Tuesday, November 4, 2014


When Loick Peyron, now a 55 year-old-man, beat with his team, the Cammas record of the absolute fastest circumnavigation, I thought "Great sailor, he is old but he does not need to make efforts, he is a Maestro running a team and damn good at that." Then he started fiddling around with the most radical racing dinghy, the Moth and after a while he said that was fun and that he was going to enter the World Championship!!!! He did not run among the first but left some behind...and we are talking not about club racing but about a World championship where the best Moth sailors were.

I thought that his serious racing days were over and that now he was going to take a "student" like Desjoyeux had made with François Gabart, that he was going to pass his vast knowledge to the next generation and the same thought probably the sponsors because he could not find a competitive boat for this race, that is in what regards multihulls the more important race and is only raced every four years....and then surprise, Armel LeCleach , the skipper of Banque Populaire that was training for this race like a mad man hurt himself badly on an arm and the boat needed a new skipper at the last minute. 
There are only a few that could solo sail fast one of these monsters  and after some hesitations Armel and Banque Popular asked if the old sailor wanted and was ready for making another race at top level with a top boat..... and he said yes. I confess that I was not expecting much more than a nice race: the big trimaran is a monster of power, terribly physical and Loick is not a young athlete anymore, but an aging man and this time he is not only the Maestro, but the Maestro and the entire band since he is alone on that enormous boat. surely he cannot run that monster at 100% or that was what I thought and curiously I think Armel was also a little worried. He said to him just before the race: "..  be careful because this first night will not be easy. Getting out of the Channel the conditions will deteriorate and it will be very complicated. He needs to be carefula and not do anything silly, do not break anything."

But the old man is probably already a bit deaf : He started like a bullet and with a boat that is not the biggest neither the fastest, soon was leading the race and not just for a while, all night long (a terrible one with huge seas) and keeps leading, taking advantage of his vast experience with bad weather.
Chapeau Monsieur :-), I am convinced, you are a young man in disguise and an incredible sailor. I don't understand how you can manage that at 55 years of age, but facts are facts and you are beating all the young boys and their bigger boats. My admiration for you is simply HUGE!!!

Alessandro dans le gros temps ! by routedurhum

Regarding the conditions on the race some comments made for some of the skippers racing and these are some of the best sailors around used to bad weather so if they say it is bad, you can believe it ;-)
Lalou Roucayrol - Arkema Aquitaine (Multi50) 
" We have very strong conditions. The wind begins to shift a little and the seas are terrible. Now there is a little less wind but I had peaks at 40 knots. There are big gusts in these squalls. It is difficult. 
"Miranda Merron a lady racing a 40class racer puts it with more humour: Foul night, zero visibilty once the driving rain started, 35 knots or so for a while. Pretty big sea state too, but luckily it was dark, as the waves which revealed themselves at dawn around Ushant were huge - and occasionally breaking - clipped on in the cockpit AND arms around the winch to stay on board - not nice. 
Any maneuver is physically grueling." admitted Spindrift's Yann Guichard at 1000hrs this morning. He was looking forwards to his first micro-nap of 15 minutes and he aims to get some more through today.
Sébastien Jossse on Edmond de Rothschild, the first of the Multi70s said:"The boat is making ​​impressive jumps and we both suffer with every passing wave, I feel like the boat will break up. 
And it does not only seem that the boats are breaking as some boats are really breaking: These are breaking boat conditions at the speed they go.
Loïc Fequet – Maitre Jacques (Multi50) "When we were in big waves, the starboard float broke in front of the crossbeam. I do not know how. There was 28-29 knots so I did not go out to examine it but I can see that it is damaged the same as last year."

