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Vendee Globe - Jean-Pierre Dick takes fourth with no keel

by Vendee Globe on 5 Feb 2013
Jean-Pierre Dick , Virbac Paprec 3 - 2012 Vendee Globe Jean-Pierre Dick/Virbac-Paprec 3
In the Vendee Globe, French skipper Jean-Pierre Dick crossed the finish line off Les Sables d’Olonne this afternoon at 15hrs 5mins and 40 seconds UTC/GMT to finish fourth in this famous solo nonstop around the world race. His third participation has yielded his best ever result, despite having to race the final 2 650 miles without a keel on his IMOCA Open 60 Virbac-Paprec 3. Dick’s elapsed time for course is 86 days, 3 hours, 3 minutes and 40 seconds. He finishes 8d and 47m behind race winner François Gabart (Macif).

His average speed for the theoretical course of 24,393 miles is calculated to be 11,8 knots. In reality he sailed 27 734 miles on the water at an actual average speed of 13,4 knots.

Double winner of the two handed Barcelona World Race and three times winner of the two handed Transat Jacques Vabre Dick was one of the possible favourites to win the Vendée Globe but in the end had to give up his third place position he was holding when his keel snapped off on 21st January. He fought on to the finish after making a 48 hours stop in the north of Spain to let a strong low pressure system pass to receive a warm welcome today back in Les Sables d’Olonne.

His finish in Les Sables d’Olonne put a full stop to one of the most engaging stories of this edition Vendée Globe. As he sailed to fourth place Jean-Pierre Dick’s race revealed an inspiring mix of human fortitude and endeavour, sporting excellence and technical achievement.

JP Dick was on the hunt, lying in third place and still doggedly chasing the two leaders, François Gabart (Macif) and Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) who were nearly 400 miles ahead when his Virbac-Paprec 3 lost its keel at 2245hrs UTC on January 21st some 500 miles NW of the Cape Verde Islands.

To make the finish Jean-Pierre Dick has sailed some 2650 miles – a record - without the essential appendage which balances the boat against the force of the wind. It was a passage during which he lived life on a knife edge, constantly vigilant to make sure his IMOCA Open 60 was not knocked over. To sit out the worst of a low pressure system over the Bay of Biscay, Dick made a short 48 hours stop on the Galician coast, mooring in Saint Cyprian between 0430hrs UTC January 31st and restarting in light winds on the morning of February 31s at 0720hrs UTC.


Until the accident effectively robbed him of third place on the podium, the French skipper who is originally from Nice, was one of the key players in the race. On the descent of the Atlantic he was in the top five at the Canary Islands. Then, just as he also lead during the 2008-9 Vendée Globe, Dick took the lead and between the Agulhas gate and the Cape of Good Hope he was at the top of the rankings six times, leading the Vendée Globe fleet past the Cape of Good Hope. From there a pattern is set to Cape Leeuwin and beyond with a leading trio becoming well established, François Gabart, Armel Le Cléac'h and the skipper of Virbac-Paprec 3. But in the Pacific Dick lacked the power of key headsails because of damage to the head hook high up on the mast and loses progressively on Gabart and Dick. At one point he is 687 miles behind. But after several mast climbs to fix his problem he comes back strongly on the approach to Cape Horn, more than halving the deficit. On the ascent of the South Atlantic he got to within 100 miles of the leading duo just as their race defining split took place.

For Dick this fourth place is his best Vendée Globe finish yet. He finished sixth in 2004-5, arriving with no power, and in 2008-9 he had to retire into New Zealand after suffering rudder damage due to a unidentified floating object.

By comparison with the Breton ‘inner circle’ Dick was a late starter to IMOCA Open 60 racing, and is not really a graduate of their traditional passage through the Figaro solo circuit. Instead he arrived through a win in the crewed Tour de France a Voile race. A qualified vet with a masters business degree and years of a professional executive career under his belt before he turned to ocean racing, JP is a rigorous, thorough sailor who trains long and hard and embraces science and technology in every aspect, human and technical.

He has become renowned as something of a specialist in two-handed races winning the Transat Jacques Vabre three times now and twice winning the Barcelona World Race around the world. His best solo result remains his third in the 2006 Route du Rhum. Dick has a reputation in the sport for being a tough, hard working gentleman who is supported by highly competent team. He has always made strong technical choices, not least in his choice of yacht designers and building his recent boats in New Zealand which allows him to build miles by delivering them back to France.

The race of Jean-Pierre Dick: Key points

- Greatest distance covered in 24 hours: Virbac-Paprec 3 covered the second greatest distance over 24 hours in this edition of the Vendée Globe clocking up 517.23 miles on 10th December. Average speed: 21.6 knots.
- Speed/ distance covered on the water: 13,4 knots/27 734 miles
- Number of rankings as leader (5 rankings per day): 6 times
- Les Sables – Equator: 11d 00hrs 25mins (record held by Jean Le Cam since 2004-2005 race with a time of 10d 11hrs 28mins)
- Equator – Good Hope: 12d 02hrs 40mins (leading the fleet at that point)
- Good Hope – Cape Leeuwin: 12 d 13hrs25 mins
- Cape Leeuwin – Cape Horn: 18d 00hrs 12mins (new record)
- Cape Horn – Equator: 14d 5h 30mins
- Equator – Les Sables d’Olonne: 18d 5h 3mins

Jean-Pierre Dick: Career highlights:

3rd attempt at the Vendée Globe (6th in 2004-2005, retired in 2008-2009)
- 2011 - JP elected French Sailor of the Year
- 2011 Winner of the Transat Jacques Vabre (with Jérémie Beyou)
- 2010- 2011 Winner of the Barcelona World Race (with Loïck Peyron)
- 2010 fourth in the Route du Rhum
- 2007-2008 Winner of the Barcelona World Race (with Damian Foxall)
- 2006 Route du Rhum, third
- 2005 Winner of the Transat Jacques Vabre (with Loïck Peyron)
- 2004-2005 Vendée Globe, sixth
- 2003 Winner of the Transat Jacques Vabre (with Nicolas Abiven)
- 2001 Winner of the Tour de France Sailing Race Vendee Globe website

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