Monthly Archives: November 2012

Lead change imminent

 

Vendée Globe 2012-2013 – Day 20

 

 

It was a resolute Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) that appeared on the live video link up on Vendée Globe Live on Thursday. He said, “I went around the St Helena anticyclone. I am heading to the first Ice gate. I am looking at the others and I believe we won’t be very far away from each other in 48 hours. We have two different weather forecast models: a European and a America. I try to adapt my journey according to both of them. For me Dick is the leader of the western group. They all did a great come back (Le Cam, Golding and Wavre) as they almost never stopped.”

Holding on to 2nd place, is Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) who said that. “If I don’t have any more slow patches tonight I may hold on to 2nd place for much of today but at some point I will relinquish that position to Virbac and then another to Macif. There is nothing I can do, the cards have been dealt and although I knew this when I climbed into the 2nd place I have now got used to it and don’t want to give it up!”

He explained in his latest update that his saving grace over the last few days has been the wind angle. “I have been sailing much tighter wind angles than the guys to the west which in the lighter winds has meant I have been able to get the best possible speed from the boat for that wind angle. Hugo Boss is also performing well and exceeding the polars (best theoretical speeds) all of the time. This is helped by the flat water and maybe by the long ocean swell which is coming at us from the south west.”

Alex wrote that in a little under two days a weather front will cross the fleet and the wind will go from the north to the south west. The fleet will gybe and continue to the ice gate and be followed by a ridge of high pressure which will probably slow them all down. He is not expecting it to last to long and is expecting the fleet to pass the ice gate of Aiguilles on the morning of the 2nd Dec.

The race routing will follow great circle to the next ice gate. There have been reports of an ice berg 500 miles south east of the first ice gate. The skippers will not be want to see their frozen enemy ice.

A few days ago, Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) lead the charge in the western group, when he launched his southern attack to avoid the Saint Helena High. He is now sailing at speed towards Gough Island the first gate, which the fleet must leave to starboard. The outcome of this bold choice will be decided, within a matter of 24 hours. The skippers are now preparing to enter the Southern Ocean. Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) is looking forward to it.

“I feel like I am returning to my world! I like to sail in the very wild, very beautiful Southern seas. I am wearing underlayers and soon, I will put on my boots.”

François Gabart (Macif) has climbed into 4th position and is tailing Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) by 6 miles, he spoke confidently today on the web tv show, Vendée Globe Live

“I am fine. I start to get some more wind. I am pleased to be in the lead group. I am ready to enter the Southern Ocean; I have everything ready on the boat.The next days are going to be easy.”

Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) has jumped ahead of the pack of senior sailors. Mike Golding said today, “I’m feeling good. I think we are in a good place, Jean [Le Cam] is in a better place. Overall we are going to make a close on the lead group and that is the most important thing at this stage. The exact amount is difficult to predict. Armel [Le Cléac’h, current race leader] is going better than I would have forecast, but none the less, he did well on the last poll, Alex [Thomson] is keeping going which is good, but again, we seem to make little gains on each poll and that is how we lost the miles and that is how we get them back.

I think everyone was expecting this front to come in harder than it has, certainly I was. And we are pretty close to being down south, it is cooling off, the shorts are off, we are in foulies on deck and it is time to get wet. But still it is a beautifully sunny day, blue skies, very fast sailing, we aren’t quite there yet [the Southern Ocean], but not far away.”

Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud) is keeping up with the chasing pack by the skin of his teeth. The weather models are predicting that he will get to Gough Island and the first gate just in time before the St Helena High close the wind door on the back pack.

 

The Back Pack

The fleet splits now into two races. There is no way that the back pack, lead by the fastest boat of the group, Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) will be able to join the leaders in the same system in the Southern Ocean. Behind the powerful depression that is charging the western riders into a gainful position is a wallowing high that will cast it’s airless net over Bubi and those behind him.

 

Position Report at 4:06pm on Thursday 29 Nov: (top 5)

1 Armel Le Cléac’h [Banque Populaire] at 19077,8 miles from the finish
2 Alex Thomson [Hugo Boss] at 134,2 miles from leader
3 Jean-Pierre Dick [Virbac Paprec 3] at 154,6 miles from leader
4 Francois Gabart [MACIF] at 160,8 miles from leader
5 Bernard Stamm [Cheminées Poujoulat] at 182,3 miles from leader

 

For race tracker positions visit: www.vendeeglobe.org 

By Vendée Globe Media on Thursday 29 Nov

 

 

Speed record smashed – 65.45 knots!

