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sail-world.com -- Vendee Globe - Complex conditions for the fleet + Video

Vendee Globe - Complex conditions for the fleet + Video    
Tue, 8 Jan 2013

At 5:15am in the Vendee Globe, Jean-Pierre Dick called his technical team to explain the strop (a soft shackle), which attached the forstay to the deck had broken. At the time of the incident, Virbac-Paprec 3 was sailing upwind in 30 knots of wind, with two reefs in mainsail and the staysail up. Jean Pierre immediately put the boat downwind to stabilize the situation and began work on the repair.

Today’s English language version of the Vendée Globe LIVE was dedicated to power, with focus on the hydro-generators. This edition of the Vendée Globe has shown the pros and cons of these energy creating devices with Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) having sailed for a month reduced power mode due to breaking his hydro-generator and Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) currently seeking a re-fuelling solution due to irreparable damage. Vendée Globe LIVE guest, Oman Sail’s Sidney Gavignet explained that it’s impossible to sail solo around the world with the necessary electrical energy to power the autopilots, which drive the boats so the skippers don’t have to steer manually. In addition, there are the computers, watermakers and other essential equipment onboard that make it possible for them to participate in the race competitively.

Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) two days ago reported that he has only needed to use his hydro-generators three times since the start and is predominantly operating at 100% charge due to his extensive array of solar panelling. Questioned today on the Vendée Globe LIVE Mike Golding (Gamesa) responded with a pragmatic perspective.

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'I think you will see more boats using a combination of systems. The solar power is very good, but we have a little bit of both, the panels I am using are the same make as the ones that are on Acciona and they are custom, but they are extremely expensive. Acciona will not be a cheap boat to equip such a large array of panels. For sure, it is a solution now. It is strange because solar power was good for a time, but the panels were very inefficient, but the panels we have now are extremely effective.' Said Golding.

He then went on further to add, 'Yes these [his solar panels onboard] ones are. They are light, but also extremely efficient. Our panel array weighs less than 2kg, it's nothing. They are delivering on a sunny day. I am getting 20amps; it is quite extraordinary. Obviously, it only works when the sun is out and when the sun is reasonably strong, or when it is very bright. It will work in overcast conditions, but obviously less efficient. The hydro works all the time, of course, and you get a bigger bang for your buck, so to speak. I think the hydro has a place, but I saw Bernard's interview on the quality on some of the parts available and I can't help but agree in part with what he is saying. I have felt the same frustration previously, not just hydropower, but with supplier parts which aren't just up to the job.'

Then he dropped a bombshell, revealing that he himself had been without functioning hydro-generators for around three weeks. 'Well, I can't tell a lie. Ours aren't working either! I have two very good hydro generators that are working extremely well, but the little box of tricks that does the conversion has fried itself. To be honest, it nearly caused a fire. I nearly had a fire onboard, so I wasn't that impressed with that. The irony is that I have two very effective hydro-generators both fully attached to the boat, functioning correctly, but I can't use the power.'


It’s tough at the top for the duelling duo of François Gabart (Macif) and Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire). With only a quarter of the race left to complete it looks like their journey up the South Atlantic is going to be long, arduous and exhausting as they battle upwind in northerly winds gusting up to 30 knots expected to last for the next three to four days. Today on Vendée Globe LIVE an audibly shattered Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) said, 'I’m fine after a difficult night. I was sailing up wind with a chaotic sea. I felt like I was in a rollercoaster. The weather conditions are not what it was suppose to be. I don’t understand. I have to wait and see how it goes. Last night I didn’t sleep at all because I had to change my sails many times. I slept just a little bit this morning; I’ll get some more sleep when the boat will be in the good direction. Sailing up the Atlantic is not the greatest part of the Vendée Globe.'

In the end, these adventures technical and meteorological may very well benefit Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) who has gained 39 miles in 24 hours and perhaps can take back third place on the virtual podium.


Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) is enduring a slow, painful approach to the coast of Chile in a succession of quick gybes. SynerCiel is 235 miles from Cape Horn and is scheduled to pass tomorrow (Tuesday) morning. Behind him, with clenched teeth, Mike Golding is expected to enter the South Atlantic twelve hours later, closely followed by Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud) and Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat).

Dominique Wavre (SW, Mirabaud): The sea is less chaotic now and the wind is also smoother. According to my file, I should cross the Cape Horn within two days and two hours.

I know Bernard has troubles with his hydros. I don’t know how he is.

For the first time since the beginning of the Vendée Globe I have been able to sleep three hours in a row. Here, with the cold, we lose a lot of calories every day so it’s important to get some sleep. Even more before crossing the Cape Horn.

I only used three litres of gas since the beginning. Almost nothing, thanks to my hydros.

Tanguy De Lamotte (FRA, Initiatives-coeur): The boat is clean. I’m done my repairs. I’m now heading the next gate.

On a Vendée Globe, we have many hats; you are sometime a skipper, sometime a mechanic, sometime a strategist, etc.

On board I took everything regarding the energy: two hyros, 250 litres of gas. I did not want to take any risk.

Sydney Gavignet: When you listen to Armel, you can feel he is very tired. It’s authentic. When you see the videos sent by the skippers, they try to appear happy, with a lot of energy. Sometimes I think it’s great to see them tired because it shows how hard a Vendée can be.

Richard Silvani (Météo France): The way up the Atlantic is complicated especially for the first two. They will keep on sailing front wind for the next 3-4 days.

For the 5-guys group behind, the conditions won’t be easy until the Cape Horn. Furthermore there is a lot of sea, with holes around 4-5 meters.

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Vendee Globe website

by Vendee Globe



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