Since the end of the day yesterday the first boat of the Istanbul
Europa Race fleet has entered the Atlantic, leaving the Mediterranean
in its wake. One by one, on the same single tack, the crews have
followed in the tracks of leader Michel Desjoyeaux, who has been
leading the way towards Brest for more than the last 24 hours. Though
all are making modest speeds, the passage of the Straits of Gibraltar
has mixed up the competition on this third leg more than ever,
particularly among the boats vying closest to take on the leader.
Veolia Environnement and Groupe Bel have been having quite a battle,
which Paprec Virbac 2 is doing its utmost to join. Further back, the
Spaniards aboard 1876 have been contending with a mast problem which has slowed them down, while the Mediterranean has yet to finish with the men of DCNS…
For its first edition, the Istanbul Europa Race has the pleasure of presenting a fleet of around fifteen boats, helmed by the top sailors of our time. The trust the sailors display in the organising company, together with the scale of the event and the course on offer, greatly appeal to sailing professionals.
In terms of image, the skippers are perceived as adventurers, sacrificing everything for their passion and a far cry from overpaid stars. In addition they practise a sport which, though given a lot of media coverage, is sheltered from the numerous excesses you can observe in other sports (structured finance, doping), and benefits from a ‘clean’ image in every sense of the word.
As such these top level offshore racers have expressed a desire to accept the invitation to what is to be an unmissable race in their professional career. Among them we can already mention:
The Istanbul Europa Race, in the prestigious IMOCA class, is the latest great sailing race in the yachting calendar. Its long course through Europe is to make it a major sporting event from its very first edition. In the great tradition of stage races, the Istanbul Europa Race will bring together a fleet comprised of some of very best sailors of our time, taking them on an ideal course and offering a genuine invitation to travel.
A human, competitive and cultural adventure, the Istanbul Europa Race has a wealth of assets to bring to the table. A public, comprising amateur sailors and enthusiasts alike, is bound to come out in force to view the spectacle, to witness this new encounter between man and the natural elements, at the forefront of which are the waters of the Mediterranean, as well as the Atlantic Ocean and the English Channel. The excellent line-up of sailors offered, the original aspect of the race ports and the course together with the public presence, all go to ensure massive, international media coverage, given the infatuation that is prompted by sailing.
Monday 16 March 2009, A key point in the IMOCA Class’ calendar is announcing its new World Champion. This time the annual title goes to 32 year old Armel le Cleac’h. He shares the IMOCA Championship podium with Marc Guillemot and Michel Desjoyeaux, exactly the same podium as the Vendée Globe, but the reverse way round. Armel, skipper of Brit Air, has won his place by finishing second in both the Artemis Transat and the Vendée Globe. The Vendée Globe obviously carries the maximum points in the championship, and all 12 sailors that completed it will be rewarded accordingly. This year the top ten rankings is made up of 5 French skippers, 4 Brits and 1 American. Amongst them will be Sam Davies in 4th place who was the first Brit and first woman to finish the race.
So at the age of 32, since winning the ‘Solitaire du Figaro’ in 2003, Armel has gradually but convincingly established himself on the IMOCA circuit. He is hoping to add to this recent accolade by winning the 2009 Transat Jacques Vabre.
Armel Le Cleac’h commented on winning :
« We are really happy! This title goes to the whole team who have worked together since the start of the project. Consistency reaps rewards. The whole way through the project our main aim was always to have a really good Vendée Globe and to finish in the best possible place we could. We’ve finished second in the two greatest solo races on the circuit. That proves that we got our timing right, and had the right approach, even if we were denied an actual win. As far as the boat’s concerned, we got it right, as at no point have we had to make any major modifications after any of the races. I’m also really pleased that my sponsor Brit Air has made it as IMOCA World Champion after only three years in sailing. I’d like to finish by saying that it’s a great podium, I’m just in front of Marc who has vast experience and has one of the best boats and then obviously there is the winner of the Vendée Globe, Michel Desjoyeaux himself. It goes without saying that (sharing the podium with them) gives me a lot of pleasure. I’m continuing this season with Brit Air and would really like to finish it off by winning the Transat Jacques Vabre for the first time. »
The 2008 IMOCA World Championship Top 10
1 Armel Le Cleac’h FRA 371
2 Marc Guillemot FRA 368
3 Michel Desjoyeaux FRA 351
4 Samantha Davies GBR 338
5 Vincent Riou FRA 316
6 Arnaud Boissieres FRA 290
7 Dee Caffari GBR 288
8 Brian Thompson GBR 260
9 Steve White GBR 256
10 Richard Wilson USA 226
The 2008 title is made up from the coefficients from the Vendée Globe (coef 10) and The Artemis Transat (coef 4).
