Saturday, 16 April 2011

BWR: A Magical Moment for Jean-Pierre Dick and Loick Peyron

Jean-Pierre Dick (left) and Loick Peyron (FRA) cross the finishing line off the W Hotel in Barcelona on Virbac Paprec 3 to win the Barcelona World Race. Image copyright Nico Martinez/Barcelona World Race.

by Barcelona World Race

Breaking the finish line Monday morning, 4th April, at 10hrs 20mins 36 seconds (UTC) Jean-Pierre Dick (45) and Loïck Peyron (51) have won the second edition of the Barcelona World Race on Virbac-Paprec 3, completing the 25,200 miles round the world race in 93 days, 22 hours, 20 minutes and 36 seconds at an average speed of 11.18 knots.

For Jean-Pierre Dick the victory repeats his 2007-08 triumph in the inaugural edition of the round the world race for crews of two, when he won with Irish co-skipper Damian Foxall. Today’s win also adds an elusive round the world victory to Peyron’s two previous podium finishes, each ten years apart – second in 1989-90 in the inaugural Vendée Globe solo round the world race, and second in The Race in 2000, for fully crewed giant multihulls.

On arrival at the dock in Barcelona Jean-Pierre Dick described his feelings on winning a second consecutive Barcelona World Race: “A lot of emotions, quite indescribable, I am so happy to be here. I had my objective and today it has been satisfied. It is magical the way we won it together. Thanks Loïck for doing this race with me and putting up with me, magical to live three months among nature around the world, living our passion, and technologically it’s quite special. Thank-you and thank-you Barcelona for this race, it is ideal. Double handed around the world is fantastic. Thank-you also to my sponsors, I am very proud to have these people with me.”

Image copyright Nico Martinez/Barcelona World Race.

The French duo highlighted their drive and pace when they set a new 24-hour speed record for IMOCA Open 60-footers of 506.33 miles on January 22nd (average speed 21.1kts)

Without doubt the success of their proven partnership amounts to more than the sum of its parts, even given Peyron’s 30 years of ocean racing successes and Dick’s incredible durability, his appetite for short handed and solo racing, his meticulous, scientific approach and delivery, and his remarkable trajectory towards the top of this exacting and demanding sailing discipline.

Their partnership has never been beaten on the oceans, winning the Transat Jacques Vabre together in 2005 when Dick defended the title he won with Nicolas Abiven. Dick, previously a full time business director who only really turned ‘professional’ in 2002, has joined the elite ranks of Michel Desjoyeaux and Bernard Stamm as the only skippers to have won two solo or two-handed round the world races.

Image copyright Nico Martinez/Barcelona World Race.

Their winning course displays all the polished hallmarks of a near perfect execution. Their meteo and navigation strategy in each sea and each ocean, around the classic course, which takes in the three great Capes – Cape of Good Hope, Cape Leeuwin and Cape Horn but which, uniquely for the genre, climbs from the south Pacific through the Cook Strait before descending just as quickly back to the hostile ocean – has been almost faultless.

The raw speed of Dick’s newest generation VPLP/designed IMOCA Open 60, launched in May last year in Auckland and with which he plans to challenge for the 2012 Vendée Globe, is now proven. As is the duo’s skill to sail it at the limit for long periods when pressed, but so too is their ability to sail defensively, maintaining high averages to preserve themselves and the boat in more extreme conditions.

Such attributes are underpinned by both skippers sharing the same bitter experience of retiring from the 2008-09 Vendée Globe with damage, both leading at different stages. Peyron spent more time in the lead than anyone before his mast broke, and Dick led in the Indian Ocean before sustaining rudder damage.

Though they made two technical stops for repairs, amounting to a time-out total of 63 hours in Brazil and Wellington, New Zealand, the Virbac-Paprec 3 pair stayed the course to fulfil their ranking as one of the pre-race favourites. Of the 14 IMOCA Open 60s which started off Barcelona on 31st December, four of which were otherwise considered potential winners or podium contenders, Président, Foncia, Groupe Bel and Mirabuad all retired with mast or keel failures.

Dick and Peyron led the race out through the Straits of Gibraltar on January 3rd and after re-taking the lead on January 23rd were never passed. The thrilling duel with Michel Desjoyeaux and Francois Gabart, which forced the red line higher and higher, came to an end when Foncia broke their topmast early on the morning of 25th January.

