François Gabart, MACIF, winner of the 2012-2013 Vendée Globe Press release

Posted on 27 January 2013 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Vendée Globe] François Gabart’s Vendée Globe is a story of transformation. In a little less than 80 days, the young skipper, viewed as a talented outsider, he evolved turned into a race leader, successfully keeping the other competitors at bay.

A spectacular start

From the outset of the race, François Gabart set about upsetting the order. He took the lead in the Bay of Biscay, imposing his fast pace and sailing in a style akin to the French short course solo racing circuit, the Solitaire du Figaro skipper than a long-distance sailor. The weather conditions favoured the front runners, who soon extended their lead. It took them three days to reach the Madeira latitude, where the first strategic choices were made, followed by Armel Le Cléac’h storming into the front.

François Gabart on MACIF wins the 2012-13 Vendée Globe. Sables d’Olonne, 27 January 2013. Photo copyright Christophe Launay

4-way match

Sailing down the South Atlantic after a complicated the doldrums confirmed the situation, that the race was dominated by a leading quartet featuring Armel Le Cléac’h, Vincent Riou, Jean-Pierre Dick and François Gabart leaving Bernard Stamm and Alex Thomson in their wake. As they reached the Roaring Forties, the skippers ahead picked up the pace, resulting in a series of amazing performances. On November 30, François Gabart broke the first 24-hour distance record (482.91 miles). Shortly, after Vincent Riou was forced to abandon and three skippers – Jean-Pierre Dick, Armel le Cléac’h and François Gabart – entered the Indian Ocean together as a tight pack while Bernard Stamm, ranked fourth, lurked behind.

The great escape

On December 10, the MACIF skipper drove the point home by setting the ultimate solo distance record on a monuhull, covering 545 miles in twenty-four hours. Armel Le Cléac’h was the only one able to hold on and the two Frenchmen, positioned at the front of the fleet, built up an impressive gap in only a few days. On December 13, Jean-Pierre Dick was 155 miles behind. 24 hours later, the gap had increased to 300 miles and eventually 500 miles on December 15. The Southern Ocean adventure then turned into a spectacular duel in which the two solo sailors were rarely more than twenty miles apart. At one point within visual contact on several occasions. François Gabart returned to the Atlantic on January 1, securing the 2012-2013 Vendée Globe edition a place in the history book as the first race in which a rookie rounded Cape Horn as the race leader.

François’ trick

Leaving the Le Maire Straights behind them, the two frontrunners laboured through a windless hole and Gabart managed to slightly widen the gap, sailing forty miles ahead. On January 5, Le Cléac’h broke the union for the first time since the Amsterdam gate and tacked west his sights set on a ridge of weather. François Gabart kept sailing along his eastern route, taking him to the edge of the Saint Helena high. Demonstrating his strategic acumen, Gabart extended his lead and positioned himself back in front of the Banque Populaire bow. He crossed the Equator five days ahead of Michel Desjoyeaux’s record. Despite a tricky Doldrums crossing, Gabart kept warding off Le Cléac’h’s attacks throughout his climb back up the North Atlantic. At 29, as he crossed the finish line, he became the youngest Vendée Globe winner ever. Alain Gautier was 30 years old when he won the 1992-1993 edition in 110 days and 2 hours. What a difference a decade makes.

Key figures

Longest distance covered in 24 hours: December 10, 545 miles at an average speed of 22.7 knots.
Number of rankings with Gabart leading: (5 rankings a day): 234
Days spent leading the race: 44 days 20 hours
Les Sables to Equator: 11 days 00 hours 20 min (Jean Le Cam’s 2004-2005 record: 10 days 11 hours 28 min)
Equator to Good Hope: 12 days 03 hours 25 min (JP Dick’s record: 12 day 02 hour 40min)
Good Hope to Cape Leeuwin: 11 days 06 hours 40 min (new record)
Cape Leeuwin to Cape Horn: 17 days 18 h 35mn (new record)
Cape Horn to Equator: 13 days 19 hours
Equator to Les Sables: 12 days 01 hour 37 minutes

1 Comments For This Post

  1. Rob Weiland Says:

    Deep bow to this man, what a performance.



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