Armel Le Cléac’h reaches Nouch Sud, makes Vendée Globe history under North 3Di sails
In likely the most breathtaking finish of the Vendée Globe singlehanded around-the-world race, Armel Le Cléac’h and his IMOCA Banque Populaire VIII finished just hours ahead of his fierce competitor, Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss. After 74 days at sea, both boats will finish within the east-about circumnavigation record set by Francois Gabart in 2013.
Armel reached the iconic finish buoy “Nouch Sud” at 4:30pm on Thursday, January 19, 2017. Today thousands of sailing fans will line the channel in Les Sables d’Olonne to welcome him, having successfully completed his third Vendée Globe race, this time stealing the win and securing a new world record for the fastest circumnavigation by a singlehanded sailor on a monohull 74 days, 3 hours, 35 minutes, 46 seconds (yet to be ratified).
100 miles behind, Alex Thomson was close on his heels in hot pursuit of an epic comeback. The world watched in anticipation as the pair worked their way North through the complex patterns of the Atlantic, with Alex slowly chipping away at Armel’s lead. But Armel, known to his fellow sailors as the Jackal for his unrelenting pace, knew he would have to work hard for this win, as all Vendée skippers do. After he finished second to François Gabart in 2013 by a mere three hours, Armel knows that every minute counts in this marathon event.
The Vendée Globe is above all a voyage to the ends of the sea and deep down into the sailor’s soul. It has been won by some of the greatest names in sailing: Titouan Lamazou, Alain Gautier, Christophe Auguin, Vincent Riou, Michel Desjoyeaux and François Gabart.
Perhaps their fellow competitor on Spirit of Hungary, Nandor Fa, said it best on Tuesday when he called into Vendée Live from the South Atlantic for an interview: “I’ve watched these guys match race round the world and what they’ve done has been fantastic,” he added. “Both of them deserve to win because their performances have been incredible.”
Armel has worked closely with the North Sails team in France over the past five years, and for the 2016-17 Vendée Globe, an eight sail inventory including 3Di RAW, 3Di FORCE and NPL DOWNWIND was developed for Banque Populaire VIII. Before the race start on November 6, 2016, Armel reported:
“After the last Vendée, I had a good idea of what I would do for the next boat. Looking back it is now radically different, and I feel confident about our choices because of all the design and testing work that has gone into it. The sails match the boat and my way of sailing, and I’m happy with the performance and durability – it’s a well-rounded inventory for this race.”
Alex Thompson on Hugo Boss is due to finish this evening. He will soon be followed by Jeremie Beyou on Maitre Coq who is roughly 700nm from the finish. As for the tight trio of Yann Elies, Jen-Pierre Dick and Jean Le Cam, they have just under 2,000nm to go with roughly 20 miles between them – this will get interesting!
Congratulations to Armel from all of us at North Sails, third time’s a charm! Now please, get some rest!