But Spain’s double Olympic 49er medallists Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez in their first ever IMOCA Open 60 race as a duo had been second since Foncia withdrew. From Virbac-Paprec 3’s largest lead of 781 miles over MAPFRE on February 7, the Spanish pair pressed the leaders relentlessly, getting to within 8.3 miles of Dick and Peyron in the Pacific on 25th February. But, with a beautifully precise 30-mile hitch to the east to set up early in the South Atlantic high pressure system, the winners avoided the very worst of the light winds and made the better passage of the dominant anticyclone.

Though their difficult return through the Doldrums was as long, slow and challenging as either Dick or Peyron could recall over their careers, Virbac-Paprec 3 emerged with an advantage to build on over a final 16-day marathon upwind slog to lead back into Gibraltar.

Image copyright Nico Martinez/Barcelona World Race.

Quotes from the winning skippers:

Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA)

“This round the world race has been a mixture of lots of little things. We already knew each other and it was the joint experience of both of us skippers as individuals which was key to winning.

“We have a really good team, mutual understanding and great respect. We have known each other for a long time and it is for me a huge privilege to have been able to sail around the world with Loïck. A wonderful experience. We both wanted to win of course and our cohesion was focused on this victory.”

Asked if he would consider a third race: “I love Barcelona but I want to celebrate this first and then we will see. The Barcelona World Race is a magical race, it is a wonderful concept: double handed, with sunsets, whales, albatross – to be able to share this natural experience when you are passionate about the sea and can live this passion it is amazing.

Asked what made the difference for them: “A new boat, and in New Zealand the chance to make it more secure, to give us that extra reassurance. It is a very good boat, it performs really well and is latest generation. It was all very well-timed and that is an important part of our success.

“It is a great moment for me after three years of not winning; it was quite frustrating having to abandon the Vendée Globe when ahead, and then there was a year and a half wait whilst the boat was being built. To be successful and have fulfilled my objective iswonderful.

“There are a number of different images that will stay with me from the race. Cape Horn in particular, I have never been that close to it and we could really experience it directly being so close to land. Patagonia is magical – that is my most special moment.”

Image copyright Nico Martinez/Barcelona World Race.

Loïck Peyron (FRA):

“It has been exceptional. My third round the world race. The first time was solo, the second with a team and this third time double-handed. And we have won – we led the race in spite of some tough competition. It was a fantastic experience and it is a fabulous feeling to finish and finish so well.

“Success comes from true cohesion – and we are both complementary. The savoir-faire of the solo sailing world means you really trust the other person. Success is also about having a good machine at your feet. We made a mistake last night – it was probably us relaxing a little before the arrival, but we did a good job.

“My most important memories are of the albatross – they are quite unique in the world and that part of the planet and we were lucky enough to see them.

“It has been a real example of teamwork by the ‘family’. It is a beautiful example of unity and I am delighted to have had the chance to experience it.

“It is magical to be in Barcelona again. The last time was with The Race and it is wonderful to be back again and this time with another beautiful story.”

Victory Unfolds

Image copyright Nico Martinez/Barcelona World Race.

January 4th after taking the southerly option and finding more wind pressure on the Moroccan coast Virbac-Paprec 3 leads out of Gibraltar Straits, 3 days, 7 hours and 55 minutes after the start on 31st December in Barcelona (6 hours faster than 2007-8 edition when Dick and Foxall also led)

January 8th Foncia lead passing Madeira, Virbac-Paprec 3 after five days in front drop to second after small tactical error, with a compact top group including Président, Groupe Bel, and Neutrogena.

January 10th in strong downwind trade conditions speeds peak at 25kts, in a relentless driving pace and on January 11th Jean Le Cam and Bruno Garcia retire after breaking mast north of Cape Verdes.

On January 13th 2.5 m of mainsail traveller track rips away requiring technical stop in Recife, Brasil. Foncia also stop after damage to their crash box and an almost surreal F1 style pit-stop ensues. The two IMOCA Open 60s, which have been locked together since traversing the Atlantic from Martinique on the same ship after the Route du Rhum, and refitted in the same shed in Barcelona, now pit-stop in the same Brazilian dock. The rival crews even briefly end up sharing the same apartment! Virbac-Paprec 3’s total time stopped is 15 hours and they resume the course with a deficit of 277 miles.

