Offshore Regattas

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Volvo Ocean Race opts for both foiling monohulls & multihulls


Offshore 60 foot (18.29m) foil-assisted monohull


The Volvo Ocean Race has unveiled a series of radical initiatives that aims to create the toughest all-round test in professional sailing and strengthen the appeal of the 44-year-old round-the-world race to pro sailors, team owners and their sponsors, race partners, host cities and fans.

While the final preparations are being made for the 2017-18 edition, starting 22 October, race organisers used a live event at the Volvo Museum in Gothenburg, the home of the race’s owners and title sponsors, to present a bold vision for the next decade and beyond.

Highlights include the choice of a new 60-foot (18.29 metre) foil-assisted One Design ocean racing monohull, designed by France’s Guillaume Verdier, plus the introduction of a challenging 32-50 foot (10-15m) One Design ‘flying’ catamaran for In-Port Races, for which a new design and build tender process was launched today.

The offshore legs will remain the key to winning the Volvo Ocean Race, but the inshore racing will count more than the current situation, where it acts only as a tiebreaker. That means winning the race in future will demand expertise in both monohull racing offshore and multihull racing in the In-Port Series, as both platforms will be raced by essentially the same crew.


Offshore 60 foot (18.29m) foil-assisted monohull


Key announcements from the Gothenburg event:

Sailing’s ultimate test: From the edition after 2017-18, the Volvo Ocean Race will be contested in a combination of a 60-foot foil-assisted monohull for the ocean legs and a 32-50 foot ‘flying’ catamaran for use in the In-Port Race Series. Together, they will establish the Volvo Ocean Race as sailing’s ultimate all-round test and strengthen its reputation as the ultimate test of a team in professional sport.

Foil-assisted monohull: The One Design monohull from the in-demand French naval architect Guillaume Verdier will use the latest generation foiling technology to make it incredibly fast to sail and spectacular to watch. Crew numbers are likely to be between 5 and 7, with incentives continuing for mixed male-female crews and youth sailors. The race will build eight of the new monohulls and deliver them from January 2019 onwards. They will be available to lease by teams to reduce campaign start-up costs, with sponsors involved in the current 2017-18 race to be given first option when Notice of Race and Commercial Participation Agreements are published this October.

IMOCA compatibility: Uniquely, the design brief retains an option to allow the boat platform to be converted, inexpensively and quickly, to a fully rules-compliant short-handed IMOCA boat. The 60-foot IMOCA class boats, used in iconic races such as the solo Vendée Globe, have been the drivers of some incredible technical innovation over the past few decades.

‘Flying’ in-shore catamaran: Additionally, the race is launching a tender process for a new One Design 32-50 foot ‘flying’ catamaran for use inshore – a boat that will use some of the technology familiar from the America’s Cup and other new multihulls, albeit in a non-development One Design mode.



A sustainable future: The race has three pillars of action on sustainability – reduce its own footprint, maximise its impact using its global communications platform, and leave a positive legacy wherever it goes. Centred on a partnership with the United Nations Environment Clean Seas campaign, the focus will be on the call to action ‘Turn the Tide on Plastic’. A founding partnership with 11th Hour Racing is providing the resource to permit significant amplification across all Science, Education and Ocean Summit programmes. AkzoNobel will further boost the education and awareness programme. The Volvo Ocean Race’s long term ambition is to reduce and then eliminate the use of fossil fuels on future boats, while maintaining safety and communication performance, as well as developing new construction methods and operational strategies for the race overall.

New racecourse and stopover formats: The race is planning big changes to the racecourse and stopover formats over the next decade – moves that will strengthen commercial appeal while preserving its sporting integrity.

While the race is committed to two more starts from its home, and important partner, in Alicante, some future races could start and finish outside Europe, and potentially feature a non-stop leg around Antarctica or even a non-stop lap of the planet. But while routes may vary, the race will commit to visiting North America, South America, Australasia, Greater China, and at least 5 major European markets at least once every two editions, providing commercial clarity for any two-cycle plans even without the precise route being known. In addition, Host Cities will be able to choose from a range of flexible stopover formats – from the 24-48 hour pit-stop, to shorter form stopovers of five days, through to traditional ‘two weekend’ stopovers with full activation. The bidding process for the next three editions is launched today.

Race activity every year/Potential shift to two-year cycle: The Volvo Ocean Race Board has asked race management to look into the feasibility of shifting the race to a two-year cycle. That process is still ongoing but what is already certain is that in future there will be race activity of some kind in every calendar year – a clear evolution from the current situation, with a gap of over two years between editions.

A pathway to the Volvo Ocean Race: The race and its co-owners Volvo Car Group and Volvo Group will become official partners of World Sailing, as part of a long term strategic plan to develop the next generation of offshore sailors and their sponsors by providing a clear developmental pathway. The race will establish Volvo Ocean Race Academies as part of future Host Venue partnerships and will also provide a stepping stone for future offshore sailors into the Olympics, if and when offshore sailing is included, which could be a showcase event as early at Tokyo 2020.

