No announcement yet.

A Fast Night For Vendee Arctique Sailors

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • A Fast Night For Vendee Arctique Sailors

    A fast first night of the Vendee Arctique Les Sables d’Olonne has seen the skippers on the latest generation, fast foiling IMOCAs sustain average speeds of over 25 knots in ideal conditions as they charge westwards towards a ridge of high pressure 150-200 miles wide which will see speeds plummet later today.

    Separating slightly to the north of his closest rivals Romain Attanasio (Fortinet-Best Western) is judged to be this morning’s early leader – being closer to the theoretical direct, ideal course to the next waypoint of the course – whilst Charlie Dalin (Apivia) is furthest to the west and has been quickest overnight.

    The winner of last month’s Guyader-Bermudes 1000 race Dalin was just over half a nautical mile ahead of nearest rival Jeremie Beyou (Charal) who won the first edition of this race back in July 2020.
    In the NNE’ly breeze of between 17 and 20kts Attanasio is sailing a higher angle but was making about 1.5-2kts slower than the faster foursome Dalin, Beyou, Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) and Louis Burton (Bureau Valle'e).

    The skippers are monitoring the evolution of this high pressure ridge which runs SW-NE blocking their course. As they unfold their strategies – seeking to cross at the narrowest point and emerge into the stronger, favourable SW’ly wind on the other side – their courses will curve more northwards today.

    Speeds will slow towards midday as they get into the light airs. Tonight promises to be complicated in very light airs whilst the leaders should escape tomorrow morning. "The best average speed over 15 minutes last night was 29.4 knots," reported Yann Chateau, assistant race director this morning, "The boat was going very hard last night,"said Swiss skipper Alan Roura (Hublot). "It's a bit difficult to find a rhythm. I snacked on carrots because heating water is complicated. On the sleep side, I just managed to grab 20 minutes.”

    Japanese racer Kojiro Shiraishi (DMG MORI GLOBAL ONE) is in tenth this morning whilst Kiwi Conrad Colman (Imagine) is well positioned in 12th.

    Hungarian skipper Szabolcs Weores arrived back at the Vend?e Globe pontoon in Les Sables d’Olonne at about 0200hrs HF and reported, “Before the start we realised we had some issues with the keel. My technical crew was on board and had started to work on it. We realised that on the port side the keel was at the wrong angle and then we could not cant the keel to port. And so we don’t know what the solution is right now, we can see what is happening and we cannot cant the keel. I hope we can get it repaired. We have no fixed plan yet but are working on it.”
    Updates direct from the skippers this morning

    Louis Burton: “The start of the race on Bureau Valle'e was fast as it was for the rest of the fleet I think on a with a very fast reaching leg. I saw peaks at 35 knots! You have to get into the rhythm straight away there is no choice. I slept three times 20 minutes. I'm going to attack the high ridge quite south, where I wanted to go. ?

    Antoine Cornic (EBAC Literie): “ It was an emotional start a bit of a foretaste of the Vende'e Globe perhaps. I haven’t had too much trouble getting into the rhythm of the race but I have I had two or three problems on the boat, including a complete blackout of electricity but I got it back quickly. I had a little diesel leak which has left a bad smell. It was windy last night, things have progressed well, I haven't slept much, I'm going to take a little nap before the sun rises and the conditions really change. The strategy for approaching the ridge seems clear to me, I am the most northerly competitor in the fleet. The ridge looks less thick up there, which is why I made the decision to “climb” to try to cross it to the north."

    Sebastien Marsset (Cap Agir Ensemble #SponsorsBienvenus): “My first night went well with a beautiful moon in windy conditions. The reaching course was fast. We had to stay on it all the time as it was gusty. The wind has eased a bit at daybreak. Everything is going well on board. It was a bit emotional leaving land and it takes a little time to recover from that. Now we will have to think about strategy this morning depending on the position of my rivals and the next weather files. The one thing that worries me is that I was cold already last night, how am I going to be in the north, up there?”


    Tens of thousands of well wishers lined the mythical channel today in Les Sables d’Olonne to send the 25 competing solo skippers on their way as the 3,500 nautical miles course around Iceland started in a light to moderate NE’ly breeze at 1700hrs local time this evening.

