Updated Friday March 5th, 2021 – Day 116
It’s finished! The 25th sailor crossed the line this morning. See below for 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; 25 finished (with two extra finishing the race after they had to retire.
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.
Updated Friday March 5th, 2021 – Day 116
He’s done it! Finnish skipper Ari Huusela in STARK crossed the line of the 2020-2021 Vendée Globe this morning at 08.35.46. He comes in 25th, the last of the sailors to complete the race. It’s the final glory of an ocean racing dream Huusela has worked on in his spare time for 22 years.
In true Finnish manner, the aeronautical engineer turned career pilot took no risks. This was his one chance to sail round the world and he did it to become the first skipper from a Nordic nation to complete the race.
“I am not worried at all. I am just super happy to be in the race and to be where I am. When I started the race I would have be happy to do it in 110 days but to me. It doesn’t matter if it is 150 days that’s fine as long as I do finish. I knew I would be far away from the others. The most important thing is to finish with a solid boat in good condition.”
He encountered problems early on in the race when he had to sail through a 40 to 50 kts storm to get to Cape Horn.
“The boat was knocked flat and the mast was in the water, I have never experienced that before, so that night was really, really bad, just a few days into the race“.
But he came through. And everyone’s abiding memory of Ari Huusela is his constant smile and good humour, rare in this race and rare in a Finn. They are a great nation!
Updated Sunday February 28th, 2021 – Day 111
Alexia Barrier in TSE – 4myplanet has had a hard time but finished the Vendée Globe race this morning at 06.23.44. The sailor from Biot in the south of France was racing the oldest boat in the fleet. The Penguin took to the water in 1997, first raced in the Vendée Globe in 2000 and has gone around the world 7 times. “It requires a lot of attention, trimming and adjustments and is very physical but dependable but I love my Penguin!”
Alexia Barrier has had a hard time, injuring her back badly. She’s kept going with pain killers taken with food and a lot of water. Imagine sailing those huge beasts with an injury.
Alexia Barrier’s concern has always been for the environment and promoting better, sustainable practices. She sailed with a thermosalinograph, a mini laboratory that collects water samples taking termperatures, salinity and CO2.
At Christmas her starboard runner block exploded: “The mast went forward and I thought in an instant it was all over. I immediately rolled my J2 and gybed I was terrified!”
Alexia Barrier is an optimist and she had prepared for the long lonely sail. She had put little notes and photos into her food bags.
“I have lots of blue post-it notes and a bit of encouragement. I had prepared 50 photos, I draw one out at random every day, it makes me smile. These are photos of my friends and relatives, photos of boats, of my Mini, more artistic photos, a photo of SOS Mediterranean.”
Now there is just one lone sailor left: the dogged and cheerful (particularly for a Finn) Ari Huusela in Stark who is currently around 850 nautical miles off Les Sables d’Olonne. He’ll get a great welcome when he finishes.
Updated Saturday February 27th, 2021 – Day 110
The two female sailors who retired from the race but who were determined to finish the course have arrived to huge welcomes in Les Sables d’Olonne. Isabelle Joschke, the Franco-German skipper suffered a keel ram failure and battled for 16 days to take her boat, MACSF, to safely into Salvador de Bahia. The boat was repaired enough to allow her to complete the race on February 24th at 10.34am.
Sam Davies in Initiatives Coeur made it into Les Sables d’Olonne on February 26th. Forced to abandon the race on December 2nd when her boat hit an object and she was thrown across the inside of the boat, injuring her ribs. Sha had been up there with the leaders and many race experts agreed that she had the potential to finish on the platform. It was a real blow.
In Cape Town where she sailed the boat to for repairs she said: “In my head the race was dead I had stopping sailing, I had retired, I already could picture myself at home wearing my little dress ready to pick up our 9-year-old son, Ruben, from school and being back to making food at home.”
“And then after 24 hours had passed in aboard my decompression chamber where I should have been saying to myself ‘I’m quitting, I’m retiring’…..well instead of that I changed my mind. I came to my senses.”
It was a great decision to go on, particularly as she had been supporting a charity. Her race project has raised enough money – €800k to help over 102 children with heart surgery. She sailed into harbour with a big red heart sign attached to the front of the boat.
Updated Saturday February 20th, 2021 – Day 104
Manuel Cousin in Groupe Sétin was overjoyed to cross the finish line in the Vendée Globe at 07.35.40. At the press conference the former Toyota executive described the journey at his press conference. On the Southern Ocean:
“There are big swells, the sky hangs low above you and there are successive depressions, full of birds, especially albatrosses. On the way down, I couldn’t wait to see them and when one morning one appeared behind the boat, it was just magical. It’s so majestic.”
