Maître Coq wins the New York-Vendée race

9 Jun
Jérémie Beyou on Maître Coq wins the New York-Vendée race

Despite the fickle conditions in the final stages of the race it was French sailor Jérémie Beyou who racked up a win on his IMOCA 60 Maître Coq in the inaugural New York-Vendée race. Beyou is a two-time winner of the Solitaire du Figaro, one of Europe’s most challenging sailing events. He also won the double-handed Transat Jacques Vabre with Jean-Pierre Dick so he is no slouch when it comes to winning major races, but for this one Beyou was handed a bit of a bone. He was trailing Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss when a problem with Thomson’s auto-pilot led to a crash gybe in the night. The gybe and ensuing mess set Hugo Boss back 80 miles and allowed Maître Coq to grab the lead. All is fair in the world of offshore ocean racing and as the say, “stuff happens.”

Thomson aboard Hugo Boss led for most of the race through the rough early stages when he reported wind speeds approaching close to fifty knots. Until the crash gybe Hugo Boss looked to be in a good position for victory but after fixing his pilot and cleaning up the mess he had dropped to third behind Beyou on Maître Coq and Sébastien Josse aboard Edmond De Rothschild. Despite a hard push in the final stages of the race he was unable to regain the top spot. With just 200 miles to go the wind turned light and Thomson seemed to be back in the hunt, or as he put in in a short video, “there is less than 20 miles in it between me, Jérémie and Séb and so I am still in the hunt, but even if I’m not I am still hunting.”

No words needed - just awesome

Despite the fickle conditions, Beyou on Maître Coq held onto the lead managing to hold off a last minute push by Sébastien Josse aboard Edmond De Rothschild who finished in second place just over two hours after Beyou and just over an hour ahead of Thomson. With the podium complete it was time to look at the rest of the fleet many of whom had to turn back in the early stages of the race after five boats collided with debris, all sustaining damage. The skipper who seems to have had the best come-back record is Vincent Riou on PRB who has slowly picked his way through the fleet and is now lying in fifth place with just over 100 miles to go at writing.

From a frenetic first half where many skippers saw boat speeds close to thirty knots, it must be a relief to be in the notoriously challenging Bay of Biscay and finding light, sunny and fairly pleasant conditions. Paul Meilhat aboard SMA finished this morning and the next four boats are expected to finish later today and tomorrow. They currently have very light headwinds.



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Brian Hancock – owner Great Circle Sails

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BOAT DOG ORIENTATION: Can Baxter Hack It Afloat?

7 Jun
This is Baxter, a more-or-less 2-year-old male mongrel (we suspect a Jack Russell terrier mixed with some sort of pit-bull) who came north on the Underdog Railroad from Georgia last fall. We adopted him through Alpha Dog Rescue in Lebanon, Maine, aft... Read More

Offshore Sailmaking w/ Chuck O’Malley & Isbjorn Update

7 Jun
In this episode, recorded at the WCC Ocean Sailing Seminar weekend in March, Chuck discusses the technical aspects of building and maintaining ocean-going cruising sails. It’s the second or third time he’s spoken at our events, and his talk is yearly surveyed as a favorite among seminar attendees. Chuck talks about design and construction characteristics; downwind sail choices; three-reef versus storm trysail setups; storm jibs; gennakers and Code 0 sails; and much more. Read More

Nail biting end to the York-Vendée race

7 Jun
Current leader - Maître Coq skipped by Jérémie Beyou

The New York-Vendée race is coming down to a nail biting end with the leading boats less than 200 miles from the finish in Les Sable d’ Olonne on the west coast of France. After what had been a week of frenetic sailing with gale force winds and crashing seas, the ocean is suddenly flat as glass as the skippers go in search of breeze. As of writing the leading boat, Maître Coq skipped by Jérémie Beyou was managing just 4 knots of boat speed in seven knots of wind with the forecast calling for much of the same for the next 24 hours.

Alex Thomson aboard Hugo Boss has led for most of the race but a problem with his auto-pilot that led to a crash gybe in the night set him back 80 miles while he cleaned up the mess and consulted with his shore team on how to fix the pilot. This allowed Beyou and Sébastien Josse aboard Edmond De Rothschild to slip by, but now with the pilot working properly Thomson is back in the hunt, or as he put in in a short video, “there is less than 20 miles in it between me, Jérémie and Séb and so I am still in the hunt, but even if I’m not I am still hunting.” As of writing Hugo Boss was making the best boat speed of the three leading boats but there are plenty of potholes in the road ahead.

