Sagarmatha of the Southern Ocean

Sherpas call Mount Everest Sagarmatha, “the mountain so high that no bird can fly over it”. Western sailors know the Vende Globe—a non-stop, solo, around-the-world race sailed on wildly powerful, lightweight 60-footers—as sailing’s Mount Everest. Study the attrition rate in this year’s race—19 of the original 30 boats dropped out, many in the stormy waters of the Southern Ocean—and you realize
Author:
Publish date:

Sherpas call Mount Everest Sagarmatha, “the mountain so high that no bird can fly over it”. Western sailors know the Vende Globe—a non-stop, solo, around-the-world race sailed on wildly powerful, lightweight 60-footers—as sailing’s Mount Everest. Study the attrition rate in this year’s race—19 of the original 30 boats dropped out, many in the stormy waters of the Southern Ocean—and you realize this isn’t hyperbole. There were stories that scare even the world’s best offshore sailors. Deep in the Southern Ocean, Yann Elis was swept the length of Generali’s deck by a giant wave, breaking his left femur and cracking several ribs as he “encountered” various bits of deck kit. Elis crawled to his bunk where he waited two agonizing days to be rescued by an Australian Navy vessel.

sagarmatha

A couple of weeks later, fellow Frenchman Jean Le Cam (VM Matriaux) hit an unidentified object 200 miles west of Cape Horn, tearing his keel bulb from its strut. VM Matriaux capsized, with Le Cam inside. Vincent Riou (PRB) sailed to his rescue; he plucked Le Cam from the icy waters on his fourth try but fouled his rig on VMMatriaux’s keel strut, and lost his mast (he was awarded redress for his heroics). Other top sailors—among them Mike Golding, Seb Josse, Lock Peyron—were forced out in less dramatic but no less painful circumstances.

Yet the Vende’s outcome was magical for sailing legend Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia), winner of the 2000–2001 race. Damage at the start forced “Le Professeur” back to Les Sables d’Olonne for 40 hours, but he quickly closed down the 600-mile gap to the leaders. On December 16, in heavy conditions south of Cape Leeuwin, Australia, Desjoyeaux ticked off 466.6 miles in 24 hours—the race’s high-water mark—and surfed into the lead, which he commanded for 45 days until crossing the finish line on February 1.

Desjoyeaux not only took the overall win, becoming the first person to have won two Vende Globes, but set a new course record of 84 days, 3 hours, and 9 minutes, averaging 14 knots and taking more than 3 days off the previous record; impressively, this year’s 28,303 mile course was 1,150 miles longer than in 2005 when the former record was set.

“I won this Vende Globe before the start with the choices I made, with the team and the experience I have built up,” said an elated Desjoyeaux. “I may have done it eight years ago, but it’s still incredible.”

While birds can’t clear Sagarmatha, Le Professeur has ascended it. Twice.

Related

190219NEEL51

Video Tour: Neel 51 Trimaran

At this past fall’s Annapolis Boat Show, SAIL magazine had a chance to corner Neel Trimarans founder Eric Bruneel and have him give us a tour of the accommodations aboard the new Neel 51, winner of the “Multihull over 50ft” category in the 2019 Best Boats contest. For a complete ...read more

IMG_0173

Electronic “Flares” for Cruisers

The United States Coast Guard requires that all boats operating in coastal waters or on the high seas carry a selection of visual distress signals. Almost invariably, such signals include the pyrotechnic type, either handheld or fired from a flare pistol, but surely there are ...read more

M2-HOOK-TOP-AND-CHAIN-1

Gear: M2 Chain Hook from Mantus

Stay Hooked Chain hooks on anchor snubber lines tend to fall off when you least want them to. Not so this latest example from Mantus. The M2 Chain Hook is secured to the chain by a simple elastic strap, so it won’t come off when the snubber loosens. Made from corrosion-resistant ...read more

shutterstock_349918991

Successful Surf Landings with Wheels

“Ready to take the dink ashore?” Never had those words invoked as much anxiety as when my husband, Jeff, and I first moved to the Pacific Coast. Why? Because we had exactly zero experience with dinghy surf landings, and the possibility of being flipped upside down along with our ...read more

Sail2010_597

How to: Find Good Values on Charter Vacations

So, you want to find a great deal on your next charter vacation? Sure, you can scour the internet, hope for Black Friday deals or ask friends. But an even better way to find good prices on charter boats is to go to a boat show. Not only do charter companies like The Moorings, ...read more