Leadership Development and Team Performance Programme / Global Team Challenge: Organisers will introduce a new Leadership Development and Team Performance Programme for businesses, focusing on learnings from the race in areas such as leadership and teamwork. The programme will feature a ‘shadow’ ocean race called the Global Team Challenge, designed for sponsors to give their employees a unique experience of the sport under near identical conditions to those faced by the professionals. The Global Team Challenge will be safety focused, raced along part of the Volvo Ocean Race route, in detuned versions of the current generation Volvo Ocean 65s and with a ratio of 3 professional sailors to 8 amateurs. The basic package will be included in the commercial offering for team sponsors, with activation opportunities to support employee development HR programmes, Employer Branding (recruitment and talent acquisition) as well as additional opportunities for B2B and media activation. This programme will also act as a new entry point for future sponsors of teams in the race.

50th anniversary celebration: The Volvo Ocean Race began life in 1973 as the Whitbread Round the World Race and 2023 marks its half-century. The race is considering plans for a special 50th anniversary race that will honour the sailing legends who have taken part.

The next edition of the Volvo Ocean Race starts from Alicante on 22 October 2017 and will visit a total of 12 Host Cities on six continents. The teams will compete over 46,000 nautical miles (83,000 kms) to the finish line in The Hague at the end of June 2018.


To Foil or not to Foil?


IMOCA 2016 design

© Benoit Stichelbaut / PRB


IMOCA 60 teams have made their decisions


As their winter refits come to a close, the IMOCA teams have made their main technical choices ahead of a season that culminates in the pinnacle event of the class’ four year cycle: The Vendée Globe. For the next refit, which teams have scheduled for this summer, there will only be time for less significant adjustments ready for each skipper to spend three months sailing their respective yachts singlehanded non-stop around the world. In terms of ‘big ticket items’, such as the foils, there is now no going back.

With the introduction of one design masts and keels in the IMOCA fleet, teams and their designers have acknowledged that there are few gains to be made over the best boats from the previous generations. Instead, they have opened up a new avenue of development with complex-shaped foils, designed not only to prevent leeway (like conventional daggerboards) but also to improve righting moment (ie adding stability and power) and creating vertical lift to reduce wetted surface area and drag. The latest generation foil-assisted IMOCA 60s don’t fly, but they are certainly less immersed than boats not fitted with these foils. With these developments, so the trend, inspired by the flying America’s Cup catamarans and the popular Moth dinghies, is now extending across to monohulls with the latest IMOCA designs. Similar new generation foils have also been permitted to be used on Proto Minis in the Classe 6.50.

With the exception of Nandor Fa’s Spirit of Hungary, a classic design where budgetary constraints have been a decisive factor, all the latest generation IMOCA 60s are equipped with these new generation foils.

However among teams with previous generation boats, opinion is a lot more divided about whether such foils should or should not be retrofitted to their tried and tested machines.



IMOCA design2

© Jean-Marie Liot / DPPI


Maître CoQ’s refit


Jérémie Beyou, skipper of Maître CoQ, has fought a long battle within the IMOCA class against allowing the new generation foils. His reasoning was not so much against the march of progress, rather he considered that these new appendages would incur substantial extra cost (in the order of €300,000 to retrofit them). However, from the moment the decision was made by the IMOCA class to permit the new foils, Beyou has been constantly monitoring how they have performed.

“As with any innovation of this kind, progress was very slow initially,” Beyou observes. “Some were sceptical: Could the gains provided by the foils on certain points of sail offset the losses close-hauled with a much less efficient surface to prevent leeway than the ‘classic’ daggerboard configuration? In reality, we were quickly able to see that the potential for improvement was huge. Banque Populaire VIII’s performance in the Transat Jacques Vabre convinced me that sooner or later this will be the way forward”

In addition, Maître CoQ’s retirement from that race enabled Beyou and the Maître CoQ shore crew to begin tackling the major retrofit work sufficiently early in order to finish ready to train with the other boats this spring. The Transat New York-Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) will provide Beyou and the Maître CoQ team with the opportunity to trial their newly equipped boat as well as to qualify for the Vendée Globe.


IMOCA design3

© Alexis Courroux


A classic configuration for PRB, SMA and Groupe Quéguiner Leucémie Espoir


The other teams with competitive 2008 or 2012 generation IMOCA 60s, have chosen not to fit the new foils, albeit for a variety of differing reasons.

On the 2012 Vendée Globe winner, now Paul Meilhat’s SMA, the repair work required after she was abandoned during the IMOCA Ocean Masters’ Transat Saint-Barth – Port la Forêt race and subsequently left to drift has put the retrofitting of new generation foils out of the question.