 

 

 

65.45 knots over 500 metres for VESTAS Sailrocket 2

 

From Paul Larsen’s blog:

“Fresh off the Trimble… 68.01 over 1 second, 65.45 over 500 meters. The triple rum and cokes are already hitting the mark.”

When Aussie-born Paul Larsen launched his Sailrocket project in 2002 to set a new outright world speed record, the target then of 46.52 knots had stood for nearly ten years. Sailrocket did not initially succeed in surpassing the record, and during the past decade of Paul’s determined pursuit to refine his unique foiling craft, the windsurfers and kiteboarders discovered the significance of flat shallow water.

The record set by American kiteboarder Rob Douglas of 55.65 knots had stood since 2010. The outright record, which is based on a 500 meter course, is the holy grail of speed sailing, and Larson now owns it… big time. Testing a new hydrofoil package on Walvis Bay, Namibia, Vestas Sailrocket 2 may have pushed the pace beyond what boards can safely reach.

 

Nov. 16: New 500 meter record of 59.23 knots

Nov. 18: New 500 meter record of 59.38 knots

Nov. 18: New one nautical mile record of 55.32 knots

Nov. 24: New 500 meter record of 65.45 knots

 

All records are not yet official. The observers from the World Sailing Speed Record Council remain onsite through the end of November, after which they will ratify the best runs.

 

For more photos and Paul’s blog visit the Sailrocket website: http://www.sailrocket.com

 

 

 

Vincent Riou retires from the Vendée Globe

 

Attrition race continues before rounding the Cape

Vincent Riou will not complete his 2013 circumnavigation. The PRB skipper had came up with a possible way to repair the hull of his boat, the shroud underneath the outrigger was a much more serious problem.  Riou started working on his hull on Saturday afternoon while  Denis Glehen and the rest of the shore crew were brainstorming to find a solution for the French skipper.

Unfortunately, they all had to resign themselves to admit it was impossible for Vincent to secure that shroud underneath the outrigger by himself with the equipment he had on board. Sailing through the Southern Ocean with a mast that could break any time was simply not reasonable. Vincent’s decision came this morning: He’s surrendering in this 2012 Vendée Globe, his third, and retiring from the race.

 

The gouge in the bow of PRB as a result of a collision with a harbour buoy

 

 

Jean Pierre Dick leaps into second place

On Saturday night, François Gabart (MACIF) was overtaken on by Jean Pierre Dick. Since the start he has maintained he has two priorities, to keep the boat moving and to sleep. Covering 340 miles, doing an average of 14 knots, and flashing an impressive 17 knots on Sunday morning, Dick has his foot on the gas. With only 50.6 miles between him and the race leader, Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) he is certainly taking things in his stride.

All of the 16 boats remaining in this edition of the Vendée Globe 2102 are now clear of the Doldrums, the area of the Atlantic that is impacted by the inter-tropical convergence zone. This fickle hurdle is tricky to negotiate and the skippers will be pleased to leave them astern and be looking forward at battling through the Roaring Forties as they head south into the icy grip of the Southern Ocean.

Ahead Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) clutches onto his lead but with only 50.6 miles between him and Jean Pierre Dick and 51.1miles from Gabart the hungry racers are breathing down his neck.

 

 

 Jean Pierre Dick on the move in Paprec

 

At the rear of the fleet, in the northern hemisphere, 225 miles from the equator, the sea gardener, Alessandro Di Benedetto (Team Plastique) has finally extricated himself from the clutches of the intertropical convergence zone. He and the only fixed keel monohull, Team Plastique are still more than a day’s sail from the equator 225 miles away.

Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) meanwhile seemed regain some speed. Perhaps it’s a sign that he has come to the end of his technical problems. The same goes for Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) who this morning demonstrated significant gains in the last 24 hours of 312 miles, reducing his distance to the leader, by 125 miles.

Behind the trio of Mike Golding (Gamesa), Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) and Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud) are finally heading southeast and making good progress. Jean Le Cam is bearing down on Golding’s steady pace, while Wavre seems to be dropping back slightly.

