Vendee Globe 2016-2017
The Vendee Globe sailing race is ongoing at the time of writing. Those that are ‘in the know’ have been glued to the internet. The current race is fast, very exciting and in its closing stages. It has been brilliantly covered by the internet and the Vendee Globe organizers. The author is going to encourage you to get involved and to explain what the Vendee Globe is all about.
Lots of people have asked what is the Vendee Globe? Simply put, the race is one of the toughest sailing endurance races for single-handed sailors. It goes around the world and requires the participants to sail non-stop and without assistance. This is a real feat of seamanship and navigation since the rules prevent helping the skipper with customised weather or routing information. The boats are large racing monohulls – the Ocean 60 class and the current race has 29 competitors from 10 nations.
The race starts at Les Sables d’Olonne in Vendee, France and goes South through the Atlantic. Competitors then turn left below Africa’s tip (the Cape of Good Hope) and travels through the tempestuous Southern Ocean circumnavigating Antarctica whilst remaining South of Australia and New Zealand. The participants then round Cape Horn on the Southern Tip of Chile and race back up the Atlantic to the start point. Every race there is a high attrition rate and boats are forced to retire due to the extreme conditions that break equipment and test the participants and their craft to the limit. Boat speeds can routinely exceed 20 knots and needless to say the race soon spreads out. The current distance between first and last is over 9,000 miles.
Through its history the race has been heavily dominated by France. Every winner of the race has been French. The Brits have also been challenging competitors with well-known sailing names Ellen McArthur (2nd in 2001), Mike Golding (3rd in 2005), Dee Caffari, and Tony Bullimore amongst others. In this years race and currently in second place we have Alex Thomson. This plucky Brit is sailing in his 3rd Vendee Globe he came 3rd in 2013 but did not finish in the preceding two races. The current race is led by Armel Le Cléac’h who has just crossed the equator and is ahead of Alex by a little over 130 miles at time of writing. With only 2,500 miles to go as they charge northwards up the Atlantic its close – very close.
This edition of the race is also the first to feature foiling boats, monohulls equipped with hydrofoils. The foils are shaped like an upturned wing that project from the side of the hull allowing them to maintain speed without heeling at too great an angle. The speeds achieved with foils are significantly faster than boats without them when the wind is on the beam. This race is being closely watched to see the durability of foils in such circumstances. Alex Thomson lost his starboard foil in a collision with an unknown object in the first half of the race. Despite this he has led for the first half of the race and is currently a nail-biting second.
The first Vendee Globe race was in 1989 and since 1992 it takes place every 4 years. The current 2016-17 race started on Sunday 6th November 2016. It is due to finish in a matter of days. The best guess of a finish date, subject to weather conditions, is estimated between 16th -19th January. Just over 90% of the race is over. So with a nail-biting finish in sight now is the time to get behind the race and check out Vendee Globe and the race tracker on Alex Thomson Racing.
Copyright Cap’n Redders (Ian Redwood 7th January 2017)
- “Vendee Globe”. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 2 January 2017. Web 07 January 2017.
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