Please select your home edition
Edition
Naiad

Vendée Globe – Fa closing Cape Horn

by Vendée Globe on 6 Jan
Day 62 – Vendée Globe © Eric Bellion / Vendee Globe
Hungarian Vendée Globe skipper Nandor Fa is having the race of his life in the Vendée Globe. The 62-year old wrestler, turned canoeist turned Olympic sailor, who came back to solo ocean racing after a 20 year hiatus to compete in this pinnacle event of shorthanded sailing, is expected to pass Cape Horn on Sunday morning.

This Friday afternoon Fa is some 620 miles shy of Cape Horn and his release from what has been a tough Pacific ocean for him and the IMOCA 60 which he designed himself.

When, 30 years ago, he was making his first passage round the famous cape in a 31 foot cruising yacht which Fa and his friend had built from a bare hull, the current Vendée Globe leader Armel Le Cléac'h was a nine year old in his Optimist at home in Morlaix Bay. Fa and his friend had sailed away around the world as their expression of freedom from a political regime which, showing solidarity with the Russian boycott, banned Fa from taking his place as the Finn class representative at the 1984 Olympic regatta in Los Angeles. Since then Fa has been round the Cape two more times solo, during the BOC Challenge in 1990, in his first Vendée Globe in 1993 in which he finished fifth, and more recently during the Barcelona World Race when he sailed with Conrad Colman in 2015. Fa's Vendée Globe is far from finished, but the Cape will mark a big emotional milestone. No skipper has the right to finish the Vendée Globe, but Fa has certainly endured enough hardship and frustration in recent years trying to get to the start of this race to at least be granted a safe passage round the Horn.



The Spirit of Hungary which he built in Hungary, overseeing most of the construction, hands-on for much of the time, suffered structural delamination in the Atlantic in 2014 on his way to New York for his first race. He had to repatriate the boat by cargo ship, re-laminating and refitting much of the hull, before only just winning a race against time to start the Barcelona World Race. Some weeks from the start his chosen co-skipper chose to stand down as he feared that he had not yet the experience to contribute safely alongside Fa. Colman stepped in. But the Pacific is not giving in easily to Fa, who said this afternoon, “It makes me happy to be getting closer, but it does not come easy. I am fighting for each and every mile. The wind is not easy. Yesterday I had a terrible night and day and all the waves were coming from ahead and the boat was so slamming I was afraid for the boat. I am moving and I am happy. It is so freezing cold. You can only work outside for a couple of minutes. It is six degrees in the cabin. The boat is OK. I check everything regularly and I always find something. I am really, really keen to be there. It is so cold. It is so difficult, everything. I am really fed up with the Pacific Ocean right now.”

The Doldrums are becoming slow and sticky at times for race leader Armel Le Cléac'h (Banque Populaire VIII) but sometimes he has still been managing to make 15kts in the squally gusts. Second placed Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) is still with a decent SE'ly trade wind and so scything into the French skipper's lead once again. Already today he has reduced Le Cléac'h's deficit by 100 miles to 235 miles and was still making 21kts of average speed.

In third place Jérémie Beyou gets into more established E'ly trade winds and also starts to accelerate at some 700 miles behind Thomson. There seems little doubt that the Doldrums will compact the first three, while the North Atlantic is a strategic chessboard. Alex Thomson said today: “It will be interesting to see how it all pans out in the next couple of days. After the Doldrums into the North Atlantic and we are upwind, it is kind of an unusual situation and the models are not really agreeing. It is not really clear how to find a path through the mess and in to Les Sables d'Olonne. With these scenarios in the North Atlantic it does create some opportunities and what I need is an opportunity to close in on Armel and be able to challenge for the lead. Change is good for me.”



On the Epiphany, the day of the Three Kings is celebrated in European countries, but the wily King Jean Le Cam – also a three times winner of the Solitaire du Figaro – has proven masterful at staying with Jean-Pierre Dick and Yann Eliès. It is the consistent speed and rhythm of Le Cam that impresses his nearest rivals at the moment. The veteran 57 year old who finished second in 2004-2005 and fifth in 2012-13 is now up to fourth, moving ten miles ahead of Eliès and 20 miles ahead of Jean-Pierre Dick. Le Cam races the Farr designed yacht which won the 2008 race as Foncia which was extensively remodelled before winning the Barcelona World Race with Le Cam partnering Bernard Stamm.

Extracts from today's radio sessions

Arnaud Boissières, La Mie Câline: “It's a bit cold. There is not much wind. It's a bit odd as I'm sailing upwind in the Southern Ocean. I'm keeping an eye on my car, when I do something with the mainsail, but for the moment, it seems to be fine, so the repair seems to be holding out. It's funny being so far into the race and yet so close to others. It's reassuring. It was a bit stressful in the low. It was forecast, but I found myself right in it, so I eased off to avoid damage. I'm careful not to push too hard. When we get to the Horn, it's a huge relief, but if I'm doing the Vendée Globe, it's to be in the Southern Ocean and face the elements.”