    This new summer race north to Arctic waters is now managed by the Vendee region and complements their famous solo non-stop race around the world and is the first available qualifying race for competitors aspiring to compete in the 2024 edition of the Vendee Globe. After a week of festivities, more than 40,000 visitors taking to the race pontoons this week to see the 25 IMOCAs and their skippers, the race started cleanly and on time this evening.

    After a short period of unstable winds just after the start gun, within an hour the top group fast foiling IMOCAs were reaching at speeds of more than 27 knots spearing north and west in the early stages a passage which will take them west of Ireland and then on a quick northwards reach towards the eastern tip of Iceland which they are forecast to reach next Friday.
    Louis Burton, the Saint Malo based skipper who finished third in the recent Vend?e Globe, was quickest off the start line and early evening was leading, just ahead of Charlie Dalin, winner of last month’s Guyader-Bermudes 1000 race. Burton is racing his new Bureau Valle'e, the radical, full scow-bowed Sam Manuard design which is very much a blueprint for the next generation of IMOCA yachts.

    The first weather obstacle will be a ridge of high pressure producing a NE-SW zone of light winds which the leading skippers need to choose where to cross. The option going further west may require more miles to be sailed but the reward would be a more solid, consistent SW’ly wind for the long, fast reach towards Iceland. The non-foiling boats of which there are 11 are more likely to stay further east, close to the Irish coast.

    “This is a bit like the Vend?e Globe but in summer.” Smiled Manuel Cousin (Groupe S?tin) on the dock in Port Olona where the atmosphere was very reminiscent of the usual November dock out other than the skippers’ emotions were nothing like as intense and there was warm sunshine.

    “In the first 24 hours we will have manageable conditions. We should be going fast tonight and tonight with a priori few maneuvers, perhaps a change of sail. It's good not to attack hard. Difficult moments, we will have them later in this race, we know that” said Louis Duc (Fives - Lantana Environnement).

    Britain’s Pip Hare was in 11th this evening making over 20kts on her new foiling Medallia. As she docked out Hare said, “I think really this race is about analysing and improving all my own techniques as a sailor and I’m watching the other boats of the similar generation and measuring my performance against them but I think this is a great experience for me to learn and of course a race to finish and make my first qualification step for the next Vendee Globe.”

    Kiwi Conrad Colman made a good start on his so far sponsor-less non foiler Imagine, “ I’m just happy to be on the race, happy to go around Iceland. That’s completely new for me and for everybody else. And as you know for somebody from the very south of the world New Zealand to go all away to the north of the planet it’s pretty exciting. The main goal is to come back here in two years to be qualified and selected for the Vendee globe and take the big start. And also have fun, keep the boat and myself in one piece. If I can make it on podium with the other daggerboard boats I will be very happy.”

    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella" Photo Gallery

  • #2

    Of the 24 skippers still racing on the second Vend?e Arctique – Les Sables d'Olonne, ten are sailing on IMOCAs with straight daggerboards. Out in the east it is rookies Benjamin Ferr? and Guirec Soud?e who are the top two on the rankings. Ferr? races the 2015 boat which was formerly MACIF and SMA and Soud?e has the 2007 Farr boat which was launched as Estrella Damm and took third in the 2012 Vend?e Globe as Alex Thomson’s Hugo Boss.

    "From before the start, we knew that the situation meant that foilers and boats with straight daggerboards would likely choose different routes", explains race director Francis Le Goff. "The IMOCAs with daggerboards are more comfortable upwind in medium winds and with the high pressure ridge, two major possibilities emerged. The foilers went offshore but some daggerboard boats chose to stay closer to the (shorter) direct route. We could see a small pathway in the ridge and it turned out to be even more interesting than what the model showed."

    This slightly punchy choice surprised some sailors, like Damien Seguin (Groupe APICIL): "The daggerboard boats which are leading had this very easterly course. No one thought they would manage to pass so well on that routing. But, hey, there are times when you have to be a little lucky too. Now it's up to us to push hard to get back in front!"

    Benjamin Dutreux (Guyot Environnement - Water Family) agrees "They're smart guys compared to us, we went full speed ahead into the ridge and they were able to see what was going on in front of them. That has opened up opportunities. So the fastest are not necessarily the smartest."

    "Everything does not always happen as decreed by computers!"

