Sebastien Simon on ARKEA PAPREC, who off Cape Town hit an underwater object damaging his boat and forcing him to retire from the race.
The Vendee Globe is a singlehanded non-stop race around the world starting and finishing in Les Sables d’Olonne, France. It is the most challenging yacht race in the world and also might be the most challenging event in all of sports. The boats used are 60-footers designed to the IMOCA rule, which allows a lot of freedom in the design. However, designers might be innovative, but also realize these boats will be venturing into the roaring forties and screaming fifties, where conditions are extreme, so safety becomes the major design concern. The competitors train for years to compete in this event, and many return for the next one, just hoping to win the holy grail of yacht racing. This race is dominated by the French, who have a passion for this kind of racing, but there are always a few from other countries hoping to best the masters.
This write-up is a condensed version of press releases issued by the organizers of the Vendee Globe.
9 November, Day 1
The 33 racers in the Vendee Globe headed across the Bay of Biscay in relatively light air. Some choose a southwesterly course, but the newer designed foilers took a northwesterly approach. There were not many problems, but two racers snagged fishing gear on their appendages and a couple had minor sail issues. Damien Seguin on GROUPE APICIL shares a slight lead over Jean Le Cam, YES WE CAM! Damien was born minus a left-hand and despite this handicap he has been successful in every type of sailing race he has entered whether in or offshore.
A front was approaching the competitors and this will bring high winds, gusts over 40 knots, and rough seas up to 15 feet. After the front, the winds will be lighter as they head towards Spain. The challenge is to find the most wind in the predicted light air and that is why some went further west, but this means tougher conditions with the approaching front.
Fabrice Amedeo on NEWREST – ART & FENÊTRES suffered damage at the top of his mast and returned to Les Sables d’Olonne briefly to make repairs.
10 November, Day 2
The faster foilers still heading west and getting ready to face the front during the night. The front is expected to last five to six hours. The wind will drop, but the seas will remain high as they head south. Next the racers need to consider tropical storm Theta, which they could encounter. The faster foilers may pass to the west, but all should avoid if possible.
A couple of issue: Damien Seguin went over the side to free a fishing net from his keel and Arnaud Boissières went up the mast to release the halyard hook, which freed his gennaker.
Leading is Benjamin Dutreux (OMIA WATER FAMILY) due to his more southerly course. The record to the equator was set by Alex Thomson in 9 days 7 hours in 2016. However, at this time, the racers are about three days behind this time.
11 November, Day 3
Jérémie Beyou (CHARAL) suffered a broken backstay and rudder damage 600 miles from the start and is returning to Les Sables d’Olonne to make repairs. The start line is open for 10 days following the start so it will close 18 November at 1420 hrs. If he can stay on port tack he should be back in port on 13 November. They have a spare rudder and depending on the extent of the other damage she should not be in port long.
The leader is Maxime Sorel (V & B-MAYENNE). The older designed boats are holding the lead due to their more southerly course following the start, but the foilers are quickly making gains with Charlie Dalin (APIVIA) now in fourth 12 miles back of the leader. Three other new foilers are just behind him.
A major issue occurred on PRB, Kevin Escoffier, when a valve on the foil box failed causing an influx of water. He has since repaired this. Armel Tripon (L’OCCITANE EN PROVENCE) had a halyard hook issue. As for Fabrice Amedeo (NEWREST ART ET FENÊTRES) he restarted at 2315 hrs. on 10 November.
12 November, Day 4
Britain’s Alex Thomson (HUGO BOSS) has slid past the Azores and into the lead by a mere 13 miles on the western side of a low-pressure system. Tomorrow the racers should be faced with a much more extreme low when they are confronted by Theta. The older and newer designed boats are still mixed as they fight their way south.
Issues continue to surface. Sébastien Destremau (IMOCA MERCI) exhausted from sailing fell asleep with the boat heading north. Louis Burton, who was over early at the start, served his five hours penalty during the night and lost 70 miles. That was not his only problem when a leak developed in his keel cylinder spilling oil inside the boat.
