Benoît Parnaudeau (Max Havelaar-Best Western), from La Rochelle on France’s Atlantic coast, is the 10th competitor to have completed this 5th version of the Vendée Globe, a single-handed round the world yacht race, without stopovers and without assistance. Benoît made his circumnavigation in a time of 116 days, 1 hour 6 minutes and 54 seconds; a convincing performance for this 32 year old Franco-Canadian on a boat originally launched nearly 15 years ago (ex DDP/60ème Sud). A celebrated shore crew, boat-builder and Mini 6.50 specialist, Benoît has achieved what he set out to do by sailing around the world. He did so with intelligence, staying true to both his values and his convictions, respecting both the environment and fair trade with a constant good humour and sensitivity.
Having set out a careful pace, Benoît Parnaudeau relished the idyllic descent of the Atlantic. He was attentive to the boat’s needs, sharing his discoveries and his fears with a boyish enthusiasm, making the latitudes of the Southern Ocean without seeming to care too much about where he was positioned in the general ranking. The roaring forties woke up the competitive Parnaudeau. Totally confident in his boat, Benoît was continually hunting down the shortest, fastest trajectory, albeit through the ice fields and the depression centres synonymous with his very southerly course. While those around him struggled with various problems, Benoît continued on without any serious damage, proof if there was a need, of his prowess in preparing boats.
For some of the competitors, the round the world was a technical challenge comprising latitudes and longitudes, degrees and lifts. For others it was a wonderment when faced with the riches of nature and the act of going beyond your limits. For Benoît, it was a permanent analysis of human relations, based on geography. “We are off Brazil, and this is what happened here…”. Everything played to the tune of a certain idea about human relations. As is written in the text from the “Declaration of Human Rights” that went round the world with Benoît, man is free and equal. As a result he should maintain relations in which each individual is respected so that it is possible to live together in harmony. The defence of fair trade naturally found its way into Benoît’s Vendée Globe universe, a cause also defended by his sponsor Max Havelaar.
With this tenth arrival, there are but three skippers now left at sea: Anne Liardet (Roxy), Raphaël Dinelli (Akena Verandas) and Karen Leibovici (Benefic). Anne is less than 600 miles from the finish and currently looks set to loop the loop in Les Sables d’Olonne on Sunday. Raphaël Dinelli entered into the heart of a depression he was trying to round last night. “C’était Verdun*!” he said, sailing under just a storm sail alone and fleeing to escape the backlash. The menu for Karen Leibovici isn’t that appetising either, amidst big seas and a relatively poor VMG. With continuing back pain from an operation last summer, Karen is being served up between 35 and 40 knots of wind in an unfavourable swell. 1600 miles from the finish she courageously promised today: “I’ll keep going. I will bring the boat back to Les Sables d´Olonne”.
* French expression meaning : “it was a mess !”
Quotes from the Boats:
Anne Liardet (Roxy): “The wind kicked back in again last night making conditions hard once again, but now it is calming a little. It is squally with the wind ranging from 17 to 35 knots. The boat is sometimes over-canvassed and it’s slamming a lot all of a sudden. It’s ok though. I have hooked up towards the N to get clear of Cape Finisterre where there is a lot of wind. I’m expecting a N, NW wind shift tomorrow which will enable me to make towards Les Sables, but it’s not going to be very comfortable with the seas against me. I was told that the Vendée Globe was 10% happiness and 90% hardship. I don’t agree, we made a superb downwind descent of the Atlantic, then I suffered just a single big depression in the Indian and 2 in the Pacific. The climb back up is a bit hard but on the whole, I can say that it’s been ok nevertheless. It has to be said that the boat is made for that and it’s done a fantastic job. With the weather conditions forecast, a finish on Sunday is still on the cards late morning hopefully.”
Raphael Dinelli (Akena Verandas): “I knew it, this depression is horrible. I spent the night in my survival suit. I was under 3 reefs and trinquette, but I ended up under storm sail. I was ok but the cross seas were too much for the boat and the rig. I had the helm tied down all night, completely luffed up. I went too far W which was a big mistake. I won´t be able to round the Azores as I´d have liked. Strategically it was a bad call… I weaved along in the wrong direction. It´s still slamming like crazy, and I don´t know what to do anymore. I´m too tired to make a decision now. I´ll get the latest weather info and see if I have to lie low for another 24 hours. I really must rest.”
Karen Leibovici (Benefic): “The wind is dropping a little but the seas are still built up. The wind is backing a little and I´m on a heading towards the Canaries waiting for a shift so as to be able to make for the Azores. I´ve had a little over 40 knots in the gusts and the movements of the boat were terrible for my back. I decided I was better off in my bunk. This has to end. I have every reason to stop but I´ll keep going. I´m going to bring this boat back to Les Sables d’Olonne.”
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