In the Vendee Globe, it is three down with nine to go. So François Gabart (Macif), Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) and Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) may have written the opening lines of the epilogue of the seventh Vendée Globe, but there remains nine pretenders to yet end the tale.
Today, the plotline revolves around a tired, lonely, Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) moored keel-less to a buoy for three days with too much time to think and not enough food or fuel. He is waiting for a weather window so that he can begin his 291 miles journey back to Les Sables d’Olonne. So near yet so far.
After 24 hours of surfing the coast to round Cape Finisterre in 30 knots of wind, rough seas, amongst the busy maritime motorway of cargo ships and fishing boats, a sleep deprived Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) has found shelter along the Galician coast, in the mining port of San Ciprián (San Cibrao). At 5:30 this morning, Virbac-Paprec 3 picked up a mooring buoy in the harbour, protected from the prevailing winds and the sea
On today’s Vendée Globe Live, Jean-Pierre said he was exhausted. He was planning to dive and check to the boat so he could further secure it in face of an incoming gale expected between late Thursday lasting until Friday. He also indicated that he had used his engine, which broke the engine seal, in order to finalize his approach to the buoy. He must write a report to the jury to explain the facts. A second report will be issued to specify the start time.
The jury will then decide his fate.
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The big question is when will he be able to resume his route to Les Sables d'Olonne? A potential weather window opens in just over 48 hours. 'I set myself a limit of 25 knots of wind ' he explained. In the Bay of Biscay, this weekend, the weather should improve. Virbac-Paprec 3 is currently 291 miles from Les Sables d'Olonne. If he returned to the race on Sunday morning, realistically he could arrive in the Vendée on Monday night. A double victory, fourth place and also, managing to successfully sail 2200 miles without keel.
In the south-west of Madeira and Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) and Mike Golding (Gamesa) are enjoying good conditions and speed on the edge of a depression as they pick miles off the mark, Les Sables d’Olonne. Soon the Azores High will force them to climb up towards the British coast and then descend down onto the finish line.
If the High remains stationary, the gang of four pursuers, Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud), Arnaud Bossières (Akena Verandas), Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) and Bertrand De Broc (Votre Nom Autour du Monde avec EDM) will also be forced to detour through the great north.
And so, this group of six boats, to which we must add Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat), should all arrive in Les Sables d'Olonne next week with a series of arrivals which will run from 6 to 10 February.
For Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives Cœur) currently in the doldrums and Alessandro Di Benedetto (Team Plastique) just off Salvador de Bahia, the end of the race will be around mid-February.
The podium of the seventh Vendée Globe
1. François Gabart (Macif) arrived on 27th January 15h18'40' (HF)
2. Armel Le Cléac'h (Banque Populaire) arrived on 27th January 18h35'52' (HF)
3. Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) arrived on 30th January 08h25'43'
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Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA, Virbac Paprec 3): I had a good morning, I moored without problems, I’ve tidied up the ropes and it’s all in order now. There was some wind while I was manoeuvring but I could enter the port under sail. I used the engine for a quick moment to get close to the buoy and moore. I’m not going to enjoy a quieter moment before the wind in up again. This afternoon, I’ll dive and swim a little and check the mooring is fine and safe. If not, I’ll have to do something about it. I may add another mooring line if necessary. I have to wake up every 30 minutes because there are so many fishing boats in this area of Spain. I’m exhausted because of the stress of sailing without a keel and, in general, three months of solo race. I had 25-30-knot wind and 5-metre waves so that was tough. I hope I can avoid a situation like Bernard’s, if the boat starts drifting… It’d be terrible. The hardest part was initially thinking I’d be in Les Sables on Tuesday or Wednesday and eventually having to wait one more week, which is a lot, really. I just can’t wait to see my loved ones, my son. I took the decision not to go last night because I wanted to wait until I get the very latest weather files.
Things keep evolving, same for the time I can leave my current position. I think I should be able to go on Sunday morning, with rough conditions at the beginning. There are a little less than 300 miles to Les Sables, so if all goes well, I’ll reach Les Sables on Monday afternoon, evening or at night. But there are so many uncertainties… First, my mooring needs to go well, with nothing that would force me to retire from the race. That’s why I’ll work hard on securing the mooring, that’s capital. When the sun went up this morning, I saw the area where I moored better. It’s a private port with small cargo ships. It took me a long time to decide what to do, but I had to take shelter and moore to a buoy and wait until the weather is less windy. It is a difficult decision because I can’t wait to see my family and eat good food, so these are going to be three very strange days. But because finishing the race is what matters the most to me, I had to do it.