    Further back, the Belgian Denis Van Weynbergh (Laboratoires de Biarritz) is also delighted that his friends and rivals without foils are doing so well. "It's fun to see them out in front," he said. "We're all trying to get the most out of our older generation boats and it's interesting to see that we've made good progress. As Jean Le Cam said: not everything always happens as it is decreed by computers!"

    At the front all the way around Iceland?
    On the recent Guyader Bermudes 1000 Race the course and weather allowed the non-foilers to shine. Three finished in the Top 10: Nicolas Lunven (4th), Eric Bellion (7th) and Conrad Colman (10th). And so now, too, the course of this Vend?e Arctic which has many weather transitions sees multiple opportunities and the passages of these first ridges is proving it. Sailors like Benjamin Ferr? or Guirec Soud?e are new to the game and happy to take more strategic risks perhaps. And the IMOCAs with straight daggerboards are still simpler to set up and sail. But the foiling boats have a clear advantage as soon as they have a good angle to the wind and the sea is fairly flat. In these cases, they go 20 to 30% faster than daggerboard boats.

    Race Director Francis Le Goff suggests, "At this stage, the foilers are pretty much on their expected race timings on the routings but the daggerboard boats are ahead. They can still very much be in the mix in this race over the next days and we might even see them among the front runners until around Iceland."



    As the Vend?e Arctique Les Sables d’Olonne race rolls into the third day, the older generation daggerboard IMOCA boats and their skippers who positioned themselves in the east, closer to the Irish coast, continue to profit with more wind and are resisting the sporadic advances of Charlie Dalin (APIVIA) who remains third, over three knots slower than race leader Benjamin Ferr?

    IMOCA rookie Ferr? who is racing one of the two most potent daggerboard boats in the fleet, smiled this morning, “ Everything is going well, the days are exhausting, there are a lot of maneuvers to do. I had Guirec (Soud?e) on the VHF, we had a good laugh listening to the rankings. It's funny to be in the lead even if the ranking is a little skewed by the spread of the fleet. In any case, it's cool, the paths and routes seem more or less coherent and the speeds too. The course is still very long so I will try to rest. ?

    Ferr? has had a decent night and is 16 miles ahead of pre-race favourite Dalin, who is 75 nautical miles to the west of the race leader. As the leaders of both packs negotiate another zone of lighter winds Dalin should exit sooner in the west, ready to be slingshot north of the heels of a low pressure system and SW’ly winds. The leaders, Ferr? and Guirec Sour?e who is 13 miles astern, have a stronger SW’ly breeze on the south east of the ridge and so will either have to stay east and work down a corridor of good SW’ly wind on the east of the ridge or bite the bullet and go NW through the ridge. Either way Dalin should accelerate later today. Kiwi Conrad Colman (Imagine) in 12th is repositioning himself to the east after gybing last night.

    This second front is proving frustrating for the foilers, wider than maybe first thought but the yellow and white APIVIA should emerge later today and recent routings still show the leader passing to the east of Iceland on Friday in favourable conditions whilst those arriving later will encounter a strong north Atlantic gale.



    A few overnight messages from the fleet including race leader Benjamin Ferre

    Nicolas Lunven (Banque Populaire): “I came out of the ridge yesterday morning. I didn't do so great because a group of boats in the north with Benjamin Ferr?, Eric Bellion, Guirec Soud?e played it really well, congratulations to them. They sailed less miles. I thought there would be less wind on the direct route. I was wrong, it was a mistake. It's good to find some wind, it's going well towards the target but the rest is really not easy. A cold front will pass over us tonight. Behind, it looks soft and complicated. Getting to Iceland I think that the first group will manage to pass without incident, behind that there is potentially some very strong wind. I watch this carefully. You have to rack your brains a bit. I was side by side with Giancarlo and Damien, when the wind came in they gave me the slip. Now in these conditions with 20 knots downwind I'm struggling to fight with my daggerboard boat even if it was going pretty well in the light weather of the ridge. ?

