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A look back on the race (4th part): Sailing up the Atlantic

Throughout the week, looks back at the 2012-2013 edition of the round-the-world race. Key quotes, pictures, videos, race facts... Re-experience the best moments of the race in four segments. Today: Sailing up the Atlantic Ocean.

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Week 8

Even when the leaders were somehow slowed down while approaching Cape Horn, their nearest competitor, Jean-Pierre Dick, remained 400 miles away when they rounded the legendary rock on January 1st, 2013. Gabart rounded it first and was only 1:15h ahead of Le Cléac'h. But skippers would have to wait some more for some relief as the way down towards the extreme south of the Chilean archipelago was made under the threat of icebergs believed to have drifted all the way up to Staten Island. At the same time, Di Benedetto entered the Pacific Ocean. A little less than two days later, Dick rounded the last cape of the race, 250 miles before Thomson. We then had to wait for six and a half days to see Le Cam coming back into the Atlantic. He opened the way to a squad that had grown in the Southern Seas. Stamm, Boissières and Sanso had joined the "senior sailors" crew and the newly-formed group was then sailing within 500 miles of each other. The skipper of Cheminées Poujoulat, victim of another crash that had badly damaged his hydrogenerators, while the other one was no longer working, was forced to make diesel refuel after Cape Horn. It meant he was out of the race just before the jury confirmed his disqualification.


Week 9 – Week 11

Even if Cape Horn was now behind them, the route was still long and if the leaders had then left the Southern Seas, they quickly faced winds of 45 knots and 6-metre swell. For the leading trio, the way up the Atlantic began abruptly and cruelly for Dick, who – after a great comeback on the leading duo – had to slow down in order to repair his main stay. For Le Cléac'h, the problems were less dramatic but equally disastrous in terms of consequences. A problem with his gennaker in the Le Maire Strait made him lose ground again when he managed to return on Gabart, only 10 miles behind him. On January 6th, a shift in the west he thought beneficial became a real nightmare, as the crossing became more complicated than expected. 100 miles away, on January 8th, the gap extended over 260 miles six days later. This would be the largest gap in the race. Through less easy doldrums crossing for the young leader, Le Cléac'h managed to come back a little, but it wasn’t enough.



On January 27th, 2013, at 15h18 (French Time), François Gabart crossed the finish line and entered the Sables d’Olonne channel as a hero, after an incredible duel that lasted 78d02h16’ or 28,646 miles travelled at an amazing average speed of 15.3 knots. Only 3:17h later, Armel Le Cléac'h completed his world circumnavigation, just in time to enter the channel, still warmed by the enthusiasm of a great public. It was definitely a historic day, which saw the finishes of two exceptionally gifted young sailors, the first to single-handedly sail around the world on a monohull in less than 80 days. Two days later, Alex Thomson takes the third place of the podium thanks to an amazing performance on a second-generation boat built in 2007. The British was indeed helped by Dick’s technical issues, as the Virbac Paprec skipper finished 4th after sailing 2,650 miles without the keel he had lost 600 miles south of the Azores archipelago. The Atlantic proved to be very rough to the « senior sailors » and the first of them, Jean Le Cam, did not enter the Sables d’Olonne channel before February 6, followed by Mike Golding and Dominique Wavre. Then came Arnaud Boissières and Bertrand De Broc as well as, a little later, Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives-cœur). The last skipper to finish the race was Alessandro Di Benedetto, 11th but still celebrated as if he had won the race. Even though he was in 9th position when he crossed the Equator, Javier Sanso was not that lucky. On February 3, he lost his keel 400 miles south of the Azores, which capsised his boat. The Spaniard was eventually rescued by the Portuguese navy.


2 skippers pulled out of the race

January 9: Bernard Stamm: After hitting an UFO and damaging his hydrogenerators, he received extra fuel. He was also disqualified by the jury on January 2 for receiving outside assistance from Russian boat Professor Kkoromov. The case was re-opened but the initial decision was confirmed on January 12.

February 3: Javier Sansó capsised off the Azores after losing his keel.


Picture: Arnaud Boissière's hand










Important facts:

January 1: François Gabart and Armel Le Cléac'h rounded Cape Horn 1h15 away from each other.

January 2: Bernard Stamm was disqualified by the international jury for failing to comply to article 3.2.

January 3: Bernard Stamm asked for the re-opening of his case.

January 5: Bernard Stamm’s case was re-opened as the Swiss skipper had provided new elements.  

January 6: Cheminées Poujoulat hit an unidentified floating abject, ripping off his first hydrogenerator while the second one was also out of order. Because of previous energy-related issues, there was no fuel left on board, forcing Bernard Stamm to stop using all his energy-consuming devices - including his communication equipment – to save the little energy he has for his autopilot.

January 9: After Cape Horn, Cheminées Poujoulat received extra fuel from Basque skipper Unaï Basurko, a friend of Stamm’s who was sailing in the area. Once the energy came back on board, the Swiss notified the Race Management he was pulling out of the Vendée Globe and resumed his journey, determined to reach Les Sables d'Olonne anyway.  

January 12: After ruling on the case re-opening request by Bernard Stamm, the jury confirmed Cheminées Poujoulat was disqualified.

January 15: François Gabart crossed the Equator after 66d 1h 39 mn and set a new Sables d’Olonne – Equator record, beating Michel Desjoyeaux’s 71d 17h 12mn.

January 21: Alessandro Di Benedetto broke his rib when Team Plastique gybed unexpectedly. The French-Italian skipper also lost his small spinnaker.

January 22: Virbac-Paprec 3 lost her keel.

