Jean Le Cam’s fifth participation in the Vendée Globe is rapidly turning into a nearly mythical performance to be remembered. As if running among the leaders in a nearly 14-year-old non-foiling boat weren’t enough, the 61-year-old Le Cam has now added a rescue at sea to his stat sheet for this edition of the solo nonstop around-the-world race.
Sailor in Distress
At approximately 1346 UTC on Monday afternoon, while sailing in third place 550 miles southwest of Cape Town, Kevin Escoffier’s yacht PRB nosedived into a wave and “literally broke into two,” according to the 40-year-old veteran ocean racer. One of the onboard EPIRBs activated itself automatically and sent PRB’s position to the race committee. Escoffier sent one concise message to his team: “I need assistance. I am sinking. This is not a joke.” With very few details available to him at the time, fourth-place Jean Le Cam immediately sprang into action and altered his course slightly to meet with Escoffier and attempt to offer assistance.
Once on the scene, with no headsail and a deeply reefed mainsail, Le Cam was able to locate the beleaguered PRB skipper despite the 15-ft-tall breaking waves and strong southwesterly winds. With night falling and Le Cam eventually losing sight of Escoffier, the race organizers sent three more skippers to the area to conduct a triangular search pattern. Miraculously, after seven scans in the area, Le Cam reestablished visual and voice contact with Escoffier and his liferaft in the middle of the night.
“I put myself to windward of him. I saw Kevin. Kevin asked me, ‘Will you be back?’ I said, ‘No we are doing this now!’ Then at one point the boat was falling backward, too fast in reverse, and he was just there, two metres off the stern. And thank goodness I had prepared the red life ring that is usually in the cockpit. I threw him the life ring. And he caught it and then he managed to pull himself in to catch the transmission bar (rudder link arm). And that was it.”
With Escoffier safely on board Yes We Cam!, the duo are again sailing in close contact with several other boats in the fleet. The race director is reportedly planning for Le Cam to transfer Escoffier onto a French navy frigate at the Kerguelen Islands, but this has yet to be confirmed by the authorities.
While third-placed PRB has now sunk, pre-race favorite Alex Thomson and Hugo Boss are headed to Cape Town with the loss of a rudder, making retirement inevitable. Just a day after resuming racing following major structural repairs, Thomson’s fifth Vendée Globe has now come to a close. Another pre-race favorite has also recently faltered. Sebastien Simon on Arkea Paprec hit a UFO and destroyed a foil and casing, which have proved to be the Achilles heel on his new Juan K design. Now sailing at reduced speed, Simon looks destined to tumble down the rankings.
The Fleet Leaders
Alone at the front of the fleet, Charlie Dalin and Apivia continue to lead the race across the Indian Ocean. Louis Burton on Bureau Vallée 2 is in second place 250 miles astern. Thomas Ruyant’s LinkedOut rounds out the top three. Previously running in third and then fourth place, Jean Le Cam and Yes We Cam! are currently in seventh place following the rescue of Kevin Escoffier. Again sailing at full speed, Le Cam is already working his way back up in the rankings. He’ll also be due redress from the international jury, which should convene shortly to discuss Le Cam’s fate.
December is here, and along with it, the 12th 2020 issue of Latitude 38 magazine. What a year it’s been! We won’t even mention all the unusual events that have occurred this year, locally and around the world. But we will mention that it’s been fantastic to be able to continue sharing the world of sailing with you. We get oodles of pleasure out of bringing you sailing stories and snippets from near and far, and we get oodles of pleasure from hearing from you, our readers, about your sailing adventures, both on and off the dock. So to all of you, thank you! Thank you for being there and for being our inspiration for putting together this awesome magazine every month.
Here’s a preview of what’s inside the December issue ….
2020 Nada Ha-Ha — A Rally To Remember
The goals of the Nada Ha-Ha were few: group camaraderie and safety while avoiding contact with the locals. We provisioned with enough food and fuel for the entire trip. Plus, we sorted, rinsed and carried all of our trash to Cabo. Beyond that, skippers and crews were responsible for sailing their own boats. This was the first substantial offshore cruise for many entrants and their introduction to offshore cruising.
Shipwrecked — A Surf Trip That Became a Lesson in Survival
It was dark, but the water was relatively warm. We swam for about 40 minutes, though it seemed like an eternity until we found the reef and waded onto shore. It was like something out of the movies — literally dragging ourselves onto the shore. Our clothes and shoes were completely drenched and weighed us down as we pulled ourselves out of the water and onto the sand. We were cold and terrified.
A Blessing in Disguise
Our dreams of a nonstop bash up to Washington were dashed on day four when a long day of big waves and heaving-to south of Cape Blanco, Oregon, caused our steering cable to fray badly, so we fell off and down to the small town of Brookings, Oregon.