On the night before he finished:
“Last night about 0200hrs was really the first time I released the pressure. Until last night it was complicated with the injured boat and I knew I had to avoid getting into too big lows. It was downwind then so I figured even if the keel fell, I could still make the line.
For three hours I was playing loud music in the cockpit. My eyes were tearful as I thought I had already done it. Once I was past the Rochebonne plateau where there are a lot of fishermen where you have to be really careful, after that point I relaxed and had fun in my head.”
Now there are just two skippers to arrive: Alexia Barrier in TSE – 4MPlanet and Ari Huusela in Stark.
Updated Thursday February 18, 2021 – Day 102
Miranda Merron in Campagne de France finished the Vendée Globe on Wednesday evening at 22:16:51hrs after 101 days 8hrs 56mins 51secs. Like fellow Brit, Pip Hare, she operated with a modest budget. Her boat was not insured so getting back to Les Sables d’Olonne safely was a real challenge. She described the race as “Extraordinary and incredible.”
Was she lonely, she was asked at her press conference? “Even if you are alone on board, you are not lonely at sea. And then it also allowed me to keep connected with my friends. Every Friday night I had a 6pm date with Sam Davies for beer o’clock. I didn’t have any beer on board so it was tea for me. Tomorrow, in solidarity with Sam who is still at sea, I will be connecting as usual.”
Sam Davies and Isabelle Joschke had to retire and are making their way back together.
Next arrival? It should be Manuel Cousin in Groupe Sétin but he has been suffering since he had a broken keel ram 12 days ago in the North easterly trade winds. But if on course, he will arrive on Saturday.
Updated Tuesday February 16th, 2021 – Day 100
Clément Giraud in Compagnie du Lit/Jiliti is the 21st sailor to finish the Vendée Globe. He crossed the line at 09.28.31 today, February 16th. He beat his own record and was lucky to be in the race at all. In 2019 his boat caught fire and he lost his sponsors. Then fellow sailor Erik Nigon lent him his 2006 boat and in September 2020 he secured sponsorships. Such is the precarious world of ocean racing.
Expected next is Miranda Merron on Campagne de France who is on her way and just 354 nautical miles from Les Sables d’Olonne.
“Welcome sunshine after a rather busy, wet and very dark night with two consecutive cold fronts. I chose to go outside the verboten Traffic Separation Scheme as the sea state inshore must be truly impressive. Also, the wind accelerates significantly around Cape Finistere and there is enough here as it is, and the second front has stalled over the land 50 miles away – the sun has just risen above it. There are quite a few ships on this side of the TSS too. Short naps only to weave amongst the traffic.
Now to work out the quickest, but not necessarily the windiest route to Les Sables d’Olonne…”
Updated Monday February 15th, 2021 – Day 99
Catalan sailor Didac Costa in One Planet Once Ocean crossed the line on Saturday evening.
He received a huge welcome. His regular job is as a firefighter in Barcelona, unlike so many of the Vendée Globe race skippers who are professional sailors or involved in ocean racing. Flares, smoke bombs and waterjets were there as fellow firefighters celebrated. And apparently he has to take the boat back to Barcelona in stages as he has no holiday left.
“I have had the best holiday, now I have to return to work!”
His boat is the same Kingfisher that Ellen MacArthur sailed in 2000-2001.
“With each turn I was measuring myself against Ellen MacArthur’s times, and for the most part I managed to do the same times as her. It was really my reference. I had to take a big detour in the North Atlantic which slowed me down a lot compared to the time it had been in, but otherwise I managed to keep up the pace the entire course.
The other reference was Pip Hare she has got a boat from the same generation, I was trying to stay as fast as her.”
Four skippers are still in the face and two, Isabelle Joschke and Sam Davies had to retire but are hopefully completing the circumnavigation.
But there are big depressions in the Bay of Biscay and getting to Les Sables d’Olonne will be a struggle.
Updated Thursday February 11th, 2021 – Day 95
More arrivals today at Les Sables d’Olonne: Arnaud Boissières in La Mie Câline Artipôle finished 15th; the 53-year old Japanese sailor Kojiro Shiraishi in DMG MORI Global One In 16th is the first Asian skipper to complete the race. Now we expect the next group: Alan Roura in La Fabrique, Stéphane Le Diraison in time for Oceans, Pip Hare in Medallia, and Didac Costa in One Planet One Ocean.