For Yann Elies, skipper of Groupe Quéguiner Leucémie Espoir (formerly Marc Guillemot’s 2008 generation Safran) the problem is slightly different:

“It’s clear that the foils provide a significant amount of added speed. Like everyone else, we questioned whether we should embark on this route. We gave up for several reasons: first of all, our refit started late and there was a risk we would miss out on essential sailing time.”

“Next, we must not forget that the addition of foils must be considered in the wider context: Introducing foils considerably modifies the role of the rudders, which have to take on a greater role in preventing leeway. Finally, to bring this operation to a successful conclusion requires both investment, both financially and in time, neither of which we have. Given all these factors, we’ve instead opted for reliability by improving on the existing boat.”

Meanwhile PRB’s performance has boosted by other modifications and skipper Vincent Riou knows that he already has one of the fastest boats in the fleet. In his more controversial view, an IMOCA 60 with a more classic foil configuration still has every chance of winning the Vendée Globe:

“We haven’t found any reasons to fit PRB with [new generation] foils as they don’t improve our winning potential… The foilers would have to make a huge amount of progress to stand a greater chance of winning the Vendée Globe than us.”

Riou is setting the cat among the pigeons here by countering the general trend, but the first real indication of which have made the right decision will occur during the Transat New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) on what should be a downwind course, in theory more favourable to the new generation foilers.

In the end, everyone seems convinced that foils, in some form or other, represent the future of IMOCA 60 design. However, this years Vendée Globe will mark a transition and as yet no-one is in a position to say how the foilers will behave, in terms of their performance or reliability, over several months of racing on the most challenging of race courses. Computer VPP calculations indicate that an IMOCA 60 equipped with new generation foils should be three to four days faster over the whole Vendée Globe course given ‘typical’ weather scenarios. But putting the theory into practice is another thing entirely. However whoever is right, such technological advancements are all vital parts of the rich tapestry that forms the IMOCA Ocean Masters Championship.


By IMOCA Ocean Masters



Balance declared winner of 2015 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race


SHR Balance win


After a long day and overnight wait, Paul Clitheroe’s TP52 Balance was this morning declared the overall winner of the 2015 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Clitheroe’s major rival for the Tattersall’s Cup, Quikpoint Azzurro gliding over the finish line in Hobart at 07.37.59 hours this morning to claim third place.

A belated birthday present for Clitheroe, who turned 60 in July, this is the first time he has won the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s 628 nautical mile race, but not the boat’s first time. As Quest, it won the 2008 race for Bob Steel, and aboard again were two of his winning crew, sailing master Mike Green, a veteran of 37 Hobarts, and Adam Brown, a veteran of 29 races.

Green also won on a previous Quest in 2002 and took line honours on Ninety Seven in the storm ravaged 1993 race. Brown, was with Green in 2008 and 1993, with an additional overall win on Ragamuffin in 1992.

CYCA director Paul Clitheroe purchased his fifth Balance mid-last year and it has won two Sydney Hobarts from just five attempts. The 10 year-old Farr designed yacht has represented great value for her various owners, with other great results to her credit.

“It’s an absolute honour to win this great race. I thought the little boat had beaten us, until the Derwent River decided otherwise,” Clitheroe said.

“When you put a dumbo like me on a boat as good as this, it’s easy to win. In fact Greeny and Brownie are relieved when I leave the helm,” Clitheroe said, understating his value.

Of the conditions, the Sydney yachtsman said: “We had the hell beaten out of us on the first night and then it was pretty light in Bass Strait. The boat would launch into the air in the first 24 hours and you would count one, then two and if you get to three, (a crew member interjects: ‘You get the cheque book out’.

Clitheroe’s other crew are: Nick Scott Perry, David Keddie, David Taylor, Jason Dock, Matthew Craig, Max de Montgolfier, Tom Brewer, Michael Slinn, Andrew Cribb and Clinton Evans, who becomes the first Norfolk Islander to win the race.

For a full list of overall standings see:



Comanche takes line honours after drama packed race


SHR line honours ka

Photo c Kurt Arrigo / Rolex



2015 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race



When Comanche crossed the finish line of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race at Castray Esplanade in Hobart, Tasmania, at 9:58:30 hours on Monday night, history was created, because Kristy Clark became the first female owner to take line honours in the blue water classic.

Kristy, who raced aboard the yacht while co-owner husband Jim stayed ashore, was thrilled to take line honours in her first foray into the race. The yacht represents the New York Yacht Club and

Jim was on the water to greet the Ken Read skippered Verdier Yacht Design and VPLP yacht as it made its way up the Derwent River to the finish line.

It is the first time, possibly with the exception of the early years, that a boat has retired, her crew sail 30 odd nautical miles back towards Sydney, before deciding to continue on racing and go on to win.