- Letters: Sailing Needed to Become a Central Part of My Life; Scheduling Concerns with the City; Max Ebb Minds the Gap
- Max Ebb: By the Rules — A Racing Rules Quiz
- Season Champions Part 1
- TISC’s Carisa Harris Adamson Envisions the Future
- Sightings: ‘America’s Cup Preview’; ‘A Spinnaker for You — Capt. Midnight’s Tips’; and more
- World of Chartering: ‘Finding Lupe’
- Racing Sheet: ‘SSS Vallejo 1-2 Becomes the Vallejo One and None’
- Loose Lips, in which we announce November’s Caption Contest(!) winner; and the sailboat owners’ and buyers’ bible, Classy Classifieds
Our Shelter-in-Place, special is back. Give a gift-subscription to a loved one or friend, or gift it to yourself! Get Latitude delivered to your home for January, February, and March, and sip on whatever you like.
Latitude 38 contributing editor Ross Tibbits recently took this photo of a Navy ship secretly slipping into the Bay. US Navy facilities on the Bay have been dramatically reduced over the past 30+ years, so we don’t see the naval traffic we used to see. Do any ex-Navy personnel or Navy buffs want to give our readers the lowdown on this type of ship and why it might be visiting San Francisco?
And you thought your ship’s radar was pretty cool.
If you think that December’s calendar is the sparsest for regattas, you’d be correct — except in 2020. This year that dubious honor actually went to April and May. But even in purple-tier times, organizers have, for the most part, figured out how to facilitate yacht racing. In November, numerous Midwinter Series got underway. In December, a few more launch.
Added to the Bay Area Midwinter Schedule in December
Tiburon Yacht Club’s Bob and Esther Mott Midwinters, to be sailed in the North Bay on the east side of the Tiburon Peninusula, will start on December 5 and sail on the first Saturday of each month through March. One pursuit race is scheduled each day for divisions of singlehanded, doublehanded and fully crewed (but COVID-compliant) boats.
Richmond YC will forego their usual Small Boat Midwinters this season, but very small boats can instead sail in Oakland with Lake Merritt Sailing Club’s Robinson Memorial Midwinters, held on the second weekend of each month December-March. El Toros and Sunfish are the fleets that usually make the scene. LMSC doesn’t have a website; if you’re interested in participating, call the commodore, Gary Hartsock, at (510) 653-1743.
The one city/county that has remained shut down (for organized sailing events) since March is San Francisco. None of the clubs in the City by the Bay have run races, and none have races on their schedules for the rest of 2020. Back in October we heard from Golden Gate YC that they were planning to run their Seaweed Soup Series December-April, with the first race this Saturday, December 5. But a lot has changed since then with regard to the pandemic, and the regatta does not appear to be happening — at least not yet.
Southern California Regattas
Santa Barbara YC will sail a Holiday Regatta on December 5-6. One-design classes include Harbor 20s, J/70s, J/105s, J/111s and Melges 24s; PHRF boats are welcome too. San Diego YC’s Hot Rum Series will wrap up this Saturday. On December 12, the Ancient Mariners Sailing Society will run the Half Pint-o-Rum Race in San Diego. SDYC plans to continue a holiday tradition with the New Year’s Day Race on January 1.
For Those Who Like to Watch (from Afar)
The Prada America’s Cup World Series Auckland, the only ACWS regatta in America’s Cup 36, will run on December 17-20 (that’s December 16-19 on our side of the International Dateline). It will be the first opportunity for the teams to race against one other on their AC75s. The action will start at 3 p.m. NZT on December 17, when four round robins are planned. Lucky enough to be in Auckland? A free America’s Cup Race Village will open on December 15, with limited visitor capacity. In the US, NBC Sports will carry TV coverage. The sailing will also be streamed live.
Continuing on Down Under for armchair sailors will be the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race on Boxing Day, starting at 1 p.m. AEDT on December 26 (that’s 6 p.m. on Christmas Day here in the States). We’ll post a preview of that annual classic later this month.
Back on San Francisco Bay to Ring in the New Year
“Look, you can spend the day regretting the prior evening (or year), or maybe you can stare at a screen where people far away are running around on fake grass, but why not get out on the water and start your day right?” This is the question posed by Corinthian YC in Tiburon. The club invites you to their “inaugural Resolution Regatta, a pursuit race starting January 1 at noon and looping around Angel and Alcatraz in our classic ‘you pick the direction’ course. Sign up today. Resolve to do so.”
Other New Year’s Day events include Coyote Point YC’s Brrr Rabbit and the Master Mariners New Year’s Day Race. The latter will honor Luc Maheu of Tiger this year. The MMBA member fell from the rig of a schooner in Maine and perished. Instead of gathering at Point San Pablo YC, the fleet will sail from Clipper Cove to Ayala Cove and take moorings. This is always a very casual DIY ‘race’.