Vendée Globe Day 55: The Cape Crusader – JP Dick rounds Cape Horn
Friday, December 30, 2016 7:38 PM
Day 55: The Cape Crusader – JP Dick rounds Cape Horn
No solo or short-handed sailor has completed as many round the world racing miles as Jean-Pierre Dick in the last decade. The French skipper, who took up solo racing in 2002 after winning the fully crewed Tour de France a la Voile, rounded Cape Horn for his fifth time racing this morning at 0634hrs UTC. In the pre-dawn half light, with the familiar silhouette of the iconic rock barely visible, and in strong breezes, Dick passed into the Atlantic Ocean in fourth place in his third Vendée Globe.
Since 2005 when a dogged, determined Dick finished sixth in his first Vendée Globe with no virtually no power, the soloist who originates from the Mediterranean also completed the 2012-13 race in fourth place but also won back to back Barcelona World Races in 2008 and 2011. Dick may be masking any disappointment that he is not vying for a podium place as he was in 2012-13 before he lost his keel some 2450 miles from the finish line, but the 51 year-old well knows that the climb back to Les Sables d'Olonne often proves the toughest part of the race, when boats and skippers are tired. “There was a lot of wind and you feel that bit of stress when you carry out manoeuvres,” said Dick this morning. “ I really enjoyed seeing the legendary Horn. There is always a certain relief, as we have been in the rough stuff for a month and have been cold and wet all the time. I managed to make out the Horn in the half-light.” He added: “My first Horn was back in 2005 and I got hit with 35 knots of wind and my boom was being repaired on the deck. In the 2011 Barcelona World Race with Loïck Peyron we got to within a couple miles. We were like two kids.”
Jean Le Cam rounded Cape Horn in fifth place at 1548hrs UTC, a skipper who is also on his third Vendée Globe rounding of the Cape with Yann Eliès getting round Cape Horn for the first time at 1656 UTC.
Since emerging into better breeze first thing this morning Armel Le Cléac'h has seen his advance over Alex Thomson restored from under 30 miles early this morning to over 130 miles on the mid afternoon rankings. When Thomson (Hugo Boss) reported in to Race HQ this morning he said he was making just 2.4kts of boat speed, but he is expected to get out of the worst of the light airs this Friday evening. Of his huge 800 miles comeback since last weekend, Thomson said: “It's the luck of the draw, isn't it.” He remains in good humour, even considering he expects the advantage to continue with his French rival, who he says will likely always lead into the stronger, more lifted breeze. When he spoke he was struggling to keep his sails always filled because of the gentle rise and fall of the Atlantic swell, some 550 miles SE of Rio. “At the moment the sea state is pretty flat, there is some swell, the boat is rocking up and down a bit, so whatever way you do get on is very quickly lost in the little swell as the boat lurches. But, a little bit more wind and a flatter sea we will be off like a robber's dog. I am not really going very fast and I don't imagine I will go very fast today at all, I have to wait for the high pressure to come past me, I will lose some of the miles I have been gaining. But I should not lose eight hundred and so that is OK.”
Of his rebound back to be within 30 miles, Thomson said: “It was the luck of the draw. It could just as easily be Jérémie catching up to me or I could have been Armel going another eight hundred away from me. It is the luck of the draw. We got close but Armel has always been in front, he was always going to get to the other side of the high pressure before me. And he will extend away. But it means I am going to be closer than I was. It gives me some hope and some chance to be in contention. The target is to be in contention at some point up the Atlantic, close enough to have a chance at the title coming into the finish. But that is a long, long way away. I will need to have some luck with the weather. The chances of making a remarkable comeback are quite slim but to be this close is much better than being eight hundred miles away.” Thomson added: “My communications are not great. I am able to get some weather. I have to try to get the one working satellite dish in the right orientation to see the satellite. I am not getting every single forecast. I am getting one a day. Now I am pointing more north I have good reception. I am trying to make some gains to get better wind information. Less than four knots we are parked. At four and a half, five, six knots you are going, depending on the angle. So at six knots wind speed you can be doing eight knots boat speed.”
Enda O'Coineen confirmed by satellite phone this afternoon that he had struggled to get an anchor hold in Pegasus Bay and had left to rest and reassess his options. The Irish skipper of Kilcullen Voyager Team Ireland said he had been blown around because he cannot drop his main fully because of the damaged mast track on his IMOCA. During the 2000-1 race when Yves Parlier anchored to repair his mast, he too reported problems holding anchor in the heavy weed.