Vendee Globe Finish.

On this final day I would like to thank the members that have viewed this thread over the past 4 months. Although it didn't generate a huge amount of activity via individual replies 25,000+ views proves the thread was a popular read. The goal was to help advertise the Vendee Globe as an International event and not just a French race. I believe we succeed in that endeavor.

When I say we I mean @Electromagnetic who deserves a massive shout out for the daily updates, the daily news, and providing the links to the official VG site, Seawolves video, and Andi Robertson's excellent English commentaries and interview's.

Thanks Electro.
Vendee Globe - Ari Huusela additional article from the press conference. Links.

News - Ari Huusela on his welcome, his race and his pride in his team. - Vendée Globe - En

Official website of the Vendée Globe - Vendée Globe - En
Use the drop down menus from the top toolbar on the main webpage to access various areas of information.
They seem to have tidied this up a bit with categories. You catch up by watching weekly highlights as a sort of weekly series or live the whole race over by following the virtual race on the map (on the Vendee site) and watching videos on board, daily highlights, Vendee live etc.

For an alternative commentary and forecasts you can try Globe

Link to the IMOCA organisation with information on boats, competitions, rules etc IMOCA

Many thanks to @Spanks for starting the thread and bringing this amazing endurance race to our attention.

Standing down now but keeping an occasional watch on Seb Destremau's pending continuation of his circumnavigation ex-Vendee. Maybe we will post some related updates as and when.
Sebastien Destremau update - The voyage continues! In exploration mode! :applaud::thumright:

  • Latest two posts and a link to a video from Sebastien.
  • Tracking of Merci.
  • Destination.
  • Other tracking maps.
When I checked Sebastien Destremau's site this evening, I found two new entries.

2nd March:


In Les News
Sébastien returns to the port:

“Merci is back in port after 48 hours of sailing to test all the equipment. 200 miles close-hauled and 200 miles full throttle …… too cool !!! “.

“Merci is back in Lyttelton following 48 hours of testing. 200 miles going up wind and 200 miles blasting across for the return…. Great fun !!!

Link to post in French with photo: Test réussi! - Merci avec Sébastien Destremau

5th March:


For a few hours now, Merci has definitely left the port of Lyttelton in New Zealand and is sailing along the coast to her next destination which is…

(Link to English version video)

Link to original post: Bienvenue au bureau : Merci quitte la Nouvelle-Zélande pour... - Merci avec Sébastien Destremau

Excellent! :thumright: For those who cannot view the linked video, he is resuming his circumnavigation but as he now has the time, he is first going to explore the Pacific Islands. His first destination is Noumea in New Caledonia.

Nouméa | New Caledonia
New Caledonia | History, Geography, & Culture
Discover Noumea
Ville de Nouméa
Météo Nouvelle-Calédonie - Accueil

Here is his tracker: Où est merci ? - Merci avec Sébastien Destremau

The track below shows arrival at Lyttelton Harbour, near Christchurch, where Sebastien retired from the race for repairs to Merci, his IMOCA yacht. We can also see the route of the sea trial he undertook, to make sure everything was in order for the journey ahead. Now he is heading North in to the Pacific.

I have looked and VG isn't tracking him now that the race is over. The free ie unsubscribed tracking services I have referred to during the Vendee Globe do track satellite AIS but do not display details to non-subscribers.
What we can do is attempt to correlate Seb's tracker with the unlabelled plots on the others. Why would we want to do that? We might want a different wind overlay or to look at other traffic.



This is where I think he is going. The lines I have drawn are only a crude indication of where he is going and not his actual route.

Here is the map again but with other boat types filtered out. This just shows yachts and pleasure boats.

Okay, we know where he is and where he is going. How do we know how fast he is sailing or what the conditions are like. I have just discovered that the tracker he uses has a click and display feature. This is much more convenient than having to use timed screen grabs as with the VG tracker.


Looking at the Noumea meteorological site, there was a cyclone which is moving away, leaving improved weather for the island.
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Sebastien Destremau - Christchurch (NZ) to Noumea, New Caledonia (Pacific Islands) - En route.


The official tracker on Sebastien's site does not give the actual departure time. VesselFinder gave a position from near the start of the race! It also gave Lyttleton but no backtrack. As I think I alluded to yesterday, each of these trackers has it's pro's and cons. MarineTraffic delivered the goods in this case (It's my go to tracker).