13 November, Day 5
Alex Thomson (HUGO BOSS) is still in the lead (26 miles) and was the first to face tropical storm Theta. His course brought him close to the centre of the storm and then he gybed in 40 knots of wind and 15 foot seas. This should be a huge benefit to him and Jean Le Cam, who sailed a similar course. Other racers had different thoughts of the best way through the storm.
Kevin Escoffier (PRB) still has issues with water coming in, which took two hours to clear. He was sailing downwind through the storm and being a little conservative.
Other issues: Sébastien Simon (ARKEA PAPREC) went up his mast to repair the wind vanes; Maxime Sorel has auto-pilot problems; and Louis Burton (BUREAU VALLÉE 2) is repairing a bulkhead.
14 November, Day 6
Jérémie Beyou (CHARAL) arrived at Les Sables d’Olonne to repair damage with the hope to get back into the race. If he can get back into the race he figures he will be about 3,000 miles back of the leader.
The new leader is Jean Le Cam (YES WE CAM!) who is 21 miles ahead of Alex Thomson (HUGO BOSS). Both sailed into tropical storm Theta on the same course and now are in the northerly trade winds. This should benefit the newer designed foilers.
The main on Kojiro Shiraishi’s DMG MORI GLOBAL ONE has developed a tear at the top above the second batten. This happened following an autopilot issue that caused the boat to gybe.
15 November, Day 7
Alex Thomson is back in the lead with HUGO BOSS having sailed 380 miles in the last 24 hours. The northerly trade winds should remain about 20 knots creating a drag race for many of the racers over the next several days. Race veterans pointed out the conditions still vary in direction and strength and you must constantly trim to sail at your optimum potential. Their next challenge will be the doldrums, but the weather forecasts says they may sail right through without issue.
Kojiro Shiraishi (DMG MORI GLOBAL ONE) has lowered his torn mainsail and is making repairs.
16 November, Day 8
Disaster struck Nicolas Troussel (CORUM L’ÉPARGNE) when he was dismasted northwest of the Cape Verde Islands. He has officially withdrawn from the race. He is now heading towards Cape Verde at 3 knots.
Leader Alex Thomson is being chased by a contingent of French foilers. They hope he slows in the Doldrums, which he should hit tomorrow.
17 November, Day 9
The damage to CHARAL (Jérémie Beyou) consisted of rudders and its structure, backstay and deck. This has all been repaired and he restarts the race. He said the biggest challenge was resetting his thought process knowing that he could not win, which had been his mind set for the last four years. The forecast showed that he might quickly make gains in the rear of the fleet.
Alex Thomson is still leading, but he is now negotiating the doldrums. He is expected to cross the Equator tomorrow, but will miss his record set in 2016 by about 24 hours. Fortunately, he and the others right behind him will have good conditions to get through and into the southeasterly trades.
18 November, Day 10
Alex Thomson crossed the Equator with a 79-mile lead and missed the record he set in 2016 by about 17 hours. The reason for the slower time was the challenging weather conditions faced by the racers. With the St. Helena high pressure system shifted to the east this should aid the leaders in a shorter and faster course south.
19 November, Day 11
Alex Thomson continues to lead, but only by 10 miles, in confused seas on a beam reach 110 miles off Recife, Brazil. Jean Le Cam is in his fifth Vendee Globe race and doing extremely well in an older designed racer. He crossed the Equator 10 hours and 13 minutes after the leader in fourth position. This is the same boat that he sailed in the 2016 Vendee Globe, but she has been modified getting more volume in her forward sections. She will be slower than the new foilers, but he knows the boat extremely well and that is an advantage. Each of the newer foilers have different sail and rig configurations, foil and hull shapes, which means they are now learning how well they sail in different conditions.
Nico Troussel reached the Cape Verde Islands with his dismasted CORUM L’ÉPARGNE.
