Please select your home edition
RS Sailing 2021 - LEADERBOARD

Retour à La Base - Record speeds on the cards?

by Retour à La Base 3 Dec 2023 21:09 GMT 3 December 2023
Sam Goodchild at Thursday's start - Retour à La Base © Pierre Bouras / Retour à La Base

The leaders of the Retour à La Base solo IMOCA race from Martinique to Lorient, France are now completing their curve around the north Atlantic high pressure system and starting to head towards the east, seeking to find the best entry point to catch a ride on the train of fast moving low pressure systems set to carry them rapidly towards Europe.

Speeds Monday and Tuesday could be high enough to threaten the solo 24 hours record which has been held for five years by Alex Thomson at 539.71 miles. Jéremie Beyou (Charal) was on top of the leaderboard, seemingly always around 17-19 nautical miles ahead of Briton Sam Goodchild (For The Planet) and Yoann Richomme (Arkéa-Paprec). But in the late afternoon Goodchild has taken the lead as Charal gybed north.

But at four days into the 3,500 miles passage from Fort-de-France, the pace is already telling on boats and skippers, Goodchild warned today that he hoped to get some much needed rest this afternoon before a week's onslaught with successive, deeper and more malicious low pressure systems due through to the finish, which should be Saturday according to latest estimates.

Goodchild said: "To be honest I don't know what I am doing right really, I am just happy the boat is going well. But I am a bit tired so I need to start to be a bit careful. Last night was a bit full on and so I did not get much sleep. I have been trying to catch up on sleep but it really is not easy. It is nicer now, the wind is more stable and so we had the big sail change this morning which went relatively well. We are heading more to the east now which is nice, I am trying to eat properly and get some rest and keep going fast. The last two nights have been bad for sleeping, painful to be honest with unstable winds and bad sea state, so I am hopeful. I have put some rice and fish curry on for my Sunday lunch to eat, I am looking forwards to it and then try and get a nap after that."

Goodchild was very much in the wake of Beyou on the inside of the curve whilst Richomme and Seb Simon (Groupe Deubril) are more on the outside, positions more fancied by Will Harris, the co-skipper of Malizia-Seaexplorer and a renowned weather expert,

"Going slightly wider will take them north earlier and may mean one less gybe, and they should have a little more pressure." Says Harris who believes the solo record could well fall, considering 550 miles a realistic mark. "The thing here is if they need to gybe in the 24 hours. Really to maximise the record run it needs to be straight line, especially solo."

"Between Monday morning and Tuesday, there can be some very nice runs," explains Christian Dumard, the race meteorologist. "They must manage to sail at more than 22.36 knots to beat the record," specifies Jacques Caraës assistant to the race director.

The daggerboard boats will also start to accelerate and turn to the right. Louis Duc (Fives Group - Lantana Environnement) is positioned slightly further East than his competitors. Often happy to do his own thing, Duc says he is liking passing through the South-East of Bermuda - "I would have liked to stay round here to see how it is."

Problems, problems....

And while more and more boats seem to have small problems, Pip Hare (Medallia) and Kojiro Shraishi (DNG MORI Globeal One), Clarisse Crémer (L'Occtane en Provence)m Denis Van Weynbergh (D'Ieteren Group) among them, French skipper Antoine Cornic (Human Immobilier) is diagnosed as suffering from dengue fever: "I've had it for two days and they say it's the third day that is the worst". Cornic reported. His team is in regular communication with the race doctor. He talks about the symptoms, the aches, the fever, and how hard it is to manoeuvre, "There's not much I can do you have to wait for it to get better"

Belgian skipper Denis Van Weynbergh (D'Ieteren Group) had a technical scare In a squall being caught in a 40kts squall with full main and J2 headsail: " I luffed, I reduced sail, I luffed up again to get through it. Otherwise this squall was taking me to Bob Marley's house!"

Pip Hare (Medallia) discovered a fairly significant leak from the hydraulic system of her keel, "It has been pretty hectic for me overnight. The sailing is great the breeze is up and we are at an angle where the boats can really fly, I am really enjoying that. And all night I have had an amazing battle with Romain Attanasio, it has been immense, I overtake him, he overtakes me, he has just popped up on the AIS again! He was doing 30kts and won't lie down. But on top of that I have discovered a pretty bad leak in the hydraulics on my keel. So I have been trying to sort that out. I have lost about 3 litres of oil. Cleaning that up was a major mission and trying to find out where it is coming from, I found one loose connection. I need to have another look. It is an interesting doing that on a boat moving at 20kts in a slightly erratic manner. And trying to clean up an oil spill, covered in oil all the way up to your elbows and trying to get fingers on to spanners on tiny nuts in a small space. I was head down for two hours and can't focus on any thing else. And because we are so close anything like that means you are slowing down and losing miles. I am a little but worried about the keel. I have enough oil to do one major top up but after that I need to start re-cycling oil. At some point today I am going to have to get in there again and work out where the leak is coming from. The sailing is just fantastic, just being able to let the boat go and in such close proximity to everyone else, it gives me such positive feelings about the future trajectory of the campaign."