Last night, Javier Sanso (EcoPowered Acciona 100%) and Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives-core) entered the South Atlantic gaining speed as they slip into the trade winds. Further west, after a very difficult doldrums crossing, Arnaud Boissières (Akena Verandas) and Bertrand de Broc (Autour du Monde with EDM Projects) moved into double figures speedwise as they push harder towards the south. With a wind shift to the west, Bertrand de Broc is expected to pass the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha islands, less than a hundred miles away.

 

For current tracker postions visit: www.vendeeglobe.org/en/

Vincent Riou’s PRB damaged after collision with metal buoy

 

 

 

More damage in the Vendée Globe

 

Vincent Riou, the winner of the 2004-05 Vendée Globe, rescuing hero of the 2008-09 edition and one of the favourites for this race has suffered a serious blow in the south Atlantic. A statement from his team said that Riou was uninjured after he had collided with a metal buoy but that the impact had damaged the bow of PRB.

At 0700hrs (French time) on Saturday morning, Vincent Riou (PRB) warned his shore team that he had collided with a floating object. The skipper was at his navigation station at the time was able to get on the deck immediately after the impact and see that the object that had struck PRB was a harbour buoy (a large metal buoy).

Following the collision, Riou found that the hull of his boat was torn and delaminated for about one metre. The impact was on the starboard side of the boat and the torn area is three metres from the bow. Riou was not injured in the collision. He will wait until daybreak to assess the damage and the possibility of repair. Conditions in the area are good and the wind between 12 and 15 knots. At the moment of impact, Riou immediately called the race office in order to report the position of the buoy to other competitors.

Riou is about 550 miles east of the north coast of Brazil and 450 miles due north of the Trindade Islands. He was in third place in the     rankings 0500hrs (French time), just 69.1 miles behind the leader Armel Le Cléac’h, (Banque Populaire), having been in the lead group since they started from Les Sables d’Olonne two weeks ago. It was an otherwise quiet night for the fleet with no change in the rankings in the morning.

Riou’s PRB is a new VPLP-Verdier-designed boat, one of four who are dominating this race and which before his collision were in the top four top positions in the fleet. The four boats are all lighter and faster than previous generations, with PRB’s thought to be the lightest at 7.5 tonnes. More than anyone Riou will know that any repairs must be secure enough to withstand what the fleet faces as they prepare to drop down into the Roaring Forties and the mountainous seas of the Southern Ocean.

For current positions visit the race tracker: www.vendeeglobe.org

 

 

 

Le Cléac’h crosses equator at last

 

 

 

Vendée Globe 2012-2013 update

 

At 0820hrs (French time) on Wednesday morning, the leader, Armel Le Cléac’h, (Banque Populaire), crossed the Equator in 10 days 19 hours and 18min. The effect of one of the toughest passages through the Doldrums that even the most experienced skippers in the top six can remember is clear. As even in a new lightning fast boat, Le Cléac’h was almost eight hours outside the record of 10 days 11 hours and 28 minutes Jean Le Cam set in 2004.

Le Cléac’h’s time is the second fastest in the history of the race, easily beating the 12 days 08 hours and 58 minutes that Loïck Peyron took in 2008-09.

 

Snakes and Ladders in the Doldrums

Francois Gabart (Macif) moved back into second last night as the pack of five chasing Le Cléac’h began to divide after an intense 36 hours of hand-to-hand fighting. Gabart is 39 miles behind the leader but there were still only eight miles between the four chasing him on Wednesday morning.

Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) has lost touch, relative to what has gone before, 13 miles behind Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec 3), in sixth. Dick slipped back from second to fifth.

In his overnight message Gabart, the 29-year-old skipper and youngest in ther fleet revelled in the close fought battle in the Doldrums. “It was predicted… But at this point!?” he wrote. “Yesterday morning (Tuesday), leaving the Doldrums, we were five boats in visual contact! From the beginning, the times when I did not at least one teammate on the AIS (Automatic Identification System) are rare! This race is beautiful. It’s too bad Armel was not part of the fight. He usually likes this kind of battle. OK, he’s thinking it was better to pave the way! Congratulations to him. He sails impeccably.”

The forecast is for 12 knots south easterly trade winds that will become easterly the further south the boats go. And they will have to go south, there is no choice because the St Helena high, in the South Atlantic, is active and large at the moment. Thus, although Le Cléac’h is 3350 miles to the Equator as the swallow flies, they sail more than 4000 miles as they pass it.