Pip Hare has had another setback: “Things that go bang in the night are never a good thing for a Vendee skipper and tonight on Medallia we had a big bang. This, big bang, was not the start of anything but instead the end of my fractional gennaker halyard lock, which let go while I was charging along at 18knots.
The result was carnage. Medallia was still charging forwards, but with the code zero over the side, billowing out and filling with water. This was acting like a brake pulling Medallia downwind, but was also pulling hard down on the bowsprit. I tried to pull the sail back onboard but could not get it to even budge one tiny bit, it was like trying to uproot an old oak tree. Standing on the deck in the pitch dark and freezing cold I knew I had to come up with a plan quickly. There was no way of hoisting the sail up and as it filled with water it was pulling down so hard on the bowsprit I was pretty sure the sprit would rip off in a matter of minutes. I needed to do something quickly.”
It’s a blow as she was battling well with the much faster foilers.
“Now I will finish alone and probably around 12 hours later. It depends how long I get stuck in this wind hole and whether I can rig up a sail that will get me out of it a bit quicker. One thing is for sure, this is not over and I still have the clock to race against.”
Updated Monday February 8th, 2021 – Day 92
Five skippers are within 800 miles of the finish of the race at Les Sables d’Olonne: Arnaud Boissières in La Mie Câline Artipôle, Kojiro Shiraishi in DMG MORI Global One, Alan Roura in La Fabrique, Stéphane Le Diraison in time for Oceans, Pip Hare in Medallia, and Didac Costa in One Planet One Ocean.
Two of the four female sailors in the race were forced to retire. But Sam Davies in Initiatives Coeur and Isabelle Joschke in MACSF are good friends and have met up in the South Atlantic. Now they’ll sail together to Les Sables d’Olonne. They’re expected around 20th to 22nd of February.
Updated Sunday February 7th, 2021 – Day 91
Jérémie Beyou in Charal and Romain Attanasio in Pure – Best Western Hotels and Resorts have arrived safely in Les Sables d’Olonne in 13th and 14th position. For Bayou it was a mixed moment. One of the favorites to win the race, he had to return to Les Sables d’Olonne after three days for repairs. As he said at the time: “What is hard is the decision to turn back. You know that you are immediately being forced to give up all that you have concentrated on during four years of preparation.”
His team worked around the clock and he re-started the race on November 17th at 5.10pm.
For four years Beyou had been training for the race, his focus on winning. Then he was sailing alone, out of sight of other boats for a month, relying on his own character and self esteem. And not feeling safe, particularly after Kevin Escoffier’s boat broke in two. Escoffier was rescued because there were enough sailors around to find him. Sailing alone in such a vast sea is dangerous and frightening. Consummate skill, experience and sheer guts saw Beyou catch up with the other yachts but not until just before the Cape of Good Hope. Then he began racing in earnest again.
Romain Attanasio crossed the finish line in the Sables d’Olonne at 17:06:02 local time after 90 days, 2 hours, 46 minutes and 2 seconds.
The group behind are facing difficult weather as a series of depressions move in from the west: Arnaud Boissières in La Mie Câline Artipôle , Kojiro Shiraishi in DMG MORI Global One, Alan Roura in La Fabrique, Stéphane Le Diraison in time for Oceans, Pip Hare in Medallia, and Didac Costa in One Planet One Ocean.
On Monday another depression will catch up with Didac Costa and the other five competitors just behind him. A 35 knot wind gusting up to 45 knots brings rough seas with waves up to eight or nine waves.
Updated Friday February 5th, 2021 – Day 89
Clarisse Cremer in Banque Populaire X is the first woman to finish the race. She arrived at 15.44 on Wednesday to finish her remarkable sail in 12th place. And she’s created a new record. She took 87 days, 2 hours, 24 minutes and 25 seconds and it was her first Vendée Globe race. She beat Ellen MacArthur’s record of 94 days and 4 hours in 2000-2001 and Sam Davies’ 95 days and 4 hours in 2012-2013.
Due to arrive this weekend are Jérémie Bayou in Charal and Romain Attanasio in Pure – Best Western Hotels and Resorts.
Updated Wednesday February 3rd, 2021 – Day 87
Forget the race; Happy Birthday Pip Hare! And here’s a greeting from someone you much admire, Russell Crowe. It brought tears to my eyes, so God knows what it will do to you!
To update: Clarisse Cremer in Banque Populaire X is the first woman to finish the race. She arrived at 15.44 to finish her remarkable sail.
Next in should be Jérémie Bayou in Charal
Pip Hare in Medallia is 20th and sailing into some pretty stormy weather.
