The Front of the Pack
Little has changed at the head of the Vendée Globe fleet — Charlie Dalin on Apivia continues to lead the race. He controls the pace as he has for more than two weeks now. Just behind him, however, the racing has been red-hot, with boats swapping positions nearly every time the tracker updates. As of this writing on Wednesday morning, Thomas Ruyant and LinkedOut continued to hold down second place. Louis Burton and Bureau Vallée 2 follows in third, though Ruyant and Burton are both dealing with damage. No fewer than five skippers are fighting it out for fourth place, held currently by Yannick Bestaven on Maître Coq.
Le Cam Resumes Racing
Jean Le Cam on board Yes We Cam! is continuing his ultra-impressive Vendée Globe. He’s waiting on a jury decision as to how much redress he will receive after rescuing PRB’s Kevin Escoffier. On December 6, after carrying Escoffier for nearly six days, Le Cam met up with the French naval frigate Nivôse to drop off Escoffier and get back underway by himself. The 61-year-old, who has a reputation for eating well on board, was also granted additional provisions to replace what his unexpected crewmember had consumed.
As the entire fleet is now down south and knocking out miles in the rough and windy Roaring Forties, a common theme has emerged: attrition and damage control. Throughout the fleet, skippers are having to make various repairs to their boats and critical electronics. No fewer than three race favorites have arrived in Cape Town to lick their wounds and retire from the race. Certainly the most high-profile retiree was Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss, whose structural damage and rudder failure ended his fifth Vendée Globe bid. Samantha Davies on Initiatives-Coeur and Sebastien Simon on Arkea Paprec have also ended their races in Cape Town, though Sam Davies vows to restart her ‘round-the-world journey in non-race adventure mode.
Jules Verne Trophy Update
Also down south are Thomas Coville and crew on the maxi-trimaran Sodebo Ultim 3. They remain just a bit ahead of record pace, though the gap is closing quickly. When Francis Joyon and IDEC Sport set their current world record of 40 days and 23 hours, they did so largely on the back of a lone depression that carried them across the Indian Ocean at a rapid clip. Now, with Sodebo Ultim 3 sailing in relatively moderate conditions, they are not getting the same speed boost that IDEC enjoyed. Instead they are watching their virtual red rival close the gap from a 700-mile deficit to some 160 miles and shrinking as we write this. Forecast conditions don’t look overwhelmingly fast for Sodebo Ultim 3; no doubt the crew is doing everything they can to get every tenth of a knot of speed from the big foiling trimaran. Meanwhile, back in France, maxi-trimaran Edmond de Rothschild — which recently abandoned a Trophée Jules Verne attempt with damage — is preparing to go back on standby this weekend.
December is here, and we’re excited to bring you another fun Caption Contest(!). Last month’s photo resulted in comments about everything from COVID to sushi to ZZ Top!
Give us your best shot ….
Thanks to Coyote Point Marina’s harbormaster, Mark Bettis, for sending this photo of a boat that appeared in the marina last February.
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.
Who said 2020 was all bad news? This coming Saturday, December 12, the seventh annual Ho Ho Ho Row takes off in San Francisco. This year the Santas are collecting toys for children who use the pediatrics wing of the St. Anthony Foundation’s Medical Clinic.
To join the Santa Parade, bring your toy (new and unwrapped), Santa costume and mask to meet at the South End Rowing Club at 0730, and walk to Pier 39. Santa rowers are expected to arrive at the Pier 39 marina guest dock (near Aquarium by the Bay) at 0800, as always, rain or shine!
If you can’t join the parade, you can donate online via the event’s donation page, South End Rowing Club Gives Back.
“The Ho Ho Ho Row is a quirky little annual tradition where Santas row decorated wooden boats with bags of toys from the Mighty South End to Pier 39, for kids in need of a little extra joy. Elves and assorted characters are busy making toys in the workshop right now.
“We have modifications this year, of course, and Santas will set an example for safety, wear masks, practice distancing, and there will be fewer rowers than usual (and no passengers or barge), respecting the rules of the boathouse.
“This year we will be bringing the toys to St. Anthony Foundation in the Tenderloin. They have a specific need and shortfall of 300 toys this year for their 400 pediatric patients. So we can make a real impact!”
“Local kids receive the toys with no strings attached, no applications required, and no cost. South End donations for toys can be made online at the link here, now or even after the event, and we’ll make the in-person toy delivery on Dec 12th. Thanks and Cheers, Tony.”
HO HO, Let’s Go!
Jimmy Spithill has signed as CEO and helm of the United States SailGP Team. Spithill will lead the American team vying for the $1 million prize when the league reboots its second season on April 24-25, 2021, in Bermuda.
Rome Kirby, the team’s original skipper, will shift to the flight controller position. The remainder of the US team roster will be announced in the coming months.
Spithill has spent the last two decades competing in the America’s Cup. He served as skipper of Oracle Team USA for more than 10 years, winning the Cup twice, including the dramatic come-from-behind victory in San Francisco in 2013, often called one of the greatest comebacks in sports history. Born in Australia, Jimmy lives in San Diego. He currently competes with the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team, a Challenger for the 36th America’s Cup. The current edition is his seventh campaign for the Cup.
Spithill and Kirby were previously Oracle Team USA teammates for more than seven years — Kirby was also on board for the big win on the Cityfront in AC 34.
After a relatively stable couple of months, the most recent health orders in the state of California and most Bay Area counties have race committees once again scrambling to adjust to the ongoing pandemic.
On December 5, Governor Gavin Newsom issued new, more restrictive health orders in response to the biggest surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations since the pandemic began. Race committees running midwinter races have reacted in various ways. Berkeley Yacht Club, which has midwinter races scheduled for this Saturday and Sunday, December 12-13, is (at this point anyway) planning to proceed. RC person extraordinaire Bobbi Tosse alerted BYC’s fleets via Jibeset. “1.) The December 12 & 13 races will occur. 2.) The Signal boat will have much fewer people aboard … We will do our best. Be kind. 3.) Since some entrants might not be able to attend due to stricter gathering restrictions, there is an Amendment to the SI’s changing each series allowing one throwout race. 4.) BYC will not be open.” BYC’s Jibeset page also contains the meat of the health order.
Meanwhile, the RegattaPRO Winter One Design races scheduled for Saturday, December 12, have been postponed. But organizers have added a new race date, March 13.
Yesterday, Island YC’s race committee canceled their Island Days race planned for the Estuary this Sunday, December 13. “Due to the COVID-related shelter-in-place restrictions put in place for Alameda County, we must unfortunately cancel the Island Days Race previously scheduled for this Sunday (12/13). Island Days Races scheduled in the New Year on 1/20, 2/14, and 3/14 will tentatively remain on the race schedule.”
If you know of any other schedule changes due to the latest orders, please ping us via email.