News – 2200hrs UTC NEWS UPDATE Four Vendée Globe Skippers Are In The Zone To Help In Rescue of Kevin Escoffier – Vendée Globe – En

Monday, November 30th, 2020

News – 2200hrs UTC NEWS UPDATE Four Vendée Globe Skippers Are In The Zone To Help In Rescue of Kevin Escoffier – Vendée Globe – En:

Official update. Fills in a few details.

Guided by Race Direction Le Cam arrived on zone around 1615hrs UTC and quickly established visual and voice contact with Escoffier who was in his liferaft but he was unable to retrieve him in the big, 5m, seas and 20-25 knot winds.  

As he was manoeuvring to prepare to get closer to the liferaft Le Cam lost sight of the liferaft and could not establish radio contact nor to pick up the signal from the AIS the range of which was reduced by the heavy seas.

He lost sight of Escoffier in the dying light but has continued to try and locate him, Le Cam is communicating regularly with Race Direction and the rescue authorities. The three other skippers are now in, or are approaching the search area.  The positioning of Kevin Escoffier’s personal beacon (AIS MOB Man Over Board) emits HF radiowaves and will only be detected in the local zone.

The four skippers will follow a protocol established by Race Direction in coordination with Jean Le Cam. They will approach with three reefs in the mainsail and the engine idling. A grid search area for the zone has been established and will be carried out by the four IMOCAs who are set to provide assistance.

The PRB shore crew said that besides his AIS Mob, Kevin Escoffier also means to signal his presence in the liferaft. Daybreak tomorrow morning is around 0340hrs UTC in this zone and the search will be ongoing.

Phrases like “lost sight”, “try and locate”, and “grid search area” make me very nervous. Daybreak is about five and a half hours from now.

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Kevin Escoffier:

Monday, November 30th, 2020

Kevin Escoffier::

There’s a lot of yacking by interested online sailing fans, but not much information. All we know for sure is:

* le Cam arrived on scene and reported that he’d seen Kevin in his liferaft, and was going to start his engine and attempt to recover him.

* Darkness fell with no public updates. There was some chatter about le Cam having had engine trouble, or having had problems maneuvering under power, but it’s not clear if that was based on actual radio communication or is just the Internet being chatty.

* The Vendée Globe race authority asked two more skippers (Yannick Bestaven and Boris Herrmann, the latter aboard Malizia, the same skipper and boat that gave Greta Thunberg her westbound trans-Atlantic ride last summer) to divert to the area to assist.

* Later the race authority also requested that Sébastien Simon divert to the area.

* Conditions are rough and windy, but expected to moderate somewhat by morning.

So that’s where we are. It sounds (though this is all guesswork) like PRB sank relatively quickly, forcing Kevin into his liferaft (hopefully in a survival suit). le Cam was unable to recover him before darkness fell, and presumably is standing by, hopefully in the vicinity of the raft, until morning, when another attempt can be made.

Some Sailing Anarchy discussion currently centers on the reaching-back-and-forth track of le Cam’s boat, with a mile or so on each of the legs, and whether that looks like a search pattern or just someone hanging around a known location without doing too many maneuvers. Who knows? (Well, presumably one or more people in the middle of the south Atlantic know, and maybe a few more people in radio communication with them. But other than that, it’s wait and see.)

Kevin is a badass, a pro sailor who’s been around the world multiple times. In fully-crewed races he works the pointy end of the boat, which is not a place for the faint of heart. But being in a liferaft for 12 hours in the Southern Ocean is no joke. All of them, but especially Kevin, are certainly battling fatigue and hypothermia.

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In the last edition of the race Sam Greenfield was the first…

Friday, May 25th, 2018

In the last edition of the race Sam Greenfield was the first person to fly a drone from a racing sailboat in the middle of the ocean. A few hours ago he uploaded this footage from the North Atlantic: The first time someone’s flown a drone from an ocean racer surfing in gale conditions.

It is to boggle. 😀

(Also, nice one-handed catch by Kyle WHILE CONTINUING TO DRIVE THE BOAT.)

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I haven’t been obsessing as much about the Volvo, at least not…

Monday, March 26th, 2018

I haven’t been obsessing as much about the Volvo, at least not here on Tumblr, this time around. But I’ve been following the race closely as part of my project to tag and describe all the “Raw Content” videos that have been uploaded from the boats.

