Vendee skippers round Africa—Sailing News from the U.S. and Beyond

"MACIF" charging in the Vendee Globe
© Macif
The leaders in the nonstop, around-the-world-alone-and-unsupported Vendee Globe Race have now rounded South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope and are getting their first real taste of the Southern Ocean. Currently, Armel Le Cleach, aboard 'Banque Populaire' is leading the charge towards the Crozet gate, followed by Francois Gabart ('MACIF'), who is quickly proving himself to be an upstart prodigy, and Jean-Pierre Dick ('Virbac Paprec') rounding out the top three. According Gabart, excitement-not fear-is dominating his headspace as he points his bow towards the planet’s most notorious waters.

'There is a lot of wind and it was very intense this morning, but I'm not complaining,' said Gabart. 'I got quite bit of sleep last night. Yesterday was a hard day because the wind was very unstable.'


Elsewhere in the fleet, other skippers also reported big conditions. 'I was trying to sleep when it happened,' reported Mike Golding of 'Gamesa’s' recent knockdown. 'The boat just laid over, not fully, but laid over at 80 degrees, the keel was out of the water and the boat was just held pressed by the sail and the rudder couldn't grip and the boat was still doing 17 knots, but there was no steerage. The boat was sailing very close to the wind. I had to get out of my bunk fast, it was freezing cold and I got very wet pretty quickly. It is never a pleasant, not being in control.' Get the full Vendee Globe report, in this issue and stay tuned to the website for updates, as they unfurl.

Taylor Canfield at the boat draw at 2012 Monsoon Cup. Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia. 4 December 2012. Photo: Subzero Images/Monsoon Cup

Meanwhile, in inshore circles, the first tactical fisticuffs have been exchanged at the World Match Racing Tour’s Monsoon Cup, which is currently taking place in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia. The USVI’s Taylor Canfield has been enjoying a fine start to his regatta, winning two of his first Qualifying Session 1 races. 'This is a lot different to our last Tour event in Bermuda,' said Canfield, who earned his spot on the WMRT by sweeping this year’s Bermuda Gold Cup. 'Different boats, different venue but we’re learning every second we’re out there. The guys are ready to go. We’ll get some sleep and a good feed tonight and do it again tomorrow.'

And in Cup news, be sure to check out the multimedia report on Artemis Racing’s afterguard, following the big announcement that the team was releasing Terry Hutchinson of his skipper duties. While the new afterguard looks and sounds resolute, one has to wonder how happy the Artemis camp really is, given their development setbacks (a damaged wing earlier this year and then some structural problems, which developed before the wing was even stepped) and their still-unproven ability to foil. Get the full story, inside.

Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa practice racing their AC72s on the Hauraki Gulf. 3/12/2012

Also inside, be sure to check out the latest reports from the Hauraki Gulf, where Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa logged another day of practice racing (yes, foils were involved); get the latest updates from the speed-sailing world, and don’t miss the 24 best yachting photos of 2012.

Emirates Team New Zealand AC72 training on the Hauraki Gulf. 3/12/2012

May the four winds blow you safely home,