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Southern Spars

Pressing forth in the Vendee—Sailing news from the U.S. and beyond

by David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor on 25 Jan 2013
Jean Pierre Dick, Virbac Paprec 3 - 2012 Vendee Globe © JM Liot / DPPI / Virbac-Paprec Sailing Team
Skipper Jean-Pierre Dick has been making global sailing headlines with his temporary decision to press forth towards the finishing line in the around-the-world-alone-and-unassisted Vendee Globe Race, despite the fact that his highly loaded IMOCA 60, 'Virbac-Paprec 3', lost her keel several days ago. And while skipper Marc Guillemot limped across the finishing line sans his righting-moment appendage in the last edition of the race, Dick is facing much more serious conditions and many more miles than Guillemot had to sail to complete his dream. For Dick, the situation is exponentially frustrating as he had been sitting in third place at the time of his keel failure.


'There’s only 12-13 knots of wind, in a situation that’s not easy for a boat without her keel,' reported Dick. 'I can’t use large sails but the ballasts are full to keep some stability… I should sail off the Azores coast around the 27th, there should be around 25 knots of westerly wind there and that will help me see how the boat is doing when the sea and the wind are tougher. Then I’ll try to make the right decision based on those elements and some people’s opinions.'


At the front of the pack, Francois Gabart ('Macif') continues to hold his advantage over Armel Le Cleac’h ('Banque Populaire') but the margins are not exactly wide enough to give the young Gabart much time to relax. At the time of this writing, 1014 miles separated 'Macif’s' bow from the finishing line, while 'Banque Populaire' remained 102 miles astern.


Meanwhile, Key West Race Week has been serving up plenty of big-breeze conditions this year, allowing the RC to serve up a full-course menu of top-flight racing. Bright skies and sunshine remain in the forecast for the remainder of the week, giving sailors a perfect opportunity to settle their on-the-water rivalries, which have been ratcheting up all week (at least for this winter). Be sure to get the full KWRW report, as well as some great image galleries, inside this issue.


And in Cup circles, the pressure is on for Emirates Team New Zealand as the team works some long hours to try and build a successful challenge. While the team is on the eve of launching their second-generation boat, according to their afterguard, however, there’s still a lot of heavy lifting to go. 'We've got a huge amount left to do,' said ENTZ’s skipper, Dean Barker. 'In a normal America's Cup cycle we would still have at least a year to go, in terms of how green we are with the boat. You wouldn't normally contemplate launching a brand new concept boat, this close to the start of racing in the old environment.'


As for what this hectic cycle has meant for the team, the answer is overtime. 'It's just brutal,' said Barker. 'You can’t afford any problems in engineering, manufacture or build. And as a sailing team we can't have any catastrophes that we create.' ETNZ plans to launch their second-generation AC72 in February, giving them more of a development runway than the rest of the teams…provided, of course, that the design team did their job correctly. Don’t miss the great video interview with Barker, inside this issue.

And finally, get the latest scoop on US Sailing’s 'Chosen Dozen' juniors who will represent the team at the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship (July 13-20), check out the preview for next week’s ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami (January 28-February 2), and-for Midwestern sailors in need of some midwinter encouragement-the Chicago Yacht Club’s Race to Mackinac Committee has now released its NOR for this summer’s Chicago-Mackinac Race (July 13). Enjoy!

May the four winds blow you safely home,

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