January 18th they are first to go into ghost mode as both the Recife twins choose long-term investment to the west, down the Brazilian coast which initially sacrifices miles to those on the more direct routing through the St Helena High, but the gains come with high speeds in strong winds. Virbac-Paprec 3 sets a new 24-hour world speed record for 60-footers at 506.33 miles, bettering the 2007-8 record set during the Barcelona World Race by Alex Thomson and Andrew Cape at 501.9 miles on Hugo Boss.

January 23rd Dick and Peyron retake the lead and first round Cape of Good Hope. Early on the morning of 26th January the near-twins are finally parted when Foncia breaks their mast. Virbac-Paprec 3 lead MAPFRE by nearly 580 miles.

February 16th Virbac-Paprec 3 makes the minimum 48-hour stop in Wellington to repair batten cars, returning with their lead shrunk to 128 miles over MAPFRE.

February 25th Virbac-Paprec 3’s lead is just 8.3 miles over MAPFRE.

March 3rd Virbac-Paprec 3’s exciting passage of Cape Horn 140 miles ahead of MAPFRE.

March 4th MAPFRE stop briefly to sort out twisted halyards at entrance to Beagle Channel. Martinez and Fernandez lose about 80 miles.

March 5th-11th the Saint Helena High strategy sees a huge accordion effect but Virbac-Paprec 3 accelerate away to lead of 545 miles over MAPFRE.

March 19th Doldrums: compression to 111 miles as the Doldrums move north with Dick and Peyron but on long beat to Gibraltar, Dick and Peyron lead at the longitude of Tarifa.

April 1st Virbac-Paprec 3 lead by about 30 hours at 0135hrs (UTC)

April 4th Virbac-Paprec 3cross the finish line at 1020hrs (UTC) winning the Barcelona World Race after 93 days, 22 hours, 20 minutes and 36 seconds of racing.

- Course record 2007-08 92 days 9 hours and 49 minutes
- Theoretical course is 520 miles longer in 2010-11

In French:

Lundi 4 avril à 12h 20min 36sec heure française, Virbac-Paprec 3 a franchi en vainqueur la ligne d’arrivée devant Barcelone. Jean-Pierre Dick (45 ans) et Loïck Peyron (51 ans) auront parcouru ce tour du monde en double en 93 jours, 22 heures, 20 min et 36 secondes, sur un parcours de 29 075 milles et à la vitesse moyenne de 12,9 nœuds

Image copyright Nico Martinez/Barcelona World Race.

Jean-Pierre Dick, lauréat de la première édition de la Barcelona World Race avec Damian Foxall signe un formidable doublé en compagnie de Loïck Peyron. Loïck, quant à lui, remporte ici son premier tour du monde après deux podiums, dans le Vendée Globe et The Race.

Les derniers milles auront été marqués par l’absence de vent et c’est une arrivée toute en douceur que Jean-Pierre Dick et Loïck Peyron ont pu savourer entourés par de nombreux bateaux spectateurs, parmi lesquels les familles, sponsors et équipes techniques des skippers. Les deux marins aussitôt la ligne franchie se sont sautés dans les bras à l’avant du bateau très émus d’en finir après plus de 3 mois de mer.

A bord d’un plan VPLP-Verdier de toute dernière génération, construit comme tous les 60 pieds de Jean-Pierre chez Cookson en Nouvelle-Zélande, le tandem a réalisé une course presque parfaite. Fait notoire et presque incroyable, il la remporte après deux escales techniques : la première au Brésil (15 heures, entre le 15 et le 16 janvier), la seconde en Nouvelle Zélande (48 heures entre le 16 et 18 février). Et le tout, en raflant au passage, un record des 24 heures (506, 33 milles soit 21,1 nœuds de moyenne)

Image copyright Nico Martinez/Barcelona World Race.

