J.P. Dick's Virbac-Paprec is one of a half dozen boats built for the 2012-'13 edition of the Vendée Globe. Whether the new rules will improve the boats' safety and speed is a subject of debate.
New regulations were supposed to make the Open 60 monohulls safer and faster. But not everyone agrees that this has happened.
IMOCA organizers say that the six newest boats signed up for the Vendée Globe are the fastest and safest in the history of the fabled solo, non-stop, around-the-world race. But with seven months until the start, there is significant disagreement on what advantages, if any, the new boats will have over boats built for previous editions of the race.
The radical Open 60 class, the heart of the Vendée Globe and other shorthanded ocean races is facing an unsure future. Some see a move toward a one-design as the answer.
The Vendée Globe, the only non-stop, solo, around-the-world-race, could be sailed in a 60-foot one-design for the 2016 edition. After a long history as a crucible of offshore innovation and refinement, the International Monohull Open Class Association is considering whether to scrap its famously loose box rule for a much tighter rule intended to create boats that are more affordable and safer.
Loick Peyron and his Banque Populaire team arrive in Brest, France, after breaking the Jules Verne record with a 45-day circumnavigation.
Circumnavigating the globe in 45 days is just a taste of what's to come in the world of offshore multihulls, says Banque Populaire's Loick Peyron.
Earlier this month, Loick Peyron and his 13-member crew completed a 45-day, round-the-world sprint aboard the 130-foot trimaran Banque Populaire V to earn the Jules Verne trophy. Since then, Peyron and crew have been the center of media attention in France. Primetime newscasts here show BPV arriving in Brest, where more than 1,000 spectators braved the winter weather just to catch a glimpse of Peyron and company. It was as if the crowd was gathered at the Cannes Film Festival, trying to steal a peak at Johnny Depp or Penelope Cruz.
Franck Yves Escoffier was forced to retire from this year's Transat Jacques Vabre; he broke his tailbone when his Multi 50 Crêpes Whaou slammed into a wave.
After only two of six Multi 50s finished this year's Transat Jacques Vabre, is it time to rethink the offshore viability of these fragile speed machines?
This year’s Transat Jacques Vabre was often more about survival than it was about racing. Fortunately, there were no tragedies. But the crews and boats certainly took a beating, especially in the Multi 50 class. Only two of the six Multi 50 entries that set out from Le Havre, France, made it to the finishing poles off Puerto Limon, Costa Rica.
The 2011 Transat Jacques Vabre started two days late due to very strong winds and rough seas.
Nasty weather in France delayed the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre, but now the fleet is speeding for Costa Rica.
The weather report was ugly. With less than 48 hours before the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre, sailors were looking at heading into the Atlantic from Le Havre, France, in steady, 40-knot side winds with 60-knot gusts and confused seas of well over 30 feet. There was a chance the fleet of Multi 50s, IMOCA Open 60s, and Class 40s could've slogged through the nastiness and made its way across the ocean to Costa Rica, but that was far from certain.
With the start of the Volvo Ocean Race only weeks away, I stopped by the Groupama base in Lorient, France.
On a visit to the Groupama base in Lorient, France, the other day, I was surprised by the transparency of the team's Volvo Ocean Race program. For all respects and purposes, I had the run of the place for an afternoon, with less than three weeks before the 2011-'12 begins in Alicante, Spain.
I didn't have to sign anything, nor did an escort accompany me once I drove past the security gate. Come to think of it, I don’t even think there was a security checkpoint—just a gate that opened automatically as I drove through to the parking late.
During the 2010 Route du Rum, Servane Escoffier crossed the Atlantic aboard the aging, lumbering giant of a catamaran, Saint Malo 2015.
Like so many up-and-coming offshore sailors, Servane Escoffier is facing the most daunting challenge of all: fundraising.
Living in St. Malo, France, you run into a lot of talented sailors who have no problem mustering the seamanship skills, mental toughness, and incredible physical stamina required to face fabled offshore challenges like the Vendee Globe and the Barcelona World Race. The one thing many lack, however, is the sponsorship needed to fund a top-level campaign. While working hard to convince sponsors to invest big money in exchange for publicity, brand awareness, or whatever it is that marketing folks seek, these aspiring offshore sailors work day jobs like the rest of us.
Has the fabled solo race lost its adventurer spirit? Veterans Luc Van Den Heede and Arnaud Boissières discuss how times have changed.
A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to attend a small community event in Les Sables-d'Olonne, a resort town on France’s West Coast that hosts the start and finish of the Vendee Globe. There, Luc Van Den Heede, who placed third in the first Vendée Globe in 1989 and then second in 1993, and up-and-comer Arnaud Boissières, who placed seventh in the last race, were on hand to speak to a crowd of just a hundred or so at the local community center about their adventures.
Long-distance sailors in France can enjoy a rock star-like status, and setting up just a phone interview often requires convincing PR reps or publicists that it's worth their sponsors’ time to get their yachtsman on the phone. It was thus a refreshing change of pace to attend such a laid-back event where two of France’s great sailors were so accessible.
Valérie Reynaud Luc Van Den Heede and Arnaud Boissières discuss their Vendée Globe adventures with local crowds in Les Sables-d'Olonne.
Community members on hand that night were eager to hear about the racers' experiences sailing around the world. During the Q&A session, they asked about what life on board was like, jibing in 20-feet waves in the middle of the Indian Ocean, how much sleep they got, how they ate and washed, and a host of other basic yet hardly naïve questions.
Rounding Cape Horn during the 2010-'11 Barcelona World Race, Loïck Peyron poses for a self portrait.
Loïck Peyron opens up about the ups and downs of his winning run in the Barcelona World Race and elaborates on his plans for the America’s Cup.
To win the Barcelona World Race, Loïck Peyron spent three months braving the world's toughest oceans with co-skipper Jean-Pierre Dick. But when I caught him on the phone shortly after his return, Peyron sounded as if he'd just come off a port-to-port day trip on a Sunday afternoon. He described matter-of-factly the mishaps they faced that resulted in two stopovers along the way, some nasty sea conditions, and a scary passage through the Strait of Gibraltar.
Aboard Sodeb'O in the middle of a solo round-the-world record attempt, Thomas Coville had time for a virtual chat.
Having been caught in high-pressure weather fronts, almost capsized off the coast of Brest, France, and worked his mind and body to exhaustion on two hours of sleep, Thomas Coville sounded amazingly calm and lucid in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Via satellite phone conference call last week, he spoke to a group of journalists about his attempt to sail around-the-world in less than 57 days, 13 hours. He has completed about one third of the journey on the trimarin Sodeb'O thus far.