Archive | Vendée Globe

Alex Thomson Racing announces the build of the new HUGO BOSS IMOCA 60

Posted on 01 September 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source: Alex Thomson Racing] Alex Thomson Racing is announcing the build of the new HUGO BOSS IMOCA 60 to be launched in summer 2015, with the aim of winning the 2016 Vendee Globe.

The plans the Alex Thomson Racing Team are making in this period will have a significant effect on the competitiveness of the skipper and the boat years in advance of races such as the Vendee Globe. The Team aims to put Alex Thomson on the start line of the Vendee Globe with a boat that is good enough to win.

Financially, building a new race boat is a considerable investment and Alex Thomson Racing are privileged to have the support of their sponsors and financial backing to announce this boat build.  Whilst the IMOCA class have made a number of rule changes to increase the reliability and reduce the costs of the class, the investment is still upwards of €3million. The Alex Thomson Racing Team have been sponsored by HUGO BOSS since 2003 and have secured continued sponsorship until 2018.  “We have a great sponsor in HUGO BOSS. Our team has developed into not only being capable of delivering our sponsors marketing objectives, but also putting a winning campaign together.  Today, we take a big step forward in our ambition to be a winning part of the Ocean Masters circuit and delivering on our shared ambition” said Team CEO, Stewart Hosford.

The Team have chosen Guillaume Verdier and the VPLP Team to design the new HUGO BOSS. Technical Lead from Alex Thomson Racing, Ross Daniel said “To date we have had an incredible experience with working together with Guillaume and Vincent at VPLP/Verdier. These guys are incredibly down to earth, extremely talented, and have a passion for creating winning IMOCA boats.” Aware of the importance of delivering the project on time, on budget & to quality, the Alex Thomson Racing Team understand the significance of having the right project manager and the right builder to lead the project. The Team are currently in negotiations with Hythe based Green Marine to complete the build. Simon McGoldrick, the Team’s Naval Architect said “We hope and believe that the team at Green Marine are the right partner for this project, they are experienced and capable in building custom composites on time and on budget.  Given the choice we would always chose to build the boat in the UK as we are a British Team and want to support the industry and local suppliers that we rely on day to day”. The boat will be launched in summer 2015, withthe objective to be race ready to compete in the Transat Jacques Vabre in late October 2015.

With the IMOCA rule still essentially an open rule, where aside from the one design mast and keel, the designers and the teams are still able to seek competitive advantage through design and build.  A key element in producing a successful build is to be willing to take some risks and innovate.  The hull shapes of the 2016 Vendee Globe IMOCA 60s are likely to be an evolution of the current boats, but one area that has seen significant R&D is the new types of appendages.  The IMOCA class has always led in the development of new concepts in offshore racing and will again push the boundaries during the 2016 cycle. McGoldrick said; “This Vendèe Globe cycle will be particularly exciting as we will almost certainly see the use of foils not too dissimilar to those used in the Americas Cup.  The foils should significantly increase the performance of the boats, an increase we have not seen since the canting keel was invented.  Today all the simulations are theory based and of course theory can be very different to reality, so it is going to be a fascinating next 12 months to see what emerges”.

Lastly, the Alex Thomson Racing Team believes it is crucial to ensure the build is in phase with the competition.  There are four new boats that have already been announced- Safran, Banque Populaire, Groupe Edmond de Rothschild and Saint-Michel-Virbac.  These teams are in various stages of design and build and will be hitting the water from January through to late summer 2015to compete in theOcean Masters circuit and the Vendee Globe 2016.

“We want to take advantage of the very latest design thinking, but also get the boat in the water early enough to ensure reliability.  We have a simple objective and that is to put Alex Thomson on the start line, with a boat that is as good, if not better, than all the other boats that will line up on the Ocean Masters circuit” said Hosford.

In the meantime, Alex Thomson is preparing to take on the Barcelona World Race, the double handed, non-stop, round the world race, on December 31st 2014 together with co-skipper Pepe Ribes. Alex’s perspective: “We have worked hard to put together the right combination to make a successful project. We feel that we have put ourselves in-phase with the right designers and the right team internally and externally to be fully competitive through this cycle. I feel honored and privileged to have this opportunity – I cant wait!”

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Alex Thomson and HUGO BOSS announce renewed sponsorship deal

Posted on 18 December 2013 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Alex Thomson Racing] Alex Thomson Racing together with Five West have today announced a new four year sponsorship deal with HUGO BOSS.

The signing marks the continuation of one of the most successful sponsorships in sailing. HUGO BOSS has sponsored the British skipper since 2003.