20 November, Day 12
After leaving the doldrums three days ago, Alex Thomson (HUGO BOSS) is still leading Thomas Ruyant (LINKEDOUT) and Charlie Dalin (APIVIA). Each are looking for the best way to cross the Southern Atlantic and gain the effects of a low-pressure system, but not slow when they leave it. It is thought that the three leaders may gain a huge advantage even over the fourth-place racer if they gauge the weather correctly. It was thought that the further west they went the better the angle would be to fetch the Cape of Good Hope.
Kojiro Shiraishi (DMH MORI) took four days to repair his mainsail, but is now back racing. Unfortunately, he must sail the rest of the race with at least one reef in the main as the material used to make the repair came from the lower portion of the sail.
21 November, Day 13
During the night a new leader emerged, Thomas Ruyant (LINKEDOUT) as he slid past Alex Thomson (HUGOBOSS) with Charlie Dalin (APIVIA) in third by 64.5 miles. Later, the three were to enter lighter winds, which will force them to do multiple gybes.
22 November, Day 14
Issues strike HUGO BOSS, as skipper Alex Thomson slows to make repairs to a longitudinal beam in the bow. This he discovered on an inspection and the repairs need to be sufficient to withstand the rigors of the Southern Ocean. His Team said that he has what he needs on board to make the repairs. Alex changed course to limit the movement of the boat so he could make the repairs, but it was costing him a lot of miles on the leader. It was thought that the damage occurred due to the power of these boats and slamming into waves. The newly designed foilers are flying most of the time and when they do hit a wave it is with extreme power and those forces are significant. Some of the French boats added structure in their bows to compensate for this.
After restarting the race, Jérémie Beyou (CHARAL) is 3,000 miles behind the leader.
23 November, Day 15
The new leader is Charlie Dalin (APIVIA) by a mere 20 miles over Thomas Ruyant (LINKEDOUT). They next have to navigate their way through some light air before getting into the roaring forties about 600 miles to the south.
Alex Thomson has slowed to make repairs and is already back 350 miles behind the leaders. It was discovered that the central longitudinal stringer was broken in several places and the repair was not going to be easy.
25 November, Day 17
The issues keep coming as Thomas Ruyant’s LINKEDOUT! suffered damage to his port foil and will not be able to use it the rest of the race. While he was resting during the night he heard a loud thump and discovered cracks in the shaft of the port foil. There was no other damage, so he only has a slight handicap over his other competitors.
Still in the lead is Charlie Dalin (APIVIA), who is 150 miles west of Tristan de Cunha. Nineteen of the racers are in the South Atlantic and may gain some distance on the leaders as they may get favourable winds.
Alex Thomson completed his repairs and is back underway, but 646 miles back of the leader in eighth place.
26 November, Day 18
Thomas Ruyant (LINKEDOUT) may not want to leave the damage foil in as it could break off and cause other damage. A number of engineers are devising options for Thomas.
The leaders are out of the South Atlantic high and now in downwind conditions. Charlie Dalin (APIVIA) will enter the roaring forties tonight. There are now just two racers left in the Northern Hemisphere.
27 November, Day 19
Thomas Ruyant (LINKEDOUT) cut away about six feet of the foil and is now back racing at full speed. He is in second, back 300 miles on leader Charlie Dalin (APIVIA), who is nearing the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope.
Kevin Escoffier (PRB) is trying to position himself for the low pressure system that is forecast for tomorrow. He wants to make sure he gybes at the best possible time to be in the right place to take advantage of the conditions.
Alex Thomson made additional repairs to HUGO BOSS making sure she is strong enough for the conditions of the Southern Ocean. He is now 661 miles behind the race leader.
28 November, Day 20
Alex Thomson’s hopes of winning or even finishing the Vendee Globe ended when HUGO BOSS suffered damage to her starboard rudder forcing his retirement from the race. Alex was below, with the boat cruising at 21 knots, when he heard a loud bang and the boat broached violently. With no steering, he rolled up the sails and went on deck and found the rudder blade broken with the remains of fishing gear in it. He is now heading to Cape Town, which is 1,800 miles east-northeast.
