This afternoon, there are four skippers left at sea in the 2016-2017 Vendée Globe. Romain Attanasio (Famille Mary – Etamine du Lys) is expected to finish midday on Friday. Conrad Colman (Foresight Natural Energy) is only 163 miles from the finish, and although under jury rig is making 6.8 knots towards the finish. Eve though the NW’ly wind will continue to veer northerly during the night and become lighter at times later in the day tomorrow, the Crazy Kiwi hopes to arrive on Friday night. For the remaining skippers, it is harder to make any predictions about their arrival times.
Dutch sailor, Pieter Heerema (No Way Back) is currently sailing eastwards 1200 miles from the finish at the latitude of Lisbon, but a long way out in the North Atlantic, where another low pressure system will be chasing him. He needs to remain ahead of this new weather system and finish on Monday or will have to spend a few more days weathering out this storm, which is set to sweep across the Bay of Biscay. As for tail-ender, Sébastien Destremau (TecnoFirst faceOcean, he still has 2675 miles left to sail before completing the Vendée Globe.
Romain Attanasio, Famille Mary - Etamine du Lys "As far as the weather is concerned, it’s not too bad. The front passed over this morning. I’m heading straight for Les Sables d’Olonne at good speed. I think the wind may ease a little, but it should be fine to the finish. I’m crossing the route taken by cargo ships and they are coming in every direction. The seas are quite nasty with a lot of waves breaking over the deck. I have got two reefs in the mainsail. I could sail with just one, but I’m thinking of my gooseneck fitting. The seas should calm slightly. I’m trying to push as hard as I can and should finish at midday, but it will depend on the wind. I think I’ll come straight in to the harbour afterwards.”
Conrad Colman (NZL/USA) Foresight Natural Energy: “It is good now. I feel like I am almost there. It is grey and overcast but blowing from a perfect angle, maybe at 15kts and I am on a broad reach. And I am heading directly towards Les Sables d’Olonne, that is exciting. It is great. I see an ETA for possibly tomorrow night (Friday) but it is incredible to finally feel like I am counting down the final miles. That is so exciting. Yesterday I had the Spanish coast on the horizon in between the patchy cloud and severely limited visibility. I had very little wind and had oily, black seas. But in the middle of the night the wind started to build and now I have this weather which looks like it is going to bring me home. I am only just managing to stay even in terms of energy consumption. Some of the solar panels were damaged when the mast came down. So I have the solar capacity to keep the boat ticking along. With the pilot I have wound right back and in the easy conditions I am able to replace what I am using. I am really low on food right now I have just two biscuits left from the liferaft. I want to see my family and friends, but the thing for me is to eat something fresh. © Conrad Colman (DR)I am hungry all the time. And I am having to sleep a lot and to bundle myself up because I don’t have the energy to keep myself warm. At the same time as my energy is going down my own excitement is going up. So I am managing to stay functional. I am in a good mood and happy to be here. I am a happy kind of guy. But this is not how I wanted to finish my Vendée Globe. Losing my mast has complicated my life in many, many ways, mainly for the future of the boat and my campaign. At this point I cannot do anything about the future. All I can do right now is to do my job, to try and knock down these final miles as fast as I can and even thought I am disappointed to have lost the rig and to have lost so many places in the race I am pleased to have overcome the challenges which have presented themselves, and not to have thrown in the towel when the mast came down with 700 miles to go. And to have the prospect of finishing tomorrow. There is a bit of a balance there. Most of all I am looking forwards to be able to relax and to have the sensation of it being done. For 109 days I have been wound up pretty tight with serial problems with the boat, and just sailing the IMOCA 60 solo. So I am looking forwards to letting my hair down and relaxing.”
Pieter Heerema (NED) skipper No Way Back: “I am good but at the moment I am preparing the boat a bit because in 24 hours I could be in a lot of wind. And if not 24 hours then in 36 hours I will be in a lot of wind. And in the meantime I need to push and push because in 36 hours time there seems to be a second low coming in to Les Sables d’Olonne on Monday, and if I am not in time to miss that then I will have to stay out of the Bay of Biscay and would have to ride out the storm somewhere more or less out on the Atlantic. And I’d have to wait out there for three days or something like that. I am motivated to push but there is not much wind at the moment. To know that two or three days before the arrival that you might have to stay out here for another three or four days is quite difficult. People maybe think well you have been out there 110 days already what does another three days matter, but I think it matters. I am really, really, really not looking forward to the idea of riding out a storm to end this whole thing. I am not too happy. The boat is fine. The rigging is fine, the keel is fine. I was just out on the deck repairing watertight cover which is not watertight. The only thing that makes it difficult is this whole problem that we no longer talk about. There is nothing left to do about it, we put it aside.”