The question is whether the British, French and Swiss triumvirate, behind the leading pack; Mike Golding (Gamesa), Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) and, Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud) can make up enough ground to catch the same low pressure system south. They have not been nearly as badly affected by the Doldrums but Golding, who has banked over 100 miles, was 169 miles behind the leader.

 

Gutek retires from the race

 

Zbigniew “Gutek” Gutkowski has been unable to fix his autopilot problems onboard Energa Sailing Team and has contacted race management to advise of his retirement from the race. Energa is the sixth retirement in the 10 days of racing.

 

Penalty decision advised on offending skippers

Following a protest from both Hugo Boss and the Race Committee, the jury’s decision has been announced: Synerciel, Mirabaud, Acciona, Initiatives Coeur and Energa have been given a 2-hour penalty. Gamesa is given a 30-minute penalty. Virbac Paprec 3 is given a 20-minute penalty.

 

The international Race Jury’s decision is regarding the way they sailed in or through the Finisterre Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS). Details regarding the penalty implementation will be determined by the Race Management in consultation with the skippers.

 

 

Top 10 Rankings Wednesday 21 Nov 2012, 09:00 hrs French time
1. Banque Populaire, Armel Le Clac’h
2. Macif, Francois Gabart, 39 nm to the leader
3. Cheminées Poujoulat, Bernard Stamm 41 nm
4. PRB, Vincent Riou, 42.5 nm
5. Virbac Paprec 3, Jean-Pierre Dick, 47.0 nm
6. Hugo Boss, Alex Thomson, 59 nm
7. Gamesa, Mike Golding, 169 nm
8. SynerCiel, Jean Le Cam, 178 nm
9. Mirabaud, Dominique Wavre, 181 nm
10. Akena Verandas, Arnaud Boissieres, 268 nm

 

For race tracker and current positions visit:  www.vendeeglobe.org/en/

By Vendee Globe media as amended by Grand Prix Sailing

All female team join the RC44 tour

 

 Ekaterina Zhilina and Caroline Heerema –   c MartinezStudio.es

Interest from an all-women’s team in taking part in the RC44 Championship Tour has meant a rule change on crew weights to allow competitive all women teams to join the class for the 2013 season.

At the final event of the season in Croatia the RC44 owners agreed that an all women crew can have an increased all up crew weight of 740kg, 60kg more than a mixed or all male crew.

There is no crew number limit in the class, but any all-women’s team will need to sail with a minimum of three amateur sailors, including the boat owner.

The change in rule was an important step for the Women’s Only Sailing Team campaign led by Danish sailor Caroline Heerema and Russian marketer Ekaterina Zhilina. Caroline is an experienced sailor having competed on a number of dinghy and keelboat campaigns, and is no stranger to the RC44 class having guest helmed her father’s RC44 No Way Back on various occasions throughout the 2012 season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Women Only Sailing Team plan to train and undertake a series of team selections throughout the winter months in Puerto Calero, Lanzarote, with Team Manager Ekaterina Zhilina is currently working hard to secure funding with the aim of joining the 2013 Championship Tour at the second event of the season in Sicily.

With the prospect of leading the first ever all female crew to compete in the RC44 Championship Tour, Caroline is looking forward to the challenge ahead. ‘I love the action and excitement of sailing. I really like challenging projects and doing something out of the ordinary, this project definitely fits that description.’

The 2013 RC44 Championship Tour will visit a new venue for its first event of the 2013 season. The Wave, Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman will host the season’s opener starting on the 30th January 2013. The racing format remaining the same; one day of match racing when the professionals or owners can take the wheel followed by four days of fleet racing with only the owners or an amateur allowed at the helm.

 

For full details on the RC44 Championship tour visit: www.rc44.com

 

Thomson up to third but the Doldrums are still a hindrance

 

Vendée Globe 2012-2013 – update

 

Alex Thomson surges to 3rd in the Doldrums – c Mark Lloyd

 

Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) has been the big winner from the Doldrums so far, making up 80 miles on those in front since Monday afternoon and moving into third place. But if the top six all looked to be through the Doldrums this morning then there was a small reminder of the lottery of the wind in this feared equatorial zone at the 0900hrs (French time) ranking.

Vincent Riou (PRB), who had moved up two places into third overnight, was totally becalmed, making 0.0 knots in the last hour. Riou had turned and was heading north-west, almost in the opposite direction to the race course, in a desperate attempt to get out of the hole.

