Vendee Globe-Solo record still possible

The foiling IMOCA 60’s are giving a good impression of multihull speed over the course of the first 19 days of this edition of the Vendee Globe, solo circumnavigation. As of 1700 EST, Brit Alex Thompson aboard Hugo Boss has had the pedal down despite breaking a foil on something in the water a few days ago. (It is worth noting that at the moment four boats have hit something and broken the boat obliging three of them to abandon the race).

The VG tracker has a number indicating the percentage of the race the leader has completed. After 16 days Hugo Boss had completed 25% of the calculated great circle length of the race. Extrapolating on this data brings one of course gets to a 64 day circumnavigation. Will this be the end result? Too soon to say fo course. BUT I just did it again for 19 days at 30% which is 62 and some days, so they are not backing off at all.

Thompson has been able to get back up to full foiling speed having gybed to starboard for a while today allowing him to deploy the ‘good’ foil for a while. But sail boat racing regardless of what the boat or the course is needs wind and they appear to be light on for such at the momenet, light being the operative word.

The biggest hurdle the two front runners, now 25 miles apart (at 1700 Race time) is the wind petering out and becoming confused and light. Thompson reports basically sailing into the back of the front.

Oops- pays to pay attention. The 2200 race time position updates places The Boss stretching again over Armel LeCleac’h, (aka The Jackal in French solo terms) at 31 miles over his earlier 25 miles. AND the Boss has the juice again at 22 knots versus 18 of The Jackal.

British Bull Dog lives to fight another day.

The following link/news update courtsy of the VG press office.

http://www.vendeeglobe.org/en/news/16495/the-jackal-is-on-the-hunt

 

Vendee Globe: Hugo Boss inches away.

So far so good for the tenacious Brit on his fourth attempt to get his Knighthood, I mean, win the Vendee Globe. Personally I reckon the big job now is to be steady and cool and not get too psyched by being in front. I am sure he’d rather be there than in some of the other positions he has been in during his three previous races. Right about now 4 years ago I think he was fixing one of the rudder connecting rods after the Watt and Sea came adrift and busted said rod. Ever the Sponsors Man, he recorded it on board the boat with Hugo Boss logos everywhere. And of course this time, he is posting positions on the Alex Thompson website, so more eyeballs again. THIS is great sailing as marketing tool thinking

The other two leaders are putting the yards (meters?) on the top of the next group. Currently in second is Seb Josse on his third Vendee Globe. Just the short version of his CV includes a fourth in the first leg of the 1999 Mini-Transat, a second in the 2001 Solitaire du Figaro-A four or five leg stage race soloin 33 foot one design boats, around the Bay of Biscay and the western approaches to the English Channel. ‘The Figaro’ is THE training ground for the serious French solo sailor, and lately Brits too. Josse was a part of the crew and so, co-holder, of the Trophy Jules Verne aboard the Maxi Cat Orange, nee PlayStation. Third in the TJV with Isabelle Autissier in ‘03, fifth in the Vendee globe in ‘05, fourth in the ’06 VOR on ABN Amro 11 including a 24-hour speed record. You get the picture. He is sailing for the financial house of Edmund de Rothschild, long a prominent name in sailing with a collection of Gitana’s.

In third lies Armel Le Cleac’h, presently 92 miles astern of The Boss. Le Cleac’h is another professional sailor with a long history of big time racing. Figaro, World Champion in IMOCA (these Open 60’s) fourth in the Route du Rhumb, France’s answer to the OSTAR. A second place, twice, in the 2009 and 2013 Vendee Globe gave him the scent no doubt.

Interestingly when researching the basic stats of the boats, the beam of Hugo boss is not given. But Thompson has the most upwind sail of the three leaders at 340 sqm. Compared to Le Cleac’h at 300 and Josse at 290. He is also a tenth of a metric tonne lighter, 7.5 vs. 7.6. And, in what must be an enormous mental boost for Thompson and a bit of a ‘WTF’ moment for the rest, is the fact Hugo Boss was abandoned in the 2015 Transat Jacques Vabre, in November after being launched 01 September. After being recovered, a nice bit of work in itself I reckon, Thompson’s team spent six months rebuilding her again. And a slight bit of sailing trivia for you Thompson’s co-skipper in the abandoned TJV was the same Spaniard, Guillermo Altadill, (the most successful sailor no one has ever heard of) who was aboard High Noon, the youth boat that blitzed the 2016 Newport to Bermuda race.

