It’s been an action packed few days of offshore racing in the singlehanded, nonstop-around-the-world-alone Vendee Globe Race, with some highs and lows playing out on different boats. Francois Gabart ('MACIF'), a young newcomer to the Vendee and to serious singlehanded offshore racing, managed to set a (unratified) new 24-hour record for a singlehanded monohull earlier this week, reeling off a jaw-dropping 545.3 miles. Impressively, Vendee skippers have upped this benchmark by more than 75 miles over the current (read: ratified) 24-hour record (468.72), which Alex Thomson ('Hugo Boss') set back in 2003 when he himself was a young buck. Even sweeter for Gabart is that he is currently leading the fleet of 13 IMOCA 60s, followed by Armel Le Cleac’h ('Banque Populaire') and Jean-Pierre Dick ('Virbac Paprec 3').
Francois Gabart, Macif - 2012 Vendee Globe
Unfortunately for Thomson and Swiss skipper Bernard Stamm ('Cheminees Poujoulat'), lows often follow highs. For Thomson, this came in the form of a broken rudder assembly, which took some 15 hours to repair and dropped him from a Top Three position to fourth on the leaderboard. The good news for Thomson is that he can now steer his vessel at pace; the lingering hangover is that the broken rudder irreparably damaged one of his hydro-generators, thus forcing the British skipper to seriously reduce his power draw (read: communications) for the rest of the race in order to stay in the fight.
For Stamm, the low spot came in the form of a broken molar, which required some onboard, DIY dentistry. Stamm’s team was fortunately able to give him good instructions on how to file and fill his tooth, but there’s little doubt that this was a 'character-building' experience, especially in the wilds of the Southern Ocean. Get the full Vendee report, inside this issue.
And in Sydney, Australia, the serious toys came out to play in the Big Boat Challenge, with Bob Oatley’s two maxi’s, the 100-foot 'Wild Oats XI' and the 66-foot 'Wild Oats X', taking home top honors. While the big boat faced little real competition, 'Wild Oats X' had a serious tussle with her R/P 66 sister ship, 'Black Jack'. Get the full report, as well as some awesome image galleries, inside.
Also inside, get the latest news from the Youth America’s Cup and the World Yacht Racing Forum, as well as the preview reports of this year’s Sydney-Hobart Race.
May the four winds blow you safely home,