Armel Le Cléac’h, (Banque Populaire), does look to be through and has an opportunity now to open a gap. He has been averaging more than nine knots since last night and appears to have left behind the shifty six knots easterlies for 12 knot south-easterlies, but it is still unstable. The race to catch the first low-pressure weather system south into the Roaring 40s.

Le Cléac’h seems to have had a calmer night than those behind him, carving directly south-south-west, while other five have bobbed and weaved.

The Doldrums have compressed and shuffled the deck behind him. Just 10 miles separates the five chasing him.

Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec 3) had moved into second place last night, past Francois Gabart (Macif). But the 29-year-old Gabart, the youngest skipper left in the fleet, re-took second but has made just 1.7knots in the last hour. Dick had slipped back to sixth behind Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat).

Vincent Riou (PRB), the 2004 winnner, has been another winner in the Doldrums, as he clawied back miles but now he will need all his skill. Having caught up, the ‘accordion effect’ of the Doldrums should not affect them now, but bad or unlucky routing will.

At the back of the fleet, Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski (Energa) partially revealed the reason for his strange heading – he is testing a new solution to his autopilot nightmare. Since releasing his gennaker, the 39-year-old Polish skipper, has been heading due east and is 1607.9 miles from the top of the fleet. His team have sent a solution to the software problem with his autopilots.

 

Vendee Globe – Top 10 Rankings Tue 20 Nov 2012, 09:00 hrs


1. Banque Populaire, Armel Le Clac’h
2. Mackf, Francois Gabart, 25 nm to the leader
3. Hugo Boss, Alex Thomson, 27 nm
4. PRB, Vincent Riou, 29 nm
5. Cheminées Poujoulat, Bernard Stamm 32 nm
6. Virbac Paprec 3, Jean-Pierre Dick, 35.0 nm to leader
7. Gamesa, Mike Golding, 154 nm
8. SynerCiel, Jean Le Cam, 166 nm
9. Mirabaud, Dominique Wavre, 167 nm
10. Akena Verandas, Arnaud Boissieres, 296 nm

 

For current tracking positions visit: www.vendeeglobe.org/en/

By Vendée Globe Media as amended by Grand Prix Sailing

Analysis of the AC72 designs launched to date

 

Artemis initial trials – c Sander van der Borch

 

As Artemis and Luna Rossa begin trials in California and Auckland, NZ respectively, comparisons can begin to be drawn on the vagaries of the AC72 designs that have hit the water to date.

On the Catamaran Racing, News & Design website, images of the U.S., Sweden, and New Zealand-Italy AC72 designs have been posted with editorial commentary below, reproduced from an article on scuttlebutt: www.sailingscuttlebutt.com

 

As a reference it gives an idea of the different concepts used. Needless to say ETNZ-Luna Rossa is the best hull-platform in my view. Artemis is not a flying AC72; it is only assisted by curved daggers. Not even T rudders at the moment.

The front beam position is quite extreme although the wing support vertex is a little backwards due to the V shape of the beam. The concept behind this is to gain structural benefits on the forward beam position, and the ability to have a better range for wing trimming/rake to backwards, thus compensating that forward load.

 

 

ETNZ have completed more days testing than any other team  – c Chris Cameron

To avoid pitching or to maintain the bow up on this configuration, they totally rely on the daggers lift. But we already saw what happened to that concept in Oracle. Let’s wait to see her sail, but I’m glad (Loick) Peyron will be there helming at least in the initial tests. So Artemis played safe on the flying area, but went quite extreme on the front beam and hull.

After confirming that Oracle was going down in the bearaways, I have strong doubts that this incredible piece of machinery (Artemis) will work any different in the same situation or maybe their dagger lift configuration will prevent it.

 

Luna Rossa have also begun testing in Auckland alongside ETNZ  – c Luna Rossa

 

It is easy now to choose an option; I would have go ETNZ platform with Artemis conservative non-foiling solution. Clearly the most ‘standard’ & safe solution for San Francisco conditions. I still don´t get why designers are going for extra foiling lift plus less aero/hydro drag to the extreme, risking the whole project when you are going to race in +20 knots. Someone would quickly answer: “Cause we want a design edge to win the Cup.”

The only issue is that they are working in unknown terrain for these kinds of beasts on the worst venue possible for a first try, and a rock solid bullet proof design right now would have won easily, as we don´t know if any of these extreme boats will end a single race in +20 knots!