And the locals loved it. As Comanche zigzagged close to shore, trying to find pressure on the River Derwent, at Blackman’s Bay lights were being flashed on and off from hundreds of houses and those in cars at Blackmans Bay Beach flashed their lights on and off, making an unforgettable impression against the last light of the day.

But it was at the dock, where Comanche arrived, that one of the largest crowds in living memory had gathered. There was not a square inch to be had around the piers and wharfs surrounding Hobart where thousands cheered the American victory.

Comanche’s finish was impeded by the breeze which came and went at whim as the yacht rounded the Iron Pot. At one stage she was powering at 15 knots, then down to 8.5 knots. Her finish time of 2 days 8 hours 58 minutes 30 seconds was outside the record of 1 day 18 hours 23 minutes 12 seconds set by Wild Oats XI in 2012.

But it did not matter. The last American to take line honours in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s race was Larry Ellison’s Sayonara, 17 years ago in the fatal 1998 race, so Comanche’s efforts was quite some achievement, even if their quest of beating Wild Oats XI was not to be.


For all latest standings see: 

More rudder blowups as Comanche bites back


SHR D2 Com sg

Photos © Rolex / Stefano Gattini


2015 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race


As the leading yachts reach the halfway mark of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, the US supermaxi Comanche has made, arguably, the greatest comeback since Lazarus.

She closed on race leader Rambler, also from the US, and resumed the lead in the race for line honours. Comanche was in deep trouble off the NSW south coast after midnight, when it appeared she would have to withdraw completely after, as skipper Ken Read put it, she “probably hit something”. That “something” all but wiped out a rudder and daggerboard on one side of the boat (she has a rudder and daggerboard on each side).

But in the spirit of its pursuit of this Holy Grail of a Rolex Sydney Hobart line honours victory, Read chose to sail on, albeit with fewer appendages: to continue into Bass Strait and chase down Rambler. It took 13 hours.

“We decided to punch on through. We think we can get to Hobart safely,” Read said. “I don’t care if we limp over the line. We are going to finish this damned race.”

And finish it in style, if she can.

While Comanche is back in the lead and the southerly buster, which has taken out more than 20 per cent of the fleet, is expected to abate over the next 48 hours. On paper, the much lighter conditions expected in the bottom half of Bass Strait and along the Tasmanian coast later this afternoon and tonight favour the less beamy Rambler. So a fascinating duel could develop off Tasmania tonight.

Another great duel is taking place 30 miles astern between Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin 100 and Giovanni Soldini’s smaller Volvo 70 Maserati. They are separated by three miles after Soldini took a wide arc around the troubled fleet off the NSW south coast.

The morning has seen a steady stream of retirements from the race, many with rudder and mainsail damage. They include the maxis Wild Oats XI, Perpetual Loyal, Brindabella and the 2013 overall winner Victoire.

At 1330 hrs local time, there had been 23 retirements. They include another international casualty, Haspa Hamburg and her eager young German crew.


SHR D2 Rambler sg


Battle of the walking wounded


But by the afternoon, Comanche staged a dramatic comeback, slowly reeling in her smaller rival, and eventually regaining the lead.

What was happening?

Had the guys on Comanche pulled off some sort of miraculous jury rig?

Not quite. Somehow, in the vast sweep of Bass Strait, Rambler had found her very own submerged object, twisting and bending her starboard side daggerboard.

“We have no idea what we hit, we couldn’t see it,” Rambler’s Australian navigator Andrew Cape said by satellite phone a short time ago. “It might have been marine life or flotsam, but it was a solid hit. It shook the boat.

“Our port tack performance has been badly affected, and it is all upwind to Tasman Island, so we have a lot of pain to come.”

Cape estimates that they have lost about 10 percent of their speed on port tack and, because they can’t lift the daggerboard, they are losing a bit on starboard tack as well.

“It’s tricky,” Cape says, “A serious structural problem impeding our boat speed.”

“I don’t know what will happen overall. We’ll just try to get the shifts right and do our best.”

So right now we have an American two-horse race, and both horses are running with broken legs. The same broken leg.

Meanwhile, the last standing Australian super maxi, Ragamuffin 100, is slowly closing in. At 30 miles astern of the race leaders this afternoon, her close duel with the Italian V70 Maserati looked to be a fight over third place. Rags has cut the deficit to 26 miles, and there is still a long way to go to Hobart.

Will the Americans stagger up the Derwent side by side?

Will Ragamuffin 100 pull off a home-town upset? Or could Maserati?

Is there a malevolent sunfish roaming Bass Strait, looking to strike again?

If it was in a movie you wouldn’t believe it.

For current standings see:



Wild start as nothing goes to plan


SHR start sg

Photo © Rolex / Stefano Gattini



2015 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race start



If the start of the 2015 Rolex Sydney Hobart is any indication, this race is going to have more twists and turns than any Broadway murder mystery and nothing will pan out the way we think it will.