As part of the renewed commitment to the solo-round-the-world skipper, Alex will be participating in the 2014 Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona Race, the 2014 Barcelona World Race and has his sights firmly set on winning the 2016 Vendee Globe.

Earlier this year Alex broke the British solo monohull non-stop round-the-world record when he finished on the podium of the Vendee Globe for the first time in his sailing career, coming in after 80 days alone at sea in the gruelling race.

HUGO BOSS will be sailing with Alex Thomson for another four years

Speaking at today’s announcement of his participation in the Barcelona World Race alongside Pepe Ribes, Alex Thomson said: “It is an absolute honour to continue our sponsorship with HUGO BOSS. The past ten years working together has been incredible, the pinnacle of which has to be my third place finish in the Vendee Globe this year. We aim to work together in this vein of success into the future starting with the New York to Barcelona Race in June next year, followed by the Barcelona World Race.”

Five West Managing Director Stewart Hosford said: “It is a great asset for the IMOCA class to have this renewed sponsorship deal going forward. The success of the Alex Thomson / HUGO BOSS partnership has been clear to see not only in the race results and the records Alex has set, but off the timer as well in all the activity they work on together. With an enhanced IMOCA programme over the next few years, HUGO BOSS and Alex Thomson will continue to bring something special to the class.”

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Paul Walker, Vendée Globe and Kate Middleton

Posted on 18 December 2013 by Valencia Sailing

If there was any doubt whatsoever left regarding the immense popularity of offshore sailing in France, yesterday’s figures announced by Google will put it to rest. The world’s leading internet search engine publishes each year, around Christmas, the “Google Zeitgeist”, a snapshot of what people had been searching in the last 12 months. It certainly is an interesting overview, reflecting the interests of the public, often triggered by major news events, fads, natural disasters or the popular celebrity of the moment.

Why should we care? Because the figures in France, once again, confirm that sailing and, especially, offshore racing are tremendously popular. Not only was the search term “Vendée Globe” ranked ahead of major events of international renown, such as the Roland-Garros tennis tournament, the Eurovision song contest, the Transat Jacques Vabre, the Dakar rally or even the Cannes film Festival, it was the second most popular search on Google France in 2013, behind “Paul Walker” and ahead of “Kate Middleton”!

French sailing prodigy François Gabart won the 2012-2013 Vendée Globe

This clearly shows that even the birth of a British Prince can’t generate more interest than the legendary round-the-world solo race and only the tragic death of a celebrity Hollywood actor stirs more curiosity among French internet users. It is fair though to add that this edition of the Vendée Globe was also one of the most exciting ones. Young French sailing prodigy François Gabart took the win after a thrilling match race with Armel Le Cleac’h. Not only did Gabart set a new race record with 78 days and 2 hours, the delta of 3 hours and 17 minutes between first and second was also the shortest ever. Finally, the race saw the 24-hour singlehanded distance record repeatedly reset by several competitors.

One thing is for sure, there will be a lot of skippers putting the Google figures on the first slide of their Powerpoint presentations and marketing pitches. It’s also certain that marketing managers around the country will be welcoming them as they have been doing for all those years, despite the financial crisis. If a company is solely interested in targeting the French market, there doesn’t seem to be a more compelling sports product. If your market is selling fireplaces, frozen vegetable, verandas, insurance or dairy products to the French consumer then the Vendée Globe is the perfect fit for a handful of millions per year.

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Sir Keith’s ambitious plans for the IMOCA

Posted on 29 April 2013 by Valencia Sailing

Sir Keith Mills, 62, has spent his entire working life in the advertising and marketing business. He quit school at the age of 15, with no qualifications, and worked his way up from the bottom, founding his own advertising company in 1985. In 1988 he set up Air Miles, an incentive scheme that filled spare capacity on planes, and eventually sold it to British Airways, making a small fortune.

In 2001 he created Nectar, a brand loyalty program that became the biggest one in the UK with over 19 million customers, nearly half of the adult population. According to London’s Guardian newspaper, the other half “can buy T-shirts that pithily answer the eternal question with the response: ‘No I haven’t got a fucking Nectar card.’” He then sold Nectar and netted £160 million.

In September 2003 he became Chairman of London 2012 and embarked on two major marketing campaigns. The first one was to pitch the London candidacy to the International Olympic Committee, something he was successful in as the UK capital was selected as host city in July 2005. The second major marketing campaign involved the actual London Olympics and Sir Keith’s team was able to bring in more than £1 billion of sponsorship money.