On class 40 several guys had to give up with problems, among them Bertrand Delesne (Teamwork40)  and the Italian Giancarlo Pedote but they just turned around, not as bad the Multy50 Royan that lost the mast or Angoulevant and Marc Lepesqueux that lost their keels. Also bad luck for one of the favorites on a big trimaran, Thomas Coville that was hit by a cargo and heavily damaged one of the hulls (amas). That was not all. A rudder damaged, collisions with buoys and other accidents made for a very hard night for all and even harder for some that had to abandon the race. Everybody is well and that's the most important.
Premier jour de course sur la Route du Rhum by routedurhum

Regarding the race itself it has been fantastic; upwind sailing and very hard sea conditions allowed the fastest smaller Open 60 monohulls to mingle with the giant trimarans for a while and even now most of the Muli50 trimarans are behind most of the Open60 and some even racing among the 40class racers that show once more that when the weather is rough they can go very fast. On the Multi 50 , that are very tricky boats to sail in bad weather conditions, ahead of the open 60, only two, the best, Le Blevec and Le Roux. Let's see if they can maintain the boats in one piece and the right side up. They are making a hell of a race as well as the first on the Open 60 that is led by the  winner of the last Vendee Globe, François Gabart. On Class 40 there is a big fight, as usual. Rogues is leading but is rival Pella is not far away neither Kito de Pavan.

But most of all I want to see if the old guy that is leading is able to maintain that crazy rhythm for the rest of the race and if the weather and sea condition will allow him not to be beaten by the bigger and faster boats. He needs a hard race to have a chance to win...and at least on the next days that will be so: From head winds to light and strong winds there will be a bit of all, including nasty seas.

What a race !!!!!! 

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1 comment:

  1. No questions about it: Loick Peyron is among the gods of offshore sailing, up there with Eric Tabarly, Alain Colas, Michel Desjoyeux, Francis Joyon and a few others. I am almost 55 myself and there is no way I could do what he does. Chapeau indeed!

    Meanwhile, I was very saddened to see that Vincent Riou and PRB were forced to retire with damage to the mainsail traveler and water ballast tanks. With all due respect to Jeremie Beyou and the other IMOCA 60 skippers, I felt that PRB was the only real competition for Francois Gabart and Macif in this race. Now, unless something breaks, Gabart will most likely win the IMOCA 60 class, a fine tune-up for the next Vendee Globe. Fortunately, Riou will be back for the VG and I predict that the next edition may be among the best ever.

    Down in the South Atlantic, we are seeing an incredible finish to the first leg of the 2014 Volvo Ocean Race. I confess that I wasn't sure that this edition would be very interesting, given the absence of so many great names in the sport of offshore sailing. But it has turned out to be a phenomenal race, with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Dongfeng Racing separated by just 6 NM after 25 days at sea, and Brunel and Vestas Wind not far behind. The two biggest surprises of the race, so far, have been the incredible performance of Dongfeng Racing, despite breaking a rudder and losing the starboard mast head gennaker block padeye (which also took out the starboard steering wheel, the stern pulpit and and the Code Zero reaching strut, among other things). Not only did the on board reporter transmit all of these things, but the team lost almost no time and managed to keep the pressure on ADOR. Nobody would have predicted this. The other big surprise has been the poor performance of MAPFRE, skippered by Iker Martinez and with offshore god Michel Desjoyeux on board. They made some poor choices crossing the pot noir and had the misfortune to sail into some big wind holes (I also suspect they have had some unreported damage), but I'm sure they must be disappointed. I will be very interested to read about how the VOR 65's held up overall after this leg. There have been reports of the boats leaking quite severely, and the padeye breakage on Dongfeng was a real shocker - that's the sort of thing that should never, ever fail. But the boats are definitely fast - and wet - with the ladies on SCA setting the 24 hour distance record for this race so far, with a > 500nm day.

    So now I have to say I'm loving life, with the Route du Rhum and the VOR going on at the same time. Over here in my neck of the woods, we have seen very big breeze for the last two weekends of our Laser frostbite series. This past Sunday racing was canceled as the wind was blowing steady in the low 30's, with gusts into the low 40's, all day long. The Sunday before, the breeze was in the mid 20's, gusting to the mid 30's (fortunately I was away in California on holiday), so the racing was conducted within the confines of the harbor, rather than out in Long Island Sound. Next Sunday the forecast is looking more manageable - 14-16 knots, gusting to the low 20's. Of course, that will change between now and then. But looking forward to getting out on the water again.