 

 

 

See photos: http://www.catsailingnews.com/2012/11/ac72-design.html

 

Comment by Scuttlebutt: The racing period for the successful challenger in 2013 is two and a half months, most of which is occurring in the +20 knot range, while the defender need only survive for two weeks in more moderate conditions.

Either the challenger will be battle tested and formidable, or battle weary and fatigued. – Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt www.sailingscuttlebutt.com


Running repairs, another retirement & pending protests

 

Weekend roundup of news from the Vendée Globe

 

Maître CoQ retires with keel trouble – c Jean-Marie Liot

Jérémie Beyou retires from the Vendée Globe

 

The Maître CoQ skipper has reached Cape Verde islands, where he was able to analyse his situation after his keel ram had failed. Along with his shore crew, Jérémie has considered every possible solution allowing him to stay in the race. But none of them guaranteed Jérémie’s safety without help from the outside. Because the Vendée Globe rules forbid skippers to receive any assistance, Jérémie was forced to officially announce he was retiring from the race.

 

Thomson fixes broken rudder bar as hydro generator rips off

If Alex Thomson ever retires from sailing he might be able to open a mechanic’s workshop after unveiling the result of seven hours handiwork with his grinder.

Thomson, who was still in sixth place on Saturday night, keeping pace with the lead group and 123 miles from Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) at the front, suffered the scare on Saturday.

“I was low on battery juice so I popped the hydro down and went below to see how many amps were going in. At the time I was averaging about 18 knots and I heard a strange noise so went to the door and I could see the hydro (generator) vibrating very severely and getting worse. I realised it was going to break and rushed to pull it up but before I got there it ripped off the back of the boat and did a cartwheel and smashed the starboard tie bar. I was on port tack so the starboard rudder was not connected to anything and I knew instantly that the boat would wipe out. It did, but I managed to get the boat flat and got downwind to roll up the A3 spinnaker keeping the port rudder in the water doing all the steering.”

That’s when the real work started. Between 12 and 12.30pm on Saturday, Hugo Boss was almost stationary as Thomson cannibalised his port rudder bar and started sailing again.

“The bar is a very thin carbon tube about 3m long which was broken in two places, and we do not carry a spare unfortunately,” Thomson said. “Cliff (Nicholson) our composite engineer is a genius problem solver and he came up with a plan with Ross (Daniel) and (Simon) Clarkey which would splint the breaks using carbon strips. I firstly had to cut the strips with the grinder with a diamond cutting blade I have onboard. I was not looking forward to doing it because literally everything would be covered in carbon dust. I cleared the cockpit and got to work all while averaging 19 knots of boat speed. I managed to do it without cutting a finger off or cutting through the cockpit floor. Once I had finished I was covered in silver paint and black carbon dust and the cockpit looked like Cliff’s workshop. The repair sure ain’t pretty but it should be functional and was about seven hours work all in plus some tidy up time. I was pretty knackered but pleased. It has been an amazing team effort.”

There might have been reason to feel jinxed as this Hugo Boss is Seb Josse’s old boat from the last Vendée Globe and Josse was forced to retire to New Zealand in the last race after nearly capsizing and damaging his port rudder.

The fix certainly seemed to work as Thomson, previously better known for his speed than his handiwork, had the best 24 hour speed times in the fleet on Sunday, beating the five new boats in front of them. Thomson can now focus on navigating a path through the Doldrums which are further north than usual. The lead boat should reach them in the next 24 hours.

 

Alex Thompson’s handiwork on Hugo Boss – c Alex Thompson

Autopilot issues on Energa

Meanwhile, at the back of the fleet, Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski (ENERGA) had doubled back on himself last night as he faces the ongoing struggle with his autopilot. His was making 6-7 knots since last night, but in the direction of Madeira, 400 miles west. It is possible the 39-year-old Polish skipper is just testing his autopilot. He believes it is a software problem. Race rules permit him to download a software patch or new software.

 

Vendee leaders under protest threat

 

Eight of the 20 starters were accused by the race committee – on the 12 November – of breaking rules covering a ban on straying into traffic separation lanes at sea, which they are required to observe.

In the protest by the race committee they name: Mike Golding, Kito de Pavant, Javier Sanso, Dominique Wavre, Jean le Cam, Zbigniew Gutkowski, Tanguy de Lamotte, and Jeremie Bayou.

