Entrant 2018

Jean-Luc van den Heede (76)





Name Jean-Luc van den Heede

Born June 8th 1945

Nationality French

Country of entry France

Race GGR 2018

Boat Class Suhaili

Jean-Luc van den Heede is the father figure of French solo sailing. The 5-time circumnavigator already holds the record for the fastest solo west-about non-stop circumnavigation against the prevailing winds and currents, and has been a podium finisher in four previous solo round the world races. He finished 2nd in the 1986 BOC Challenge Around Alone Race, 3rd in the 1990 Vendée Globe Race, 2nd in the 1993 Vendée Globe, and 3rd in the 1995 BOC Challenge Around Alone Race. Van den Heede bought a Rustler 36 class yacht in august 2015 and spent the first few months test sailing her out in the Atlantic before commencing a complete refit in his homeport of La Sables d’Olonne.

He has won sponsorship from the French insurance group MATMUT.

Jean-Luc says of the GGR: “From all my experiences, I am well aware of the difficulties this race poses. The slow speeds of these classic old boats with their long keels, the absence of weather information, the loss of all electronics and reliance on a sextant to plot positions, the lack of terrestrial contact, and the replacement of an electric pilot with wind vane self steering, will make this test even more random and difficult than the Vendée Globe.
But this is good. I want to re-live the conditions and challenges that my sailing predecessors enjoyed and to this end I have optimised my Rustler 36: New mast, new rigging, new engine, new sails, watertight bulkheads, and new winches. I am very conscious of the problems that are likely to occur during our 8 or 9 months of sea and have done everything to make Matmut safer. I am also trying to get myself in the best physical condition with the assistance of a physio, a coach – and my bicycle!
I have also rediscovered the environment and comradeship I loved so much during the first editions of these races. We are all conscious that this will be a difficult adventure and that engenders a strong bond between us that I have not seen since the first Mini Transat 6.50 and Vendée Globe race back in the early ‘90s.
My goal is to be in good health at the start with a top boat, then, take each day in turn, absorbing the emotions and thoughts of those who preceded us: Slocum, Moitessier, Alain Gerbault, Vito Dumas and of course, my good friend Sir Robin Knox-Johnston who set such an example for us all 50 years ago.”


Boat [Suhaili]


Name Matmut
Type Rustler 36 Masthead sloop
Designer Holman & Pye
Builder Rustler Yachts (UK)
LOA 35.33ft / 10.77m
LWL 26.92ft / 8.21m
Beam 11.00ft / 3.35m
Draft 5.50ft / 1.67m
Displacement 16805 lbs / 7623 kgs
Sail area 693sq. ft / 64.38sq. m

Jean-Luc van den Heede completed a 6-month refit of his Rustler 36 class yacht Matmut in 2016, replacing her mast, rigging, sails, ropes and engine. He also completed the compulsory test sail under jury rig and spent the 2017/18 winter months sailing her in the Bay of Biscay and Atlantic to test the yacht in strong winds with assistance from former GGR entrant Lionel Regnier.

Skipper Updates

February 4th 2019 12:00 AM

JEAN LUC VDH is working! Media from around the world want to talk! The international media coverage is nothing short of spectacular. The GGR is now part of international sailing and is respected by many. We are all happy about that. He is enjoying food, family and friends and his familiar laugh is hear everywhere. it is his time to relax. It was a long road. It was an incredible effort. It was an amazing win! BRAVO JL VDH!!!

January 26th 2019 12:00 AM

JEAN LUC VDH who is just 400 miles from the Les Sable finish and heading NE at 5kts to allow for the expected strong NW winds approaching. The game has completely changed from 24hrs ago with the Storm now not expected to be such a challenge for MATMUT. In six hours the WSW wind will increase to 30-35kts and at 1400uts will swing to the NW at around 40kts with the sea building to 4-5mtrs. By 2200utc the sea will be around 6-7mtrs and wind may gust to 50kts but then it will peak at 0500hrs to 60kts and 9mtrs seas before rapidly decreasing in the next 3 hours as the storm moves away to the east. It is as if someone decided to slow MATMUT in the calm to let the worst of the storm go by but he will still be hit hard and must be very careful.

January 24th 2019 12:00 AM

JEAN LUC VDH has a new Challenge. On his final day of approach to the finish there is a serious storm forming over MATMUT. 45-55kt winds gusting higher with 8-10mtr seas are expected from the NW. This weather will place serious pressure on JL VDH and the boat. He has the option now to slow down and delay his approach by one day to let it pass. But MARK SLATS is chasing hard from behind. In the next 36hrs MARK will turn EAST toward the finish line , finally leaving the center of the high behind and chasing JL VDH boat for boat directly behind. He will be about 350 miles astern and JL VDH will have only 350 miles to the finish. Normally this is impossible for Mark to catch up, but anything can still happen. Will JL VDH be safe and let this storm blow through. ? it only lasts 24hrs and drops quickly. He would then arrive 24hrs later but still a good day or more ahead of MARK? No one knows and the forecast can change again in the next few days.

January 23rd 2019 12:00 AM

JEAN LUC VDH is surely on the HOME RUN NOW! He will able to keep ahead of the center of the High pressure with good sailing wind. He is sailing now at 7kts and his speed should remain generally high for the next few days and maybe all the way direct to the finish in Les Sables d’Olonne. If the forecast holds true, there are no more tactics or weather to sail around. It is a simple race to the finish line. The storms expected at the finish have gone and there is a possible calm area that may cover JL VDH at the very end. This could allow MARK SLATS with a strong breeze to make ground so anything can happen and JL VDH will be checking his mast often!