Second and third are 89 and 92 miles astern of the Boss, and after that the distances really exercise the bungy cord. From fourth through tenth, they are respectively: 123, 195, 207, 285, 442, 575 and 619. And we are not talking about the rookies here either. Just in this group are a total of 17 (including this one) Vendee Globe races from a total of 43 previous races within the fleet.

From todays interviews with the sailors, Sébastien Josse remarks on the increasing discomfort aboard the boats in this race. ‘With each Vendée Globe it’s worse and worse. In my first one, I had a comfortable bed, but now it’s really uncomfortable and it’s hard to sleep’. Having boat speed is a great way to win a sail boat race but it does have its down side in a three-month race. Josse again:

When the boat is above 18-19 knots, it’s hard to move around. It’s noisy and it’s impossible to sleep with all the banging. It’s less comfortable than a multihull.

Then there are the forces these boats are subjecting themselves to. The following remark was made while the boats are sailing in 15 knots of true wind. We’re at the maximum loads for the boat. In the Southern Ocean we won’t be able to do that.”

If you did not know Thompson, (is British) it might be easy to infer it from his remarks from the same body of ocean. “It’s a bit bumpy. He goes on: (In this cut and paste from the VG news section whose work is duly recognized)

It is pretty amazing to be on a boat which in 16-17kts of breeze I can average 22kts. The breeze has finally come left a bit to allow Hugo Boss to lift up her skirts a little bit and go a bit faster. I have a bit more breeze for a few hours and then it will lighten up and drop a little bit before tomorrow when we will start a real fast, fast dash for three or four days towards the Cape of Good Hope. I could not have asked for it to be positioned more perfectly. It is a very normal scenario this. It is developing just to the south of us and will move down, and I will be able to stay ahead of it. I think just this lead pack will be able to stay with it. We will be with this low pressure for quite a while. I think Seb is right. This is going to be the first big test for the boats. I am imagining a wind angle of about 120 to 125 degrees true, sailing in 23-26kts of wind. Depending on the wave conditions is what will decide how fast the boats go. To be honest if it was flat water in those wind conditions my boat could average over 30kts. With waves I don’t expect to be going much faster than I am now, to be honest 22-24kts maybe. Today I will prepare the boat a little, re-tidy up, re-stack, and I will try and get as much sleep as I can in the next 24 hours. I have a little composite job to do, just to make sure everything really is ready, make sure my sail plan is correct for when it comes, make sure my contingencies are ready, make sure I am fresh to be able to hit the turbo button when it arrives. I guess we are going to find out how strong these boats are now. Who will be ready to lift the foot first? Show the French you have learned? I think these boats…well the limit is quite obvious. You know when you have to slow down. Last night I had to slow down. 24 hours before the Cape Verdes you get slowed down. You get told by the boat. The boat tells you when to slow. It is as demanding now as in more wind. We do not need a lot of wind. The more wind, the more waves, the slower you go.”

We’re not in Kansas any more Toto.

12 meters and 6.5 meters

Moving boats, always at night.

Maybe it’s just me but I seem to spend a disproportinate amount of time moving, going to or leaving with boats, at night. Wednesday night was a classic of the genre. I moved the Mini up to the Hinckley Yacht Services yard in Portsmouth preparatory to erecting the shed around her and the Ranger so I can continue The Quest to get the Mini sailing again. The night was drizzly wet, misty, dank and generally raw. It was the kind of night to sit by the fire with a good who-dunnit and a glass of Shiraz. The dankness and the weak yellow flood lamps reminded me of the first time I saw the rebuilt 12-meter Australia, in July 1979.

Mini nad Ranger at Hinckley Yacht Services

The fellow who had recruited me to be the boat captain, Lee Killingworth and I drove into the industrial area in which the refit had been done. The shed was your basic industrial put-it-up-in-a-day steel shed. It and a few clones were inside a 10-foot tall wire mesh fence in a neighborhood populated with similar homages to the rigors of small business manufacturing

Mini at Hinckley Yacht Services

July is mid-winter in Australia and Perth is on the water. The prevailing weather is from the west and southwest and so brings the harsh storms blowing up from the Southern Ocean bringing lots of moisture with them. And it is cold, raw moisture.