IMOCA Champions (since the Championship creation in 1991)
2008 Armel Le Cleach (France)
2007 Bernard Stamm (Suisse)
2006 Jean Le Cam (France)
2005 Mike Golding (UK)
2004 Mike Golding (UK)
2003 Bernard Stamm (Suisse)
2002 Roland Jourdain (France)
2001 Roland Jourdain (France)
EXTRACTS FROM ARMEL LE CLEAC’H’s CV :
Born on 11th May 1977, married with 1 child. He lives in Gouesnach (Finistère).
2009 2nd in the Vendée Globe
IMOCA World Champion
2008 2nd in The Artemis Transat
2007 7th in the Transat Jacques Vabre with Nicolas Troussel
2006 Became skipper of Brit Air
4th in The Route Du Rhum – La Banque Postale
4th in the Solitaire Afflelou Le Figaro
2005 Skipper onboard trimaran Foncia
2004 Winner of AG2R Transat with Nicolas Troussel / Figaro
2003 Winner of the Solitaire Afflelou Le Figaro
2000 2nd in the Solitaire du Figaro
1999 Winner of the Crédit Agricole Challenge Espoir
After 126 days 5 hrs 31 mins and 56 secs at sea Sedlacek crossed the finish line off Les Sables d’Olonne at 17hrs 33 min 56 secs GMT, the delighted soloist – who started his sailing career on a six metres boat on the shallow waters of Vienna’s Neusiedler See as leisure diversion from his life as a tram driver – was simply ecstatic to finally complete the race among an excited flotilla of well wishers and spectator boats on a perfect sunny Sunday afternoon. Sedlacek sailed the theoretical distance of 24,840 miles at 8.2 knots after covering 27,707 miles on the water at an average speed of 9.15 knots.
Sedlacek’s sheer pleasure this afternoon is doubled by the fact that this is his second attempt at the race. He had to retire in 2004 after just less than a month of racing, sailing back into Cape Town bitterly disappointed after suffering a mechanical failure with his canting keel system on his aluminium hulled boat which was built in 1996.
The Austrian skipper has shown the same grit, drive and determination throughout his race that has propelled him from the dissatisfaction with his life between the rails, driving a tram in Vienna, to sailing round the world on a 28 foot Wolf boat which he built himself in a parking lot in 1998 and which he sailed around Italy, the Mediterranean and Gibraltar, before sailing around the world. His longest period at sea until this Vendée Globe had been 93 days sailing from Cape Town. In 2000-01 he took part in an Antarctic challenge on a Garcia 54 to become the first Austrian to achieve this feat. He is an almost entirely self taught sailor who knows every centimetre and every fitting on his boat which was built for the 1996 Vendée Globe, but which Sedlacek has extensively remodelled and rebuilt. Of all the skippers in the race there is little doubt that Sedlacek spent more hours steering his boat, sometimes to feel more in control in the conditions, sometimes simply to challenge himself to see how many hours he could do, and sometimes just to enjoy the pleasant weather.
His story is an appropriately uplifting and inspiring one to safely draw to an end this epic sixth edition of the race. His has been a race which should prove as much of a focus to galvanise the adventurers and the dreamers to get going for the next race, or the one after that, as was the amazing win of Michel Desjoyeaux who finished
Throughout it he has proven his excellent seamanship, but he has regularly admitted that he has enjoyed every day of his race, sometimes relishing the tough conditions. While he has pushed on prudently he was hit by one of the biggest storms of the race in the South Atlantic after the Falklands Islands when he was struck by a violent depression which hit Nauticsport-Kapsch with gusts of over 80 knots. While others may have, at times buckled or strained under the many different challenges of this race, Sedlacek has positively thrived and has always delighted in ticking them off, reporting back a few days after, typically describing storms as ‘a bit sportif’ or ‘stressy’
He lost the use of his wind instruments on the 23rd January and has sailed without them since. Two days later his mainsail luff track was further damaged near the top of the mast, and it was the Doldrums nearly a month later that he could climb the mast when he was only able to consolidate the damaged track rather than repair it. While he was up the mast he discovered some cracking to the top of the mast, almost certainly the result of the strain on the topmast when the headsail went in the water.
On the 31st January he was hit by a big, very active low pressure system in the South Atlantic which he rode out, seeing winds of over 80 knots in some white-out gusts.
Completing the race brings to an end a remarkable chapter in his sailing career. As a teenager Norbert was more into his football and other active sports. He trained formally and worked as a waiter in the Vienna Hilton before taking a job driving trams in the Austrian capital city. It was while in his early 20’s and he was doing this that he took up sailing on the shallow lakes. He read voraciously of the adventures of Tabarly, of Austria’s first circumnavigator Wolfgang Hausner, and many others, regularly missing stops and forgetting to start from the tram terminus because he was so engrossed in his sailing reading.