    Sebastien Marsset (Cap Agir Ensemble): “It took me a little time to get rid of the emotion at the start. These ten days in Village have been demanding and I may not have managed to rest enough before leaving. I'm starting to find my little rhythm of life on board. Everything is fine ! I left on a fairly east route in the ridge. The foilers set off on a much more westerly route as the initial forecast suggested westerly routes instead. This ridge did not go as they thought and they did not expect to see boats pass so easily to the east. They took advantage of this gap to pass behind the residual front that I will have to negotiate this morning. They are betting on the southwest flow. Foils or no foils, this necessarily means different courses I hope that the daggerboard boats will still hang in there for a long time, I will do everything. My boat is not very young so it is obviously difficult to compete with much more recent boats. VMG or weaker wind speeds are less unfavorable to us. There are some very good daggerboard boats like Benjamin (Ferr?) or Nico (Lunven) which are equal in certain conditions. I think it's great that the established order has been shaken up at the start of the race, it's changing, they are getting back into the game, it's challenging. ?

    Benjamin Ferre (Monnoyeur-Duo For A Job): “Everything is going well, the days are exhausting, there are a lot of maneuvers to do. I had Guirec (Soud?e) on the VHF, we had a good laugh listening to the rankings. It's funny to be in the lead even if the ranking is a little biased by the spread of the fleet. In any case, it's cool, the paths and routes seem more or less coherent and the speeds too. The course is still very long so I will try to rest. ?

    Kojiro Shiraishi (DMG MORI GLOBAL ONE): “I regained some strength by eating a little during the passage of the ridge. One of the constrictors to hold the mainsheet on the piano does not work, so I have a winch now dedicated to this. It's a small problem. The passage of the ridge was complicated, I stopped several times but it was not that bad. It will be quite fast to Iceland. I will try not to break anything. The watchword is to pay attention to the boat.



    As the leaders of the Vend?e Arctique Les Sables d’Olonne race start to escape a wide band of very light airs to the SW of Ireland, it is two of the IMOCA rookie skippers on older style non-foiling IMOCA boats who are holding the lead thanks to their position in the east of the fleet. But 100 miles to the west, having emerged into a new, building SW’ly breeze the faster foilers should accelerate and the rookies’ days on top might be numbered.

    It is blonde-haired 31 year old French skipper Benjamin Ferr? (Monnoyeur-Duo for a job) who leads 30 year old Guirec Soud?e ( by 11 miles this afternoon. Ferr? had a prodigious rise to success in the Mini 6.50 class going from rookie to third place on the 2019 MiniTransat in just two years.

    He is presently mentored by Jean Le Cam and races the IMOCA which is widely considered the quickest, best optimised non foiler, the Vend?e Globe 2012 winner as Francois Gabart’s Macif and Route du Rhum winner as Paul Meilhat’s SMA, a veritable wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    Ferr? was an adventurer in his past. At 24 he sailed solo across the Atlantic using only a sextant. He raced a vintage Renault 4L across Morocco but his CV pales in the light of his rookie rival Sour?e. He is the youngest sailor ever to complete the Northwest Passage (the sea route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans through the Arctic Ocean) and spent five years sailing round the world – much of it with a red hen Monique. He spent 130 days stuck in ice, surviving only on eggs and rice. Now having turned his attentions to the Vend?e Globe, he races the Farr design which Alex Thomson took to third in the 2012 race and which most recently Benjamin Dutreux sailed to ninth in the 2020 Vend?e Globe.

    Their gains might be short lived. As their routing choices for their daggerboard, non foiling boats has kept them east there is now more wind in the west. Charlie Dalin – fourth on this second afternoon of racing – has already wound his Apivia up to 23 knots in just 18-19 knots of wind and was making rapid progress up the course. He was computed to be 22 miles south of Ferr? and sailing eight knots quicker.

    Dalin’s choices – where to get in and out of the high pressure ridge – have paid off against his nearest rivals, 16 miles ahead of Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) and J?r?mie Beyou (Charal).

    Britain’s Pip Hare (Medallia) was also emerging out of the light winds this afternoon and winding up Medallia, some 65 nautical miles behind Dalin, but on the same trajectory.

    Hare reported this afternoon, “I am trying hard to think through my sail changes and that worked well yesterday when I kept the same small gennaker up all the way from the start to when the wind died for the high pressure. But I can't help myself much now as it would seem as I then changed through my medium gennaker to my biggest one, and I will need to change that back down again soon. I don't mind the work but I know I lose time changing sails as the boat has to be sailing downwind to do the manoeuvre. Part of my objectives for this race is to understand how and when to make a compromise on not always having the perfect sail in the air.”