So it was a blow to learn today that John Fisher, crewmember on Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag, had gone overboard in rough conditions in the Southern Ocean west of Cape Horn and is presumed lost.

It’s a hazard all the sailors talked about, including John. In a video in Leg 4 he talked about his memories of being a boy going to the Solent to see the Whitbread racers depart. Although he had extensive ocean racing experience, this was the 48-year-old’s first time in the Volvo.

“It isn’t for everyone. But you should always challenge yourself,” he said.

Videos from the race in which John appeared:

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Hang OnTurn the Tide on Plastic, Volvo Ocean Race, 2017-11-05….

Monday, November 6th, 2017

Hang On

Turn the Tide on Plastic, Volvo Ocean Race, 2017-11-05. Source

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Vestas exits the MedAs of October 24, 2017, Vestas 11th Hour…

Tuesday, October 24th, 2017

Vestas exits the Med

As of October 24, 2017, Vestas 11th Hour Racing leads the 7-boat fleet on Leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race. [Source]

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Race officials finally posted the full replay of the Alicante…

Monday, October 16th, 2017

Race officials finally posted the full replay of the Alicante in-port race on YouTube, though apparently they kept it hidden for a while, which confuses me, but whatever. Commentary after a cut to preserve the dashboards of the non-obsessed.

Boats designed to surf monster waves in the Southern Ocean aren’t the easiest things to get around a short windward-leeward course in 8 knots of wind. But for me this race was surprisingly exciting to watch for one reason: The whole thing was basically over before the starting gun went off.

I’ve linked to that point in the video (around 8:31). Analysis with screenshots follows.

Here’s a helicopter shot with 1:26 to go:


The wind is blowing from the right. That powerboat sitting by itself toward the lower right is the race committee boat that marks the right end of the starting line; the tiny yellow dot above it is the inflatable buoy that marks the left end of the line.

The seven Volvo 65s are easy to recognize because of their sponsor graphics. Lining up on starboard tack in that group in the lower left, AkzoNobel is in front with the purple and blue sails. They were skippered in this race by navigator Jules Salter, because previous skipper Simeon Tienpont quit/was fired a few days earlier. (There are dueling press releases and much drama; it’s all still playing out as of Monday.)

Scallywag is the boat closest to the camera with the gray sails and the red and white swoosh. Vestas/11th Hour is the light blue main with the dark blue stripe and the white headsail, and Dongfeng is the red and gray sails beyond them.

Coming toward us to the left of them on port tack is Brunel, whose strategy apparently was to swoop in behind the other boats and tack onto starboard at the last minute. But tacking one of these boats with a Masthead Code 0 in light winds is a tricky maneuver.

Just coming into view in the extreme lower left is Turn the Tide on Plastic (TTToP), skippered by Goofball Boat Mom Dee Caffari. They haven’t even unrolled their Code 0 yet. But that’s fine; the boats in front of them are early and will have to kill time.

Way up at the other end of the line, that little red mainsail is MAPFRE. Like TTToP they haven’t unrolled their headsail yet. They’re just hanging out, jogging slowly toward the pin end of the line. The race commentators are going to offer them premature condolences in a minute. But with the benefit of hindsight, looking at this image: They’ve already won.


With 1:11 to go, Brunel is making their tack. They’re slow rolling up the headsail (a requirement for tacking the Masthead 0), though, and it’s going to hurt them badly. On TTToP, Boat Mom has unrolled her headsail and is starting to move into view in the lower left. Meanwhile, MAPFRE is still just chilling out there at the far end of the line.


With less than a minute to go, AkzoNobel is bearing off to avoid being over early. Vestas has them pinned to leeward, though, so there’s not a lot of room. Brunel is head to wind with their headsail furled. It’s been 13 seconds since the last screenshot, which means this tack is taking them a long time. Boat Mom is diving down to try to squeeze in to leeward of Scallywag.

MAPFRE still hasn’t unrolled their headsail.


At 47 seconds to go, the four starboard-tack boats closest to the line are all reaching off to avoid being over early.

MAPFRE’s just hanging out. Um, guys (and gals): You realize there’s a race today, right?


Thirty-seven seconds to go. The three lead starboard tack boats are a mess. Dongfeng has the right of way as leeward boat, and is holding the other two up toward the line rather than giving them acceleration room. Scallywag is diving down to prevent Boat Mom getting a leeward overlap and doing the same thing to them. Brunel has completed their tack, but they’re so far below the line and in such disturbed air from all the shenanigans ahead of them that they’re basically stuck in the water.

