Vendée Globe – Jean-Pierre Dick and Yann Eliès crossed the finish line in Les Sables d’Olonne

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25 January 2017
Sailing aerial images of the IMOCA boat Finistere Mer Vent, skipper Jean Le Cam (FRA) during training for the Vendee Globe 2016, off Belle Ile in South Brittany, on october 13, 2016 - Photo Jean-Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe
Jean Le Cam sixth in the Vendée Globe
25 January 2017

Vendée Globe – Jean-Pierre Dick and Yann Eliès crossed the finish line in Les Sables d’Olonne

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French skipper Jean-Pierre Dick crossed the finish line of the eighth Vendée Globe at 1347hrs UTC on Wednesday 25th January. The skipper of StMichel Virbac completed his solo round the world voyage in 80 days 1 hour 45 minutes and 45 seconds. Jean-Pierre Dick sailed 27,857 miles at the average speed of 14.5 knots

When Yann Eliès crossed the finish line in Les Sables d’Olonne at 1513hrs UTC on Wednesday 25th January to take fifth place, the French skipper achieved his primary goal, conquering the solo non stop round the world race which nearly cost him his life during an epic 2008-9 edition. Rescued by the Australian Navy after breaking his leg 800 miles south of Australia, Eliès said before the start that only now did he feel mentally and physically strong enough to compete in the Vendée Globe again. The race time for Eliès is 80 days 3 hours 11 minutes and 9 seconds. Eliès sailed 27,132 miles at an average speed of 14.1 knots.

Dick, who also finished fourth in the last edition of the race in 2012-13, finally held on to win a tense thriller of a three cornered battle for fourth place which peaked early this morning. Pursued by two of the most accomplished French sailors in the race, Yann Eliès and Jean Le Cam, Dick saw the 60 nautical miles lead he had yesterday morning eroded to just six miles early this morning. But the ‘gentleman skipper’ who has won two round the world Barcelona World Races and now completed three Vendée Globes held his nerve.

Sixth in 2004-2005, he abandoned into New Zealand in 2008 and finished fourth in 2012-2013, Dick was aiming to win on his fourth attempt at the Vendée Globe Jean-Pierre Dick. He built a new, foil equipped VPLP-Verdier designed IMOCA but had to abandon last year’s Transat Jacques Vabre with structural issues. As for some others his boat spent much of last winter and spring in the boatyard being strengthened, losing valuable preparation and training time. A qualified veterinary surgeon who originates from Nice, Dick left the family business and moved to Brittany to become a solo and short handed racer. But a combination of an early tactical error and technical problems saw him lose touch with the early pacemakers. He dropped into different weather systems and, although he made back hundreds of miles at different stages in the race Dick has to settle for fourth place.

JP Dick’s race
After getting off to a good start, with StMichel-Virbac in second place not far behind the leader, Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss), JP made a tactical mistake to the south of Madeira and tumbled to twelfth place. The frontrunners were able to make their getaway, not getting stuck in the Doldrums, while Dick’s best hope then was to catch Jean le Cam, then in ninth place. After that the two skippers would remain close together to the point where Le Cam referred to the “duel between King Jean and the Black Knight.” Jean-Pierre Dick was obviously disappointed as his “friends are over a thousand miles ahead of me… I need to stay zen.”

Three times winner of La Solitaire du Figaro Eliès believed that if he could complete the race in good shape then he would not be far from the podium. In fifth he is the first skipper to complete this edition of the race using conventional, straight daggerboards, rather than the foils as used by the top four skippers. Winner Armel Le Cléac’h, second placed Alex Thomson, Jérémie Beyou in third and now fourth placed Jean-Pierre Dick all raced IMOCAs fitted with foils.

The skipper of Quéguiner-Leucémie Espoir has finally exorcised the ghosts of the 2008-9 race with this solid fifth place, and has already stated his desire to compete again in 2020 with a boat and programme capable of winning. He brave return to the Vendée Globe prompted his long time rival Jérémie Beyou to say yesterday how much he admired Eliès. “He wanted a competitive project and it’s incredible that he even returned to this race. I’m not sure I would have had the strength to do that after going through what he went through before. I’ll be there to hear what he has to say, because what he has done is incredible.”

Since the start on 6th November, Yann Eliès has shown that he was one to watch because of his competitiveness, experience and skills, having won among other races three editions of the Solitaire du Figaro. Eliès raced what was the first of the VPLP-Verdier designed boats, the former Safran previously skippered by Marc Guillemot, which came third in the 2008-2009 Vendée Globe and, ironically, the boat on which Guillemot stood by the injured Eliès for two days before rescue arrived.

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