Records and Repairs in the Vendée Globe - Sail Magazine

Records and Repairs in the Vendée Globe

Things have now stabilized in the 2012-13 Vendée Globe, following an early spate of collisions and dismastings that forced over a third of the fleet to retire before it even reached the equator.
Author:
Publish date:
MACIF_VendeeGlobe%20for%20Website

Things have now stabilized in the 2012-13 Vendée Globe, following an early spate of collisions and dismastings that forced over a third of the fleet to retire before it even reached the equator. However, the remaining 13 competitors are still finding themselves pushed to the limit as they contend with both breakages and the extreme weather conditions that mark the Southern Ocean.

British sailor Alex Thomson aboard Hugo Boss has hit a floating object that tore through one rudder mechanism and a hydrogenerator blade. Repairs to the rudder tie bar took 15 hours, and Thomson, now sailing with only one hydogenerator, has a limited power supply, forcing him to cut off communication with the outside world.

“The repair to the tie bar seems to be holding up well, although it is currently on the windward unloaded side, so I won't really know if it will hold until it is fully loaded while sailing on starboard,” Thomson reported. “If [the repair] should fail, I have various other options available which will take more time. So in terms of finishing I don’t see this as a real problem.

“I am getting used to the lack of comms onboard,” Thomson added. “I certainly miss speaking to my wife and the team, but we still communicate via email so it is not the end of the world.”

 Acciona's broken rudder

Acciona's broken rudder

Also suffering from a collision was Javier Sanso of Spain aboard Acciona 100% EcoPowered, who now finds himself sailing with a 40cm chunk missing from his starboard rudder. Fortunately, the damage has been limited to the rudder’s sacrificial “crash area,” so that it remains serviceable.

Meanwhile, aboard Cheminées Poujoulat, Switzerland’s Bernard Stamm was forced to perform some self-dentistry work, filing and temporarily filling one of his molars in the rough conditions. “I broke a tooth, and I'm now missing about a third of a molar. The broken part is bared, I need to take care of that immediately,” Stamm told one of the race’s official physicians shortly after the accident.

Despite the brutal circumstances, the fleet has been pushing itself harder than any Vendée Globe fleet in history, with Frenchman Francois Gabart aboard Macif leading the way. Gabart, who at 29 is the 2012-13 race’s youngest skipper, recently shattered Jean-Pierre Dick’s 24-hour speed record of 515.6nm, which was set on Dec. 1, when he sailed 545.3nm in 24 hours at an average speed of 21 knots.

 Francois Gabart, skipper of Macif

Francois Gabart, skipper of Macif

Gabart sailed nearly 11,000 miles in 34 days at an average speed of 14.9 knots, which is 0.9 knot faster than the record speed set by Michel Desjoyeaux, winner of the 2001 and 2009 Vendée Globes. Gabart, however, says he is focused only on his overall race, and that breaking records is for him only incidental.

“I don’t feel very concern[ed] with the records,” Gabart says. “I don’t look at them because from one race to another, the weather conditions change, just like the route changes and the boats.”

For his part, Desjoyeaux says that the secret to Gabart’s record-breaking speed is his sail wardrobe. “I know why Francois is so fast. He has a [blast reacher], which is an improvement of what I had four years ago. We are sure now that Armel does not have the same sail. [The sail] works on the angles that [Gabart] had when he broke the record, so around 120 degrees with around 35-40 knots of wind, with ideal conditions of swell and sea.”

The 2012-13 Vendee Globe thus far: BY THE NUMBERS

Since November 11, when 20 intrepid skippers set out from Les Sables d’Olonne, France, seven have dropped out and the youngest among them, 29-year-old Francois Gabart, sailed a record-breaking 545.3 nautical miles in 24 hours aboard his Open 60 Macif. Some other numbers to consider:

Youngest Skipper to sail a Vendee Globe: Ellen MacArthur, 24, in 2000–2001

Oldest Skipper to sail a Vendee Globe: Jose de Ugarte, 62, in 1992–93

Average length of sleep sailors get per 24 hours: 5 hours

Previous ratified 24-hour record: Single-handed (Alex Thomson): 468.72 mi/24h, an average speed of 19.53 knots (2003)

Current 24-hour record: Single-handed (Francois Gabart): 545.3mi/24h, an average speed of 21 knots (2012, awaiting ratification)

Macif’s LOA: 60ft

Macif’s Mast Height: 95ft

Macif’s Beam: 18ft 7in

Macif’s Sail Area Upwind: 3,659ft2

Macif’s Sail Area Downwind: 6,135ft2

Macif’s Displacement: 16,975lbs

Macif’s Sail Area-Displacement Ratio: 88.63

Macif’s Displacement-Length Ratio: 35

Photo courtesy of Vendée Globe/Jean-Marie Liot

Related

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

albinheaters

Albin Pump Marine: Marine Water Heaters

IN HOT WATERSweden’s Albin Pump Marine has introduced its line of marine water heaters to the United States. Complete with 130V or 230V AC electric elements, the heaters can be plumbed into the engine cooling system. They feature ceramic-lined cylindrical tanks in 5, 8, 12 and ...read more

03-squalls4

Squall Strategies

Our first encounter with a big squall was sailing from San Diego to Ensenada, Mexico. We left at 0200 to ensure we’d get into Ensenada before our 1300 haulout time. The National Weather Service had forecast consistent 15-20 knot winds from the northwest, which was perfect for the ...read more