The curtain comes down on the New York – Vendée and the sailors' reactions

New-York Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne), Finish,  Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives Cœur) 6th,  Les Sables d’Olonne 10 June 2016
© Benoît Stichelbaut / Alea

On Wednesday, Jérémie Beyou’s victory on the only boat from a previous generation to be fitted with foils, left its mark. Has the skipper of Maître Coq found the winning formula for the next Vendée Globe? He is in any case now up there among the favourites © Olivier Blanchet / DPPI / Maître Coq alongside those, whose new boats were designed from the start to be used with foils. These include the other sailors, who made it to the podium, Sébastien Josse (Edmond de Rothschild, 2nd) and the British sailor, Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss, 3rd). Paul Meilhat (SMA) took forth place on a boat with straight daggerboards which won the last Vendée Globe, while Vincent Riou (PRB, 5th) managed to make it to the top five on Friday, in spite of a pit stop in the Azores, which tells us a lot too.

Since Vincent Riou finished in fifth place, seven of the other eight boats still in the race made it to Les Sables d’Olonne. We should add that Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) was the only one of the fourteen entrants to retire, but his recent win in the Transat shows us that he has what it takes to come out on top in the next Vendée Globe, after finishing in second place in the last two editions.© Christophe Favreau On Friday, the harbour entrance channel welcomed Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives Cœur, 6th) and the Japanese sailor, Kojiro Shiraishi (Spirit of Yukoh, 7th). Only one boat finished on Saturday, Fabrice Amedeo (Newrest-Matmut, 8th).

Very early on Sunday morning, three and a half days after the winner, the informal race between three boats that stopped in Newport early in the race after colliding with marine creatures came to a conclusion. In this little contest, Morgan Lagravière aboard the new foiler, Safran managed to finish first, but only just, as Jean-Pierre Dick (StMichel-Virbac) finished 22 minutes later and Yann Eliès (Quéguiner-Leucémie Espoir) just 57 minutes after Safran. So it was very close in this race within the race. The New Zealander, Conrad Colman crossed the line at 0235hrs today (Monday) aboard his 100% Natural Energy, in 12th place. Finally, this Monday lunchtime the Dutch sailor, Pieter Heerema has 60 miles left to sail in light winds and he should take 13th place, as the curtain comes down on this New York-Vendée.

We have already talked about what can be learnt from this race, as we look forward to the Vendée Globe. Of course, we all would have liked to see everyone on an equal footing without that series of collisions with UFOs or animals at the start, which changed the situation considerably. Nevertheless, it would appear that the foilers are now well tuned and in many conditions faster than the boats with straight daggerboards. Yann Eliès sums it up well. “We have to do better than them in order to finish with them or ahead.”  But they are also much more uncomfortable, to the extent that something is going to have to be done to make them easier to sail and to enable the sailors to put up with the huge din that will last throughout the round the world voyage. As for the question of whether foilers are more likely to suffer collisions, which is what we might suppose, as the foils add extra surface sweeping through the water than straight daggerboards, we can see that they weren’t the only ones to hit something in this race…

In any case, it all remains open, as we look forward to the Vendée Globe. We got a first idea of the hierarchy in The Transat and this New York-Vendée, but it has only confirmed what we thought. Around ten sailors are serious contenders for victory in the next Vendée Globe. Around one third of the fleet.  Here’s what the sailors themselves had to say…

BM / Mer & Media


© Benoît Stichelbaut / Sea Tanguy de Lamotte, Initiatives Cœur (6th)

“There was some damage to the boat, but it feels so great overcoming these obstacles alone and finishing here in Les Sables d'Olonne. It brings back memories from not so long ago that I hope to experience again shortly in the next Vendée Globe. It wasn’t easy, but great for training. The start off Manhattan was extraordinary and those pictures will remain with me for a long time. I pushed as hard as I could and I think I sailed the boat close to her limit.”

Kojiro Shiraishi, Spirit of Yukoh (7th)

© Benoit Stichelbaut/Sea “I managed to do this transatlantic race without breaking anything, which was my priority. I’m very pleased and it is an honour.  It was great racing alongside all the contenders in the Vendée Globe. Over the past couple of months, the whole team worked well. I got to know my boat and am at one with her. So I’m ready for the Vendée Globe. She is very fast and by taming her, and getting in some more training, I will be able to be even quicker.”

Fabrice Amedeo, Newrest-Matmut (8th)

© Christophe Favreau“The only negative point is the result itself. I don’t yet have enough experience to attack when there is enough wind. That will come, as we clock up the miles and work on that. I’m still a bit below where I would like to be, because this is such a big boat. I come from Class40 and there is a huge difference. I keep telling myself to sail within reason. I’m giving it my all for the moment. When the wind gets up, I reduce the sail, while others keep it up for longer. I could hold on for longer, but I don’t yet have the confidence. That will be the goal during my training. To progress and advance the cursor in terms of performance. In the harbour entrance I thought about the Vendée Globe. In a few months, I’ll be going in the opposite direction.”

Morgan Lagravière, Safran (9th)

“Getting back to Les Sables d’Olonne with the boat in good condition, feeling very confident about sailing her… Those things were much more important than where I finished in the rankings.”

Jean-Pierre Dick, St Michel-Virbac (10th)

“Everyone’s been focusing on the foils so far, but this bad experience has shown that this new generation of boats is not just about foils, but also high-performance hulls. Having a three-way battle was very exciting, and it meant we never had time to get bored.”

Yann Eliès, Quéguiner-Leucémie Espoir (11th)

© Alexis Courcoux"The match with the foilers was interesting, and was about sailing wisely. We have to do better than them to finish with them or ahead. If you stay with them, they’ll always go faster. It was my first solo transatlantic race on this boat: she’s a great boat to sail. She’s not that hard to manage. At over 20 knots, it starts to get wet, of course, but it’s even tougher aboard the foilers… That’s something we can take advantage of. We made things very spartan in order to save weight, and now we realise that we need to think a bit more about the sailor. There are solutions that don’t add that much weight, but we’re going to have to think about that."

Conrad Colman, 100% Natural Energy (12th)

“I have the oldest boat in the fleet and I told myself that if I just put in a good performance it would be a success and I’ve done that. I had averages of 18 knots with old sails, and I don’t even know this boat well yet…I’m really happy. I didn’t expect this at all, it’s really a great surprise. This transatlantic race has allowed me to plan for the Vendée Globe. A round the world race suits me perfectly. I’m more of a long-distance runner than a sprinter. I’m better over long distances, I know how to carry out repairs and I can keep a boat together. All this is very promising for the Vendée Globe.”

* Latest news: Pieter Heerema is heading for Lorient

We have just learnt that Pieter Heerema is in fact heading now for Lorient. He took this decision 50 miles or so from Les Sables d'Olonne after talking it over with the Race Directors and his shore team. The reason behind this decision is that after technical problems, the engine on No way back is no longer starting and towing him into the harbour would have been too risky, or even impossible. A cold front is forecast to generate strong winds this evening off Les Sables d'Olonne. This is therefore a safety measure, in order to avoid any unnecessary risks. Pieter Heerema is due to arrive in Lorient this evening, where he will be welcomed by the Race Director of the New York - Vendée and his team.


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