Janaury 27:
François Gabart won the Vendée Globe at 15h 18mn 40s. The MACIF skipper became the youngest winner in the history of the race and set a new race record in 78d 5h 33mn 52s (- 6d 0h 53mn)

Armel Le Cléac’h crossed the finish line 3h 17mn 12s later, finishing second with the smallest gap between the first two skippers in the race history.

January 30:
Alex Thomson finished the race at 08h 25mn 43, taking the third place and finishing the race for the first time.

Jean-Pierre Dick decided to seek shelter in the San Ciprián bay, anticipating strong wind in the Bay of Biscay. He resumed the race on the morning of February 3.

Fenruary 3:
Initiatives-cœur hit a UFO and broke the already-damaged starboard rudder blade, causing a major water ingress.

Alessandro Di Benedetto lost his last downwind sails.

ACCIONA 100% EcoPowered capsised west of Madeira, 360 miles off  Sao Miguel (Azores). Javier Sansó waited for the rescue team in his life boat. He was eventually winched up into a helicopter and taken to the Terceira Island at night.

February 4: Jean-Pierre Dick finished 4th of the 2012-2013 Vendée Globe, reaching Les Sables d’Olonne after 86d 3h 3mn 40s at sea. He sailed 2,650 miles without a keel.

February 6: Jean Le Cam took the 5th place in 88d 00h 12mn 58s, followed by Mike Golding (6th) 6h 23mn later. Bernard Stamm finished at 22h 30mn 50s and was not officially ranked.

February 8: Dominique Wavre crossed the finish line in 7th position with a race time of 90d 03h 14mn 42s.

February 9: Arnaud Boissières finished 8th at 15h 11mn 02s, completing his second consecutive Vendée Globe in 91d 02h 09mn 02s.

February 10: Bertrand de Broc completed the Vendée Globe in 9th position after 92d 05h 10mn 14s at sea.

February 17: Tanguy de Lamotte crossed the finish line at 10h58, finishing 10th in 98d 21h 56mn 10s

February 22: Alessandro Di Benedetto, the last skipper in the race, arrived Les Sables d’Olonne with a total race time of 104d 02h 34mn, 26d 00h 17’ after the race winner, which is the smallest gap between the first and last skipper in the history of the race.




  1. MACIF
  2. Banque Populaire
  3. Virbac-Paprec 3
  5. SynerCiel
  6. Gamesa
  7. Mirabaud
  8. AKENA Vérandas
  9. Votre Nom autour du Monde avec EDM Projets
  10. Initiatives-cœur
  11. Team Plastique


Key quotes:

Tanguy de Lamotte (FRA, Initiatives-cœur), January 4

(On Vendée Globe enthusiasm) It’s hard to realise from here but it’s great to see people getting excited about the Vendée Globe and to know that, through us, people have positive things to get interested in. I’m sure it makes some of them want to travel and maybe they’ll get to carry out some of their projects.

Jean Le Cam (FRA, SynerCiel), January 28

Rounding the Horn? An amazing moment. The Pacific is behind us and I’m pretty optimistic about the possibility to close the gap, the sea is quite normal. But it’s always the same thing. You finally get out of the Indian Ocean and enter the Pacific thinking it’s going to be much calmer, maybe because of the name, but it’s never the case.

I sailed a mile away from Cape Horn (he laughs) at the sun was rising, it was the perfect moment, I’ve been so lucky. I had a great time, I shot videos, it was great. There’s something special about Cape Horn for me. Last time, I rounded it with Vincent Riou, which is not what you usually do in a single-handed race. In 2004, I was leading the race on Bonduelle when I rounded it and in 1982, I was doing my military service on Euromarché. I think this year, the Horn will be one of the best memories in the race.

Dominique Wavre (SUI, Mirabaud), January 9

Cape Horn is always part of the greatest moments in a race. I’m rounding it for the 9th time and it’s still extraordinary. There’s a rich historic background, it’s like a boat cemetery and sailors rounding the Horn used to do so in terrible conditions. There were so many shipwrecks. I have so much respect for all the sailors who have been here before, you think about all that when sailing off The Rock.

Bernard Stamm (SUI, Cheminées Poujoulat), January 10

(On his future in the race) Right now I’m not at 100% of my potential. The conditions are very unstable and you need to be extremely careful because of the ice we have been warned about. It’s been complicated because of the wind and I was only able to get a few hours of sleep. I will sail up the Atlantic as if I was still competing in the race even though for me, it’s been over for a while now. I’m going to try to sail the boat properly, as I would normally do. I’ll try to enjoy it. Lately, what I’ve mostly been focusing on is keeping the boat safe.

Bertrand de Broc (FRA, Votre Nom autour du Monde avec EDM Projets), January 14

After thirty days in very difficult conditions (humidity, agitated sea) and in such a rough and demanding sea, it’s great to finally get out. But these are also the reasons why you come to the Pacific, you need to deserve it. It’s tough and you’re happy when it’s over.

Javier Sanso (ESP, ACCIONA 100%EcoPowered), January 16

When we designed the batteries of the boat, our goal was to prove we could finish this race using only renewable types of energy. And we’ve proved it is possible. In the Southern Ocean, I used my hydrogenerator a bit off the coast of New Zealand and that’s it. That technology is our future.

Alex Thomson (BRI, HUGO BOSS), January 26

Here’s what made me decide to stay close to Jean-Pierre Dick. The weather forecast was mentioning strong wind, I was 90 miles from him and I just couldn’t imagine leaving him alone in such conditions on a keel-less boat. And to be honest, it wasn’t such a big effort for me. I’ve been rescued in the past so I know how important it is to know you have someone watching your back just in case.


Video: Jean-Pierre Dick climbs up the mast for the 5th time

Cinquième montée victorieuse pour Jean-Pierre Dick par VendeeGlobeTV

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