ATD = Actual Time of Departure. This gives us a departure date and time in NZ time ie UTC (GMT) +13 Hrs

This gives us a departure date from Lyttleton, near Christchurch, of 5th March 2021, 03:54 UTC, 16:54 (NZ).

Unfortunately we don't have a full track back via MarineTraffic but we can use the Merci track and guesswork. A word of caution here - the Merci tracker uses UTC +1, just to complicate things further.

It's useful to double check the time and date and to know the sunrise and sunset times.
Time in Gisborne, New Zealand

Sunrise and ↓ Sunset in Gisborne (1 Location)

Gisborne↑ 06:58↓ 19:38

The typical sailing speed seemed to be around 9 kts, though it picked up a little with strengthening winds after passing Hawkes Bay. It may have been slower going from Lyttleton up the East coast of North Island.

The following is mostly guesswork. Perhaps there will be a detailed account in a book?

Day One - Lyttleton to Pegasus Bay, a brief look back in gratitude then sail on towards Kaikoura*. I wonder if he felt some reluctance to leave after the friendship and hospitality of his temporary home? "For a few hours now, Merci has definitely left the port of Lyttelton in New Zealand". In a situation like that, the elastic has to be broken at some point for the journey to continue. Sad to leave but happy to be sailing, possibly too many thoughts for an early night. It's dark early anyway.

* I have no idea of timings here so it's an arbitrary guess.

Day two - North of Kaikoura to SW North Island and sail North Eastwards overnight.

Day three - Sail up to Hawke's Bay. There's a kink in the track, so I'm sure he took a photo or at least took in the view before it got dark. Not of the Bay as it was too far away but of the mountains. Sail North Eastwards overnight.

Day four - Clear North Island and set course for Noumea, New Caledonia.

There is a perpendicular flow of traffic heading North West, which is the direction Merci needs to go but wind and waves will dictate the actual course. Note the cyclone to the North East bringing stronger winds. This will lose strength as it heads East. He has left before some strong winds hit the East coast.
Sebastien Destremau - Turned NW and now routed to New Caledonia but what awaits?

Day four
- Sebastien has turned the North Eastern edge of North Island (NZ) and is routed North West for New Caledonia with a speed of around 11 kts and around 1200 nm to go. Good progress so far. He hasn't posted any news updates yet but that's okay. This isn't the Vendee Globe any more and he is not contracted to giving us daily reports. He needs to keep a lot of detail for himself and a book perhaps. Sharing experiences is great but it doesn't pay the bills if it's free.


I was curious about New Caledonia and possible Corona Virus restrictions. Now here is the bad news. Not only has Corona Virus recently popped up in New Zealand again with something like 19 cases but New Caledonia has had new cases too. In fact they have announced a total lockdown for two weeks.

Previously travel from outsiders required a two week quarantine in a hotel. Seb was tested on arrival at the harbour in NZ and quarantined while the test was processed. How will this new development affect his plans?

I don't know what arrangements were made for his visit but presumably he checked requirements beforehand. Unlike flights and local boats, he is travelling in isolation for well over a week, maybe two. Will authorities count that isolation and quarantine him for any remaining days in his boat while he is tested? I expect he will explain this nearer the time. Going by standard quarantine practice, if the time between actual departure and arrival meets or exceeds two weeks and they are happy that he has not stopped anywhere (we can clearly see that he has not been ashore from the tracking), he may be given permission.

Virus reaches previously Covid-free New Caledonia ETA the reference to "previously Covid-free" is incorrect.
There were some cases in 2020. Here is the latest news from Radio New Zealand:
New Caledonia orders lockdown after first community cases

Here is the updated boat position as of midnight on the fourth day:

Here is the anticipated route. 972 nm to go. Current speed just over 12 kts.

Traffic and winds:
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Sebastien Destremau - Light winds delay progress. Interesting island on the way?

Day five
- Sebastien hadn't quite cleared Northland by midday New Zealand time but as I type this he is about to reach a latitude just North of the Northernmost tip of the country.


He is barely making 6 kts due to there being hardly any wind. I'm not aware of any hurry on his part, particularly given the lockdown on the New Caledonia islands. About half way between New Zealand and New Caledonia, I found an island. It's invisible on these maps unless you zoom in. In the map below, Seb's boat, "Merci" is highlighted. The capital of the island, Kingston, is in the top left hand corner.

Let's take a look. Norfolk Island is an Australian territory.