29 November, Day 21
The record for rounding the Cape of Good Hope, 17 days 22 hours and 58 minutes, was set by Alex Thomson in 2016 will stand. Charlie Dalin (APIVIA) will be the first to cross.
After starting nine days later after returning to France, Jérémie Beyou (CHARAL) crossed the Equator, 300 miles to the next competitor and 3,300 miles behind the leader. Jean Le Cam (YES WE CAM!) and Kevin Escoffier (PRB) have been battling for the third spot. Right behind them is first time Vendee Globe racer Yannick Bestaven (MAÎTRE COQ IV).
30 November, Day 22
Disaster struck PRB and Kevin Escoffier called his shore team that there was a lot of water entering his boat and soon after activated his emergency beacon and abandoned his vessel for the life-raft. Fortunately, there were several boats in the area and Jean Le Cam was sent towards his position, which was about 840 miles southwest of Cape Town. Also altering course is Boris Herrmann (SEAEXPLORER-YACHT CLUB DE MONACO), Yannick Bestaven (MAÎTRE COQ IV) and Sébastien Simon (ARKEA PAPREC). Jean located the life-raft, but due to the sea condition, 15-foot waves, could not affect a rescue. He then lost sight of Escoffier and the his signal. All four boats are in the area and are sailing with reefed mains and engines idling. They will also sail a grid pattern if they cannot see him.
1 December, Day 23
Just after midnight the PRB Team was notified that Jean Le Cam had Kevin Escoffier on board. The rescued skipper was seen on video, but has not spoken with the race committee. The race committee said they had sent Jean to a position calculated from the signal of the emergency beacon with compensation for drift. He found nothing at that position and then continued on the drift course. He was going 1.5 knots in 20-25 knots of wind when Jean disappeared from his on board video screen. They heard him say something and then they saw Kevin on board.
Kevin added that PRB broke in two, giving him only time to grab his survival suit before being washed off the boat. Fortunately, he was able to get into his life-raft, which automatically had inflated. Jean said that when he failed to find him in the prescribed position, he set course on the drift course and saw a reflected beam bouncing off a wave and realized that was Kevin. Jean was later called by the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, to thank him for the rescue.
2 December, Day 24
Of the 33 races, with three having retired, nine would round the Cape of Good Hope this day. Unfortunately, next came news of another casualty when Sébastien Simon (ARKEA PAPREC) announced that he had hit something in the water that damaged his starboard foil and casing. He slowed the boat and stabilized the amount of water entering the racer.
Race leader Charlie Dalin (APIVIA) was having to learn how to slow his boat so he could safely sail her. He said that the sea conditions were determining whether he needed to decrease or increase speed. He said he never had to slow a boat before in his racing career.
Icebergs were detected so the Antarctic Exclusion Zone was raised so they would not be in the path of racers.
3 December, Day 25
Sam Davis (INITIATIVES-COEUR), one of the women skippers in the Vendee Globe, has struck an object in the water, causing damaged to her longitudinal framing which supports the keel. She is now heading back to Cape Town, but still with the hope of continuing the race. Sam was making dinner just at dusk when her boat nosed dived after striking an object in the water. She said that she went from 20 to 0 knots and that her dinner painted the interior of the boat. She dropped the main and inspected the boat for damage, when she discovered cracks in the longitudinal stringers around the keel.
It was announced that Jean Le Cam (YES WE CAM!) will rendezvous with a French frigate and transfer Kevin Escoffier to them.
4 December, Day 26
Alex Thomson on HUGO BOSS, after sailing 1800 miles in a damaged condition, arrives at Cape Town. At this time, of the 33 racers, four have officially retired.
Race leaders are heading further south after they passed the corner of the Antarctic Exclusion Zone. Due to the sea conditions, they are having trouble keeping a good average speed.
