Another Vendée War of Attrition - Sail Magazine

Another Vendée War of Attrition

Author:
Publish date:
The French frigate Nivôse shadows Banque Populaire VIII, deep in the Southern Ocean

The French frigate Nivôse shadows Banque Populaire VIII, deep in the Southern Ocean

For all the advances made in IMOCA 60 design and safety, when it comes the Vendée Globe solo nonstop race around the world, there’s still an element of Russian roulette to the event, especially in the Southern Ocean portion of the race—and the 2016-17 installment has been no exception.

By the time this issue hits newsstands, the winner will presumably already have arrived in Les Sables d’Olonne, France. However, at press time, the battle was still very much raging in the world’s roughest and most remote waters, and several broken and battered boats were in the process of either falling by the wayside or being nursed along despite serious damage.

First and foremost among these was British sailor Alex Thomson aboard Hugo Boss, who seemed unstoppable until he collided with an unidentified floating object in the South Atlantic that destroyed his starboard foil. This, in turn, meant he could no longer plane effectively on port tack, which allowed second-placed Armel Le Cléac’h of France aboard Banque Populaire VIII to quickly overtake him. The good news for Thomson was that Hugo Boss is designed to be able to continue to race without a foil, and he remained within striking range of Le Cléac’h as the two boats sped across the Indian Ocean.

Soon afterward, 2004 Vendée Globe winner Vincent Riou aboard PRB was forced to retire after hitting another submerged object that damaged the axis of his canting keel, showing that the event’s superstars are as subject to the whimsy of fate as the also-rans. And in case the point hadn’t been made sufficiently, third-placed Sébastien Josse aboard Edmond de Rothschild, one of the pre-race favorites, had barely repaired a damaged rudder before his port foil blew up while blasting along in 35 knots of wind and heavy seas.

Other victims included Japan’s Kojiro Shiraishi, who was forced to divert to Cape Town, South Africa, after his Spirit of Yukoh lost its rig, and Kito de Pavant, who had to abandon his Bastide Otio after he struck something at speed a little farther west of that. For the popular de Pavant, who was rescued by the 360ft research and supply ship Marion Dufresne, the loss was an especially bitter one as this was the third Vendée Globe in which he’s been forced to retire, and his stated goal had been to simply finish in one piece this time around.

On a more positive note, a little over three weeks after the start videographers aboard the French frigate Nivôse commandeered the ship’s helicopter to capture footage of both Hugo Boss and Banque Populaire VIII at full speed in the heart of the Southern Ocean, a first in the race’s 27-year history.

“I had about 25-30 knots, and the sea state was really horrible—very gray, bloody freezing, so it was a nice distraction for the helicopter to come,” Thomson said afterward. “I think I was averaging 21.5 knots, so top speed was possibly 28, and down as low as 17 probably… It was good to have some other people around.”

For the latest on the race and to see some of Nivôse’s footage, visit sailmagazine.com/racing

Photos courtesy of Marine Nationale/Vendee globe; Yoicki Yabe; Anne Recoulez/TAAF; Kito de Pavant/vendee globe

February 2017

Related

daviscards

Davis Instruments: Quick Reference Cards

CHECK THESEIf you’re sailing with new crew this summer or your kids have suddenly and inexplicably started to look up from their phones and take an interest in the finer points of cruising, these Quick Reference Cards from Davis are a great way to further their boating education. ...read more

01-rbir18-596

Another Epic Round Britain Race

There are basically two kinds of offshore sailboat races out there: those that take place annually, like the Fastnet and Chicago-to-Mackinac races; and those that take place every other year, like the Transpac and Newport-Bermuda race, in part so the competitors have sufficient ...read more

01b_WALKING-KEDGE-OUT-cmykpromo

Getting More Use From Kedge Anchors

If you are cruising, you need at least two anchors on board for the simple reason that you must have a backup. Imagine having to slip your anchor on a stormy night with other boats dragging down on yours, or having your rope rode severed by some unseen underwater obstacle, ...read more

SailAwayCharter

How-to: Navigating on a Bareboat Charter

So you graduated from navigation class where you practiced dead reckoning, doubling the angle on the bow and maybe even celestial nav, and you now feel well prepared for your first charter trip. Well, you won’t be doing any of that on vacation—not past the first day, anyway.Most ...read more

04-Turtle-rescue

Turtle Rescue in the Vic-Maui

Strange and often wonderful things can happen in the course of an offshore sailboat race, and one of the strangest and most wonderful things we’ve heard of recently took place during the 2,300-mile 2018 Vic-Maui race, from Victoria, British Columbia, to Lahaina, Hawaii.It ...read more

dorcap-open-blue

ATN Inc: Dorcap

COOL SLEEPYou’re fast asleep in a snug anchorage, forehatch open to catch the breeze, when you’re rudely awakened by a sneaky rain squall. Now you’re not only awake and wet, you’re sweltering with the hatch closed. Sucks, right? That’s why ATN came up with the Dorcap, an ...read more

HIGH-RES-29312-Tahiti-GSP

Ask Sail: Who has the right-of-way

WHO HAS RIGHT-OF-WAY?Q: I sail in Narragansett Bay, which is a relatively narrow body of water that has upwind boats generally going south and downwind boats generally going north. When sailboats are racing, the starboard tack boat has the right-of-way over the port tack boat, so ...read more