If such a successful, self-made businessman that has been selling and marketing products for nearly half a century states in a press conference that he has found an “extraordinary business opportunity” for him and that he will invest “several” million euros of his own money, there must be little doubt he knows what he’s talking about. If he then closes the same press conference by saying that he spent his entire career marketing products and that this one is “one of the best” he has seen then you wish you could have invested some of your savings there as well.

What does all this have to do with sailing? A lot, especially with single-handed and double-handed offshore sailing, and all these enthusiastic statements were made during the international press conference Sir Keith Mills held in Lausanne, Switzerland last Saturday.

From left, Georgio Pauen (OSM Executive Vice Chairman), Luc Talbourdet (IMOCA president) and Sir Keith Mills. Lausanne, 27 April 2013. Photo copyright Olivier Blanchet / DPPI / OSM was one of the invited media at the two-day event Sir keith and his newly-founded company Open Sports Management (OSM) hosted in the posh Beau Rivage hotel on the shores of Lake Léman. On Friday afternoon, François Gabart, recent winner of the Vendée Globe, was presented with the IMOCA World Champion trophy while on Saturday morning, Keith Mills, together with Georgio Pauen (OSM Executive Vice Chairman) and Luc Talbourdet (IMOCA president) held a press conference and talked about their vision for the IMOCA and their four-year plan to “take IMOCA global”.

Keith Mills bought the global commercial rights of the IMOCA class and in October 2012 he set up a new company, Open Sport Management (OSM) to manage them, becoming in a way the Bernie Ecclestone of offshore racing. Our report here will focus on the Saturday press conference which we will have to warn, was long on ambitions and enthusiasm but, unfortunately, short on details. This isn’t a criticism but rather an observation after two days of talks with most of the people involved.

Enthusiasm and huge potential
Again, to state that Keith Mills is enthusiastic about the IMOCA class and its prospects would be the understatement of the year. He strongly feels it is a “truly unique” sport. He has been involved with many sports and feels he has never seen “anything like that.” To him, the IMOCA class is very similar to the French wine. According to Mills, “France kept the best wine for itself for too long. It also kept the best sailing races for itself for too long.” He was quick to stress that this doesn’t imply it will lose its French accent. It will simply expand internationally. It’s important for him and his company to maintain the incredible support offshore sailing has in France. This view was seconded by Luc Talbourdet, IMOCA President, who stated that “the IMOCA Class was undervalued outside France and Keith saw that.”

All three panelists conveyed the same message. Single-handed offshore sailing is the only sport in the world where an athlete competes 24 hours per day over a period of three months. It is unique in its ability to demonstrate the personal endeavor of sailors and produce tremendous stories. This is what in their view the media want and this is what they will strive to provide. For Mills it is important to “capture the stories and bring them to life.” He took the example of a broach or a serious incident onboard a yacht. The skipper’s first and foremost priority is to secure his boat and then report, maybe two-three days later.

Four Key objectives
For Sir Keith there are four clear key objectives:

First of all it is important to bring more international teams, that means more non-French teams. This will make the races much more appealing to international sponsors. According to Mills, for most skippers it is much tougher to make it to the start line than compete in a race. It is extremely difficult to find sponsorship outside of France because precisely these races lack the public appeal they have in France. In that stage, Sir Keith passed the microphone to Ronnie Simpson who is a US sailor, aspiring to race in the 2016 Vendée Globe. Simpson pointed out that even if personal stories and human quality are one of the essential characteristics of these races, it is extremely hard to sell them in the US since people aren’t even aware of them.

Secondly, it is necessary to have more races that go to more places, that visit more venues. That will mean the participation of IMOCA 60 boats to other races, the creation of transoceanic races as well as Grand-Prix style races where the boats race to a certain venue and then stay there for a week.

Third key objective is to build a bigger, more international audience which in turn will eventually bring more international sponsors, the fourth key objective.

My obvious question was what OSM would be doing to achieve these goals. Sir Keith’s answer was that there was an “outline plan” that would be discussed with all the stakeholders this week and would be made public in their near future.

Sir Keith answering one of VSail’s questions. Lausanne, 27 April 2013. Photo copyright Olivier Blanchet / DPPI / OSM

Two 18-month cycles
Sir Keith’s ambitious plans will not be realized overnight and OSM has a four-year plan to to hopefully “unlock the huge potential” of the IMOCA class. This plan will evolve in two 18-month cycles.

The first 18-month cycle will mainly focus on double-handed sailing and its culmination will be the 2014 Barcelona World Race whose start is scheduled on the 31st of December.

After the end of the Barcelona World Race, OSM has scheduled a brief break that could allow sponsors to organize their own racing, although no further details were given. Georgio Pauen (OSM Executive Vice Chairman) called that a sort of “breathing space.”