Due to the damage Sébastien Simon’s ARKEA PAPREC sustained from striking an underwater object, he announced he had to officially retire from the race.
5 December, Day 27
Due to the damage sustained to INITIATIVES-CŒUR, Sam Davies was forced to officially retire from the race. She added she still wants to continue after repairs are made.
The leader, now by 200 miles, is still Charlie Dalin (APIVIA) with Thomas Ruyant (LINKEDOUT) in second.
6 December, Day 28
Just after midnight Jean Le Cam’s YES WE CAM! met with a French frigate and transferred rescued sailor Kevin Escoffier. With this Jean has resumed racing. He was given additional food to compensate for the food used to feed Kevin and will be given redress for the time he spent in the rescue and transfer as will the other three boats that changed their course to assist in the rescue. The amount of time will be calculated by an International Jury.
The three leaders (Charlie Dalin (APIVIA), Thomas Ruyant (LINKEDOUT) and Louis Burton (BUREAU VALLÉE)) hit a new low-pressure system with northwesterly winds and gybed onto port tack.
There is a decision to be made: whether you go through the front and into the storm or slow and let the front pass.
AS OF: 7 December, 21 UTC
Skipper/Boat Foils Speed Dist. Finish Dist. First
1) Charlie Dalin Yes 18.36 15215.4 —
2) Thomas Ruyant Yes 16.96 15414.5 199.1
3) Louis Burton Yes 7.3 15484.1 268.7
BUREAU VALLEE 2
4) Yannick Bestaven Yes 11.73 15553.2 337.75
MAÎTRE COQ IV
5) Jean Le Cam No 11.51 15567.9 352.47
YES WE CAM!
6) Damien Seguin No 10.43 15588.1 372.66
7) Ben Dutreux No 16.42 15647.3 431.92
OMIA WATER FAMILY
8) Boris Herrmann Yes 13.83 15726.5 511.11
SEAEXPLORER – YACHT CLUB DE MONACO
9) Isabelle Joschke Yes 16.88 15820.7 605.28
10) Giancarlo Pedote Yes 14.97 15897/1 681.69
11) Maxime Sorel No 15.23 16000.8 785.45
V & B-MAYENNE
12) Romain Attanasio No 16.07 16272.9 1057.53
PURE – BEST WESTERN®
13) Clarisse Cremer No 16.67 16370.5 1155.09
BANQUE POPULAIRE X
14) Armel Tripon Yes 20.18 17088 1872.57
L’OCCITANE EN PROVENCE
15) Alan Roura Yes 10.69 17205.7 1990.27
16) S. Le Diraison Yes 9.81 17281.7 2066.3
TIME FOR OCEANS
17) Arnaud Boissieres Yes 10.38 17287.9 2072.54
LA MIE CÂLINE – ARTISANS ARTIPÔLE
18) Manuel Cousin No 13.59 17489.2 2273.85
19) Didac Costa No 11.92 17668.8 2453.43
ONE PLANET ONE OCEAN
20) Pip Hare No 13.00 17693.6 2478.15
21) Fabrice Amedeo Yes 5.99 18366.1 3150.69
NEWREST – ART & FENÊTRES
22) Miranda Merron No 8.02 18470 3254.64
CAMPAGNE DE FRANCE
23) Alexia Barrier No 9.53 18489.3 3273.9
TSE – 4MYPLANET
24) Clément Giraud No 11.45 18595.7 3380.3
COMPAGNIE DU LIT / JILITI
25) Ari Huusela No 10.2 18696.9 3481.51
26) Kojiro Shiraishi Yes 11.46 18759.4 3544.03
DMG MORI GLOBAL ONE
27) S. Destremau No 12.63 18846.3 3630.88
28) Jérémie Beyou Yes 17.16 19018.1 3802.65
Sam Davies – INITIATIVES-COEUR
Sébastien Simon – ARKEA PAPREC
Alex Thomson – HUGO BOSS
Kevin Escoffier – PRB
Nicolas Troussel – CORUM L’EPARGNE