Vendee Globe 2012-13 skipper Tanguy de Lamotte crossed the finish line on Sunday at 10hrs 58min and 10 seconds (French time). He finished in 10th place with a race time of 98 days 21 hours 56 minutes and 10 seconds. He has travelled 28,160 miles on the water at an average speed of 11.9 knots.
That means he has logged the second highest number of miles in the race behind the winner Francois Gabart who travelled 28,649.32 miles. (Reminder: the theoretical distance of the route is 24,394 miles). De Lamotte finished six days four hours and 45 minutes behind ninth-placed Bertrand De Broc and 20d 19hrs and 39min behind the winner Francois Gabart.
Whilst taking himself and his boat around the world for the first time, Tanguy de Lamotte and Initiatives Cœur became one of the beating hearts of the Vendée Globe. His impressive debut was made more so by the scrapes he survived. His ability to find ingenious fixes with limited resources led to him being dubbed 'Tanguyver' after the old American TV show MacGyver, which is apparently still popular in France. His years at Southampton University studying yacht design and experience as a boat preparateur, most notably on Ellen MacArthur’s 2000-01 Vendée campaign, helped produce a well-rounded self-sufficient solo skipper.
De Lamotte knew from the beginning that this Vendée Globe was one of discovery and apprenticeship. This was his first Vendée Globe and the third time for his Marc Lombard-designed Open 60 boat, which was launched in 1998. But this is the first time the boat has finished. (Note: the first entery was as Catherine Chabaud’s Whirlpool in the 2000-01 edition, dismasting 500 miles from the finish, then as Marc Thiercelin’s Pro-Form stopping in New Zealand with technical problems).
De Lamotte’s race goal was to match the top times from the same generation as his boat in the 2000-01 race and despite his multiple problems in the North Atlantic, his time would have been good enough for fourth place in the race. The campaign objective was to generate interest and clicks to save children with heart disease. By the early hours of Sunday morning he had passed 175,000 clicks – enough for 14 operations – and rising fast. It helped that he has been one of the best communicators in the race and brought to life his great adventure through his messages and videos.
After the start from Les Sables d'Olonne, de Lamotte was separated from the bulk of the fleet on the Iberian coast. A mixture of dropouts – seven in the first week - and some tactical options by his fellow competitors saw a split in the fleet. After the passing Cape Verde, a difficult doldrums for those ahead saw De Lamotte join a group of four with Javier Sanso (ACCIONA 100% EcoPowered), Bertrand De Broc (Your Name Around the World with Projects EDM), Arnaud Boissières (Akena Verandas). As they descended in the South Atlantic, De Lamotte was unable to keep pace in his older boat, staying west and dropping back. At the first compulsory gate, Agulhas, Initiatives Cœur was in 12th position, sandwiched between De Broc in eleventh, and Alessandro Di Benedetto (Team Plastique) in thirteenth.
Settling into his rhythm in 12th place, De Lamotte consistently racked up the miles, with De Broc, always 250-300 miles before his bow. Though comparatively mild, the Indian and the Pacific Oceans left some traces on Initiatives Cœur and de Lamotte. But between encounters with a first UFO, numerous breaks, worn sails, his sense of fun and enjoyment was emerging. His air guitar to Deep Purple’s ‘Smoke on the Water’ will live long in the memory. Although, by day 35 he also admitted, in good humour, that he was aware of being alone in a small space for a long time and had been having imaginary conversations with his brother on the foredeck. He was eighth fastest across the Indian Ocean between the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Leeuwin in 14 days, 17 hours and 44 minutes.
He had less wind in the Pacific than he expected, causing him to miss out being able to welcome in 2013 twice as he crossed the International Dateline. But he was making good speed a few days before reaching Cape Horn and was back to within 130 miles of De Broc. On January 15, de Lamotte completed his first passage round Cape Horn with a time of 35 days at sea to swallow the two oceans, the Indian and the Pacific.
After rounding the Horn, De Lamotte joined the South Atlantic Express. As those ahead struggled, he recorded the sixth fastest time in the fleet between Cape Horn and the Equator. That, despite some tense moments after another collision with a UFO and seeing his Code 0 suddenly come down and trawl out behind his boat. The broken halyard forced him to climb the mast. But he made the most of mishaps and after that collision sent back the beautiful image of him swimming in the middle of the South Atlantic in 4000m deep water, to check the appendages underneath Initiatives Cœur.
On January 27, De Lamotte was 830 miles from the equator whilst François Gabart entered the canal at Les Sables d'Olonne as the winner of the Vendée Globe. By the end of January, De Lamotte was back in the northern hemisphere for what would become his most difficult passage of the race. Twice Initiatives Cœur suffered a collision with a UFO, the first causing major damage to the daggerboard and rudder. Close to exhaustion, it took many hours in the water and in the bowels of his boat to successfully clear the blocked daggerboard, plug the hole and install a pump to drain the water. The legend of 'Tanguyver' was born.
The last collision with a UFO damaged his rudder even more, making navigation on port tack very difficult. After passing near Flores in the Azores and a good progression towards Cape Finisterre, de Lamotte finally needed to add patience to his humour and handyman skills. An anticyclone in the Bay of Biscay gave him a little bit more time than he wanted to plan his arrival and worry about the busy maritime traffic. His time from the Equator to Les Sables of 17d 11h 48min was tenth fastest and almost four days slower than the next man.
After 98 days 21 hours 56 minutes and 10 seconds of racing, de Lamotte finally completed his circle, writing his own legend in the history of the Vendée Globe.
Some Tanguy de Lamotte race statistics:
- Furthest distance covered in 24 hours: 411.03 miles at 17.1 knots on December 5 at 1400hrs (UTC). - Les Sables – Equator : 13days 15hours 53minutes (record held by Jean Le Cam in 2004-2005, 10d 11h 28mn). - Equator - Cape of Good Hope: 16d 08h 31min - Good Hope - Cape Leeuwin: 14d 17h 44min - Cape Leeuwin - Cape Horn: 20d 23h 03min - Cape Horn - Equator: 15d 17h 06min - Equator – Les Sables: 17d 11h 48min