There was no sign on our shed. Warren Jones the Man Who Made It All Happen, in 1980 and particularly in 1983, had wanted to keep the boat invisible where possible. The dark/fog/mist/drizzle atmosphere was winning the battle of light versus dark against the yellowish lamps purportedly illuminating the parking lot.

IMG_2831

I opened the gate and we idled up to the side door of our building. I can remember that scene as though it was yesterday. Just the two of us, long disciples of the Aussie Battle to win the America’s Cup, the atmosphere was full of expectation. It felt like the beginning of something no one had ever done, beat the yanks in the America’s Cup.

Tonight, at Hinckley it was the same kind of wet, chill, dank, bleak night, something out of Dickens perhaps. I towed the Mini up the Burma Rd. to Hinckley and pulled in along side one of the huge sheds they have. These storage sheds are the larger brothers of the ones in Perth all those years ago. I wonder what it is with the lighting that goes with these sheds? It is always this pale anemic yellow. Weak enough that you feel if you looked at it too hard the light would just dribble away, mingling with the runnels of water covering the ground and and simply extinguish itself.

Again as in Perth, the whole scene reminded one of a 1930’s Raymond Chandler gangster novel. You know, something like…..

Mini at HYS

There were no headlights on the black shape as it inched closer. It looked like a Caddie, but with street lamps few and far between here, it was that kind of neighborhood, it was hard to be sure. Then again, at this time of the early morning who else was it gonna be? The President?

 In the dark it was hard to make out any particulars of the guy in the car. The one street lamp between him and the tenement was that sickly, anemic yellow color that the lamps down on the ship docks show. The car had stopped just outside the circle of yellow light drifting down from this lone lamp. The drizzle let up for a moment, but that really made no difference. The cloud cover was at about 3 feet anyway, so rain or not, everything was wet and the late fall air was chill. The entire scene was dank and depressing. At length he got out of the car.

He stood there, big and bulky, dense really, 250 lbs and 200 of it was not anywhere near his belt buckle. His hat was pulled down low over the eyebrows and the collar of his long black over coat turned up. The black of the coat matched the darkness of the street, as though they came from the same bin of blackness. So dressed, he was almost invisible outside that weak circle of yellow pinch-hitting for light. For fully a minute he stood quite motionless. He not so much looked around, but rather as if he was sniffing the air, taking in the mojo of the scene. If he were a cat, his whiskers would be twitching. At length who, or what ever, was at Twitch Control must have given him the all clear. He started walking, slowly with steady steps towards the decrepit and dim tenement.

There was no other human on the street but that was not a surprise. 2637 Broadview was the last, more or less inhabited, tenement on the block. It was so well known to the cops, they never did need the number. Just “Disturbance on Broadview”, said it all.

He stopped some feet from the door. Twitch, twitch. Slowly, very, very, slowly he unbuttoned his overcoat and pulled the lapels apart, just a smidge. He reached inside the overcoat and unbuttoned the three buttons on his suit coat. Very slowly, twitching all the while.

He raised his right hand up under his left armpit, and I don’t think he was reaching for his Lucky Strikes.

Mini in yellow light at HYS

It was that kind of night.

Mini at HYSSo here we go again. This time I have the Ranger AND the Mini going into the Vince’s Bush Boatyard Plastic Hoop Shed, albeit with 12 feet of extensions on it to accommodate the Ranger. Maybe after I get her done and sailing I will be able to move boat boats around in daylight, sunny, warm, you know, a normal kind of day for sailing…

Back in "The Day". On a moorinmg in Newport Harbour after the New ENgland Solo Twin, 2003

Back in “The Day”. On the mooring in Newport Harbour after the New England Solo Twin, 2003

 

Solo with two boats

Joe Harris and Henrik Masekowitz are closing in on each other.

Joe Harris has been sailing for 10 days, Henrik for 12. They are both in the warmer climes now. Henrik has some fresh trades behind hm, while Joe is trying to get to the east against light headwinds.

It occured to me that they are both aiming for roughly the same crossing spot on the equator. Far enough east to give them some sea room too leeward vis a vie Brazil, yet not so far east as to be in the crummy wind area. For the purposes of this post I have put the crossing point as 30 degrees west, at the equator. The two screen shots below show Henrik has about 1350 miles to go and Joe has 1790. Hummmm

 Track and distance to go, roughly, for Henrik.