The drama began an hour before the start when the official start boat began taking on water. Those on board, who should have had a box seat of the start, were hastily deposited on the Zoo wharf, a good two kilometres from the super maxis milling about on the front start line.

But the race must go on, and at 1pm, a hooter rather than the traditional cannon, fired from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s usual start vessel, sent the fleet on its way.

Instantly it became clear that the brisk northerly breeze, with surprisingly little east in it, was going to provide for an epic tactical start. There was no short line to the first mark. The boats would have to tack across each other at least two or three times to get there.

Wild Oats XI skipper Mark Richards always favours the western side of the start line, and just one boat lay between the flying super maxi and the pin end buoy. It was a perfect start, and within seconds Richards threw the Oatley family’s boat onto a daring port tack and began crossing the fleet, passing a good three to four boat lengths ahead of Comanche, which quickly tacked too.

Oats, Comanche, Ragamuffin 100 and Rambler tacked over towards the eastern spectator fleet. Only Perpetual Loyal hung onto her initial starboard tack towards the western foreshore, and when she finally tacked back across, it appeared that her persistence had been a terrible mistake as she ducked behind one after another of her rivals.

Wild Oats XI’s starting plan was working a treat. She had an extra boat length on Comanche when they crossed a second time, and when they turned to cross the Harbour again on port tack, Richards seemed in total command of the Harbour.

But then Perpetual Loyal re-appeared from nowhere on starboard. Richards realized he did not quite have the room to cross in front of the charging Loyal and peeled away on a huge ark to avoid her.

Comanche threw in an emergency tack and found herself in the lee of Perpetual Loyal’s massive mainsail. By the time Oats regained her footing, she was in an unusual third place, and nothing was going to stop Perpetual Loyal leading the fleet out of the Harbour.

Comanche trailed Loyal by a boat length or two as Perpetual Loyal, Comanche, Wild Oats XI, Ragamuffin 100 and Rambler settled onto the tight reach through the Heads towards the sea mark and the turn to Hobart.

Then an astonishing thing happened. Comanche unfurled her big spinnaker, pressed the turbo button and took off. She surged to the lead. An arrogant display of raw, unmatchable power.

But more was to come

Rambler looked to be right where she needed to be, snapping at the heels of her bigger rivals, but about halfway through the Heads, someone hit the American’s afterburners. First Rags, then Oats and then Perpetual Loyal fell by the wayside as George David’s American 88 footer raced through the lumpy, jarring seas as though she was at a flat water regatta.


SHR D1 fleet ka


Jaw dropping

And still the drama was not over. As Comanche, Rambler, Ragamuffin 100 and Wild Oats XI unfurled their giant Code Zeros for the run south Perpetual Loyal continued out to sea. Twice her Code Zero refused to burst open.

Behind the super maxis things were going more to plan for Black Jack, Chinese Whisper and Ichi Ban, but further back in the fleet Maserati, the world beating Italian V70 had managed to ensnare one of the buoys separating the race and spectator fleets. The big ocean racer finally left Sydney surrounded by small fry. But there is a long way to go.

Further back, Ark 323, the Chinese TP52, was in a collision with another TP52, Ragamuffin 52. “We were dipping down to avoid Rambler, but the boat below us (Ragamuffin 52) did not give us enough room. We have a big crack in our deck,” crew member Faris Bin Aznan, alleged back at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia dock, following her retirement.

Also back at the CYCA were Jeremy Pilkington’s RP78, Lupa of London, and Anthony Lyall’s TP52, Cougar II from Tasmania. They, too, were involved in a collision that left Cougar II’s starboard transom stove in and broken, with damage to the bow of Lupa of London.

Cougar II’s crew were too shattered to speak, the disappointment clearly written on every crew member’s face.

On Lupa, tactician Laurent Pages told of their devastation. “We were sailing on starboard tack from the start and three boats got locked together – we were in the middle with nowhere to go.

“We were left with the decision to run into the boat above us, or the one below us,” Pages said. “This was the worst thing – the worst feeling – a stupid accident.

“The race director was very clear at the briefing this morning. The race committee told us all to take it easy at the start – there was a whole race to go. If everyone listened, this would not have happened. We are shattered – we came a long way. It seems so unfair,” Pages ended.

M3, Peter Hickson’s TP52, is also out of the race, suffering a shattered forestay. They initially thought they would return to the CYCA and try to fix it and re-start. Anthony Lyall kindly offered them the forestay from his Cougar II.

“Despite how they were feeling, Cougar II made us a generous offer, but we subsequently had a crew meeting and looking at tonight’s forecast for a harsh southerly, we decided to retire,” M3’s skipper, Brent Fowler said.

An extraordinary start, but three hours into the race, God appeared to be back in his heaven, normalcy restored.