    Japan’s Kojiro Shiraishi (DMG MORI GLOBAL ONE) is holding eighth this afternoon in a position more to the east of the other foiling boats like his. Conversely Nico Lunven on Banque Populaire – a renowned weather strategy specialist and two times La Solitaire du Figaro winner – has chosen the west on his non-foiler along with the faster, foiling IMOCAs.

    Sounding tired on the morning video calls Dalin explained, “We are going to have wind that will gradually pick up, a front to pass through and then another new transition zone with light winds". The passage of front that he talks about might be early Wednesday morning.

    No matter the position in the 24 strong fleet there seems no time to settle to a rhythm so far on this race round Iceland back to Les Sables d’Olonne. The skippers need to most of all focus on doing the simple, essential things well and not making mistakes. 2016 Vend?e Globe veteran Eric Bellion, in third, noted “With each successful maneuver each time we see that the boat is going in the right direction you get a surge of pride and we manage to then displace our fears”.



    Racing about 110 miles SW of Ireland’s Fastnet rock, trying to escape zone of light winds caused by a ridge of high pressure, on the second morning of the Vend?e Arctique Les Sables d’Olonne race, it is IMOCA rookie Benjamin Ferr? who is credited with the race lead thanks to his position to the east and north of the main pack.

    Whilst the small posse of pre-race title favourites on their fast, foiling IMCOA’s are most west, seeking to break into the new SW’ly breeze first and start their sleigh ride north to Iceland, it is the 31 year old former Mini 650 Class racer Ferr? (Monnoyeur-Duo For A Job) who has a seven miles lead on his fast, well optimised daggerboard boat which won the 2012 Vend?e Globe as Macif and 2016 Route du Rhum as SMA.

    The second night at sea for the 24 solo skippers has been slow but intense. Knowing that a new breeze awaits them later today when they finally break free of this wide calm zone, the racers have been working hard to gain every mile towards the exit. Of the westerly gang – now 70 miles SW of Ferr? – Charlie Dalin (Apivia) is still best positioned of his rivals but was making less than three knots boat speed. J?r?mie Beyou (Charal) is almost alongside Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) whilst Louis Burton’s Bureau Vall?e is proving sticky in these slow conditions. For them the exit into the new SW’ly breeze should come early afternoon when they should start to profit against the non-foilers in the east.

    Fabrice Amadeo (Nexans Art et Fen?tres): “I don’t have much wind, maybe 8 knots of wind, the sea is calm and flat with beautiful light. This feels good. The strategy for crossing the ridge is to see what the axis of the ridge is and to try to sail perpendicular to that to get out of it as quickly as possible. I'm thinking we will get out about midday but I think it will be a little later than that, this area looks complicated to cross. After that we are into a depression which will bring us sustained downwind conditions. The gaps are closing up but that’s always the same. The leaders get in first and are likely to get out first. I took advantage of the quiet winds and seas to fix my autopilot and now it is good in the light stuff and flat seas but it was losing the place a bit in the winds and seas. We fitted a new system last winter and there are still adjustments to be made. I'm still learning a lot of things on the boat but I'm making progress."

    J?r?mie Beyou (Charal): “We chose our entry point (into the ridge) and now we have to exit perpendicular to the axis of the ridge. It is not easy to know how the wind will turn, we chose the entry point before the start and so mow we see if it still is good. It can can create big gaps if it shifts to the east for those behind me. I hope to get out tonight, maybe tomorrow morning. We are stuck with the other three. We are in sight of each other and that gives us benchmarks even if in the soft stuff. There are to or three things of boatwork to do and some electronic wiring had come unplugged in the fast going on the first night.”

    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella" Photo Gallery


    • #3

      Alt route

      In the face of a forecast for deep low pressure system set to bring strong gales in the area of Iceland, the organisation of the Vend?e Arctique Les Sables d’Olonne race this morning took the decision to change the scheduled course to eliminate the passage round to the north of Iceland for the 24 solo skippers racing. The altered course is maintained at the original distance of 3300 nautical miles.
      Vend?e Globe Arctique Les Sables d’Olonne Race Director Francis Le Goff explained: “ We set a gate to the east of Iceland so that we could guarantee a good, sporting course. It has become obvious since last night and especially this morning that the weather models show the weather getting worse with a depression which is very active generally over Iceland with winds in the NE of Iceland of 40 knots on the files which usually means more, certainly 50kts in the gusts and in a confined strait which is not like the open sea for example, with a lee shore (to the south) so it would be dangerous to take the boats through there. So we have maintained the course distance and moved the mark in the Atlantic and so likely still finishing back into Les Sables d’Olonne after 12 days.”