Track and distance to go, roughly, for Henrikto the Equator at 30 degrees west.

And for Joe, the angle is tighter and he has to be sailing upwind to get east at the moment. But we still have say 16 weelks to go….

Joe's track and distance to the Equator at 35 degrees West.

Joe’s track and distance to the Equator at 30 degrees west.

This is Joe’s update from 22nd

BEGIN

Status updated: 22 hrs and 52 mins ago (Mon, November 23 @ 20:43:12)

Hi-Not such a great 24 hours for Team Joey and GS2. Last night was a shit show of one major squall after the next, bringing major thunder, lightning, wind gusting up to 30kn and heavy downpours of rain upon your faithful captain. I was OK with the first couple of these, but then I became really wet and cold and the fun kinda went out of it. It was also a bit scary to be perfectly honest, although the lightning was up higher in the sky and not actually landing in the water. I remember once doing a solo delivery back from Bermuda and I got caught in a huge thunder and lightning storm (in the Gulf Stream of course- my nemesis), where I was pretty damn sure my mast was going to get hit by lightning and blow a hole in the bottom of the boat. With no other boats around, if you were a lightning bolt, why wouldn’t you hit the tall shiny metal object all by itself in the middle of the ocean?? Anyway, it missed me then and it missed me last night, thank God.So the rest of the day has been spent sailing in light air, upwind- something that GS2 does not really like to do. This causes me a lot of stress because I think I should be able to solve the problem- except I can’t- because it kinda “is what it is” as they say. The boat will go upwind properly in 12 knots of wind or more, but in 12 knots or less, we get sticky, because the boat is so wide and flat. And tonight we have 7 knots. Awesome.

I hear that fella Henrik the German is coming down the pike past the Canary and Cape Verde Islands and is enjoying fast trade wind sailing- the bastard. He has a much better downwind sailing angle as he approaches the Doldrums and Equator from Europe vs. the US. Just a fact. I should have a more favorable angle on the return leg from the doldrums to Newport in the Spring.

Break- break- more wind now, although still right on the nose, causing me to aim closer to the “bulge of Brazil” than I would like. Hopefully the wind will come astern more and strengthen tomorrow, so I can aim a little further East. For now, GS2 has undergone a warm weather transformation- with all the cold weather gear stowed away and the food and gear better organized for upwind sailing and life at a 20-degree heel and warmer temps.

Reading “The Martian” and loving it- the perfect book for me right now.

Have a good night-

Cheers-
Joe

ENDS

Jules Verne Trophy, Spindrift 2 racing and IDEC sport underway

The first of the two maxi tris challenging for the Jules Verna trophy crossed the starting ine of Ushant early this morning local (Brest) time.Let the Adventure begin. read on

Press release from Searclear Communications, France

Sunday, November 22, 20

DEPARTURE OF SPINDRIFT 2 IN JULES VERNE TROPHY RECORD ATTEMPT

On Sunday, November 22nd, 2015 at 4:01:58 GMT, the trimaran Spindrift 2, led by Yann Guichard, crossed the start line that runs from Créac’h lighthouse (Ushant island, France) to Lizard Point (England) for the start of her crewed non-stop circumnavigation. The boat crossed the line in a north wind of around 10 knots, under a full mainsail and a solent.
MAXI " SPINDRIFT 2" Jules Verne trophy attempt. MAXI " SPINDRIFT 2" Jules Verne trophy attempt.
The record attempt by Dona Bertarelli and Yann Guichard and their crew began four years to the day since the current record-holder, Loïck Peyron, began his attempt (see previous news item). Banque Populaire V set that record at an average speed of 19.75 knots (36.58 km/h) for the theoretical shortest route of 21,600 nautical miles, but they actually travelled 28,965 miles, averaging 26.5 knots (49.08 km/h) over the six weeks. The time set in that impressive performance was 45d 13h 42m 53s, a tough time to beat.Yann Guichard spoke on the radio during the night, just after crossing the line:We don’t have much wind at the moment – 8 to 10 knots. The sea conditions are not easy because there is a strong current, but the wind will pick up strength, reaching around 30 knots in the Bay of Biscay. So, it’s a steady start at 15-18 knots. We’re delighted to have crossed the line on November 22nd, the same date that Loïck Peyron and his crew started their record, so I hope it’s a good omen for us. Right now, we’re all out on deck, manoeuvring the boat to get away from Ushant island as quickly as possible so we can pick up some stronger, more consistent winds.Spindrift stb tackTo beat the record, Spindrift 2 must return to Ushant before 17:43:51 GMT on January 6th, 2016, i.e. 1 minute quicker than the previous time, as per the WSSRC rules. Between now and then, the 14 sailors must sail around the world via the three capes (Good Hope, Leeuwin and Horn) on the world’s largest racing trimaran. They will be supported by their onshore router Jean-Yves Bernot, who will operate from his headquarters near La Rochelle (France). Day and night, Jean-Yves will keep a close eye on the boat and on the latest weather updates, which will allow him to work with Yann Guichard and onboard navigator Erwan Israel to identify the best route to follow.

