The Vendee Globe, a quadrennial solo non-stop race around the globe, is touted as the "world’s toughest ocean race," and the 2012-13 edition is living up to that reputation.
The race got under way Nov. 10 from Les Sables d’Olonne, France, and within the first week and a half six of the 20 boats that started had retired because of damage and failures. Two of the yachts collided with fishing trawlers.
“It’s just proof of how hard this race is and what a huge challenge it is,” read a log entry from British sailor Samantha Davies, whose yacht, Saveol, was dismasted Nov. 16 in 40-knot winds and 10- to 14-foot swells.
The only woman in the race, Davies is making her way to Tangier under jury rig.
“Sometimes when you’re in really dangerous situations you have no memory whatsoever of what happened and how you dealt with it,” she wrote. “But these memories will stay quite clear. When I cut the last rope connecting my mast to the boat and watching it float gently down into the ocean — that’s a pretty strong memory.”
Click play for a race recap of the day Davies lost her rig.
Zbigniew “Gutek” Gutkowski is the latest sailor to end his Vendee Globe, announcing this morning that he is retiring from the race with autopilot problems.
“Having no autopilot means I can’t race, and if I can’t race, I have to retire,” wrote the Polish sailor on his blog. “It’s like driving at night on a road you don’t know, a road with many turns, surrounded with trees. Suddenly your lights go off and you can’t slow down. … That’s what is happening with my autopilot, if you replace the road and the trees with the ocean and the waves.”
This morning, Frenchman Armel Le Cléac’h, sailing Banque Populaire, was first to cross the equator, reaching it in 10 days, 19 hours, 18 minutes. His time is the second fastest in the history of the race, easily beating Loïck Peyron’s time of 12 days, 8 hours, 58 minutes in 2008-09. Jean Le Cam holds the record, at 10 days 11 hours and 28 minutes set in 2004.
Click play for a recap of Day 10 of the race.