Comanche is approaching Jervis Bay in the lead, reveling in the brisk northerly. “We have the hammer down, doing 29 knots,” skipper Ken Read reported

“We’ve got to go fast in these conditions that suit us and put distance between us and the rest.

“The southerly is due in four to five hours. If it is sailable, we should still have the advantage, and take more miles out of the others.”

Read isn’t at all surprised that Rambler is in second place, not one of the Australian 100 footers.

“We have raced them a few times and they we have made them better. And they have made us better.”

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the live stream of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race start was unable to be broadcast internationally. We apologise for any inconvenience and frustration that this has caused international followers.


Breaking news – Favourite out with torn mainsail


SHR D1 Wild Oats mc

Wild Oats out – Photo c Michael Chittenden


Supermaxi yacht, Wild Oats XI, has been forced to retire from the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race with a torn mainsail.

Early reports indicate that the sail tore in half when the yacht was hit by a 40 knot squall that accompanied a southerly change off the NSW south coast.

The front hit the front runners around 2130hrs AEDT, close to the time predicted. The race fleet was expected to have a difficult time with the dramatic wind change from a fresh NE breeze to a southerly front accompanied by rain.

Top navigator Will Oxley,sailing on board Ichi Ban reported the the winds peaked at 41 kts before settling down to an average of 35kts as the front steadied.

Wild Oats XI is returning to Sydney. All her crew are reported to be safe.


And yet more dramatic news


SHR D1 Comanche mc

Comanche breaks rudder – Photo c Michael Chittenden


Whilst leading the race, US supermaxi, Comanche has suffered a broken rudder and is desperately trying to effect emergency repairs.

The incident occurred about an hour after the race leader had been hit by a southerly front which she appeared to pass through in good shape.

However at 2300hrs EDT the yacht reported to race control that she had broken a rudder.

Currently leading the race is Rambler.


For current standings see:





Celebrations all-round in Itajai


TJV Imoca wins

Photos © Jean Marie Liot



Transat Jacques Vabre – Finish in Itajai



Celebratory magnums of Moet champagne and potent local Caiprinhas were in evidence on the winners’ dock as Itajaí welcomed, in short order, the winners of the Multi 50 Class and the white hot IMOCA monohull class, but the key, respective skippers were also toasted for their own personal triple and double triumphs on the biennial Transat Jacques Vabre race, which retraces the coffee route from Le Havre to Brazil.

Multi 50 class winner Erwan Le Roux made it three Multi 50 wins, two back to back, when he and Italian co-skipper Giancarlo Pedote brought FenêtrêA-Prysmian across the finish line in Brazil on the boat he helped Franck Yves Escoffier build as Crépes Wahou in 2011.

After sharing a maiden race victory with Escoffier in 2011 into Puerto Limon, Costa Rica, Le Roux won the last edition with Yann Eliès. He admitted back them that he had learned to up his intensity from three times Solitaire du Figaro winner Elies, but this win was as much about passing on his learning to his Italian co-skipper Giancarlo Pedote who realised a dream of completing the Transat Jacques Vabre which he had harboured for 14 years, ever since standing on the dock as a preparateur.

A double, back to back, win was also completed by 2004-5 Vendée Globe winner Vincent Riou when he and Seb Col guided PRB across the finish line with second placed Armel Le Cléac’h on Banque Populaire VIII, the last surviving new generation IMOCA still in the race, lying 60 or so miles behind in second. Although Riou and Col set a new IMOCA class reference time for the 5400 miles course 19 minutes and 23 seconds faster than in 2013. Riou revealed on the dock that they had sailed all of the course with no wind instruments, only Course over Ground and Speed over Ground outputs. Their enforced back to basics approach, sailing by feel and instinct, saw them sail 4.45% faster than in 2013 covering 4.35% more ground. As Riou bids for a second Vendée Globe win next year, his objective was to learn from America’s Cup helm and grand prix monohull ace Col.

Col noted: “Ultimately, this electronic damage is a good lesson. We realize that we are increasingly reliant on gizmos in life in general. As human beings we are capable of doing great things by instinct and feel. There is a nice lesson for a performance. And I learned how complete you need to be to sail an IMOCA.”

Riou and Col lead all the way in the Southern Hemisphere, executing their game plan to the letter. Their objective was to be in the leading posse at the Cape Verde islands. That they then wriggled free of the Doldrums with a tiny lead was just enough for them to extend in the S’ly trade winds. And after having to retire consecutively from both the Vendée Globe and last year’s Route du Rhum, Riou will take some considerable confidence in arriving in such good shape in Itajai, winning the IMOCA fleet in a pre-Vendée Globe year from a race which imposed a high rate of attrition, 11 boats of the 20 starters retiring during a brutal first seven days of racing.

