Four boats smash Thomson record in last 48 hours
Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) hangs onto lead by a thread
Stamm rocketing along
Jean Pierre Dick today smashed the record he only set yesterday. Yesterday, between 9am GMT Friday 30th November to 9am GMT Saturday 1st December, Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3), travelled from point to point, 502,53 miles in twenty-four hours, averaging speeds of 20.9 knots. Yesterday, between 4am GMT Friday 30th November to 4am GMT Saturday 1st December Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) travelled from point to point, 498.80 miles in twenty-four hours, averaging speeds of 20.8 knots, which subsequently broke the record held previously by Alex Thomson in 2003 and, also the record set the day before, which would have been subject to ratification, by François Gabart (MACIF), of 482.91 miles in 24hrs. Confirmation of the record is subject to the ratification of the WSSRC (World Speed Sailing Record Council).
These phenomenal speeds are faster than the speed records set in the 2007 Barcelona Race double handed round the world race, held by Alex Thomson/Andrew Cape, onboard Hugo Boss, GBR, traveling 501.3 miles, averaging 20.9 knots and just slower than the 2011 record set by Jean Pierre Dick/Loick Peyron, Virbac Paprec, FRA, covering 506.333 miles averaging knots.
Since yesterday, three boats in the fleet have smashed into smithereens Thomson’s record, including Thomson himself.
All speeds were recorded on the 1st December.
- Macif 1st December 0530 GMT 487.23, 20.3 knots average
- Cheminées Poujoulat 1200 GMT 482.59, 20.1 knots average
- Hugo Boss 1000 GMT 473.87, 19.7 knots average
Ultimately, of course, for now, the record has been broken by Jean Pierre Dick, but the race is young, and the conclusion is yet to be realised.
The record breaking Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) retains his lead by a thread. He said today, during the web tv show, Vendée Globe LIVE, “It’s great to be the new leader, the conditions are perfect, there’s a lot of wind. We’ve tried to be reasonable and the future will tell us whether we’ve done the right thing. Breakage can happen in any situation anyway, and in the long term too. But we also know our boats can take those intense conditions.”
But for the tallest skipper in the fleet life onboard can be challenging. “I spend a lot of time on my knees, it’s hard to stand, and do basic things like cooking. I feel like I’m camping. I also try to get some sleep, but it’s difficult, because we’re shaken hard and there is a lot of noise. But after a while, you get used to that noise. But sleep is so important that at one point, you have to sleep, whatever the context, and when you’re as tired as I’ve been, you fall asleep anyway.”
The fleet is beginning to slow a little and the models depict the conditions lightening as they approach the first Ice Gate, Aiguilles. With only 20 miles between the leader, Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) and François Gabart (MACIF) the first to cross the gate is still to be determined in this dramatic battle. With lighter conditions forthcoming at the second gate past Aiguilles, it could create an opportunity for the fleet to compress and the tailing trio of Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel), Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud) and Mike Golding (Gamesa) to claw back some miles. There are some tactically interesting times ahead.
Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) who is sailing his weapon, a new design by Juan Kouyoumdjan, said today on Vendée Globe LIVE today that he felt the boat still had more to give but he was happy with it’s performance and he didn’t want to push it to hard. Stamm was still clocking the fastest speed of 20 knots at the 1500 GMT ranking.
The front eight boats have gybed and are now on starboard tack. Today, on Vendée Globe LIVE Mike Golding (Gamesa) explained this process. “The shift, when it came, came pretty quickly, although I was semi prepared it was still quite complicated, because the shift was quite large it put us in to a nasty head sea which meant the boat was slamming, so not a great situation for a gybe but it went through alright with no problems and we got going initially on almost exactly the same heading with the same sail plan.” It’s not a small undertaking.
“You can do the whole thing in around 20 minutes, you are emptying ballast from one side and while the ballast is emptying you can be moving the heavy stuff like sails, you can drop it all down, depending how long that has taken you might be able to move some of the boxes as well, but if you can’t, if the ballast is empty you just go for the gybe and then you move the boxes later, so about 20 minutes for the whole process. It feels a bit strange on board because we are leaning the other way and it feels like everything is upside down.” Said Golding.
Trouble at the Back
The back-pack are floundering with frustration as the St. Helena High closed the wind window south of the small group of tenacious travellers. Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) and Arnaud Bossières (Akena Verandas) chose to bypass the high pressure taking a short cut, whilst Bertrand De Broc (Votre Nom Autour du Monde avec EDM) seeks an alternative route to the west.
Alessandro Di Benedetto (Team Plastique) has only one choice but he is happy washing his laundry, growing his herbs and enjoying the adventure. Times are tough for the quartet. These delays continue to widen the gap between them and frontrunners. It is important they remain pragmatic, focus on the fundamentals of sailing the boat and take time to appreciate the joy of being at sea. To sail solo around the world on these fantastic boats remains a privilege that it would be churlish not to appreciate.
Arnaud Boissières (FRA, AKEA Vérandas):
This morning, the wind was light but I had a quiet night and there were little birds everywhere when I woke up this morning. The weather conditions are complex and I see the skippers ahead of me sail faster so it’s very frustrating and I have to remain calm and not get too angry. In order to do that, I try to listen to music when I have time or, when it’s necessary, I focus on manoeuvres and I try to imagine there’s a boat right next to me and I have to fight against her to stay ahead, hoping it will give me extra motivation. I focus on my own performances more than on the others. I have talked with Betrand de Broc via email, and he told me we’d have to be very patient. I don’t spend too much time at the helm, except when I change my sails. The autopilot is working well, I want to thank it! But when a man is at the helm, it’s even better.
Dominique Wavre (SUI, Mirabaud)
I’m usually on my hands and knees on board, just to be on the safe side, I don’t want fall. There’s been very heavy rain and right after that, the sun came back; the anticyclone is chasing us, right behind. Thanks to the sun, it’s not too cold yet, it’s not the great south yet. I’m currently at 18 knots. The very high ice gates and the chasing anticyclone are not a great combination, it won’t be easy. What I can see from the boat is beautiful, a great natural show, it feels great to be in the middle of the ocean in such a nice environment.
François Gabart (FRA, MACIF)
We’re doing great, it’s going really fast, 25-26 knots as I speak. We’re still ahead of the front, but probably not for long. Now I know people in Niort will be following me, I feel pressured, I can’t afford to make mistakes! (he laughs). No, seriously, I’m glad people are interested in the race and in my performances. Getting rest is also part of a sailor’s life and job, so no matter what the circumstances, we have to get some rest, in order to be more efficient later. Right now I’m wearing my winter hat, it’s getting a little cold and it will get worse and worse.
The top 5 ranking 5 hours (16h UTC)
1 - Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec 3) to 18601.9 miles from the finish
2 - Armel Le Cléac'h (Banque Populaire) at 1.9 miles (DTL)
3 - Francois Gabart (MACIF) to 19.1 (DTL)
4 - Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) at 73.6 miles (DTL)
5 - Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) 93.0 miles (DTL)
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