HomeIMOCAIMOCA SKIPPERS IN THE NEW YORK VENDÉE-LES SABLES D’OLONNE RACE

IMOCA SKIPPERS IN THE NEW YORK VENDÉE-LES SABLES D’OLONNE RACE

FOR IMOCA SKIPPERS THE NEW YORK VENDÉE-LES SABLES D’OLONNE RACE IS AS MUCH ABOUT INSTINCT AS ROUTING

After four days at sea in a challenging transatlantic weather pattern, the New York Vendée-Les Sables d’Olonne is proving a highly absorbing contest, as the IMOCA skippers try to make sense of unpredictable weather.

The race has been dominated by a slow-moving front which is travelling east at the same pace as the fleet. The two leading boats – Charlie Dalin’s Macif Santé Prévoyance and Boris Herrmann’s Malizia SeaExplorer – managed to make enough headway to the east at the weekend, to get ahead of the front.

Sailing in completely different weather to the boats behind them, they have a lead over the chasing pack of around 300 nautical miles. They are now about 230 nautical miles apart, with second-placed Hermann the most northerly of the two and just 16 miles behind Dalin in terms of distance to the finish which is still over 1,600 miles away.

The rest of the 28-strong fleet has been trapped behind the front and is being spear-headed by a big group of boats led by Britain’s Sam Goodchild (Vulnerable) and Jérémie Beyou of France (Charal). They are pursuing a southerly option towards the Azores which is taking them a long way south of both Dalin and Herrmann.

 

 

In all the messages coming back from these skippers, we are hearing from sailors who are having to work hard on multiple manoeuvres and are struggling to find a weather strategy with routings constantly changing and, worse, big discrepancies between forecasts and actual conditions.

The young French star Violette Dorange on board Devenir has been having a great race and is currently well ahead of the next daggerboard boat in the rankings – Eric Bellion’s Stand As One – and seems to have enjoyed the unpredictability of this challenge.


Indeed this is as much about modern navigation and routing software as old fashioned seamanship, something Dorange seems to have acquired despite her relative youth at just 23 years of age.

 


 

Burton also reported that he hit a metal object in the sea on the way to the start of the race and had a lot of work to do to repair things on board. It has not been an easy four days for him and he says he has no idea when he will reach the finish, given the uncertainties of the weather picture, which includes the prospect of many miles upwind for most of the fleet.

 

 

Among the female skippers, Justine Mettraux of Switzerland (Teamwork-Team Snef) is in fifth place ahead of Britain’s Pip Hare (Medallia) in ninth, while France’s Clarisse Crémer on L’Occitane En Provence is 12th, just one place behind Dorange. Crémer joked that she has been “chasing the same weather front for ever.”

Crémer is sailing a confidence-building race. Her auto-pilot issue apart, this voyage is so far proving a happy experience for her after her delayed finish to The Transat CIC, following serious structural damage to her boat which was repaired in the Azores.

 

 

For Crémer, as with all the skippers in the race, this is the last big challenge before the Vendée Globe. She said her focus has been so much on this transatlantic, and three that preceded it, that she can hardly think about the round-the-world race right now.

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