Riou commented: “We made a very special race. We worked this Transat Jacques Vabre by feel. From the first night race we had a navigation system failure. After that we did everything with one single display, COG and SOG. We never had wind strength or direction. We even thought of putting ribbons in the rigging as we did when we were sailed our 420 dinghies as nippers. We did everything without electronic help. But if you had told me before the start we would do this, I would have said not a chance. It’s not possible. But we had to sharpen up our senses and make it work. Then with some simple benchmarks, it’s not too hard to find the right settings. But you always want to be well pressed for the best feelings. But for us the lesson is that you can learn from the feelings and it’s not so bad.”


For more results:



Gabart and Bidégorry first to finish on Macif tri


TJV line win

Photo © Transat Jacques Vabre

Transat Jacques Vabre finish in Itajai


French co-skippers François Gabart and Pascal Bidégorry on the new 30m Ultime Trimaran Macif, crossed the finish line at 05:59 hrs 27secs UTC this morning (00:59hrs 27secs local) in Itajaí, Brazil as first Ultime, to take line honours in the 5400 miles Transat Jacques Vabre double handed Transatlantic race which left Le Havre, France at 1230hrs UTC on Sunday 25th October.

The elapsed time for Gabart, 32, and Bidégorry, 47, is 12 days 17hrs 29min 27sec sailing at an average speed of 17.68 kts for the theoretical course of 5400 Nms (10,000kms). They ensured Macif win its first ever ocean race. The new VPLP design, which was only launched in August, actually sailed 6340 nm’s on the water at a real average speed of 20.75kts It is the first time that Gabart, who won the solo round the world Vendée Globe race in 2013 at his first attempt at the age of 29, has triumphed in the Transat Jacques Vabre race. He was second in the IMOCA class on his first ever ocean race in 2009. Bidégorry was on the winning multihull in 2005.

In this 12th edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre Macif chased in the wake of early race leaders Thomas Coville and Jean-Luc Nélias (Sodebo Ultim’) until the Doldrums, but were never more than 70 nm’s behind. Two of the four Ultime trimarans which started had to abandon, including Prince de Bretagne which capsized off the NW coast of Spain.

An exciting duel between the two giant multis took them close to the African coast, trading gybes only a few miles off the shoreline as they sought to avoid the light winds to their west caused by the Azores anticyclone. The pair closed through the Doldrums but Gabart and Bidégorry were able to extract themselves better from a very slow, sticky passage of this light winds zone.

Emerging first into the SE’ly trade winds they extended their lead out to 258 miles between Salvador de Bahia and Rio. But the chasing pair closed again around Cabo Frio in the transition zone caused by a stormy low pressure and Sodebo Ultim’ were less than 100 Nms behind at the finish line and are due to finish around 1100hrs UTC.

For more info on race positions:




The attrition rate continues


TJV FenetreA jml

Photo c Jean-Marie Liot


Transat Jacques Vabre – Le Havre to Itajai


One week on from the start of this 12th edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre and of the 42 starters there have now been 16 abandonments. Latest to formally announce his retirement from the race today was the three times winner Jean-Pierre Dick. Arrived in Madeira with co-skipper Fabien Delahaye, Dick confirmed today that they will not return to the race. He wants to have complete confidence in his new IMOCA 60 before he races again, he said, today. Whether that is in the upcoming solo race from St Barths to Brittany or next year, will depend on the evaluation, advice leading to consequent repairs and reinforcement which can be accomplished in Madeira.

Meanwhile a technical team attached to AT Racing were reported to be heading out to recover the new Hugo Boss which Alex Thomson and Guillermo Altadill were rescued from yesterday, 60 miles off the Spanish coast. Kito de Pavant and Yann Reginau also reported their retirement today in Cascais, citing irrepairable key sails, and electronics.



Photo © Mark Lloyd /


The rate of attrition in this race, 38%, is higher than the ‘normal’ figure which is closer to 25%. But the causes of these abandons are diverse. Of the five new, latest generation IMOCA monohulls which started now only the class leading Banque Populaire VIII is still on course. Safran, Edmond de Rothschild, St-Michel Virbac are all retired as will Hugo Boss in time. All of these boats were short of hard racing miles, and as Dick pointed out, are nearly new prototypes which nowadays evolve to become the machines they need to be.

“Boats designed today are too fragile. But we work now with the designers on Version 2. Along with my partners we are frustrated not to finish. But these are racing prototypes. We knew that we had a lot to learn with this generation of foiler boats. So we are already working towards the future.”

Half of the damage occurred before the third depression which capsized Prince de Bretagne, the Ultime while the Multi50 FrenchTech Rennes St Malo hit a submerged container around the same time.

Some damage was due to wear and tear, almost certainly Le Bateau des Métiers by Aerocampus (IMOCA 60) and probably Spirit of Hungary which was dismasted yesterday afternoon.

Skipper Nandor Fa confirmed they were sailing in ‘dream conditions’ 14-17kt trade winds, both in the cockpit when their mast came down. SMA damaged their keel fin in what they believe to have been an impact of some kind, whilst Maitre CoQ and both suffered standing rigging failures.

