Vendee Globe: Macif ROI

With due recognition to the original report, Le Figaro paper in France, and without their authorization the following is a cut and paste of a translation from their website this morning. Translation was done by an on line gizmo, hence the odd grammar and syntax. Anyway it is better than my doing the translation….

In sum it reads to me as though in media “Hits” (total coverage?) the race itself has generated nearly 57,000 hits. Macif , a large French Insurance Co. is going to get the lions share of the Media coverage with pretty big multiples of its investment (e7.5) in the media coverage of THE race itself. The story reports that the ’12 Olympics recorded only 48,000 “Benefits” (Hits?-Presumably this is in France only.


Saturday January 26, 2013 at 08: 00

Key words: Vendée Globe , Banque Populaire , Macif

By Figaro boating

The insurance group has invested € 7.5 million over 4 years to win the biggest event in racing in France.

Never the Vendée Globe will have received media coverage as beautiful. A godsend for sponsors, Macif, who should win the best share of the cake. “Vendée Globe is an event apart, which enjoys a very high media exposure, explains Virgil Caillet, Director of KantarSport. The departure had never also publicized. The race is better than in 2008 because the TV landscape has evolved, and cameras to enhance the interest. It is a race that we want to follow.

Indeed, the departure has received coverage up 68% from the previous edition, which is due to increased TV coverage, linked to the arrival of new channels. The latest edition of the Vendée Globe had registered 56.738 benefits, including subject 16.272 TV subject 18.042 radio and 22.424 articles in the print media, to deliver advertising 144 M€. By way of comparison, London Olympics have generated 48.000 benefits, all media confused on one month. “There has been a relatively quiet Vendée Globe, with enormous pressure initially and aborts initially. Then, the pattern of race settled, with a duel between the first two. There has not been dramatic event as in the previous edition, which generates a lot of benefits and an immediate media impact. Should also have a media weight for two weeks. “The Pack behind is very tight, it created the suspense”, he says.
A costly but effective sponsorship

“This kind of race brings two main things to the sponsors: high media exposure and a strong recovery.” This allows the brands to develop their memory. It is a costly but effective, additional sponsorship to advertising. Memorization is stronger in moments of emotion than as part of an advertising campaign.

“With the sail, it is a positive theme of courage, innovation, self-transcendence, which is not the case of all sports. If the benefits of Macif, which has invested 7.5 M€ in four years, are not yet known, they should be higher than those of Foncia, winner in 2009. The sponsor of Michel Desjoyeaux had seen its memorization rate advance from 49 to 68% for a valuation of 12.9 M€ only on the race. (My highlights)

Enhancement of Veolia, 2nd, had exceeded the 6 M€. Mid-January, Macif had registered 20,000 benefits for 250 daily impact all media alike, against 18 to 19,000 for Banque Populaire. “There is always a bonus to the winner, even though Banque Populaire should have good impact as Armel Le Cléac ‘ h has long been at the top.” The difference is always upon arrival”, adds Virgil c p.

Macif and Banque Populaire should hit the jackpot, other sponsors, who had much less substantial budgets, should also make their own. “The world does not start to win. Some skippers are developing strategies to enable their sponsors benefit from a great visibility. This is the case of Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiative-heart), which was staged in videos, or ink, Allesandro di Benedetto (Team plastic), said Virgil c p. This kind of communication strategy that is taking place in the heart of the race there was no or little before. The media focus on the facts of race or dramas. Need to find a way to exist otherwise “. The disqualification of Bernard Stamm, who has caused much ink, should Meanwhile allow Cheminées Poujoulat recording beautiful benefits nevertheless.


Alex Thompson does the right and good thing

So the “Alex Dilemma” seems to have diffused a bit.

He gets to be the good guy and demonstrate that it is possible to be a gentleman and competitive at the same time. Frankly that is a relief.

