sail-world.com -- Vendee Globe - Some kind of deliverance for the skippers + Video
Vendee Globe - Some kind of deliverance for the skippers + Video
Tue, 1 Jan 2013
In the Vendee Globe, Cape Horn, and the left turn up the Atlantic has always represented some kind of deliverance for the skippers. Thus far, the Pacific winds and seas may have been relatively gentle on the majority of the fleet, but it also is the relief from the mind and body numbing chill that the Atlantic finally brings which is universally welcomed.
Of the skippers who today were reflecting on the misery of the relentless, all- pervading greyness, cold and damp, it will be Jean-Pierre Dick - in third - who will actually escape to rising temperatures first. But when the soloist who has been most vociferous in conveying his passion for the south is no longer at one with the weather, then it is a fair bet that there others sharing the misery.
For sure one is Javier Sanso. Home for‘Bubi’ may be the sunny Balearic island of Majorca, but the career professional mariner is no stranger to the hardship of the deep south. As well as a successful racing circumnavigation on the first Barcelona World Race, Sanso skippered an Antarctic sailing odyssey.
But he has now taken to a radical solution to warm his permafrosted feet:
'I can complain about one thing and that is the cold,' reported Sanso today. 'Worse than the cold is damp, chill humidity. It isn’t that cold – just ten degrees, but it is the humidity that gives such a strong sensation of cold and on a day like today where the sun doesn’t come out it is even worse.'
' I have had freezing feet for the last four days because of the humidity but I have given myself shock treatment. I took out my new boots and put on brand new dry and clean socks and my toes were still frozen. I then took two bags which are used to heat my food – the hot packs – and I strapped them around the boot with tape for ten minutes – and finally my feet dried.'
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And the damp is also getting to Mike Golding who is on his sixth circumnavigation: 'It is foggy, drizzly, rainy and unpleasant. And it is cold. Inside the boat everything is damp and that makes the cold feel worse.'
Tanguy De Lamotte too has been finding it cold: 'I have a very small radiator but it’s not enough for the cabin. The best way to stay warm is to stay inside the sleeping bag. The temperatures are so low it just takes longer to get warm. I’ve used the engine a couple of times just to stay warm.'
De Lamotte may be 12th, 4080 miles behind the leader but he was the first of the Vendée Globe fleet to celebrate sailing into 2013. At his position, just passing close to Campbell Island, 380 miles south of Dunedin NZ, De Lamotte was not only in to the New Year at around 1200hrs CET today, but as he is due to sail across the international date line tomorrow, so he will effectively be able to celebrate all over again. Add the option tonight to mark the start of the 2013 with his friends and family at home in France, and the popular skipper laughed that he had under- estimated his champagne supplies: 'I’ll get to celebrate at least twice because I’ll cross the antimeridian tomorrow, it’s quite a privilege. I didn’t do it on purpose, though, but it’s great! So champagne today and red wine tomorrow!'
In fact De Lamotte (Initatives Coeur) and Bertrand De Broc (Votre Nom Autor Du Monde avec EDM Projets) some 230 miles ahead will likely limit their celebrations as they expect stormy wind conditions (gusts to 50kts) and big seas.
After 13th placed Alessandro Di Benedetto at 1600hrs this Monday afternoon, the leading duo, François Gabart (Macif) and Armel Le Cléach (Banque Populaire) – at 450 miles to Cape Horn – will pass into 2013 around 0500hrs UTC Tuesday first and the group comprising fifth placed Jean Le Cam to seventh placed Dominique Wavre around 1000hrs.
Ironically of the top ten skippers it is only today’s leader François Gabart who has yet to sail past Cape Horn. Gabart has built a lead now of 20 miles on Armel Le Cléac’h. To lead past the third great cape of this race would in itself be a fantastic moment for a skipper who only rose to real prominence three years ago when he won the Macif skipper selection trials in 2009. Remarkably when the last Vendée Globe started in November 2008 Gabart had yet to race an IMOCA Open 60 at all, and indeed it was only the following autumn when he raced his first major Transatlantic on an IMOCA, taking fourth in the Transat Jacques Vabre on Groupe Bel with Kito de Pavant. The leaders are still expected at Cape Horn on the evening of Tuesday 1st January.
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Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA,Virbac paprec 3): Everything’s fine on board, the conditions aren’t that great, though, the sky is gray and the weather is basically terrible. It’s raining, the clouds are really dark but I have two nicer things coming soon: Cape Horn and New Year. But given the circumstances, I don’t really feel like celebrating like crazy, though. I’m getting a little tired of not getting enough sunlight and always having gray clouds.
I haven’t thought about good resolutions for 2013 yet, because it’s too early in the morning for me to think about that. And even if I come up with something, I usually don’t stick to them eventually. If I really had to pick one, I’d say: To be a good father.