Mano a mano atlantique

Virbac-Paprec 3 prend la tête de la Barcelona World Race en Mer d’Alboran, le 2 janvier au classement de 15 heures, soit 2 jours après le départ de la capitale catalane. Le lendemain, à 19h55, il sort du détroit de Gibraltar en pôle position, les 13 autres monocoques à sa suite. A ce stade de la course et pendant presque un mois, son principal adversaire s’appelle FONCIA (Michel Desjoyeaux/François Gabart). Dès le début, les deux quasi-sisterships vont se livrer une bagarre terrible et alterner en tête du classement. A huit reprises, ils vont s’échanger la première place, jusqu’au 25 janvier, date du démâtage de FONCIA.

Le duel sera très serré au large du Cap Vert, puis en Atlantique Sud. Ironie du sort, les deux équipages vont se retrouver ensemble en escale forcée à Recife et se croiser dans le même appartement le temps de prendre une douche et de faire un petit somme. Le 15 janvier à 10h00, Virbac-Paprec 3 s’amarre en effet dans le port brésilien pour y réparer un rail de chariot de grand-voile arraché sur 2,50 mètres.

Image copyright Nico Martinez/Barcelona World Race.

L’escale technique va durer 15 heures. Ce sera ensuite une course poursuite après FONCIA (reparti plus tôt) lors d’un grand contournement de l’anticyclone de Sainte Hélène par la face Ouest où les deux rivaux déclencheront le mode furtif. Cette stratégie, loin de la majorité de la flotte qui a plutôt opté pour un flirt dangereux avec l’anticyclone, va permettre à Virbac-Paprec 3 et FONCIA (et dans une moindre mesure MAPFRE) non seulement de rattraper une partie du peloton qui les avait doublés pendant l’escale, mais aussi de le dépasser, puis de le distancer.

S’en suit un concours de vitesse en direction du cap de Bonne Espérance au cours duquel le monocoque bleu décroche, le 22 janvier, le record de distance sur 24 heures, homologué par le WSSRC à 506,33 milles (de 21,1 nœuds de moyenne). A force de pédaler comme des fous, Jean-Pierre et Loïck parviennent à doubler Michel Desjoyeaux et François Gabart et à rependre le contrôle de la course le 23 janvier. Le démâtage de FONCIA le 25 janvier au petit matin les prive bientôt d’adversaire… Mais pas pour longtemps. Bientôt, c’est l’équipage de MAPFRE qui va endosser le rôle du meilleur ennemi.

Wellington relance la donne

Image copyright Nico Martinez/Barcelona World Race.

L’écart avec Iker Martinez et Xabi Fernandez va fluctuer énormément. Dans l’océan Indien, il se montera à 781 milles (le 7 février) pour retomber dans le Pacifique à 8,3 milles (le 25 février) après une deuxième escale technique de 48 heures en Nouvelle-Zélande.

Le 16 février, Jean-Pierre et Loïck font relâche à Wellington pour y changer leurs chariots de lattes de grand-voile défectueux et réparer une bulle de roof, explosée dans une tempête de l’océan Indien. Ils en repartent avec une météo idéale, mais avec l’équipage espagnol à leurs trousses. MAPFRE, qui ne s’est pas arrêté, ne relâche pas la pression. Jean-Pierre et Loïck résistent, passent le 3 mars le cap Horn en tête comme ils avaient franchi Bonne Espérance et Leeuwin et profitent de problèmes de drisse du tandem basque pour prendre à nouveau la poudre d’escampette dans la remontée de l’Atlantique. Une fois de plus, ils négocient parfaitement l’anticyclone de Sainte-Hélène. Ils ne seront plus vraiment inquiétés par la suite, malgré un passage du Pot au Noir chaotique, plus de 15 jours de navigation au près et une traversée épique du détroit de Gibraltar, avec 40 nœuds de vent dans le nez... La boucle est bouclée aussi magistralement qu’en 2008 où Jean-Pierre était sorti puis entré en Méditerranée en première position.

Image copyright Nico Martinez/Barcelona World Race.

Cette association de gentlemen navigateurs, entre deux marins mûrs et expérimentés avait déjà porté ses fruits puisqu’ils avaient remporté ensemble la Transat Jacques Vabre 2005. « Le secret de notre alchimie est le respect et l’écoute mutuelle » déclarait Jean Pierre, la veille de passer la ligne d’arrivée. « Une bonne communication ça génère de belles trajectoires, une meilleure vitesse du bateau ».

Barcelona World Race