Sedlacek has been consistent when he has said he intends to go forward and do the next race in a better boat, but at least this time he will return to his marine chandlery and clothing business in Vienna a satisfied skipper, even if it proves his thirst for adventure has been heightened just as much as it has been quenched by his first successful Vendée Globe.
Les Sables –Equator 17 days 14h 18 mins
Les Sables – Cape of Good Hope 34 days 17h 33 mins
Les Sables – Cape Leeuwin 51 days 7h 38 mins
Les Sables – Cape Horn 87 days 2h 05 mins
Les Sables-Les Sables 126 days 5h 31mins
Crossing the finish line off Les Sables d’Olonne at 12h 43 19s GMT Rich Wilson completed the 24,840 mile Vendée Globe solo non stop round the world race in ninth place, completing a highly creditable result which is testament to his excellent seamanship skills, deep determination, careful planning and prudent execution, staying the distance to finish this incredible edition of the race which has claimed the highest attrition rate yet. Wilson finished 121 days 00 hours, 41 minutes and 19 seconds after leaving Les Sables d’Olonne on Sunday November 9th. Wilson averaged 9.84 knots on the water covering 28,590 miles. He sailed the 24,840 theoretical miles at an average speed of 8.55 knots.
While nineteen of the 30 skippers who started from the Vendée start line on November 9th had to retire from the race, the most gruelling challenge in solo ocean racing, Wilson, the race’s senior skipper at 58 years old, has stuck rigidly to his watchwords of safety and conservatism, showing huge determination to complete the course as the pinnacle of a sailing career which already included three ocean passage records.
Sailing Great American III, which was built in 1999 to a design by Bernard Nivelt for Thierry Dubois, Wilson, of Marblehead, MASS, becomes only the second American ever to finish the Vendée Globe after Bruce Schwab finished ninth from 20 starters in the 2004-5 race on his Ocean Planet.
Wilson safely completed his boat’s third circumnavigation after Dubois sailed her in the 2000-1 Vendée Globe and then the 2002 Around Alone.
While his first race into the inhospitable wastes of the Southern Oceans proved the biggest physical challenge for Wilson, his weeks since rounding Cape Horn have tested his mental durability. In the South Atlantic he struggled with constant headwinds and occasional difficult low pressure systems which generated strong winds and confuses seas and the complex weather pattern in the North Atlantic meant he had to make detours of nearly 1000 miles to get west around successive high pressure systems.
At one point in the middle of the Atlantic he was nearly 500 miles closer to his home in Boston than he was to the finish. His race has been more limited to a test of stamina since the south of Australia and New Zealand when his nearest rivals, first Canadian Derek Hatfield (Algimouss Spirit of Canada) and then Jonny Malbon (Artemis) retired successively with rigging damage and with mainsail damage respectively. That left Wilson feeling more isolated with his next nearest rivals 1000 miles ahead and astern.
His finish is a great triumph for the amateur solo skipper whose career has progressed steadily, regularly proving that he has the steel and the skill to take on big challenges. In 1980 he was the youngest skipper to win overall in the Newport-Bermuda Race on
Holger Danske. Between 1993 and 2003 on his 50 foot trimaran Great American II he set world records on clipper routes. In 1993 he set a record for San Francisco to Boston of 69 days 20 hours. In 2001 he sailed from New York to Melbourne in 68 days and 10 hours and in 2003 he sailed from Hong Kong to New York in 72 days and 21 hours before competing in the 2004 Transat in which he finished second in class 2. Since moving to the IMOCA Open 60 Great American III, Wilson completed two Transatlantic races, the two handed Transat Jacques Vabre in 2007 and the return solo race the BtoB from Brasil to France.
In a field which is mainly populated by die-hard professional solo skippers, Wilson stands out with a long academic, teaching, consultancy and investment career which has run successfully alongside his sailing programmes. He has three university and college degrees from Harvard, from MIT, and Harvard Business School. He was a policy adviser to the Democrat party, a popular maths teacher in his native Boston, a desalination consultant in Saudi Arabia as well as a successful private business investor. In 1990 he created the sitesAlive foundation and has since developed hugely popular learning programmes on the internet and in newspapers, engaging young people of all ages with his adventures. Along with a team of experts he enlightens with practical presentations of topics from simple science and geography to more complex topics. During the Vendée Globe he has had hundreds of syndicated articles and essays published in more than a dozen different newspapers.
He has also been an inspiration to asthma sufferers all over the globe. Afflicted since the age of one, he went on to run the Boston marathon in 1982 and has takes four daily medications to keep his asthma under control.
The latest Arrival Times for the remaining 3 boats based on this morning’s weather charts and positions, Météo France has come up with the following ETAs for the next three boats.
