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sail-world.com -- Vendee Globe - Close together and exhausted in Les Sables d'Olonne

Vendee Globe - Close together and exhausted in Les Sables d'Olonne    
Tue, 29 Jan 2013

In the Vendee Globe, the record breaking duo’s feet have barely touched the ground since they made their unprecedented arrival into Les Sables d’Olonne yesterday. Never in the race’s history have two boats been so close together. With an exhausted François Gabart (Macif) rationalising his victory and an energetic Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) gallantly coming to terms with his second place.

After the press conferences the two skippers enjoyed their first showers, with towels, got dressed into clean clothes and partied with their teams, friends, guests and sponsors. It was an early night for François Gabart (Macif) and an early morning for Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) as he dominated the dance floor at their joint welcome home party. Up with the lark the two skippers are enduring a marathon of media interviews as the world’s media clamours for their attention in the face of the remarkable victory. Undoubtedly, a historic battle, which will be discussed around the globe’s pontoons for decades to come as one of the greatest yacht racing moments in history.


Meanwhile back on the track, last night, Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) was in conditions ranging from 35 knots of wind gusting up to 45 knots and now in 35 knots of wind. 'I just want to finish the race as safely as possible. My foot is off the pedal. I am taking it easy. I don’t really care when I finish as long as I finish. 45 knots of wind in a IMOCA Open 60 is not enjoyable at all.' He said today, on the English version of Vendée Globe LIVE.

'At the beginning the Organisation were talking about 77 days and I thought that was ridiculous. How wrong I was. To finish in third place would be absolutely awesome, especially in the boat that I have got and that is what I aiming for. It’s highly unlikely that I’ll finish after 83 days but if I do it means I have a serious problem. I just want to get the boat to the finish. I am going to nurse her to the finish and look forward to my cheeseburger at the end.'

The last days of Thomson’s race don’t look like they are going to be easy. He will face heavy weather in the busy shipping lanes of the Bay of Biscay. It’s the equivalent of leaving the open road and sailing blind and fast into a three-dimensional congested super highway. There is no rest for the British skipper, as he will have to keep his wits about him as he negotiates the extreme weather conditions, manages the galloping steed and avoids collision. He’ll be nursing the boat indeed as the pressure mounts to an exciting conclusion and the potential British podium place in this seventh edition of the Vendée Globe.


Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) sails at the latitude of Lisbon continuing his journey without a keel to the Portuguese coast. He will make a decision within about two days, whether it is safe for him to continue to Les Sables d’Olonne. Today, on the Vendée Globe LIVE he admitted that 40 knots of wind in the Bay of Biscay would not be safe for him. Pragmatically, he surmised that although completing the course was important for both him and the team it was not worth risking his life.

Further south, around the coast of Cape Verde and at the edge of the Doldrums are the trade winds, winds of around 20 knots, with big waves to overcome. Apart from the warmer temperatures, the welcome progress is uncomfortable. It will soon become slow and tortuous, from the Azores to almost the entire width of the Atlantic and into the Bay of Biscay. For now, it seems that the sailors have no other choice but to cross a large area of light wind. 'We have to find a mouse hole to sneak through' said Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud) this morning on the French Vendée Globe LIVE. 'We need there to be one!'

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In this 79th day of racing, there are still three competitors in the South Atlantic, Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives Cœur), Alessandro Di Benedetto (Team Plastique) and Bertrand De Broc (Votre Nom Autour du Monde avec EDM). However, Bertrand De Broc (Votre Nom Autour du Monde avec EDM) is not very far from the equator it should cross it tonight.

François Gabart (FRA, MACIF, winner): The day after the finish is great, but I liked the one before, too. We had a great time on our boats but enjoying a good meal, a bed, and the company of our friends and family is just amazing.

You try to prepare yourself to the excitement around the finish in Les Sables, but you can’t prepare to that, really, it’s so special. Even though I had already experienced that as a spectator four years ago.

The 40 days we spent in the Southern Ocean were a non-stop effort, the quietest moments still had 20-knot winds.


