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NY to Vendée Race Is Vendée Globe Preview

Jérémie Beyou’s Maître Coq leads competitors past Lady Liberty last week on a nonstop sprint to France, that serves as the final warmup for November’s Vendée Globe solo around-the-world race.

© 2016 Amory Ross / Sea&Co / OSM

Having been ravaged by carnage and multiple UFOs — unidentified floating objects — on the first day out of New York, the top solo sailors in the in the inaugural New York – Vendée race are beginning to enter the Bay of Biscay and make their approach to the finish in Les Sables d’Olonne, France. As offshore racing fans know, this new IMOCA fleet competition (in 60-ft monohulls) serves as the final major test before the solo, nonstop Vendée Globe race starts on November 6.

As of this writing, three-time Figaro winner Jérémie Beyou and his previous-generation Maitre Coq (ex-Banque Populaire VI) lead the two remaining new-generation foiling boats by a slim margin of just five miles over Edmund de Rothschild, skippered by Séb Josse, and Hugo Boss, skippered by Briton Alex Thomson.

Alex Thomson, a perennial favorite in such offshore marathons, currently lies in third place aboard Hugo Boss. But the vagaries of Bay of Biscay weather could definitely reshuffle the leaderboard in the next 24 hours. 

© Alex Thomson Racing

With winds going light and some 300 miles of race track left, there’s still plenty to play for in this first-time transatlantic contest. While the battle at the front of the pack will gather the most headlines ahead of tomorrow’s finish, arguably the biggest storyline of all is that of the uncertainty surrounding the new generation of foiling IMOCAs, which have continued to suffer higher attrition rates than their conventional competitors. While the new boats are undoubtedly quicker in the right conditions — a windy broad reach — the cumbersome ‘mustache’ foils have proven a challenge in both boat handling and fragility.

Elsewhere in the Atlantic, the seven Class 40s remaining in the Atlantic Cup are making their final approach to Portland, Maine, and the finish of Leg 2 of the biennial race. As was the case in Leg 1, the duo of Gonzalo Botin and Pablo Santurde on the Spanish-flagged Tales II have proven the class of the field, stretching out to another commanding lead over the rest of the fleet, which remains relatively tightly grouped.

Just as these two major shorthanded ocean races begin to wind down, New York continues to remain in the spotlight as the ‘Golden Boy’ François Gabart and his maxi-trimaran MACIF have gone into ‘standby’ mode in New York as of June 1. Once the right weather window presents itself, he will attempt to break Francis Joyon’s 2013 transatlantic west-to-east solo record of 5 days, 2 hours, 56 minutes.

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Although the fleet enjoyed some bikini weather, the triple-digit temps forecast didn’t materialize for Saturday’s Delta Ditch Run from Richmond to Stockton.