Updated Monday February 1st, 2021 – Day 85
Armel Tripon in L’Occitane en Provence is the latest sailor to complete the Vendée Globe race. He crossed the line at 07.27 (French time), and is placed 11th.
Like the other sailors he had to battle with a big weather problem: a depression in the Bay of Biscay. He’s one of the top sailors, overcoming initial major problems. He was one of the first skippers to suffer from damage to his boat and at the beginning of the race was placed 32nd.
Now we wait for more sailors. Next in will probably be Clarisse Cremer in Banque Populaire X; Romain Attanasio in Pure Best Western Hotels and Resorts and Jérémie Bayou in Charal. Bayou also suffered at the beginning. He had to sail 600 miles back to Les Sables d’Olonne after three days of racing because of problems. He got them fixed then set off again. He was one of the favorites to win this year.
The rest of the pack are still heading north west before turning east towards the French Atlantic coast. But they face the same difficult conditions of bad weather. So there are still days of dangerous racing to do.
Updated Saturday January 30th, 2021 – Day 83
We’ve had some upsets as the skippers bring their boats back to Les Sables d’Olonne. Charlie Dalin in Apivia crossed first, only to be awarded second as Yannick Bestaven in Maître Coq IV arrived and was declared the winner. He had a time compensation due to time lost while searching for Kevin Escoffier.
Then Jean le Cam in Yes We Cam! arrived on Wednesday at 7.15pm, the eighth to arrive, but due to his time compensation (he was the sailor who rescued Escoffier) he came fourth, pushing Boris Herrmann who had collided with a fishing boat, into fifth.
Thomas Ruyant in LinkedOut is 6th; Damien Seguin in Groupe Apicil seventh, Giancarlo Pedote in Prysmian Group eighth, Benjamin Dutreux in OMIA – Water Family is ninth. Maxime Sorel in V And B Mayenne is tenth.
More to come!
Vendée Globe Update: Thursday January 28th – Day 81
Well it’s now official, but what a finish!
Charlie Dalin in Apivia crossed the finishing line first, on Wednesday 27th at 19.45. He was followed by Louis Burton in Bureau Vallée 2. Yannick Bestaven in Maître Coq IV arrived third, on Thursday morning at 03.19. But Bestaven had a time compensation as he had helped rescue Kevin Escoffier, so he is officially the winner.
It must have been very hard indeed for Charlie Dalin even though he knew what the possible outcome would be.
However difficult such an outcome is, these sailors know that their fellows come first. On the way to the ponton d’honneur Escoffier greeted and thanked Bestaven and the two sailors hugged each other for 30 seconds.
The finish after 80 days along at sea is rather surreal. As Bestaven said at the press conference: “I feel like I’m living a dream, hallucinating. You go from total solitude to this, to this party, to these lights, these people who are there.”
It was the closest finish of any Vendée Globe race and it’s heart breaking to watch the video of the finish and the press conference afterwards.
A further twist in the story happened when Boris Herrmann, racing third at the time, collided with a fishing boat and damaged his yacht on Wednesday at 19.50. He was 90 nautical miles off the finish line. He’s provisionally fourth but has to wait the arrival of Jean le Cam who rescued Kevin Escoffier and who was given a 16 hour, 15 min time compensation.
Vendée Globe Update: Tuesday January 26th, 2021 – Day 79
The leaders of the Vendée Globe race are expected at Les Sables d’Olonne tomorrow, Wednesday 27th. Three boats will probably finish in four hours. But who will be the winner?
Still leading is Charlie Dalin in Apivia, sailing at 17 knots. He’s followed by Boris Herrmann in Seaexplorer – Yacht Club de Monaco at 18 knots, Louis Burton in Bureau Vallée 2 at 16.6 knots and Thomas Ruyant in LinkedOut at 18.91 knots. But Yannick Bestaven in Maître Coq IV might win due to his time compensation of 10 hours 15 minutes earned when he stopped racing to help rescue Kevin Escoffier (who was finally found and taken on board by Jean le Cam.
It might all depend now on the course each one takes. North or East?
As Boris Herrmann says:
“I think the last 18 to 20 hours will be really important in terms of the actual wind direction. If you come from the NE and you end up being too lifted and you can’t lay the finish and you end up having to gybe downwind, someone from Cap Finisterre is beating you big time. But then if the person coming from Cape Finisterre has to gybe downwind then the guys from the north west beat you.”
Vendée Globe Update: Sunday January 25th, 2021 – Day 77
Just days to go – it’s nail biting in the Vendée Globe race.