      Alain Leboeuf, President of SAEM and the Department of Vend?e said, “On this second edition of the Vend?e Arctique – Les Sables d’Olonne, we hoped that the skippers would be able to circumnavigate Iceland for the first time, crossing the Arctic Circle. We knew that this innovative and extreme course was subject to change until the last moment, depending on the weather conditions around Iceland. After an in-depth study of the situation with the race direction and our expert meteorologist, we have decided on this modification of the course. It is a prudent choice. The primary duty of any organizer is to ensure the safety of sailors. As I said before we will not make them take excessive risks”.


      Race direction of the Vend?e Arctique Les Sables d’Olonne took the decision on Thursday morning to cut out the westwards passage around the top of Iceland because of the threat of northerly gales gusting to 50 knots between Friday and Saturday. In the strong, gusty winds along with big, confused cross seas the risks associated with racing along the exposed north coast of Iceland with a lee shore and limited sea room were deemed too much

      Swell Forecast

      wind forecast

      The organisation made the decision to require the fleet to turn SW at the Iceland East gate and head directly to the Atlantic mark which has been moved 180 nautical miles west to preserve the course distance at a meaningful 3300 miles and the proposed duration at around 12 days.

      The decision maybe eliminates the circumnavigation of Iceland but the 24 strong fleet will still have the low pressure system to negotiate, which was, in itself, already causing some considerable apprehension in the IMOCA fleet.

      Positions June 16th

      Race leader Charlie Dalin (APIVIA) has some 75 miles in hand over second placed Jeremie Beyou (Charal) this afternoon at just under 200 nautical miles from the Iceland gate. While France basks in a sticky heatwave, the temperatures for Dalin and Beyou are already dropping to single figures and they have a strong sense of what lies ahead.

      Tight lipped and focused, Beyou said, "My big concern is knowing how to manage this descent down the Atlantic because we will have to face gusts of 40 knots on a reach".

      Isabelle Joschke (MACSF) claims to have had her eyes " riveted on the weather files for three days ". "We're going to have to come back down after passing the waypoint and it will be difficult to manage.”

      Japanese skipper Kojiro Shiaishi (DMG GLOBAL ONE) remarked, “If experience does help it does not stop you being afraid".

      The President of SAEM and the Department of Vendee, Alain Leboeuf spoke today about "making the right choice……we will not make the skippers take undue risks". “The weather patterns are getting worse and worse,” confirmed Francis Le Goff, the race director. Christian Dumard, weather consultant highlighted: “The depression is forming in the South-West of the fleet and will gradually deepen towards the North-East of Iceland”.

      In advance of the decision Briton Pip Hare was already wondering about the possibility of a change of course:

      “ The fleet is going to be split.” Mused Hare, “So it will be interesting to see what race direction do. Because Charlie is so far ahead, how do you now create a course which doesn’t favour some and penalise others? The answer is I don’t think you can. However they need to be pragmatic because none of us want to break our boats. And 50 knots is not a place you ever want to be.”

      The rest of the fleet stretches for 370 miles. Further east three competitors are at the latitude of the Scottish coast: Antoine Cornic (EBAC Litterie, 6th) was just 20 nautical miles west of the island of Lewis.



      With a few exceptions the 24 sailors on the Vend?e Arctique – Les Sables d’Olonne race around Iceland now have downwind conditions. After the main body of the fleet spent more than 24 hours snared in a wide band of calm most have escaped and are making decent speeds northwards in valiant pursuit of the breakaway Charlie Dalin. The APIVIA skipper is now less than 250 miles to the Iceland waypoint on the east side of the Arctic island, and has built an impressive lead of over 100 nautical miles ahead of J?r?mie Beyou (Charal) who won the inaugural edition of this race in July 2020. Meantime in the extreme east Louis Duc and Antoine Cornic continue their journey up the west coast of Scotland, sailing together some 50 miles to the west of Coll and Tiree islands.

      feathered hitchhiker

      The extended period in the calm has tested the nerves, even those of the experienced and mentally tough sailors like Italian philosophy graduate Giancarlo Pedote, “Getting stressed changes nothing. We learn to keep a lid on things mentally. We just do our best to sniff out the new breeze. Same with Damien Seguin (APICIL Group): "I'm not someone who gets stressed on my boat, I'm quite zen, but I hate the calm. I try to stay calm even if it gets on your nerves. A depression coming from the west will bring the wind back and allow us to climb fairly quickly towards Iceland."