He looks to be able to take his Third and perhaps an 80 day Voyage too (Yogi Berra rule though is sill in play)

The latest report on the VG site reports Thompson lightening the pressure on the GO pedal so as to stay within Jack Aubry’s proverbial  biscuit toss of JP Dick until it is clearer what the impact of the conditions out there for the next 24-30 hours are really going too be.

JP Dick has a good man at his back, or at least close enough to his port  side, that if he submerges the Windex, he ought to not have too long to wait for part of the Cavalry to arrive, and well dressed they will be to boot. Not quite sure about the drill for recovering someone in the conditions they may be forced to face though. My guess is that a 60 will not be manageable, have steerage way, at anything under about 5-7 knots of boat speed and so getting a line to JP, without fouling one or both boats and then getting JP aboard….well lets not get too far down that track.

I guess this is one time that both skippers would be glad to not have deck spreaders.

Position wise, as defined by DTF, Alex is now, 3 miles ahead of JP, but 40 miles roughly to the north of him. Both are still SW of the Azores.

The leading edge of the front with the Big Wind, is about 350 miles to their NW.

The BBC High Seas forecast maintains Storm Warnings for 6 areas.

I wish this race would hurry up and end-I gotta get back to work….

Bon Courage.


Vendee Globe: Alex Thompson and JP Dick press on.

At the 1400 (Paris time) position report on Friday 25 Jan, Alex Thompson still has not passed the keel-less JP Dick. The calculated DTF is down to 16 miles but Thompson is to the NW of Dick by about 90 miles and a little abaft his beam. It looks as though they may be splitting the Azores: Thompson West, Dick East. That Thompson will sail by Dick cannot be in doubt, I think (I reserve the Yogi Berra Rule), but the present positions/conditions are the easy part.

Roughly 600 miles to the west and a bit north, weather on the tracking site shows a large low shaping up. That is separate from the already 50 knots plus low directly north of them

A look at a N.O.A.A. high-seas forecast–you have to look at both parts-The divide is 45 degrees west…gives you some idea of what is shaping up. West is here: East part over the Azores is here. This is the 12 Z forecast for Friday. I read this as a  984 mb (so far) low,.

Then looking at GRIB files, Oh Boy. It is gonna get ugly out there. I make this low to be generating hard weather from the longitude of roughly the west end of Iceland all the way to Halifax and from 48 N to 32 N. 16 degrees of latitude, almost 1,000 miles. So in terms of area? Mebe eighteen hundred miles by a thousand, so 65% of the North Atlantic?

Gcaptain, a commercial shipping blog shows a map here, that does not do justice to what I am seeing on the grib files.

And the BBC shipping forecast site has issued gale warnings for the bulk of the West coast of Ireland out to the SE corner of Iceland. The BBC  High Seas forecast shows storm to violent storm, Force 9 to11 in the areas they call East and West central sections.

In any event, it is going to be windy to the finish, for all four of the leaders. We have all been in situations where the risk/reward decision tree get pared pretty thin. I would not like to be in Thompson’s sea boots right now let alone JP Dick’s.

Bon Courage.


Vendee Globe: Alex’s Dilemma

With the failure of a second keel in the Vendee Globe, that of Virbac-Paprec skippered by JP Dick, Yogi Berra’s old adage is never more to the fore.

Dick is closing in on the finish with less distance to sail (c 1800 miles at 1400 eastern) than an O.S.T.A.R,. A couple of days ago, third place JP Dick reported that his keel had fallen off. After he stabilized the boat he did the ET thing and phoned home via satellite phone to report the loss. Personally the fact that over oh, 15 years or so, these IMOCA 60’s have evolved to the point where they can sail, close to up wind, WITHOUT a keel, at 10-11 knots yet, is mind-boggling in the first place. And then (surviving) to call the race organizers to tell them the keel fell off has the air of calling your credit card company to report a lost or stolen card.  Although it is also probably worth contemplating that his design is the “same” as the first boat to lose its keel, Safran, skippered by Marc Guillemot whose keel fell of inside the first 50 miles of the race back in early November.