Louis Burton in Bureau Vallée 2 is leading, heading north east towards Les Sables d’Olonne at 18.3 knots and just 1,031.7 nautical miles from the finish. Charlie Dalin in Apivia, sailing at 17.2 knots almost directly east is 1,039.0 nms from the finish, just 7.3 nms between them. He will have to turn north soon.
But Boris Herrmann in Seaexplorer – Yacht Club de Monaco is chasing Louis Burton hard on the same course, just 46.7 nms behind the leader and 1,078.4 nms. Thomas Ruyant in LinkedOut is 4th turning slightly more north easterly, 1146.1 nms. Way out east Yannick Bestaven in Maître Coq IV is 5th, now heading north and slightly west, 1,292.4 nms.
Close behind the leaders comes Giancarlo Pedote in Prysmian Group (1,329.9 nms) and Dominique Seguin in Groupe APICIL (1,346.0 nms). Jean Le Cam in Yes we Cam! is heading north east and is 1,620.8 nms.
But remember that he is among the skippers who rescued Kevin Escoffier after his yacht broke in half (see Update of Saturday December 5th below). And those skippers who include Boris Herrmann and Yannick Bestaven have the hours taken during the rescue deducted from their overall time at the end.
Vendée Globe Update: Thursday January 19th, 2021 – Day 72
Less than a week to go – it’s going to be a sprint to the finish.
It all depends on where you are. Charlie Dalin in Apivia is still leading and is closer to the finish at Les Sables d’Olonne. He’s still ahead of Boris Herrmann in Seaexplorer – Yacht Club de Monaco, Thomas Ruyant in LinkedOut, Louis Burton in Bureau Vallée 2, Dominique Seguin in Groupe APICIL, and Yannick Bestaven in Maître Coq IV in 6th place.
BUT and this is a big but…Louis Burton in Vallée 2 is slightly further north of the others (though further west) and is faster. He may be the first to round the Azores high pressure zone and connect with the low pressure which will propel him fast to the finish.
It’s possible that the other sailors will be more downwind and have to manoeuvre so lose speed as Burton powers to the French coast.
They are all under huge pressure and exhausted after so long solo at sea, battling the elements and in many cases, their yachts as well. Thomas Ruyant is barrelling along but has no port foil and is worried that he may lose out. Boris Herrmann is finding the trade winds bouncing him about.
The leading sailors have stopped taking and publishing photos as they concentrate on the last push. But it’s good to see that some are not phased. Didac Costa who is currently 20th in One Planet One Ocean is obviously getting ready for the cameras and will arrive clean-shaven!
It’s all up for grabs.
Vendée Globe Update: Tuesday January 19th, 2021 – Day 72
The race is on for the prize of winning the Vendée Globe. The winner is expected to finish in around 10 days time.
The leaders are heading northwest out into the Atlantic to prepare for that final swing north east to the end of the race at Les Sables d’Olonne. They’ll turn where it’s fastest and easiest to cross a high pressure ridge of light winds that will connect with a North Atlantic winter low pressure coming in from Newfoundland. Then it’s all speed ahead.
The race is still very much up in the air with Charlie Dalin in Apivia still leading, ahead of Dominique Seguin in Groupe APICIL, Thomas Ruyant in LinkedOut, Louis Burton in Vallée 2, Yannick Bestaven in Maître Coq IV and 6th placed Boris Herrmann in Seaexplorer – Yacht Club de Monaco.
The leaders are just heading out of the Doldrums (the area where the prevailing trade winds of the northern hemisphere blow to the southwest and collide with the southern hemisphere’s driving northeast trade winds, producing a calm that can last for weeks.
There are still four women left in the race (apologies for my mistake in the last Update). Clarisse Kremer in Banque Populaire X is 12th; Pip Hare is 17th, Miranda Merron in Campagne de France is 22nd, and Alexia Barrier in TSE – 4myplanet is 24th just ahead of the Finnish sailor Ari Huusela in Stark.
For a little biographic history: Charlie Dalin became a young naval architecture student in England and raced in the IRC fleet with the Bear of Britain training group. He became close friends with English ex Mini Class Racer and adventurer Nick Bubb who he sailed extensively with. Dalin has sailed in all the big rank races and is highly regarded.
Those who know say that the first indication of who might win will only appear when they reach La Caruña, in the north west of Spain in the Bay of Biscay. Even then, as my favouriteskipper the wily and experienced Jean le Cam (Yes We Cam!) says: “I don’t make forecasts. We are always being asked to predict what we can’t predict. This story does not end until the finish line.”
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