Aboard MAPFRE they finally have a headsail, yay! But that’s not all they’ve got:

  • They’re right up on the starting line, rather than 3-5 boatlengths to leeward of it like the other boats. In these conditions that’s huge.
  • They’ve got clear air.
  • They’ve got an open stretch of water into which they can accelerate.
  • They’ve got a position that in a minute is going to give them the right side of the racecourse, where they’ve (correctly) predicted the wind is going to be stronger during the coming beat.

On the other hand they’re on port tack, and every other boat has the right of way, so they’re basically going to have to duck the entire fleet. But given all the advantages listed above, it’s worth it.


Thirty seconds. The lead group of starboard tackers has hardened up for the line, though they’re still a little early. Each of them is trying to create a gap to leeward into which they can accelerate. But since they’re all trying to do it in the same place none of them is being particularly successful.

Meanwhile, MAPFRE is reaching off with the Masthead 0 trimmed for speed.


Twenty seconds. The leading five starboard tackers are all using whatever gap they have to try to build speed. Brunel is still stuck to leeward.

MAPFRE has started to bear away to go below the starboard tackers. It’s a controlled maneuver, though, unlike the speed-killing gyrations the other boats are doing.


Ten seconds. The starboard-tackers are all hardening up for the line. Brunel is basically parked.

It’s hard to see them, but MAPFRE is screaming in (relatively speaking) on port tack, aiming to shave the sterns of the fleet.

Here’s what that moment looked like from MAPFRE’s perspective, courtesy of the video they posted to Twitter:


They’re approaching Dongfeng, the lead boat in the starboard-tackers. Antonio Cuervas-Mons (”Ñeti”) is on the bow. As bowman his job is to tell the helmsman (Pablo Arrarte) where to go, because it’s easier to judge the distances from the bow.

The closed-fist gesture means “hold your course.” The wind-it-up gesture means “go for it; head closer to the starting line.”


Ñeti calling the duck of AkzoNobel. This is a key moment. Looking around the front of the headsail, Ñeti sees something that Pablo on the helm can’t see: Brunel is going so slowly that a gap has opened up in front of them, and MAPFRE has a chance to squeeze through. So Ñeti gives the wind-it-up sign: go for it.


That same moment, two seconds before the starting gun, from the helicopter’s perspective.


MAPFRE charging through the gap just after the gun. They’re now in disturbed air, but only for a few seconds, and the speed they’ve built up lets them punch through.


And they’re off, heading away from the fleet in clear air toward the stronger wind on the right. When the fleet comes back together at the top mark MAPFRE is ahead, and with mistake-free sailing they never give up the lead.

And that, long-suffering readers, is how you win a boat race before it’s even started.

¡Vamos MAPFRE! 😀

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Her name is Gitana 17 (aka Maxi Edmond de Rothschild). She’s 105…

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

Her name is Gitana 17 (aka Maxi Edmond de Rothschild). She’s 105 feet long, took 20 months to build, and she can fly.

I don’t know what the immediate plans are. But if they can avoid hitting anything or flipping over, someone’s going to need to buff up a spot on the base of the Jules Verne Trophy.

Source: “Premières fois”, Episode 3 : 1er vol du Maxi Edmond de Rothschild

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¡Vamos MAPFRE!The 2017-18 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race won’t…

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

¡Vamos MAPFRE!

The 2017-18 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race won’t start until October, but the pre-race “Leg Zero” series got under way today. Seven Volvo 65s raced as a class in the Around the Island Race, circling the Isle of Wight as part of Cowes Week. Spanish entry MAPFRE, with skipper Xabi Fernández, was the winner, setting a monohull course record of 3h 13m 11s.

I still think Dongfeng (which came in fourth today) has the best chance to win the race around the world. But I can’t not cheer for MAPFRE, given that my favorite sailor from the last edition has a spot on the boat. 🙂

Next up: The 600-mile Fastnet Race, which starts this Sunday, August 6.

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Calling it now. No but seriously. It’s a big world, and they’re…

Saturday, June 3rd, 2017

Calling it now.

No but seriously. It’s a big world, and they’re gonna be spending a lot of time in the Southern Ocean where anything can happen. But if you’re one of the other competitors you’d better get busy.