(One cannot but help being reminded of the late Mike Plant).

Apparently Dick has not (yet)withdrawn and as of Wednesday 23 Jan at the 0907 (Paris time) report Dick appears to be continuing on towards the finish and, sans keel, is still doing 11 knots…..

It is perfectly possible for Dick to be balancing his previous 6th place finish in the 2005/6 race with an ABD in this one. Given the preposterously huge amount of work this race now takes, the 47 year old sailor must be doing some serious soul seeking.

The phrase “Alex’s Dilemma” was the subject line of about 15 of my morning emails. The gist of the traffic is interesting and in a larger way is a commentary on the state of the world: Doing the “right thing” versus acting solely for ones’ self interest.

The discussion seems to have been initiated by Jerry Freeman, O.S.T.A.R. vet, prominent solo/DH sailing advocate and voice of the solo/DH community in the south of the UK, the Solo Ocean Racing Club.

In short, the question of “Alex’s Dilemma” revolves around RRS rule one-helping other competitors in distress-Should Alex Thompson (presently having his best showing in a Vendee Globe- in a strong 4th place) close in on Dick to render assistance- versus pressing on and (presumably) finishing in third. As of the 1400 (Paris Time) tracking fix, Thompson is about 130 miles south of JP Dick and a bit to the west.

Comments in the Petite Bateau Forum, from whence the emails come, run the gamut from: JP Dick has neither retired nor requested assistance, nor (it appears after sailing without his keel for more than 24 hours so far) does he seem to be in any tearing hurry to do so, thus Thompson ought to press on. The opposite extreme is that Thompson ought to stand by while Dick gets to safe harbor which as of about 1100 EST Wednesday morning is the Azores roughly 750 miles to the NE. As of the 1900 Paris time report on the VG site, Dick is in communication with his team and the boat’s designers to figure out a solution which I guess has two answers: Sail on OR abandon to the Azores. Apparently the weather is going to deteriorate as Dick heads further north with the leader presently expected to finish in 30-35 knots and 5 meter seas.

Two comments are firmly in the “Alex should go on” side of the ledger- “It is a race, not a cruise!” One other concurred and added that Dick might easily be collected by another vessel and added the idea that JP Dick ought to be protested since the boat now longer complies with the IMOCA rules for stability……

In the “stand by to help” column were three succinct comments: “seamanship trumps silver every time”

Thompson was quoted on Tuesday in the British paper the Daily Telegraph as hectoring the IMOCA leadership for allowing the design of keels that cannot survive the life of the boat. So some comments in the email exchange suggest Thompson does not have a choice, being so safety conscience, other than to sail over to Dick and offer assistance.

The fence sitters propose:

That Thompson offer assistance, have it refused and then press on for a third and so receive adoration on both counts. A top three finish AND helping a distressed seaman. A third would be Thompson’s best finish, in fact his only in three attempts, so he is pretty keen too. It is further observed that Thompson will be in the vicinity of Dick for a couple or three days as he sails by him by which time Dick will be pretty close to the Azores and so presumably safe(er). The speed difference Wednesday afternoon, Newport RI time, has JP Dick sailing at about 10 knots to Thompson’s 14-15Kts.

Some propose Alex offer a version of stand-by, then ask for redress and so presumably place third and possible be still credited with a sub 80-day voyage. This comment opines that if he merely goes to JP’s aid without a request, then the redress hearing might be “muddy”.

What does one raised in the old school do about all this-What is one to make of the situation and comments? Why might a redress request based on complying with the (most basic) RRS (1.1) be “Muddy”? How might a “muddy” ruling in this case effect a dinghy skipper not assisting a fellow sailor since the distressed sailor did not ask for help? Is it to be so ruled merely in the fact the boats are out of sight and asking for help is required since it is not obvious to the competitors that a boat needs help?