So too DMG MORI Global One skipper Shiraishi reported a water ingress from the keel ram pin. On top of that his PC screen wouldn't turn on so he was sailing blind for a while.

"I couldn't see the charts weather forecast or anything. But with a bit of work nearly everything is in back in order since this morning. I am a little disappointed at losing some positions but I really am pushing the boat now to make some progress." He said,

In third, the problems for Yoann Richomme (Paprec Akréa) were more transient.... "In the cross seas and the 'gusty' wind last night, I spilled my plate of pasta on my keyboard and on my seat. My meal was gone and a cleaning operation ensued."

Conrad Colman, NZL, Mail Boxes ETC: "It was a crazy, crazy night when the sun went down the show got going. We were meant to have 22 knots of wind and I had 38 and the sea was screaming and splashing all over the place. The routing had me with full main and Code Zero and in real life I was reefed down and J3, and honing along. The keel I have now maybe needs a big of work as at 18kts of boat speed it starts humming and when it goes over 20 kts it starts screaming. So it sounded like a crazy banshee choir! Otherwise good wind means good progress towards the north. In terms of latitude from the Equator we have now doubled our distance since leaving Martinique. And you feel it, it is more temperate. Tomorrow night I will need to get the sleeping bag out. But I am excited to get closer to the wintery north.

Follow the race tracker

Event website:

Related Articles

OneSails partner with Gentoo Sailing Team
Aiming to showcase that sustainability does not have to come at the cost of performance OneSails announces an exciting new partnership with the Gentoo Sailing Team as skipper, James Harayda, looks to take on the Vendée Globe 2024 at the end of this year. Posted on 26 Feb
It's a wrap!
In sailing we have a lot of plain white hulls In sailing we have a lot of plain white hulls. Let's face it, when everything looks the same, it does make things a bit dull. The end of February is a dreary time, so it's time to talk about boats which brighten things up. Posted on 19 Feb
Gentoo Sailing Team to conduct ocean research
University of Portsmouth teams up with Hampshire sailor to help protect the world's oceans The University of Portsmouth is partnering with Gosport-based ocean sailing team, Gentoo Sailing Team, to help protect our planet's marine ecosystems. Posted on 16 Feb
Team Malizia to compete in The Ocean Race Europe
The race will start in the sailing city of Kiel After their successful participation in The Ocean Race and an incredible welcome during the Fly-By in Kiel, Germany, last year, Team Malizia have announced that they will be on the start line of The Ocean Race Europe 2025. Posted on 14 Feb
The Ocean Race Europe 2025 will start from Kiel
Aim is to combine this event with the topic of ocean health and protection Organisers of The Ocean Race have confirmed Kiel.Sailing.City as the host of the start of The Ocean Race Europe during a press conference in Kiel on Wednesday morning. Posted on 14 Feb
Official Statement from The IMOCA Class
Personalised assistance and routing from sources external to the boat is prohibited We are aware of the publication of an article reporting suspicions of routing in the Vendée Globe 2020-2021. Posted on 14 Feb
Conrad Colman updates on Vendee Globe entry
Conrad Colman's Vendee Globe race yacht will use electricity only - no fossil fuels French/New Zealand sailor Conrad Colman, who will always be remembered for his epic finish to the 2016/17 Vendee Globe, is going again. The latest attempt will again be aimed at sailing using electricity only - no fossil fuels - and an electric engine. Posted on 9 Feb
10 environmental commitments for the Vendée Globe
The approach is part of a long-term perspective, divided into four key pillars In the run-up to the 10th edition of the solo, non-stop, non-assisted round the world race, the Vendée Globe is affirming its environmental commitments. Posted on 7 Feb
IMOCA Class gets ready for 2024
Taking on two Transats and the Vendée Globe It will be an historic edition of the solo epic that is expected to feature the highest ever number of entries - with up to 40 sailors on the startline in early November - the highest number of nationalities involved, with 11 nations represented. Posted on 1 Feb
11th Hour Racing sponsor Francesca Clapcich
Expanding its work beyond sustainability On the heels of The Ocean Race win by its sponsored team, 11th Hour Racing is expanding its work beyond sustainability and ocean health to champion diversity, opportunity, and access in sailing. Posted on 1 Feb