The second 18-month cycle will focus on single-handed sailing and its culmination will obviously be the 2016 Vendée Globe.

Following the end of the press conference, OSM sent out an official press release with the racing program for 2013 and 2014 as follows:

2013 Program
August: Fastnet Race
November: Transat Jacques Vabre, from Le Havre (France) to Itajai (Brazil)

2014 Race Program
Spring: Double-handed Transat
Summer: a 1,000 miles long race
November: Route du Rhum
31 December: Barcelona World Race

Finances and sponsorship
There is no doubt Mills is putting his money where his mouth is. Although he didn’t provide any precise figure he said that his total investment would be “several million euros”, even he hasn’t spent “a lot” to date. He sees that investment as a business opportunity and OSM will actively seek all kind of sponsors, including for the naming rights. They will use the same “techniques” they had used for the 2012 London Olympics which had very strict rules and where branding wasn’t even allowed.

One thing that isn’t clear though is the exact relationship OSM will have with the Vendée Globe and the Barcelona World Race, the cornerstones of single- and double-handed offshore sailing. These are well-established races, at least within the sailing world and we couldn’t see how they would work with OSM. What commercial rights will OSM have over them? Both Mills and Talbourdet were quick to point out that both races welcomed the arrival of OSM and despite their relative success they will strongly benefit from OSM’s knowhow. They both “look forward” to OSM’s involvement and will “closely” collaborate with Mills and his team.

Although there were very few details unveiled, it is very encouraging to see one of the UK’s most successful businessmen investing his own money, trying to make the sport of sailing more popular. At least it’s the case of a brilliant marketer that loves sailing and tries to market it, rather than a brilliant sailor that thinks he’s smarter than everyone else in marketing and fails, as it often happens in our sport…

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Sea Master Sailing February 2013

Posted on 15 February 2013 by Valencia Sailing

Sea Master Sailing February 2013

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Tenacious Jean-Pierre Dick

Posted on 05 February 2013 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Vendée Globe] The Vendée Globe welcome afforded to fourth placed Jean-Pierre Dick by a huge and passionate crowd was one worthy of a race winner. Having sailed more than 2500 miles with no keel, having lead the race – his third participation – and having been among the top three for most of the course, all clearly inspired a big, partisan crowd to take to the channel into the heart of Les Sables d’Olonne this afternoon to welcome ‘ JP’. The skipper who is originally from Nice and only really took to the IMOCA class ten years ago left Les Sables d’Olonne 88 days ago as one of the favourites and returned one of the outstanding heroes. Dick took disappointments in his stride but they took their toll on his overall performance.

First, he recalled, he lost a key small gennaker in the water – one which would have been his reaching workhorse in the South which forced him to re-think his strategy at times. Then he struggled with a jammed halyard hook which left him unable to set the optimum headsail for some time. He eventually climbed the mast of Virbac-Paprec 3 several times to free it but lost more miles. His problems were capped when he lost his keel on the evening of 21st Janaury.

And so his fourth place reflects the incredible tenacity of JP Dick. He concluded with a Chinese proverb:

“The goal is not in the goal but in the pathway.”

Jean-Pierre Dick on the podium:

On stopping in Galicia

“ It was very difficult in the north of Spain to try and get some rest. I had to try and make the most of that time to get the rest because it had been so stressful around Cape Finisterre with big waves because there was a good chance of the boat capsizing then. I managed to get the sail reduced, but yes it was really tough. I was really pleased to stop there and get some rest.”


On the welcome back, mooring in Spain and sailing with no keel

“The welcome here has been extraordinary. That transition between being alone and arriving here makes me so proud to be here. The main feeling I have is pride, I am so proud just now of getting my boat back here across the finish line. It was not easy and I was not sure I would finish and so that is important too. And also finishing in a good position, that is important too. You have to really want to do it. And really dig deep into yourself to bring the boat home. I really tried to work the depression but it was not easy without a keel. It is this race which lets you do that and it is this public which appreciates it, it is just magical. So you can just about make it without a keel but only if you are super safe with reduced sail and then you can rest a bit, but as soon as you get more than 20% a heel then you have to be careful, you can heel too much and so you have to keep a small headsail area and the mainsail reefed right down to what you need. We like going fast as a racer, you want to go fast. So obviously when the wind gets up you want to go faster. And so you have to change your thinking. Three days on the mooring and you are rested and then you have to remember to go along slowly.”