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 10.55.37 AM

CREDIT : JM Liot/DPPI/IDEC

Having also been on stand-by in Brest, Francis Joyon’s trimaran left Ushant for her record attempt in the very early hours of this morning, at 2:02:22 GMT, i.e. 1h 59m 36s before Spindrift 2. The two boats are therefore making their descent of the Atlantic at the same time, and should cross the equator in around five days’ time. The record time across the Equator set by Banque Populaire V was 5d 14h 55m. Over the next few hours, the wind will strengthen to around 30 knots in the Bay of Biscay. Sea conditions should also gradually improve, allowing the crew to dash through the Azores High.

MESSAGES OF SUPPORT BY SPINDRIFT RACING’S PARTNERS:
Fair winds and following seas to the entire Spindrift crew!” said Antonio Palma, CEO of Mirabaud & Cie SA. “By seeking to push back some of the boundaries in sailing and beat some of the toughest records, Spindrift racing is aligning itself with Mirabaud’s pioneering spirit and capacity for innovation. Everyone around the world at Mirabaud will be passionately following this record attempt.”

We are enthralled by what Spindrift racing has achieved through the young, modern, competitive mindset of Dona, Yann and the entire team,” said Fabio Cavalli, CEO and founder of Genes-x. “We’re right behind them and we hope they make the most of this unique challenge.

Aldo Magada, CEO & President of Zenith: “Zenith is delighted to join forces with Spindrift racing as its official timekeeper for the Jules Verne Trophy. We admire your audacity and competitive spirit, and wish you fair winds and every success in your epic maritime voyage. As usual, your endeavour combines authenticity, audacity and pleasure, making it a thrilling, high-tech adventure.”
FOLLOW THE RECORD ATTEMPT:

Official website: www.spindrift-racing.com/jules-verne
Maps: www.spindrift-racing.com/jules-verne/en/live
Twitter: @spindriftracing
Instagram: https://instagram.com/spindrift_racing/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/spindriftracing

THE JULES VERNE TROPHY: 

Start and finish: a line between Créac’h lighthouse (Ushant island) and Lizard Point (England)
Course: non-stop around-the-world tour travelling without outside assistance via the three capes (Good Hope, Leeuwin and Horn)
Minimum distance: 21,600 nautical miles (40,000 kilometres)
Ratification: World Sailing Speed Record Council, www.sailspeedrecords.com
Time to beat: 45 days, 13 hours, 42 minutes and 53 seconds
Average speed: 19.75 knots
Date of current record: January 2012
Holder: Banque Populaire V, Loïck Peyron and a 13-man crew
Stand-by start date for Spindrift 2: October 19th, 2015

SPINDRIFT 2 CREW: 

Yann Guichard, skipper
Dona Bertarelli, helmsman-trimmer
Sébastien Audigane, helmsman-trimmer
Antoine Carraz, helmsman-trimmer
Thierry Duprey du Vorsent, helmsman-trimmer
Christophe Espagnon, helmsman-bowman
Jacques Guichard, helmsman-trimmer
Erwan Israël, navigator
Loïc Le Mignon, helmsman-trimmer
Sébastien Marsset, bowman
François Morvan, helmsman-trimmer
Xavier Revil, helmsman-trimmer
Yann Riou, onboard reporter
Thomas Rouxel, helmsman-bowman
Jean-Yves Bernot, onshore router

Photos © Eloi Stichelbaut – Spindrift racing et Thierry Martinez I Spindrift racing