Polynesians had inhabited the island but had left before it became a British penal colony. The current inhabitants are descendants of the Pitcairn islanders, who themselves were descended from Tahitian's and Fletcher Christian and his crew of mutineers.


The old barracks.

I wonder if Sebastien would be interested in stopping here and if he would be given clearance to do so? The Norfuk language, less used than it was, is a window to the past. "Islanders speak both English and a creole language known as Norfuk, a blend of eighteenth century English and Tahitian based on Pitkern."
Do take a look at the wiki page if you have a few minutes.

Nice conditions for boats with engines perhaps but slow going for sailing vessels.
Norfolk Island features in Episode 1 of "Martin Clunes: Islands of Australia" which was repeated a few months ago. Not a bad series. He didn't visit all the islands...
Sebastien Destremau - Change to plans? Weather, Covid or both?

During Sebastien's day four, I looked at the Covid situation on the New Caledonia islands.

Clearly the only way he could continue was either (a) sight seeing without landing or (b) after spending two weeks isolated aboard his boat, then testing negative.

The winds have been very light so any progress was going to be slow. Seb achieved a latitude above North Island, so that's something. Where might he be heading now? Auckland would make sense. Perhaps a few days in North Island will bring some socially distanced speaking opportunities, while he waits for better winds and for further developments and clarification over the New Caledonia Covid situation.


Amazing reading about Norfolk Isle which lead to another and another Island...........
I know what you mean. You didn't expect a tour of the atlas did you?

Another option for Sebastien would be to save a few hours sailing and berth at Whangerei. He could hire a car and drive to Auckland or take a bus, if he wanted to.
Sebastien Destremau - Sailing away from Auckland but where to?

New Caledonia will be in lock down until 23rd March. Was the apparent detour towards Auckland a sight seeing journey to while away the time? Or was there some confusion about the situation at Auckland?

I didn't do my research last night as I wasn't going to stay up long. Unlike Lyttleton, Auckland has been in a week long lockdown, which it emerged from on Sunday. Unlike the rest of the country, Auckland is in level 2. This level imposes travel restrictions. Freight is permitted but private yachts and small craft are banned except for exceptions. Private yachts and small craft

Last year, a maritime lawyer suggested that AIS tracking might give the required assurance of the sailor's isolation and make the case to allow them entry. Covid 19 coronavirus: Electronic tracking of yachts possible legal argument for NZ entry - NZ Herald
However, this situation with Auckland would involve transit between levels. A departing sailor, who had been on land in Auckland would therefore be judged a higher risk to lower risk areas.


Now will Sebastien hedge his bets on New Caledonia coming out of lockdown on 23rd March, (Paris had told them to lock down for at least two weeks) or will he resume his journey Eastwards to Cape Horn? By now he should have a good sense of how Merci is performing.


It looks like Covid is a bit of a show stopper for visiting New Caledonia Islands and or Auckland. As with Auckland, even after lockdown ends there is no guarantee of permission to land at Noumea. Winds have not been great but why not head East via some islands of interest? Raoul Island is not very suitable for landing. Access is usually by aircraft. Interestingly, there is an earthquake early warning system there which needs repair after the most recent earthquakes.

What about Pitcairn? That would maintain the Fletcher Christian connection. It's a British rather than French territory. No. As you might expect, with such a small and unique community, they are rightly being very cautious: "All cruise ships, tour vessels and yachts will be unable to land passengers at Pitcairn Island and the exchange of provisions (unless urgently required) is not permitted. This restriction will also now remain in place until March 31st 2022." Pitcairn Island Tourism

It's really not a good time for land exploration and it's not to be encouraged. He did have mitigating circumstances when the yacht was essentially unseaworthy. Perhaps the amazing hospitality in New Zealand gave the impression this would hold true elsewhere. As this map reminds us, Australia, New Zealand and Chilli are totally locked down, except for goods and emergencies.


Coronavirus (COVID-19) travel restrictions - GetYourGuide

Where then can an explorer stop off on his way across the Pacific?
Category:Uninhabited islands of the Pacific Ocean
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I can see why these small Islands have a lock down in place though. An outbreak could be devastating to their fragile economies.
Absolutely. It's bad enough for those which rely on tourism. If French citizens are refusing vaccines, perhaps French territories overseas might actually welcome appropriate vaccines, such as Astra Zenica for example.
Once their economies are up and running maybe it'll shake the Motherland out of it's reservations?

Sebastien is doing 1.6 kts just now. I think it's around 0800 there.


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