because of several problems including rudder damage and a broken backstay after three days of racing. It was a devastating decision to have to make, particularly as he was the favorite to win this year.
He said: “Everyone has their own goal. For four years mine has been fixed on winning the Vendée Globe…So when it suddenly comes to an end it hits you hard. That;s why it took me so long deciding to turn back.”
Beyou was the great rival to Alex Thomson, who said that: “It is terrible news and no one would wish that 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.”
He set off again on Tuesday Nov 17. As he said “Miracles can happen“. We wish him the best of luck but he is 32nd at the moment.
The glorious French Atlantic Coast