      The fleet will see a southerly becoming southeasterly wind of 15 to 20 knots. The day will see the pace pick up substantially, gybing downwind towards the north. Leader Charlie Dalin did two overnight. Dalin has already created an impressive gap, just as he did in last month’s Guyader Bermudes 1000 race, Race direction expect him at the east Iceland waypoint in the early hours of tomorrow morning followed by Jeremie Beyou (Charal)


      In sixth and seventh on older straight daggerboard boats rookies Louis Duc (Fives - Lantana Environnement) and Antoine Cornic (EBAC Literie) are continuing their strategy closer to the coast of Scotland, They are working a band of wind around fifty miles wide which could well move with them and allow them to sail directly towards Iceland without slowing down too much. Les Sables d’Olonne based Manu Cousin (Groupe Setin) has suffered more than most after changing his strategy several times and made just 73 miles in 24 hours.

      Belgian rookie Denis van Weynbergh is eighth on the former Spirit of Hungary, also benefiting from a very easterly position. Switzerland’s Alan Roura has profited in the west and is up to 15th leading the main pack of foilers which has effectively restarted heading NW whilst to their east the daggerboard boats are sailing a higher more direct angle.

      " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella" Photo Gallery


      • #4


        With the three leading skippers having passed the Iceland gate and so ‘neutralising’ their races, effectively now waiting until the bad weather clears sufficiently for them to restart, the remainder of the fleet are dealing with the big, developing low pressure system which forced the race organisation last night to take the decision to impose this safety measure.

        With the low approaching from the SW it has been the solo skippers in the second half of the fleet which have taken the worst of the strong, gusty and very unsettled winds.

        Race direction have been monitoring the evolution of the stormy system, not least staying in regular contact with the skippers. This morning 19th placed Arnaud Boissi?res (La Mie Caline) over 220 miles south of the gate was reporting 40kts gusting to over 55kts, in 21st place Kiwi Conrad Colman (Imagine) much the same.

        First through the Iceland virtual gate was Charlie Dalin (APIVIA) at 00:23hrs UTC (02:23hrs HF). Second through 3 hours 43 minutes and 34 seconds later was J?r?mie Beyou (Charal) with Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) third through 7 hours and 10 minutes behind the Dalin. According to the race tracker Dalin and Ruyant took shelter in a nearby fjord while Charal’s Beyou appears to be maintaining a holding pattern offshore. Next through should be Benjamin Ferr?, the 31 year old who led the early stages of this race, sailing non-foiling daggerboard boat.

        No official decision has been announced yet how and when a restart will happen but race meteorologist Christian Dumard briefed this morning that he expects the low to fill and move off by Saturday night or Sunday morning.

        "The seas could be 3 to 4 meters in the troughs and the wind could rise to 50 knots during Saturday depending on their progress", assures Christian Dumard. "The depression will fill at the end of the night and move off".

        Adviser Yoann Richomme emphasized today: "These are solid boats that have been tested. At the start they would not have kept up such a pace if they were not perfectly reliable".

        Briton Pip Hare in 16th this afternoon still had 195 miles to climb northwards to the gate on her Medallia. She was objective about the decision, admitting “You know, it’s so hard. I sent a message saying to race management because I understand how difficult is because no one’s going to be happy. Every single person has made their tactical decisions. We’re playing a long game. We’ve all got different objectives in this race. Most of all we want to stay safe. We want to qualify and be racing. There’s been a lot of energy put into getting where we are now. I’ve only got behind the fleet now because it always takes me a while to hit my stride. The last thing I want to do is stop.”

        At lunchtime Friday she was only just getting into what she felt was the worst of it,
        “ I think now I’m in the proper bad sector of the low pressure. It’s really hard to work out, none of the forecasts are saying what’s actually going on in the middle of the low. I think the middle of it is quite a bit bigger and further south. But I think this means I’m going to get a kicking this afternoon. I think I’m now coming into that westerly flow and I am expecting for that to build soon and come in a Northwest direction. I might be able to stay ahead of it but I’m bracing myself for 40 knots this afternoon.”