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Dongfeng Race Team training for the 2017/2018 Volvo Ocean Race.

Monday, May 29th, 2017

Dongfeng Race Team training for the 2017/2018 Volvo Ocean Race.

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Volvo Ocean Race newsThere will be another VOR beginning a year…

Sunday, October 16th, 2016

Volvo Ocean Race news

There will be another VOR beginning a year or so from now, and there’s a good chance I’ll be obsessing over that one, too. After a cut is a discussion of some of the changes that have been announced.

Race Leadership

The race will be run by a new CEO, Mark Turner, who was one of the main forces behind the Chinese/French Dongfeng team in the last race. I’m excited about that because in the last race it was Dongfeng that did the best job of sharing lots of detail about what was happening on the boat, not restricting the flow of information due to sponsor concerns nor dumbing things down for a non-sailing audience. From what I can tell that was because of Mark, and there are signs that he’ll be doing the same thing across the fleet in the next race.

The Route

The 2017-18 Volvo will not include a Middle East stopover, nor will it send racers through the Strait of Malacca on their way to China, as they did last time. Instead they’ll start with a short leg from Alicante to Lisbon, then will race south through the Atlantic to Cape Town. After that will come a real monster of a leg, from Cape Town through the Indian Ocean to Bass Strait, then north to Hong Kong. Leg 4 will send them back south to Auckland, Leg 5 will head across the southern Pacific around Cape Horn and then north to Itajaí, and Leg 6 will take them to Newport. All three of those legs are more or less the same as last time.

They’ll cross the Atlantic to a stopover in Cardiff, thence to Gothenburg, and finally will finish the race at The Hague.

Competitors sound excited about the new route. Southern Ocean sailing is what the Volvo (formerly the Whitbread) has always been about, so having more of that should be fun.

Women Competitors

One of coolest thing about the race last time was that an all-woman crew was competing head-to-head with the male teams. Sadly, Swedish paper-products company SCA has pulled out, so the sailors from Team SCA who want to build on what they did last time have had to scramble for new sponsorship.

In the last few weeks the Volvo announced new crew rules that should make it easier for them to participate in the next race. Basically, if you want to do the race with an all-male team, you’ll only be allowed 7 crewmembers. But you’ll be able to add 1 or 2 women for a total crew of 8 or 9. If you do a gender-balanced crew you can have 10 (5 and 5). Or, if you do an all-woman crew (as SCA did last time) you can have 11. Crew configurations can be changed from leg to leg.

The general view is that 7 sailors is too few to race a Volvo 65 competitively, so teams will be incentivized to include women in their crew. Without this rule change it was looking like there might not be any women sailors in the next race. With it, they’ll not only be competing, but they’ll have the chance to sail in mixed crews alongside the most-experienced Volvo sailors, which should help them in their quest to be more competitive than they were last time.

On Board Reporters (OBRs)

This time around the OBR (the single crewmember who doesn’t help sail, but just cooks and documents what’s happening on the boat) won’t be paid by the individual team sponsor, but instead will work directly for the race organizers themselves. The hope is that this will mean OBRs will be more free to tell their stories than they have been in the past. For example, in the 2014-15 there was relatively little video from the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing boat that ended up being the overall winner. As far as I could tell it wasn’t that Matt Knighton, the ADOR OBR, was any less accomplished than the other OBRs. It was just that the team sponsor didn’t particularly feel like sharing that video, so fans rarely saw it.

Similarly, one of the more dramatic incidents in the race was when SCA had a bad knockdown on Leg 5 shortly before reaching Cape Horn and essentially stopped racing for a few days, backing way off the throttle and sailing more conservatively until they reached easier conditions in the south Atlantic. Fans could infer some of what was happening from the race’s tracker app, but there was a noticeable blackout in terms of video coming off the boat, possibly because the sponsor didn’t feel like that particular drama reflected well on their brand.

Dongfeng was the gold standard in the last race in terms of letting fans actually see what was happening on the boat. If the same philosophy is going to be applied to the whole fleet next time, it’s going to be great to watch.

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The medal race for the women’s Laser Radial class is under way…

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

The medal race for the women’s Laser Radial class is under way in Rio. Annalise Murphy of Ireland is in third place on points, with a good chance for a bronze medal, a small but decent chance for silver, and remote chance for gold. People with access to RTE can watch the race live; for the rest of us brother Finn is doing updates on her twitter account, @annalise_murphy.

