Vendée Arctique: Modified course and western option for Alan Roura


Given the very difficult weather forecast, Alan Roura and the fleet of IMOCA racing the Vendée Arctique won’t be sailing around Iceland. A new 3,300 mile course has been decided between Sables d’Olonne, the mark south-east of Iceland and the North Atlantic waypoint, shifted 124 miles to the west.

It’s now official: after discussion between the race direction and their consultant Christian Dumard, for an in-depth analysis of the current weather situation, it is too risky to send the 24 skippers still at sea to sail around Iceland. A very active low-pressure system is looming to the north-east of the island, with strong headwinds and heavy seas. “We knew this decision may be taken,” explained Francis Le Goff, the event director. “That is why we put up a gateway to the east of Iceland. Since yesterday, and especially this morning, the weather models keep getting worse with very active low-pressure over Iceland. In the north-eastern part of the island, there will be average winds of 40 knots and probably gusts at over 50 knots, on a heavy and crossed sea. Also, there is no real way out in the area, not like in the open sea for instance. It would be very tricky and dangerous to make the boats go into this area. Concretely, the sailors will go through the gate to the east of Iceland and head for the North Atlantic waypoint, which we’ve shifted 124 miles to the west. The course will be 3,300 miles long. As they head south, the competitors will face challenging conditions but will be going downwind and will have more room to choose a safer route.

Revival to the west

A decision that Alan welcomes, as he was considering the conditions with some apprehension this morning. “The files aren’t very accurate in terms of timing, but what seems certain is that we’re going to get some hefty upwind conditions… a real carnage!” he wrote, anxious not to “break the boat”. Having opted for the extreme western option since the start of the race last Sunday, and the victim of several technical hiccups that slowed down his progress from the first night, the Swiss skipper gritted his teeth for a long time. Ranked last in several rankings due to this shift, far from the pointing mark, Alan never doubted his choice. A radical option that finally allowed Hublot to hit the downwinds this Thursday morning, before the eastern group, and thus catch up with the leading group. 23rd on Wednesday night, Alan was 13th this morning. A great come-back, a sign that the youngest skipper of the race is getting to grips with his new boat and that he’s strong mentally. The rest of the race will be very exciting!


                                                                                                                               © Jean-Louis Carli / Aléa / #VALS2022