Matteo Miceli: “I tell you what impressed me about the Vendée Globe and who will win”


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myceliaThis was my third time at the start of the Vendée and it was the best time. Whether because of the weather, whether because of the large number of boats at the start“, the great navigator Matteo Miceli, who followed for us in Les Sables d’Olonne the start of the mythical nonstop solo round-the-world race, tells us.

At the design level, I could not help but be fascinated by the new hulls with foils: immediately after the start, I could see how effective they were, the bows of the boats sailed higher than those of the rest of the fleet. I think the new generation boats are clearly favored.

The “foil-equipped” skippers (Armel Le Cleac’h, Alex Thomson, Jean Pierre Dick etc.) will, in my opinion, follow a specific tactic: try to gain as much ground as possible during the descent (and ascent) in the Atlantic, and then be more conservative in the dangerous South Seas.

2016_atr_rtv_019_srgbMICELI’S FAVORITES
I see Armel Le Cleac’h and Jean Pierre Dick very well, as well as Alex Thomson. Pieter Heerema, the Dutchman who bought Andrea Mura’s boat (by the way, I found it beautiful: what a job Persico did!), suffers from a lot of inexperience in the ocean and is unlikely to be able to challenge the top positions. Vincent Riou has chosen to rely on a boat (PRB) without foils; he probably feels safer, however, his being a “traditionalist” might affect him in terms of speed. The Vendée is always a big jackpot. Some people break and some people win.

I was also struck by these large volumes at the bow of the new boats (a legacy of Macif, winner with Francois Gabart last Vendée), to minimize the risk of gavaging, and from the jugs, which are getting higher and higher as today’s boats have to pass the 180 large righting test. A large, imposing deckhouse on the deck really helps that kind of righting (ballast and canting keel do the rest). Finally, the (perhaps excessive) lightness of these 60-foot behemoths is thought-provoking: 7,500/8,000 pounds, really nothing thanks to the composite.

Alain Roura
Alain Roura

The participation of a Japanese skipper (Kojiro Shiraishi) and a young man from Switzerland (Alain Roura, only 23 years old) bodes well for an Italian at the next edition (I would sign off on it): it seems that Roura, who left aboard a boat he borrowed, La Fabrique (a 2000 Rolland) had a budget of only 300,000 euros. Nothing compared to the average one to two million it takes to complete a world tour (for ‘top players’ such as Alex Thomson and Armel Le Cleac’h we are talking about 5 million).”

Didac Costa
Didac Costa

For now, as also comes out of Miceli’s analysis, it appears that the boats equipped with foils are significantly faster than the rest of the fleet: leading the ranking is Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss, followed by Jean-Pierre Dick on St.Michel-Virbac and Armel Le Cleac’h on Banque Populaire VIII. The three are centered within two miles in the Bay of Biscay, heading for the Cape of Finisterre and flying at 16 knots of speed. In fourth was Vincent Riou, former winner in 2004/05, aboard PRB, some 13 miles behind the leading trio. For him no foils, he preferred to opt for a boat he felt was more reliable. He is followed in fifth by Morgan Lagravière on Safran, also equipped with foils. The most unlucky for now is Spaniard Didac Costa, with his IMOCA One Planet One Ocean, first to parade out of the harbor: minutes before the start he had to turn around and return to Les Sables because he spotted a water way and a consequent problem with the electrical system.



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