Ninety percent of Vendée Globe fleet now back in Atlantic

Sunday, 22 January 2017


As the dust settles on an historic Vendée Globe victory for French sailor Armel Le Cléac'h, the majority of the remaining skippers are now on the final 'leg' to the finish line.

With Le Cléac'h's Banque Populaire and second-placed Alex Thomson's Hugo Boss tied up to the dock in Les Sables d'Olonne sixteen skippers remain at sea today – and fourteen of them are now in the Atlantic. Romain Attanasio became the 16th skipper to round Cape Horn and wave goodbye to the Southern Ocean at 2043 UTC yesterday, exactly seven hours to the second behind 15th placed Didac Costa. “After so many of racing it's impressive to see land,” said Spaniard Costa, a firefighter-turned-solo sailor. “What's more, Cape Horn is a mythical place in the history of ocean racing.” Only Dutch skipper Pieter Heerema and Frenchman Sébastien Destremau still have the major milestone at the tip of South America to pass.

Vendee Globe The closest three way battle in the history of the race

At some 225 miles or so still to sail to finish his first Vendee Globe this morning Jérémie Beyou (Maitre CoQ) can start to feel assured that third place should be his even if his progress is painfully slow making around six knots, but the three way tussle for fourth place continues to remain open.  Jean-Pierre Dick, Yann Eliès and Jean Le Cam are engaged in the closest three way battle in the history of the solo round the world race as they pass the Azores archipelago between Graciosa and Florès on the heels of a vigorous depression giving them 30kts southerly winds.

Beyou is expected to finish in Les Sables d'Olonne on Monday afternoon. But some three days behind him the three cornered fight may see a photo finish. Jean-Pierre Dick (StMichel-Virbac), Jean Le Cam (Finistere Sea Vent) and Yann Éliès (Quéguiner-Leukemia Espoir) are within 25 miles of each other. Racing in boat on boat regatta modes more reminiscent of the summer solo offshore stage racing classic La Solitaire du Figaro, JP Dick is just one mile behind wily fox Le Cam, finding himself sandwiched between two three times winners of La Solitaire - Le Cam and Elies.

“The pressure is rising. It’s more like being in Figaro mode. I’m trying to kep the boat sailing as fast as possible, because the pressure is on to get a good result. I’d like to be at least fifth. I’m trying to keep an eye on the weather and focus on my sail choice. I’m trying to find the right pace as I know I can’t keep my foot down for four days. I think that would be a mistake at this point in the race. The important thing is finishing,” Yann Eliès told his shore team. All three are expected to finish at around midday on Wednesday.

Off the Cape Verde Islands, Louis Burton has finally got out of the Doldrums after three long days on a very slow course. The skipper of Bureau Vallée is now back up to double figures in the 15-knot NE’ly trade wind. Following him, Nándor Fa (Spirit of Hungary) is in the SE’ly trade winds, which are also fairly light off Salvador da Bahia. The Hungarian is now just 700 miles from the Equator. In a light easterly breeze, Eric Bellion (CommeUnSeulHomme) followed 150 miles furtehr back by the New Zelander Conrad Colman (Foresight Natural Energy) are now aiming directly for this line having got out of the messy patch of light airs off Cape Frio.

Off Uruguay, the gang of four are taking advantage of a powerful NW’ly air stream, which allowed them to accelerate during the night, as they head towards the NE and the St. Helena high that they will be crossing later this weekend. Their speeds will fall, firstly for Fabrice Amedeo (Newrest-Matmut) and Arnaud Boissières (La Mie Câline) then for the Swiss sailor Alan Roura (La Fabrique) and the American Rich Wilson (Great America IV). Didac Costa (One Planet-One Ocean) and Romain Attanasio (Famille Mary-Étamine du Lys) are sailing in a moderate NW’ly breeze between Staten Island and the Falklands, choosing the Le Maire Strait after rounding Cape Horn and then heading west of the Falklands. In the Pacific, Pieter Heerema (No Way Back) is just 650 miles from Drake Passage, while Sébastien Destremau (TechnoFirst-faceOcean) has just under 1800 miles left before returning to the Atlantic…

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Last Updated ( Sunday, 22 January 2017 )