Hugo Boss shadowing Virbac
Overnight, Jean-Pierre Dick has been tested sailing his keel-less Virbac-Paprec 3 in rougher conditions compared to the previous days rounding the high. He has been doing this in the company of Alex Thomson and Hugo Boss.
“Alex decided to keep me company during the night as the front passed through," explains Dick. "We sent each other e-mails (see below). I have not seen him yet or spoken by phone. It’s a very selfless thing to do for a sailor. It was really nice of him and I am proud to be entrusting him with my third place.”
Thomson explained today: “I came to the decision to stay close to Jean-Pierre Dick: there were strong winds forecast overnight and this morning, I was 90 miles away from JP and because it was going to get bigger and bigger, I knew I wouldn't have been able to help if something had happened. That felt uncomfortable leaving him in those conditions on a boat with no keel.
"To me, it’s no big deal, really. We're all part of the IMOCA class, and I believe this is part of the values of the class. But I’ve been rescued before by Mike Golding, it's just a completely normal thing to do when i decided to do it at 4 o'clock. I will accompany JP until he feels 100% confident with his boat and he has made a decision regarding his plans. I'll shadow him until he feels 100% comfortable.”
In today's radio vac Dick added: "The wind is much stronger now, 25-30 knots, with an agitated sea and 3-4m waves. The boat is doing okay in the waves, it’s actually a good surprise. My ballasts are full and I’m sailing at an average speed of 12 knots, which is encouraging for the future. The weather should get a little rougher in the afternoon and then calm down.
Dick added, Virbac-Paprec 3 has behaved well now the breeze is up. “This bodes well for what is to come next,” he said. “During the night, I tested sailing in a wind speed of 25 knots, with waves of about 3 or 4 m. That went well. I reduced the canvas during the night. I am sailing with 3 reefs in the mainsail and the staysail. The boat is behaving well in the waves. I filled the ballasts. This bodes well for what is to come. The wind will ease off gently during the night.”
"I’m not obsessed with speed, I just can’t use larger sails, it is much more reasonable now that my keel is gone. And I owe it to the shore crew and the people who have worked with me, I just can’t take too much risk. My next challenge is Cape Finisterre, where the sea is going to be rough."
After studying the weather conditions in depth, Dick has made the decision to continue at least until Portugal. He will assess whether he will then continue on the finish as he gets closer to the Portuguese coast.
“I’ve taken my thoughts a little further and I will not stop in the Azores. I will continue at least until Portugal. All the safety conditions are united. I will head towards the Portuguese coast until I’m at latitude of 40°N. I will study the weather conditions precisely (wind and sea) off Cape Finisterre. If conditions permit, I will continue the Vendée Globe. If this is not the case, I will be forced to stop.”
On board, he is applying the 'attrition principle'. “I’ve learned a new concept! I am going to apply this principle on board, which consists in controlled and well-thought out freedom. You know the risks and you manage them with great thoughtfulness, unlike the precautionary principle, which blocks the individual as soon as a danger appears. In practical terms, I am sailing with great care. I reduce the canvas and I assess the risks. If it’s dangerous, then I stop. If a weather window opens favourably, I continue.”
The string of emails between the two skippers follows:
Thomson to JP: "Hello Jean-Pierre, The sea is increasingly big today. I'm not letting you navigate alone only when the wind will strengthen in a few hours. I'll come and join you, gybe, navigate at your side until the weather conditions (wind and waves) become more moderate in the Azores. I know you did not ask for assistance, but it will not make a big difference to my race and anyway, I have not see any other boats for a few months, I feel alone! I hope everything goes well for you."
JP replies: "Thank you Alex. It touches me deeply. I will study the weather to see if I can continue to safely navigate to the Sables d'Olonne. I sent a photo with a message for you, "Alex, take this 3rd position with care" (take care of the third place). It is important to me! Do not hesitate to call me."