 

In a Protest from Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss he names: Virbac, Maitre coq, Synerciel, Acciona, Group Bel, Mirabaud, Energa, and Initiatives Coeur. Both give the reason for the protest as, Violation of Sailing Instruction 5.3 (relating to obligations Traffic Separation Schemes). Both protests are listed as “Hearing in progress” this morning (Mon 19 Nov).

 

Jean Pierre Dick onboard

 

 

Fleet news from the sharp end

With the Equator 450 miles away and the Doldrums half that, the lead skippers will all be working on their weather charts. Everyone will be watching Armel Le Cléac’h, (Banque Populaire), the leader by 51 miles from Francois Gabart (Macif), to see which way he goes. This will be the first big test of the sailors routing skills. Normally the axiom is ‘west is best’, but getting there is sometimes another matter, with deathly wind holes waiting. The wind is gradually dropping already and Le Cléac’h will have the last of the 12 knot northeast trade winds this morning before it drops off to 8 knots and veers east.

Mike Golding (Gamesa) was the only mover in the fleet on Sunday as he edged the three horse race behind the leading group. Golding, the furthest west of the three, passed his old friends and sparring partners Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud) and Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel), but they are still separated by just five miles.

 

 

Top 10 positions as of Monday 19 Nov 2012 at 07:00 hrs

1. Banque Populaire, Armel Le Cleac’h
2. Macif, Francois Gabart, 51 nm to leader
3. Virbac Paprec 3, Jean-Pierre Dick, 57 nm
4. Cheminees Poujoulat, Bernard Stamm, 75 nm
5. PRB, Vincent Riou, 101 nm
6. Hugo Boss, Alex Thomson, 123 nm
7. Gamesa, Mike Golding, 338 nm
8. Mirabaud, Dominique Wavre, 340 nm
9. SynerCiel, Jean Le Cam, 343 nm
10. Akena Verandas, Arnaud Boissieres, 481 nm

 

To view current positions on the race tracker visit: www.vendeeglobe.org/en/

 

Vestas Sailrocket 2 record run

 

 

Paul Larson’s blog:

 

The course was rough at the top so I cruised into the flatter water with the wing well eased. Once I was happy that the runway was smooth ahead I sheeted her in and away she went. I knew it was quick and said so over the comms. I could see a gust ahead and held on until we hit it. VSR2 just went into fast forward mode and accelerated hard again. I knew it was quick… real quick. I also knew it was low tide and the shallows at the end of the course were now approaching at a new and exciting rate. I held the gust for a few long seconds then sense prevailed. The boat was accelerating hard right up to when I bailed out of the run. Stopping from over 60 knots was going to be a whole new experience. Obviously we were chewing up runway fast. She actually stopped in a pretty civilised manner and I managed to avid grounding. I was buzzing. I knew it was 60 plus.

So the average was down but the 5 second average perhaps gives a better indication. I reckon she will hit over 65 knots in her current configuration if we get the right conditions. Yesterday was fine. One more like that please Walvis. It was a brilliant day for all the team. A huge relief to see the numbers become reality. The boat is a weapon. Life begins at 60 for this one. Yes I have a hangover… and yes it feels bloody great!

Peak speed = 61.92 knots
50m avg = 54.08 knots
1 second avg = 61.58 knots
5 second avg = 59.08 knots

 

The record stats:

55.65 knots: Rob Douglas 28 October 2010 Namibia
54.10 knots: Alexandre Caizergues 12 October 2010 Luderitz, Namibia exceeding 100km/hr
51.36 knots: Hydroptere on 6 September 2009
50.57 knots: Alexandre Caizergues 4 October 2008 Luderitz, Namibia
50.26 knots: Seb Cattelan 3 October 2008 Luderitz, Namibia
49.84 knots: Rob Douglas 19 September 2008 Luderitz, Namibia
49.09 knots: World Speed Record Antoine Albeau 5 March 2008 in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France
46.82 knots: Record set by windsurfer Finian Maynard in the autumn of 2004, bringing an end to the hegemony of the sailboat Yellow Pages in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France
46.52 knots: Yellow Pages Endeavour in 1993 at the Sandy Point spot, Australia
38.86 knots: Pascal Maka the first windsurfer to rack up a new official record with 38.86 knots in Sotavento
26.30 knots: Crossbow Catamaran in Portland in 1972

NB: the outright World Sailing Speed Record is the best average speed over 500m by a sail-powered contraption… As such it is different than peak speed!