On safety and security changes since the last Vendée Globe and the most stress, at Cape Finisterre

“Looking at the IMOCA today we did a lot of preparation inside the boat and with Jean Le Cam’s experience, I have changed a lot of the inside so I can close a lot of the compartments to make it more secure. You have a survival suit, and iridium phone, and there are a lot of advances in security, and so you know that you grab the right things. That luxury was not available to people in the past. Things have really moved on and that is good. You can have special alarms and can speak on the VHF over long distances which makes you feel more secure. Cape Finisterre really was tough, a bit cross swell, fishing boats which don’t show up on the AIS, the automatic positioning system, but you cant sleep. There are boats all around you, there are cargo ships all around. At one point I crossed a bit cargo and they go straight on. They don’t see you and they go straight on. I saw him on the AIS. I had three or four minutes to change course, but it was close. I should have been ahead but chose not to.”

Advice on sailing with no keel and going on

“Marc Guillemot and Roland Jourdain gave me advice, as much as I could gather which would be useful. Marc and I had a long chat, and he said it really you who makes the decision. I tried sailing like that but he said you are the one who makes the decision and it worked out in the end. The tough question was whether to carry on to Les Sables d’Olonne or to stop. That was a difficult and tough decision to take. There are dangers in stopping too, so going in to the right place, finding a mooring at the right time without too much tide and wind.”

On mooring and using the engine

“It is strange to come in at night. Thankfully there was not too much wind to do the manoeuvres but I had to use the engine for one or two minutes because I was getting too close to the wall. You could not let go on the mooring for a minute. There was 35-40kts on the mooring and I went and swam around to put some extra rope around the mooring and so now here I am.”

Looking at his race, the good and the bad

“ I must say I was not expecting a Vendée Globe like this. I was really well prepared but the toughest things I had were when the loop on one of my sails broke in the south and I can remember at the time I was trying to get some rest and I was looking up through the hatchway to see that the sail was alright and suddenly there was nothing there. The sail had fallen into the water and gone under the boat and got stuck. That was just when I had moved into the lead. I had taken a good option and with that sail in the water it was my key sail. My small gennaker which I would rely on in the 25-30kts of wind in the south, I lost it and so I had to rethink how I would use the other sails. So psychologically that was hard, realising that I would really have to fight to win and it was not really going to be possible. I did my best but did lose a few miles, maybe fifty or sixty miles where I just did not have much luck. I then got stuck in an anticyclone and Francois and Armel managed to get ahead about 500 miles and I just could never get back. I made to 250 miles, bit by bit, but then I had a few other technical issues. I had to go up the mast two or three times to fix a hook which was stuck. There was a really big swell in the south and going up the mast there I went up a few times and it is impressive and managed to fix it in the end without losing too much ground and then I had the problem with the forestay when the strop.”

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ACCIONA 100% EcoPowered capsized. Javier Sanso in his liferaft awaiting rescue

Posted on 03 February 2013 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Vendée Globe] This Sunday morning 3rd February around 1049hrs UTC two distress beacons of ACCIONA 100% EcoPowered, skippered by Spanish solo sailor Javier Sanso which is racing in the Vendée Globe non stop solo round the world race were triggered. The alarms were received at 1052hrs UTC.

At 1049hrs UTC the boat was positioned at 31° 59.00 N 27 26.24 W, so 500 miles west of Madeira and 360 miles south of the Azores island of Sao Miguel

Weather conditions in the area that Sanso was sailing were a NE’ly wind of 15kts. The boat was racing upwind in a moderate trade winds swell. Prior to the incident all was reported to be well on board, only minutes before Sanso had e-mailed a daily report to Race Direction.

At 1110hrs UTC (1210hrs local time Les Sables d’Olonne, France) Vendée Globe Race Direction were alerted by Ricardo Maldonado, the manager of ACCIONA sailing team, who informed Vendee Globe Race Direction that MRCC Madrid had received the warning that two EPIRB distress beacons (COSPAS/SARSAT) had been activated.

Immediately Race Direction in Les Sables d’Olonne, the MRCC Ponta Delgada (Azores) and CROSS Griz Nez tried to contact the IMOCA Open 60 ACCIONA but received no reply.

MRCC Ponta Delgada then requested an aerial reconnaissance of the area by plane. A C295 plane was on zone by 1630hrs UTC. On arrival they found Javier Sanso in his liferaft. Sanso made hand signals and smoke signals (smoke hand flare) next to his capsized boat.

At 1650hrs UTC this information was confirmed to Race Direction by MRCC Ponta Delgada.

At 1750hrs UTC an EH101 helicopter was dispatched from the Azores island of Terceira heading to the zone to effect the rescue of Javier Sanso and is expected to be in the area by 2300hrs UTC.

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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

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