When things get tough, when you have to get up in the middle of the night and you have problems to deal with, you still need to stay positive, even if things are not going the way you want them to. You need to tell yourself things are probably even worse for the other guys. Everything is relative, really.
Things that make me feel better include eating (especially chocolate), sleeping (it helps you move on to something else) and anything that makes you think about something else.
I’m looking forward to rounding Cape Horn because the Southern Ocean has been very frustrating for me, I haven’t been able to do what I wanted to do and use my boat at 100% of her potential. I hope I can enjoy myself more now. Eventually we’ll tell you about the problems we’ve all faced at one point or another. As you know, I’ve had a problem with my hounds halyard, but still, my boat is in good shape. There are always things you don’t want to talk about because you don’t want the other skippers to find out and get all excited, thinking they can catch up on you. It’s professional sport, you know, every detail counts.
Obviously, it’s not over yet, anything can happen in the Atlantic. I’m shocked when journalists ask me if I still think I can win. Of course I do, why do they even ask? It’s great to see that people are interested in the Vendée Globe, though, and they talk about it. We can’t complain, we get to share our passion. Communication around the race is very important, even though obviously there are things you can’t really talk about. Our role is to be part of that media and communication effort, it’s not a problem at all, quite the opposite.
I’ll try to call people I love, my friends and family, but I know I won’t be able to talk to everybody. It will be a busy day, but I’ll try to find enough time for that. Sorry, I’ve got to go, I need to gybe now!
Tanguy de Lamotte (FRA, Initiatives-coeur): It’s been a very cold day, I’ve already opened a bottle of Champagne, I think I’m the first to celebrate the New Year! It’s a perfect timing, I’ll get to celebrate twice because I’ll cross the antimeridian tomorrow, it’s quite a privilege. I didn’t do it on purpose, though, but it’s great! So champagne today and red wine tomorrow! My new year resolutions are to keep sailing well without pushing too hard and without being pretentious so I can finish the race. And I also want to make sure I enjoy the time spent with my friends and family before I go sailing again or I move on to something else.
I have a very small radiator but it’s not enough for the cabin. The best way to stay warm is to stay under the comforter! The temperatures are so low it takes longer to get warm. I’ve used the engine a couple of time to stay warm, but champagne is helping too!
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I’m super happy to still be in the race after 50 days, it’s a privilege, I’m enjoying it as much as I can, it may be the only time in my life I get to experience something like this. I’m enjoying every minute of it.
Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA, Banque Populaire): The sun is up, it’s very damp. Routing shows I should round Cape Horn the night between the first and second of January. I have a bottle of champagne for both Cape Horn and New Year, I get to kill two birds with one stone, that’s perfect! But we’ll wait until we’re safe to truly celebrate. It’s usually clear and safe, but this year will be different. Icebergs and growlers are making the situation very unusual, we’ll sail into the unknown, especially with growlers that can be very unpredictable. We’ll have to be very careful, there’s nothing else we can do. It’s not like we can sail to the north or anything, we have no choice.
Last time, four years ago, we hadn’t had to deal with all that, it was a very different race, a very different state of mind. Four years ago, at that stage, we were rescuing Jean le Cam! This time ice has been detected very close to Cape Horn, making for a very tricky 200-mile zone. I hope there won’t be fog because right now, the visibility is pretty bad, I hope it will be different.
Cape Horn is a mythical cape, I’ll round it for the second time in my life. I hope I get to see it again this time. Last time was very emotional, because it marks the end of the Southern ocean, and the end of the second third of the route. It’s a very special moment in the race and a very special moment period for every sailor.
Alessandro Di Benedetto (FRA-ITA, Team Plastique): The night has fallen, I’m south of Australia and currently sailing very slow because I’m in the process of fixing my autopilot, which has been acting weird lately so I don’t want to risk an automatic gybe. My wish for the New Year is to be able to be in control of my boat again and, most of all, to come back to Les Sables d’Olonne safe. I should be entering the Pacific Ocean soon, in about three days.
I just saw my last daylight for 2012, I even shot a video. It was beautiful, with cross waves and all. It’s quite chilly, tough, and cloudy. I’m sailing at 17-18 knots, which is a little risky with the current state of my autopilot, so I need to be very careful and listen to any noise the boat could make.
I’m following what and how everybody’s doing, everyone is doing great in terms of sailing, we each have our own adventure. I’m in touch with Arnaud Boissières, we send each other messages.
I had a little scare earlier today, I was out there on the deck and I saw a big white thing ahead, I thought it was an iceberg so I kind of panicked. I checked the radar and realized it was actually a Japanese scientific boat heading to Hobart. I talked to them over the VHF, I spoke a little Japanese to them, it was fun. Happy new year to you all!