Further back in the race the conditions could not be any more different. Aboard Safran skipper Morgan Lagravière reported average speeds of around 18 knots with his bow pointed directly at the finish line. Lagravière was one of many skippers that suffered damage at the start of the race forcing him to return to land to effect repairs. He and a number of other skippers are playing the catch-up game among them Yann Eliès aboard Quéguiner Group. Eliès and Lagravière have just three miles separating them and are sailing in the same waters.
Yann Eliès aboard Quéguiner Group

Depending on the wind the first boat could reach Les Sable d’ Olonne in the next 24 hours. Beyou and Josse are to the south while Thomson is 60 miles to the north of them. At this point it’s still anyone’s game but one thing is for certain there is not going to be much sleep on any of the leading boats for the foreseeable future.

Alex Thomson's view aboard Hugo Boss

I hope that you enjoyed this blog. I invite you to subscribe so that you will not miss a blog post. You will get a great free gift and weekly sailing related blogs. Click the pic to subscribe.

Brian Hancock – owner Great Circle Sails



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Passage notes: St Martin to Bermuda

2 Jun
Only one more passage separates Totem from landfall in the USA. The proximity is palpable, and conversation about what it’s going to be like has dominated dinner table conversations. The comfortable passage north from St Martin to Bermuda fostered cockpit discussion and navel-gazing under the stars, too. Here’s how it went. Passage metrics Distance: 872 nautical miles Duration: 5 days […] Read More

Loads of attrition in the New York-Vendée race

31 May
Current race leader - Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss
There has been a lot of attrition in the New York-Vendée race which started this past Sunday. Within 24 hours of the start five boats have had to return to land for repairs. All five skippers reported hitting some kind of debris. First to bail was Jann Eliès aboard Queguiner-Leucémie Espoir. He reported hitting something in the early hours of Monday morning and was heading for Newport, Rhode Island to repair a damaged daggerboard and daggerboard case. Soon thereafter, Armel Le Cléac’h, one of the pre-race favorites, reported that his new generation Banque Populaire VIII had also hit a floating object with a similar outcome. He arrived in Newport last night and this morning formally withdrew from the race.

Not long after Banque Populaire VIII turned around than Morgan Lagravière’s aboard Safran, Pieter Heerema’s on No Way Back and Jean-Pierre Dick on Virbak also turned around and headed for Newport with varying degrees of damage to their hull and appendages. The most severe damage is to Safran and Banque Populaire. The new generation foils on both boats have been knocked backwards in their respective cases with varying degrees of severity.


Currently in second place - Jérémie Beyou on Maître Coq

Meanwhile while the damaged boats were in Rhode Island there was a lead change at the front of the pack. Vincent Riou on PRB had been out front since the start but it was Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss that did a bit of an end run around the leaders and at last check was 25 miles ahead of second place Jérémie Beyou on Maître Coq. Thomson reported having had very little rest since the start and was sailing on a reach with boat speeds closing in on 30 knots. He also mentioned that he had had a number of collisions but could not find any damage. His foils his twice, both times very hard he reported. He also reported that the keel hit something soft and his rudder also hit something. Fortunately the rudders kick up when they hit something so there was no damage. Alex reported there was a lot of bang and crashing around and we can only imagine what it must be like to be all alone on a boat going that fast and worrying about what might be in the water ahead of you.

As of this morning only Jean-Pierre Dick on Virbak had rejoined the race. One can only wonder how these IMOCA 60s are going to make it all the way around the world in the Vendée Globe with vulnerable foils and so much debris floating around out there .  There is an old saying that says, “You can win if you don’t finish.” It will be interesting to see if some of these skippers change their appendages before the start on the Vendée in November.

Jean-Pierre Dick on Virbak 
I hope that you enjoyed this blog. I invite you to subscribe so that you will not miss a blog post. You will get a great free gift and weekly sailing related blogs. Click the pic to subscribe.

Brian Hancock – owner Great Circle Sails

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