Jean-Pierre, we’ve thought about you a lot, I know you’ll take the right decision and you’ll bring the boat back to a European port, either Les Sables or another.

I followed the 2004 Vendée Globe very closely, and the fight between Jean le Cam and Vincent, and I remember how funny Jean was during the interviews.

Cali, thanks for your email, you said you were sorry not to be here to welcome me, it’s ok, you’re excused!

During the race, I would check the news on Twitter, because it is not heavy to download, compared to a webpage. And you still have a lot of info. You just have to be careful because it’s not always very reliable.

The boats are tired, their keels and masts are still there, the rest is just details, really. It’s the result of hard work by CDK and Mer Agitée.

Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA, Virbac Paprec 3): The wind is slowly getting stronger, the boat is surfing nicely.

I want to congratulate François and Armel, their average speed is just amazing. I wish I had been able to fight with them longer, but I had technical problems. That and the weather conditions slowed me down.

It’s been a frustrating race for me as I haven’t been able to use 100% of the boat’s potential. Now my priority is to decide whether or not I’ll try to cross the finish line in Les Sables. It will be a tough decision that I need to take in the next couple of days. We need to keep safety in mind, above anything else. It’s important to finish the project, for myself and for the people who got involved in it, but life is important, too.

I’ll sail to Cape Finisterre and see what the conditions are once I’m there. I just can’t have wind over 40 knots, that just wouldn’t be safe. By Janaury 30th, I’ll have a better vision of what to expect.

Dominique Wavre (SUI, Mirabaud):To people, the race is over, but we’re still at sea, so it’s a bit strange to us to see people talk about the race as if it were over, it’s the perception they have, but we’re still in the middle of it, with a lot of things left ahead, things to experience and things to do. In a way, it gives us extra motivation.

I want to congratulate François and Armel, they’ve had a fantastic race, I hope I can have a beer with them when I’m back.

Armel Le Cléac’h (FRA, Banque Populaire, second place): My channel experience was unique. Since I arrived, I’ve been caught up in a series of interviews, requests, and all.

I had time to look back at my race before crossing the finish line. And I was disappointed because, let’s face it, I wanted to win. And then I saw the boats come to me, all the people who wanted to be close to me, it made me feel great. I heard the light was beautiful. I know I loved that moment.

78 days, it’s incredible! I remember Denis Horeau talking about 76 days at the pre-race press conference. We thought he was crazy, but he was actually quite close. It’s going to take us time to analyse the statistics and the figures but we’ve already realised how great it is.


I think we’ve been spared by the weather. When we were checking the weather files, we kept seeing it was really bad in the south, but we were never really in those conditions. We didn’t have to face major storms in the Southern Ocean.

Jean-Pierre, I’m very sorry you lost your keel because you deserved that third place. It was great to fight against you. I could tell you had problems in the Southern Ocean because knowing, you, I knew you should have sailed faster.

Jean le Cam is unique, he can teach us a lot about how to feel comfortable in front of the camera. I’m glad he can sail all the way to the finish this time, I remember rescuing him four years ago, it was much less funny. He had less time than us to prepare for the race.

Cali, I’m sure you can catch up on the boats ahead of you, the guys are tired, the veranda can do great.

I’m crazy about sports so I followed the sports news during the race. I received emails about that, and general news too, on a regular basis, like when Florence Cassez was freed. It’s a strange thing to find out about that kind of thing on board.

People on the pontoons tell me they’re surprised to see the boat looks great. We were lucky enough not to hit anything too big. There’s a always a little bit of luck involved. The rest is all thanks to our team’s hard work, they prepared the boat for two years before the race.

Arnaud Boissières (FRA, AKENA Vérandas): Hi all, I’m doing great, the sun is up and I’m sailing north. The temperature is still warm, I’m sure you are jealous in Les Sables. There are 25 knots of wind, with 2-metre swell. All good!

I wrote François and Armel an email but I want to congratulate them again, they’ve had an amazing race, it was a beautiful fight. I really like their fighting spirit.

I’m trying to do my best to keep Acciona behind and to possibly get closer to the senior sailors in front of me.

Vendee Globe website

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by Vendee Globe



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