meanwhile out in the open ocean

While many of us shop, wrap and click on Amazon this holiday season, there are others to whom Christmas must be the furthest thing from their minds. I am talking about those sailors shredding the planet either in the Vendée Globe or on some record attempt, those sailors that will be out on the open ocean this Christmas. There is one sailor, however, that might just be getting the biggest Christmas present ever and I am talking about Thomas Coville aboard Sodebo who is close to closing the loop on his solo, non-stop circumnavigation record attempt.

A quick look at the ‘dashboard’ on Sodebo shows that Coville is 2,780 nautical miles from the end of his circumnavigation and is 2,356 miles ahead of the reference time set by  fellow Frenchman Francis Joyon. The grib files show some gnarly weather between his position and the finish but given how he has sailed so far I am sure that Coville will manage the situation and make it back to France without too much trouble. If he is able to keep up his current speed of 25 knots he could have a Christmas eve arrival. How awesome would that be?

 What’s not awesome is the situation board Le Souffle du Nord pour Le Projet Imagine (yes I know that’s a mouthful for a boat name), the latest in a string of breakdowns in the Vendée Globe. This past weekend Stéphane Le Diraison was dismasted becoming the third skipper to drop their rig in this race which has seen a mounting number of casualties. So far nine boats have pulled out due to damage with Thomas Ruyant aboard Souffle du Nord pour le Projet Imagine (yes another mouthful for a boat name) the latest casualty. Earlier today the boat had a violent collision with some submerged object and the damage is so severe that the skipper is worried that the boat may break in two.

The hull on the port side is split from the deck to below the waterline and the constant torquing and grinding is causing the starboard side to delaminate. Ruyant reported that it is only the longitudinal structure that is holding the boat together. He is attempting keep things intact while he heads for the harbor of Bluff on the southernmost tip of New Zealand. He may have to abandon the boat if it indeed breaks in two but Ryan if hoping that he can hold it together for the 260 miles between where he is and a safe harbor. Meanwhile Le Diraison is also facing serious problems. His hull was seriously damaged when the mast came down and there has been water coming in, but overnight the skipper was able to rig a jury rig and is making for Melbourne on Australia’s south coast. He is making three knots and estimates that it’s going to take him a week to get to dry land.

 While there is carnage in the Vendée there is good news to report from Francis Joyon aboard IDEC as he and his crew attempt to break the fully crewed circumnavigation record. Joyon restarted his Jules Verne attempt over the weekend having abandoned an earlier attempt when it became obvious that they were off the pace.  While it’s still very early days Joyon and IDEC are enjoying a 50 mile lead on the reference pace set by Loick Peyron and his crew aboard Banque Populaire.
Brian Hancock.