Entering into the Doldrums today the two Ultime multis are trading the lead. Sodebo Ultim, Thomas Coville and Jean-Luc Nélias returned to the lead today with about 100 miles to go before the first signs of an asthmatic SE’ly trade wind. There is less than 1.5 miles between Sodebo Ultim’ and MACIF and with more than 2000 miles to go, it is too close to call.

In the IMOCA 60s Banque Populaire VIII holds a margin of 21 miles over PRB and 33 over Queguiner-Leucemie Espoir. The leading three skippers are looking closely at the fortunes of the two Ultimes south of them, crossing at 30 W as that is almost certainly the same exit door from the Nothern Hemisphere that the leading IMOCAs will take. Behind the leading trio Le Souffle de Nord and Initiatives-Coeur are six miles apart, 240 miles behind the lead trio. They, then, have 150 miles of cushion over the third tier which spans sixth placed Bureau Vallée to Sam Goodchild and Eric Bellion in ninth on Comme un Seul Homme Stand as 1.

Class40 has a tiered structure too. Le Conservatuer have 50 miles on second. Brazil’s Zetra, Eduardo Penido and Renate Araujo are sailing a great first Class 40 ocean race in sixth, Pip Hare and Philippa Hutton Squire a solid eighth. But between sixth and ninth there is 58 miles.


Positions at 1800hrs Sunday:

1 – Le Conservateur
2 – V and B
3 – Solidaires en Peloton ARSEP

1 – FenêtréA Prysmian
2 – Ciela Village
3 – Arkema

1 – Banque Populaire VIII
2 – PRB
3 – Queguiner – Leucemie Espoir

1 – Sodebo Ultim’
2 – Macif
3 – Prince de Bretagne

For updates and current tracking positions see:




Surf and Turf


TJB D3 tri

Arkema © Vincent Olivaud



Transat Jacques Vabre – Day 3


The leading pair of Ultime multihulls, opening the 5400 miles Transat Jacques Vabre course from Le Havre to Itajaí, are fighting through light winds just a few miles off the West African coast between Western Sahara and Mauritania while the last of the Class 40s are contemplating another Biscay bashing still 220 miles NW of Cape Finisterre.

In the IMOCA Class, Britain’s Alex Thomson and Spanish co-skipper onboard Hugo Boss reported that after unsuccessfully attempting a repair for several hours at sea, they have made the difficult decision to proceed to Vigo. This partial repair will not allow the duo to cross the Atlantic serenely. The technical team is currently en route to Vigo, Spain, to join the crew and try to consolidate repairs.

As the leaders of the IMOCA class passed the latitude of Cape Finisterre late Wednesday afternoon, hopefully with the worst of the weather left behind in Biscay, the leaderboard has a very familiar look as the teams from the Pole Finisterre occupy the top four places.

Yann Eliès and Charlie Dalin on Queguiner-Leucemie Espoir lead PRB 4 by 12 miles with Armel Le Cléac’h and Erwan Tabarly up to third on the new Banque Populaire VIII as they reach again in WNWly winds.

The foil assisted Banque Populaire was quickest this afternoon by 1.5 to two knots, 16 miles behind Queguiner. And so to date Banque Populaire is the only one of the latest ‘foil’ generation to have not reported any technical issues so far.

A broad swathe of light airs caused by an elongated Azores high pressure ridge has forced Sodebo Ultim’ and Macif to the skirt the coast to avoid the no-go area which bars the most direct route.

On Wednesday afternoon the race leaders, Thomas Coville and Jean Luc Nélias on Sodebo Ultim’ were only three miles off the beach, gybing downwind in 10-12kts of SE’ly breeze. They are south of the latitude of Madeira, still making good speeds. In the lighter airs the newer, lighter Macif had caught back some miles on Sodebo Ultim’ but Francois Gabart and Pascal Bidégorry were still over 34 miles astern and on the opposite gybe from the leaders. Both will almost certainly pass east of, or through the Canary Islands.

Life may appear easier for the two leading giants. They have done their time scything through the depressions to their north, indeed largely outrunning the worst of the conditions, but the smaller Class 40s still have bad weather to come before they can escape Biscay.

After the retirement of Team Concise with structural damage this morning it was their French sparring partners Nico Troussel and Corentin Horeau who confirmed they have had to retire. Persistent problems with the autopilots on Bretagne Credit Mutuel Elite had rendered the duo exhausted.

Class 40 has been pared back to a head to head match race at the front of the 12 boat fleet. 2011 winner Yannick Bestaven on Le Conservateur with Pierre Brasseur have Maxime Sorel and Sam Manuard on the 2015 Manuard design V & B five miles off their starboard hip but seeming to be significantly quicker on the mid afternoon position report.

For current updates and tracker positions see:



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