Dominique Wavre (SUI, Mirabaud): Yes, sunsets and rising sun moments are magical, I wanted to share that with you. We’re in full racing mode, I should be in Les Sables in about eight days, I can’t wait to be with you all again. I’ve experienced the finish in Les Sables before, it’s so much pleasure, I just can’t wait to have Michèle in my arms and to see all the enthusiastic people who always gather to see the sailors come back. Alex Thomson had an amazing race, he deserves to finish on the podium and the presence of all the people who came to see him in Les sables. I really hope Jean-Pierre Dick is back soon, too, with his keeless boat. I know what it’s like to sail one, it’s tricky, I can’t wait to hear he’s back safely.
Denis Horeau (FRA, Race Director): I have followed the first three editions of the Vendée Globe and I’ve been the Race Director of the following four and I can tell you the DNA of the Vendee Globe is still the same, it’s a non-stop, single-handed, round-the-world race without assistance. It’s a very dangerous race concept. What has changed is the boat and skippers’ preparation. The skippers are now technical sailing specialists, experienced sailors, but also competitors and adventurers. Even the ones who went for a project based on the concept of adventure are skilled sailors. I hope things go well for Jean-Pierre Dick, I can tell you his finish will be something else, with so many people waiting for him. He had to turn his engine on to reach the buoy where he needed to moor, but he didn’t receive any outside help or assistance. He is going to send a report explaining the exact conditions and giving details about the situation. The race committee, a sovereign body, will carefully study what he has sent. Jean Le Cam made everybody laugh with his videos in 2004. 2008 was less funny because he had to be rescued but he’s back as a comedian this year.
Tanguy de Lamotte (FRA, Initiatives-coeur): What Jean-Pierre is doing is an exceptional example of courage and determination. It was my first time crossing the Equator from south to north. It feels great to be back in the northern hemisphere, I’m counting the miles until the finish and I hope the wind will be back soon. I manoeuvred quite a lot, the conditions are very pleasant for that, I focused on keeping a north heading. I’ve been zigzagging a lot, it looks weird when looking at my route on the computer. I almost considered drawing a heart with my route at one point! I have a huge cloud on my left, it looks like a skyscraper, it’s very impressive. I have eight knots of wind right now, which is the strongest I’ve had lately. 2016 is in a long time, first I need to cross the finish line of this edition. I think I have enough energy to finish this race, let’s see about the next edition later. The Vendée Globe is very demanding in terms of time and energy. What I can tell you for sure is that I’ll be at the start on the pontoons, but not necessarily to compete in the race. I’m still interested in sailing around the world with my family. I hope it’s a project that comes real one day… I thought about it when I saw some islands and really wanted to stop and use the boat as a means of transportation between such places.
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Mike Golding (GBR, Gamesa): Basically since I passed the rope through the aperture it has been slightly better, it is only a very small amount, but strangely at higher speeds, even that small amount seems to make a difference, occasionally we are hitting 17/18 knots at the moment and while it is not perfect, there is water pressure against the gaiter, there are no leaks, so currently everything is fine. It is slowing me down, because it is like sailing with a brick in the water, the fairing is there to deflect flow and give you a nice, clean flow over the keel, so it is not going to be quick! And there is probably quarter of a ton of water in the keel box which would not normally be there so you are carrying the water. It is small amounts at this stage, it is more important right now to be in the right place on the race track and tiny tiny speed differences aren't going to make much of a difference at this stage of the game.
Alessandro Di Benedetto (FRA-ITA, Team Plastique): The wind keeps changing, it’s now coming to my starboard side. I repaired my small gennaker so as soon as the conditions allow me to, I’ll test those repairs. I hope to be back in Les Sables before the end of February, but it will all depend on how well the Doldrums crossing goes. I’ll try to maintain a good average speed. Ideally, I’d like to be back in three weeks, but I’m not sure I can make it. Maybe four weeks.
by Vendee Globe - 7:50 PM Thu 31 Jan 2013 GMT
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2012 Vendee Globe
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