        The spectacular recovery of Switzerland’s young skipper Alan Roura continues. Snared in the second light airs zone of the course, he was last on the ranking at one point but his choice to punch out to the west has paid a continued dividend and he is up to ninth on the VPLP design which was the most recent Hugo Boss, six miles or so behind Benjamin Dutreux (Guyot Environnement-Water Family) who is sailing the previous Hugo Boss which took second in the 2016-17 Vend?e Globe in the hands of Alex Thomson

        Manuel Cousin (Group Setin) abandons

        Les Sables d’Olonne based French skipper Manuel Cousin confirmed his retirement from the Vend?e Arctique Les Sables d’Olonne this afternoon Friday, June 17, a few hours after altering course to head southwards. He is the second skipper of the 24 who started last Sunday from Les Sables d’Olonne.

        Cousin’s decision is one based on his safety and that of his boat and is one he made in two stages. The 55 year old adopted Vend?en - who is a former motor industry executive who turned to full time ocean racing – had turned south on a more cautious route heading towards the south-east to get away from the center of the low pressure.

        Then the neutralization of the race added to his concerns. "I did some routings all night and it appeared that, if I were heading for the Iceland gate again, as the depression is very big, I would have had to sail all the way upwind and would have arrived there very late. I'm sorry to turn around, it's my first retirement since I started out in the IMOCA since 2017, but I didn't want to put my boat at risk".


        The decision by the Organization is because of a low pressure system which is threatening the fleet. The skippers are likely to face tough conditions and the back of the fleet already have more than 40kts at times and gusts to 60kts. Christian Dumard, the race meteorologist and Yoann Richomme, consultant to the Vend?e – Arctique- Les Sables d'Olonne explain the decision.

        "When you see a big red smudge stretching all over the screen, you know it won't be easy to manage." Isabelle Joschke (MACSF) summarizes the current concern for skippers. This "big red spot" is the depression that formed in the southwest of the fleet and which gradually widens towards the northeast of Iceland.

        The effects will vary through the fleet depending on the positioning of the skipper. For the leading sailors it would have forced them to face particularly difficult conditions. "The depression is shifting towards the North-East of Iceland,” explains Christian Dumard, the weather consultant for the race. “ The wind will then hit their race area during the day on Saturday".

        Thus, the skippers who lead the rankings would have had to face "very strong winds on Friday and Saturday morning on the direct route with very strong westerly winds", continues Dumard “With a crosswind, the sea hits the boats, which can lead to significant risks”.

        "There is also a geographical aspect to the problem,” continues Yoann Richomme, consultant for the Vend?e-Arctique - Les Sables d'Olonne. “The race area is quite isolated and this makes any possibility of rescue complicated in the event of substantial damage. It's not as if they have to face gusts of 50 knots off Brittany!" says Richomme whose own new IMOCA will be launched next year,
        “Legally it is the responsibility of the race director and sometimes it is better to be a little too 'safe' than not safe enough.”

        This is also the point of view of Giancarlo Pedote (Prysmian Group) who agrees with the decision. "There are big seas which could endanger the skippers.” he explains. “All the choices related to safety are always good choices".

        At the heart of depression
        At the rear of the fleet, depression is already a reality. In the morning, Romain Attanasio was making difficult progress in 35-40kts and the alerts were sounding aboard Fortinet-Best Western. Fabrice Amedeo (Nexans-Arts & Fen?tre) mentioned 45 knots of established wind and gusts to 50 knots.
        “I currently have 53 knots and I had peaks at 60 knots”, continued Arnaud Boissi?res (La Mie C?line). "It's really not easy," added Alan Roura (Hublot).
        "The seas could be 3 to 4 meters in the troughs and the wind could rise to 50 knots during the day depending on their progress", assures Christian Dumard.

        What is reassuring is the quality of the boats. Yoann Richomme attests to this: "these are solid boats that have been tested. At the start they would not have kept up such a pace if they were not perfectly reliable".

        Nevertheless, conditions should improve at the end of the day on Saturday.

        "The depression will fill at the end of the night and move off", concludes Christian Dumard.

        " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"

 Photo Gallery