Rich Wilson Has Favourable Winds For The Final Miles Of The Vendee Globe
Rich Wilson’s last weekend at sea on his Vendée Globe looks set to be quick and relatively productive as he finally rides favourable winds back towards the finish in Les Sables d’Olonne which he should reach on Monday.
Downwind conditions of 20-25 conditions will see the American skipper gybing his way down the final miles of the track making good speed to become only the second American ever to complete the Vendée Globe. Wilson, 829 miles from the finish, has been making a VMG averaging just over eight knots and was 529 miles NWW of Cape Finisterre this afternoon making a course south of east.
The 58 year old holds three university and college degrees and previously set three sailing world records. His mathematics degree and his MBA from Harvard as well as an MIT science degree are complemented in the sailing world by setting speed records on routes from San Francisco to Boston, from New York to Melbourne and from Hong Kong to New York.
He served as Defence Analyst in Washington, a mathematics teacher in Boston, a desalination consultant in Saudi Arabia, is a successful corporate investor and a former writer for the Democrat party, and throughout his 116 days racing has constantly updated the sitesalive web site which he founded, which expert information and views from a collection of experts and presents it in an engaging and interesting fashion for young people.
Rich has written articles for dozens of American newspapers and publications along the route. His race has been one which has challenged him close to his limits, but which he has accomplished by carefully managing the risks, preparing well in advance of situations as well as dealing well with the adversity as it arrived. Wilson was violently seasick not long after he left Les Sables d’Olonne.
During the first violent storm he was thrown across the cabin and sustained a cracked rib which restricted him for some time. In the Southern Ocean he was thrown out of his bunk against the chart table, lacerating his head close to his eye. And since the Southern Ocean he has struggled with an autopilot system which will not steer to the wind angle and so he has been unable to get good rest for weeks.
His passage from Cape Horn has been difficult, plagued by headwinds for much of the time, but the final two weeks have required a time and energy sapping 600 miles detour around a high pressure system which ultimately took him closer to his home in Boston than the finish on the other side of the Atlantic.
Raphael Dinelli, now 300 miles NW of the Azores, has overcome his broken rib to make a successful repair to his boom on Fondation Océan Vital. After preparing the pieces of his boom, he placed them inside his boat to take advantage of the temperature of around 25° to get them as dry and warm as possible. By yesterday everything was ready and the repair seems to have gone well, before he had to get the boom back on deck and re-set on the rig, not an easy job with his broken rib.
With his injury the Sablais skipper has reported that has been unable to get much sleep, as it is painful for him to lie down.
Using as little power as possible, Dinelli keeps his sat phone systems off much of the time, and so today was the first time for some days that the skipper has been in contact with Race HQ in his home port of Les Sables d’Olonne:
“ I’m feeling very tired: I didn’t sleep at all during the night.” Dinelli explained today, “ I couldn’t find a comfortable position in my bunk. I have worked so hard over the past few days repairing the boom and refitting it that the painkillers don’t seem to be working any more. But the repairs and lamination work went smoothly, even if I’m going to have to be cautious and not put too much pressure on the boom. I had a hard time yesterday getting it back in place, what with the sea and my broken rib. But I’ve been back sailing again since yesterday evening. I’m under staysail and two reefs in 25 knots of wind. I’m sailing downwind making between 9 and 12 knots, averaging around ten and I managed to get by the Azores High fairly close to it without getting stuck in the calms. I need to get some rest now to finish this race, as there’s a lot left to do. There is more and more shipping around and I mustn’t drop my guard now.”
And while the two skippers ahead of him have had their down moments in recent weeks, Austrian Norbert Sedlacek is happy with his lot as he contemplates his final week to ten days at sea on his trusty Nauticsport-Kapsch. He was suffering a bit of a headache today, either the after effects of another ‘sportif’ day yesterday – perhaps a little dehydrated – or alternatively he believed the bone jarring, slamming in the choppy, disorganized seas had shaken contributed to his sore head. His other slight concerns had been his engine mountings which, by the sounds of his descriptions today, had shaken loose. He had hammered in some wooden shims which seemed to have wedged the vital piece of engineering back into place, while he also said that taking a lot of water over the deck had seem some constant ingress through the deck aperture to his keel head, which has not had a cover for some weeks now. But, 560 miles SW of the Azores, Sedlacek is skirting the high and was starting to enjoy more settled, lighter winds, sailing under his double reefed main and G2 genoa.
Norbert Sedlacek, AUT, (Nauticsport-Kapsch): “ Personally I have a really strong headache. I think it has worked its way up from my back from the last few days, it was very uncomfortable these last few days, with strong wind and tacking, but I am sure it will get better now with the seas getting smoother and the wind coming down. The boat is running OK and no terrible dramas. I am thinking maybe I have not been drinking enough water yesterday and so I have started to drink much more. The problem is that I cannot adjust my bed or my seat, and so every time when your are tacking hard and are well heeled over, you have a very uncomfortable situation to lay or to sit in the navigation station and so the problem is that the backside tries to stabilise the body and then the neck and it spreads from there into the head. But I hope today the weather will be a little better and so I hope that I will get outside and make a little exercise, not yoga, but some exercises where you can stretch your backside and your neck.”
“Yesterday and last night it was windy with many squalls, but now the breeze is stable and comes from the ENE, and now since the last few hours from the East and so I am making some good miles, but the last 24 hours it has been very sportif sailing.!
“The problem is I have no cover from the keel compartment, and I took a lot of water and my pump has to run a few times a day to get the water out which comes through the holes for the lines to manoeuvre the keel. If you run the pump every three, four hours it is fine.”
“I will not go too close to the Azores, probably here around 35 degrees and then catch the westerly, and then…….be at home next weekend!”
“It is a really, really good feeling. Yesterday I looked at the chart and you see the routing you have done and just the 2000 miles still to go and just a small piece to go, it gives you a really great feeling, really great.”