- Great American III: Between 18h00 GMT on Monday 9th March and 12h00 GMT on Tuesday 10th
- Fondation Océan Vital: Between 00h00 on 12th and 06h00 on 13th March
- Nauticsport-Kapsch: Between 00h00 on 14th and 18h00 on 15th March
The Following is Video of d’Arnaud Boissières ‘s Finish 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.”
In solo ocean racing the Vendée Globe is the greatest challenge. To race non-stop alone around the world is as tough as it gets. When the race was first held in 1989 the winner took one hundred and nine days to complete the course, the thirty skippers preparing the compete in the most recent edition expected that the first home would end their lap of the planet in less than ninety days.
With the quest for speed comes more powerful boats, capable of around 500 miles per day, and skippers putting more pressure on themselves to push hard, twenty four hours of every day for three months, often in wild conditions. All this with a backdrop of short interrupted bursts of sleep, freeze dried food and the prospect of intense challenges every day.
In the most recent edition of the race, nineteen of the thirty skippers who started the race failed to finish. There was drama, including, a skipper forced to abandon his yacht as it was smashed onto the rocky shore of a Southern Ocean island, two skippers in peril deep in the Southern Ocean, one injured and unable to sail, the other helpless inside the upturned hull of his yacht.
Seven British skippers entered the race, Mike Golding (ECOVER) back for his third time, looking to improve on the third place he scored in the last edition, whilst Alex Thomson (HUGO BOSS) was on the Vendée Globe start line having finished second in the last round the world race he competed in.
. For the other British skippers the Vendée Globe was a new game, Dee Caffari (AVIVA) looking to become the first women to sail alone non-stop around the world in both directions and with Sam Davies (ROXY) the only women in the thirty strong fleet. Three British men were preparing to start their first Vendée Globe, Brian Thompson (Bahrain Team Pindar) former number two for the late Steve Fossett, Jonny Malbon (Artemis Ocean Racing) heading for his first ever solo ocean race, and Steve White (Toe in the Water) who had re-mortgaged his house to get to the start and line up against the best in the world
Finally triumphing after a frustrating duel with the prolonged easterly headwinds in the Bay of Biscay, British solo skipper Steve White sailed his Open 60 Toe in the Water across the finish line in light NE’ly winds and brilliant sunshine at Les Sables d’Olonne’s South Nouch mark this morning/afternoon at 12:38:55 hours GMT to take a commendable eighth place in the Vendée Globe solo round the world race.
White averaged 10.78 knots on the water covering 28,197 miles. He sailed the 24,840 theoretical miles at an average speed of 9.49 knots.
Tired but triumphant, 109 days 00 hours, 36 minutes and 55 seconds after leaving Les Sables d’Olonne on Sunday November 9th, White was greeted by his wife Kim, and his three sons Jason, 19, Isaac 9, and Euan 6. He is the fourth British skipper to complete the race. Of the 30 skippers who started from the Vendée town over three and a half months ago, 19 had to abandon.
Of the seven British skippers who started the race, three were forced to retire. As White finishes, British skippers occupy four of the top eight places, a level of success for overseas soloists which is unprecedented in the legendary non-stop solo round the world race which was first contested in 1989.
His eleven year old Finot Conq designed boat completed its third circumnavigation. Previously Gartmore, which also completed the Around Alone as Emma Richards’ Pindar, as Toe in the Water White also bettered Josh Hall’s 2001 race time for the boat (111days 19hrs 48 minutes) by more than two days on a course which is made more than 1200 miles (or four to five days) longer due to the ice security gates.
Steve White seemed almost taken aback by his reception today. “I thought I would just be able to sneak in and go to the pub!” was the first thing he said when he reached the dock in Port Olona. But he thanked everyone for turning out to to see him in. Here are the highlights of his press conference:
What did he think of his race? “Fantastic……….all of it that I can remember.”
“ I think the crucial thing that we all agree on in this race is that the mast stays up. We’d actually managed to re-rig the boat for this race, every time we used the boat before, and a lot of the times I was waiting for the mast to come down for previous races, the rigging was old and dangerous, it was a big weight off my mind to know that it shouldn’t fall down, theoretically After that really, you can have a rough guess at what the weather’s going to be, you have sails, everything you need, so how much more can you really need?”
“ I’d never been to the Southern Ocean or across the Equator, but I’d done a lot of miles and they’ve all been hard miles, through the Channel or North Atlantic, in the Western Approaches day in day out with big boats and novice sailors, so the reputation of the Southern Ocean. I didn’t think it was a problem in that respect.”
“ The start was really unpleasant, I had incidents with fire, and lots of loose gear, and the generator, and filling the boat with smoke and things like that, so it was not an easy start, I was pretty miserable for the first 48 hours or however long it was, but things change quickly so nothing lasts forever.”