Alex Thomson (GBR) Hugo Boss: “With these scenarios in the North Atlantic it does create some opportunities. I am running my routing to Les Sables d'Olonne at the moment, but then we are running routes which are looking two weeks ahead. Two weeks in terms of weather forecasting is pure and utter fiction. I am in good shape and the boat is in not bad shape at all. There are one or two problems, the anemometer issue is one thing, but apart from that it is not bad at all. A lot of people consider this to be an individual sport. I see it as a team sport like Formula 1. Although there is one driver who drives the race, you have a huge team behind you to make the boat fast and to make it reliable.”

Zhik ZKG 660x82Wildwind 2016 660x82Mackay Boats

Related Articles

Vendée Globe – Didac Costa takes 14th place
The tenacious, driven Costa succeeded with one of the smallest budgets of 29 skippers who started race on November 6th. The tenacious, driven Costa has succeeded with one of the smallest budgets of the 29 skippers who started the race on November 6th.
Posted today at 9:36 am
Vendee Globe - Foresight Natural Energy Day 109 - Ancient Homer
The wind has died. The one proud mainsail drags lazily back and forth across the cabin top. The wind has died. The one proud mainsail drags lazily back and forth across the cabin top. Even the rippling laughter of the wake down the side of the hull has dulled as Foresight Natural Energy lethargically crawls across the dark disk of the horizon. The bright orange jib is the only flash of colour in a quiet world where a dull lead coloured sea lolls under a pewter sky.
Posted today at 4:36 am
CCA welcomes America's fastest non-stop solo circumnavigator
The CCA is particularly proud of member Rich Wilson’s accomplishment in the just completed Vendée Globe race The Cruising Club of America is particularly proud of member Rich Wilson’s (Marblehead, Mass.) accomplishment in the just completed Vendée Globe race. Sailing solo for nearly 27,500 miles aboard Great American IV, Wilson finished the planet-rounding competition in just over 107 days, returning to the west coast of France on Tuesday February 21, 2017 after having started there on November 6, 2016.
Posted today at 3:44 am
Vendee Globe - Colman progressing in right direction - speaks to BBC
Conrad Colman's pace has not increased substantially in the last 12 hours, his direction has become more direct. Although Kiwi solo sailor Conrad Colman's pace has not increased substantially in the last 12 hours, his direction has become much more direct. After a frustrating passage through an area of light winds, Colman is now heading for a weather system which should allow him to hook in a wind system that will take him to the finish. He spoke to BBC's Radio 4 today:
Posted on 22 Feb
Vendée Globe – Costa to cross Thursday morning for 14th
Progress has remained painfully slow for Kiwi skipper Conrad Colman today as he sails into a wide high pressure ridge Progress has remained painfully slow for Kiwi skipper Conrad Colman today as he sails into a wide high pressure ridge which stands between him and the favourable westerly breezes which should finally allow the jury rigged Foresight Natural Energy to sail more directly towards the French coast and the finish line
Posted on 22 Feb
Vendee Globe - Conrad Colman talks about a finish on Friday night
The dismasted, now jury rigged entry in the Vendee Globe, Foresight Natural Energy, skippered by Conrad Colman (NZL/USA/ The dismasted, now jury rigged entry in the Vendee Globe, Foresight Natural Energy, skippered by Conrad Colman (NZL/USA/FRA) is making slow progress towards the finish line at Les Sables dÓlonne on the west coast of France. Although he is showing modest speed on the water his progress is still painful
Posted on 21 Feb
Vendée Globe – Rich Wilson takes thirteenth place
Wilson, at 66 years old the oldest skipper in the race, completes the pinnacle solo ocean racing event for second time. Wilson, at 66 years old the oldest skipper in the race, successfully completes the pinnacle solo ocean racing event for the second time.
Posted on 21 Feb
Vendee Globe - Rich Wilson closing the finish line, due after midday
Rich Wilson is at just over 50 miles to the finish line of his second Vendée Globe and was making just over eight knots Rich Wilson is at just over 50 miles to the finish line of his second Vendée Globe and was making just over eight knots in a direct course for Les Sables d'Olonne. He should cross the line in 13th place in the early afternoon and has until 1530hrs local time to get into the channel.
Posted on 21 Feb
Vendée Globe – Alan Roura in his own words
Alan Roura, the youngest skipper ever to compete, finished in Les Sables d'Olonne this morning in twelfth place. Alan Roura, the youngest skipper ever to compete, finished in Les Sables d'Olonne this morning in twelfth place. In spite of not sleeping for four days because of the shipping in the Bay of Biscay and the light winds, he was ready to answer questions from the many journalists present on the pontoon an at a press conference.
Posted on 20 Feb
Vendée Globe – Conrad Colman speaks about his dismasting and battle
New Zealand skipper Conrad Colman is fighting an incredible battle to finish the race after the mast crashed down Tenacious New Zealand skipper Conrad Colman is fighting an incredible battle to finish the race after the mast of his Foresight Natural Energy crashed down on the night of Friday 10th February.
Posted on 20 Feb