There are the Rules of the Sea, ancient and unwritten and the recent and formalized version covered in the RRS.  As a practical matter all the skippers of these boats are “Professional Mariners” and RRS aside (maybe) they might be questioned by a skilled lawyer as to why they did not render any and all assistance to a vessel in distress.-This issue was raised in one comment: If Thompson “ignores” offering assistance and Dick dies, might Thompson be brought before a court for his involvement or lack of? Might the interested parties of JP Dick bring civil suit against Thompson for neglect?

Ocean racing in general and the Vendee Globe in particular has seen more than its fair share of  commercial and military ships involved in the recovery of solo sailors in all manner of conditions admittedly mostly all after a call for help. The competitors have also gone to the rescue of other competitors too. This incident though seems to be a bit outside the range of normal since Dick is demonstrably at a disadvantage sailing his boat without a keel, yet he is still sailing upright, and pretty fast for now. As of this writing neither from his team or the VG administration does there seem to be any indication of which course he will take.

Nowhere, in any race or regatta in the world, is this basic requirement of assistance more required than in the Vendee Globe. In a sense all sailors rely on each other for support but alone in the grey trackless wastes of the Southern Ocean is this not merely a “Rule” but must, still surely, must it not, be a basic act of humanity? OK the warmer part of the North Atlantic 750 miles away from the Azores is not the Southern ocean, and Dick is a supremely skilled, experienced and talented seaman, but sailing is governed, more than most, or any, sport by precedent and actions of the competitors.

Do we really want to participate in a sporting activity (Or has professional environment changed the form of sailing that much?) where it is possible to ignore a “wounded competitor”  Unlike say an Ironman, where there are helpers and medics following and spread out on the track, sailing, the VG  in particular, demands a camaraderie unseen elsewhere.

As for the idea of protesting Dick for anything related to this incident- Some refer to the DSQ handed to Swill sailor Bernard Stamm based on his activities in southern NZL fixing stuff. Rules are Rules and so stability is a rule and absent it, a DSQ is appropriate goes this theme. But Mike Golding was apparently protested in this fashion for the same reason-finishing sans keel and the protest was tossed out, so Dick might be protected in some way by this precedent.

What will be the outcome? Might Dick be criticized in the event he decides to press on, past the refuge of The Azores? The latest update on the VG site says Dick will postpone any retirement decision until after the Azores. A day north of the Azores, he is still two days to the Spanish/Portuguese coast, if the winds remain favourable. What if he finishes, a fourth is most likely-the 5th boat is 1700 miles astern as of this writing- this works out to five and a half days at 300 miles a day averaging 12.5 knots. Will JP Dick be seen as a national hero (in France) or a hazard to good, and bad example of, sound seamanship? What happens if he presses on past the Azores, and crashes? His team and sponsor must have contingency plans in place, or perhaps this point is part of the dialogue now burning up satellite bandwidth today. What happens if he crashes and dies? Sailing is still the last arena where the individuals rely almost totally on their decisions and the implications of such decisions. Will people (family & friends) really let Dick’s decision to carry on past Safe Harbor and then die, be the end of the discussion?

Regardless of the outcome of the race proper, this edition of the Vendee Globe will set the bench mark for a nail-biting finish, with performance that was barely 20 years ago the sole domain of the 80-120’ Cats with full crews. And that does not even include the (Likely-Do not spook the herd yet) victory of a photogenic and youthful first timer in the guise of Francoise Gabart. I reckon there is at least one insurance company in the world today very happy with at least one of their recent decisions. A discussion for a different post is, what does Gabart do now or next? Take on the solo Fastest Around The Blue Marble time in a 120 foot Tri?

Perhaps the alternative to this entire event is the reprise of the Golden Globe, the original solo circumnavigation race-Back down here on earth.

And just in case all this great racing gets you inspired to try your hand at solo/Double handed sailing, read my latest column in WindCheck Magazine on the subject here.