I’ll update this post for Sally and anyone else who cares.

Go Annalise! :-)

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anonsally replied to your link “Annalise Murphy told nobody but she came to Rio for this Olympic…

Monday, August 15th, 2016

replied to your link
“Annalise Murphy told nobody but she came to Rio for this Olympic medal”

will you keep us posted?

Winds were too light to get a race off today. They’re going to try again tomorrow. If there isn’t enough wind tomorrow they’ll just award medals based on the current standings, which would give Annalise the bronze.

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Annalise Murphy told nobody but she came to Rio for this Olympic medal

Monday, August 15th, 2016

Annalise Murphy told nobody but she came to Rio for this Olympic medal:

Like a lot of people I got very caught up in the drama of Annalise Murphy’s performance at the London Olympics. The 22-year-old Irish sailor dominated in the early going, winning four races outright against the world’s best. She was in the lead going into the medal race, only to fall to fourth overall and miss winning a medal. Over the last four years she’s dedicated herself to doing better in Rio, and today is the day.

Annalise will secure a bronze unless she finishes five places (or more) behind the Belgian boat in the medal race. To get a silver, she has to finish ahead of Denmark. For the gold – a much tougher ask – she not only has to beat Denmark, but has to be five places ahead of the Netherlands too.

Winds are light on the racecourse; there may be a postponement before the start. You can follow the action via her brother Finn’s updates on her twitter account, @Annalise_Murphy. Go Annalise! :-)

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lies: Heh. Pretty, but wrong. If I were there I’d have to redo…

Saturday, May 28th, 2016


Heh. Pretty, but wrong. If I were there I’d have to redo it.

I’m sorry. I just can’t leave it like that.


First off, you need to have the right geometry. Spring lines keep the boat from surging fore and aft. Breast lines (which are the ones going at a mostly right angle from boat to dock) keep the boat from moving in and out:


That labeling is a little wacky, but whatevs. Onward.

There’s no reason to have a tangled mass of spaghetti at the cleat. Yes, extra hitches add a certain feeling of security, but you don’t need them if you know what you’re doing.

Unlike this person:






Nee! Nooit!

Sigh. Look. You want to start with a straight turn around the back of the cleat, then wrap up around the opposite horn so you have a way to pull up to take the strain while easing out, or to tighten up after you’ve pulled in some slack on the standing part of the line. After that straight turn, you cross over the center of the cleat, around the opposite horn, then twist a loop into the line for the hitch to lock it. But unlike the image above, the exiting free end of the locking hitch should lie parallel to the previous crossover, not across it.


Ooh; so close. The only problem here is that the standing part coming in from the boat should have gone around the far horn first, not the near horn. That gives better control when doing that easing-out-and-taking-in maneuver I described above, and makes it harder for the line to slip off the cleat or jam the turns applied later.

Like this:




Ooh, yesss.




That’s what I’m talking about.


Mm hmm.

Thank you for your time.

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Today is the 10th anniversary of Hans Horrevoets’ death. He was…

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

Today is the 10th anniversary of Hans Horrevoets’ death. He was swept overboard from ABN Amro Two and drowned during the transatlantic leg of the 2005/2006 Volvo. The VOR media team put together this video, including interviews with three of his fellow crewmembers and footage of Sophie Ciszek accepting the Hans Horrevoets Rookie Award for the most-recent race.

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Four days to go Banque Pop’s ghost is getting away. Those…

Saturday, January 2nd, 2016

Four days to go

Banque Pop’s ghost is getting away. Those stormy conditions north of the Canaries mean S2 still has a chance, maybe, if they can get through the light stuff in the next day without slowing down too much, then just fly for the finish. But realistically, it looks like the record won’t fall this time. The South Atlantic was just too slow.

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Spindrift 2 enters the Southern Ocean – Jules Verne…

Friday, December 4th, 2015

Spindrift 2 enters the Southern Ocean – Jules Verne Trophy, Day 11

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Spindrift 2 heading south in the Atlantic on November 25, 2015….

Friday, December 4th, 2015

Spindrift 2 heading south in the Atlantic on November 25, 2015. Drone footage by on-board media crewman Yann Riou. Source.

As of December 4 at 1600 UTC, Spindrift 2 is in the Southern Ocean heading east, 233 miles ahead of the pace set in 2012 by the previous record-holder for the fastest sailing circumnavigation in history.

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