January 22nd 2019 12:00 AM

JL VDH is now in a strong position to stay ahead and at the top of the High pressure that may propel him clear into the Bay of Biscay for the final run to the finish. It will all depend on the movement of the no wind zone in the center. This could slide in any direction and change the game as forecasting the center is always hard to predict. If he can run clear of the center he is left with a straight course to the finish. Winds will be on the beam or behind all the way. The challenge then is simply how strong and how hard JL VDH can and will push is boat and mast? The wind for the last week is all form his weak port side where the mast damage creates risk and it may blow Hard into 40-50kts. at times. ETA NOW around 30th Jan?

January 21st 2019 12:00 AM

JEAN LUC VDH is making 6.7kts in NW winds right to the finish but the center of the high with no wind is headed his way. He needs to get away fast. It looks like he may then just reach the top side of it and favorable wind direction, but it then gets complicated on the 24th. The center may catch him again and slow progress allowing Mark to make ground quickly. Basically the interplay with this HIGH is going to determine everything and the center can move anywhere. It is hard to forecast and predict. The next three days are going to be very important for both. Once they are above this it will be easier to see the final outcome. One thing is certain, the last week to the finish will be strong NW and N winds. JL VDH will have to push his mast to keep Mark away. This is his damaged side of the mast!!! He will have to sail hard or Mark has a huge advantage. Will he do that and think even under JURY RIG he will still be second?? Only time will tell…but it is an adventure for now with just 980 miles to the finish. He says he will arrive between the 30th and 1st Feb??

January 18th 2019 12:00 AM

JEAN LUC VDH is benefiting from a clear game plan. He is where he always wanted to be riding the top of the Azores high. He has done this route many times before and now he has a few days of good fast sailing to the finish. But will it last? If he goes too far East probably not? as in two days things become light and variable which will require some delicate decisions on where next. But if he turns North tomorrow and goes through the Azores fast enough, a huge ladder to the North may open for a week of favorable winds and he could simply FLY AWAY from Mark slats? Will he take that?? Will the weather forecast be correct? Who knows but the game continues!!! If he gets that right and the ladder falls before MARK gets to it, JL VDH could create an unbeatable lead just one week from the finish. It may all hang on the next 48 hrs??? but the ETA for who ever is the winner looks like 1st FEB with a storm on the horizon for that last week? and that could change everything!

January 15th 2019 12:00 AM

JL VDH will be on Starboard tack for the next week (his strong side) and fortunately today the wind bridge that links his North West course will continue to strengthen ahead of him as the Azores high forms. This is good news and I am sure he will smile if he knew this. His current speed of 3.4kts and every few hours this should slowly increase and by tomorrow making it may be 5 kts and the next day maybe faster to keep him ahead of MARK just 390 miles behind. It looks like JL VDH may be able to protect this gap for the next week but both have to be careful now. If JL VDH turns to the North East too quickly around the HIGH he will slow down…Turn too late and Mark can cut the corner and gain huge amounts. Nothing is clear for now but at least the wind is not far away!

January 13th 2019 12:00 AM

The small Low pressure system to the North for now is dominating the wind direction and may favor Mark more than JL VDH who has stronger wind, but the direction is not helping him as it is right from where he needs to go. In 36 hours the Low pressure system dissolves into a constant light NE wind flow for both Mark and JL so their overall relative position may not change too much before then. While they both must push North for now, there is a traditional AZORES HIGH forming ahead of them in the future with NO WIND in the middle that will block their path. Then the race will be to get across to the NW and meet the favorable SW winds that will push then across the top of the Azores and into the final run towards Les Sables. First one across may well win the GGR so the next week is critical.

January 9th 2019 12:00 AM

JEAN LUC VDH is stopped again making just 0.5kt!!! He may not move till tomorrow when the wind will finally start to arrive. He will break away then to the North with MARK SLATS just a few days behind, maybe as little as two days.

January 8th 2019 12:00 AM

JEAN LUC VDH’s frustration must be immense right now. He is creeping slowly forward in this no wind zone hand steering and concentrating. The forecast is impossible to pick small areas of local wind so we do not know what is coming other than it will be light and this is more challenging that the Southern Ocean where you balance too much wind. he will get less sleep in the days ahead than maybe the whole voyage. he looks for ever puff and probably cannot sleep. This NO WIND ZONE appeared on the 3rd January and will not leave until the 10th if the forecast is correct so it is not over yet.

January 7th 2019 12:00 AM

Today is a game of luck and hard work for JEAN LUC VDH. The weather forecast suggests no wind for days, but occasionally he gets a local wind and hand steers to make the most of every Puff. He says he is going NORTH at all cost straight into this no wind zone. He knows it is the only way in the long run to find the fastest breeze in the last week. So only time and wind will give the answer and only one for now is reliable.

January 6th 2019 12:00 AM

The consistent North East trades expected in these latitudes have retreated South in a spectacular way over the last three days and there is no way out for Jean Luc. He is making only 2.6kts with no where to go with no wind ahead and has been slowing down for the last 24hrs. It may stay this way for at least the next three days. The door has been slammed shut. He will have to contend with very light headwinds and possibly make moves to the East as there are not a lot of options. When the wind does finally return around the 10th Jan. it will again be from the North East making progress slow. This creates a big opportunity for Mark Slats to make up considerable ground. He is just 770 miles away from JL VDH.

January 4th 2019 12:00 AM

JEAN LUC VDH is slowing down with the North edge of trade winds moving south sending very light winds. Often the Trades extends well past 20 North Latitude but not so today. GGR will give him his time slot for the 18 hour time penalty when he makes his final approach to 20N and then he will have to tack back across and stay south of that line for at least 18 hours before continuing on. All is well onboard and a whole new race through the confusing weather systems ahead is about to begin. This is going to be very challenging and a wrong weather decision could cost much more than the issues of sailing slow with a damaged mast… watch this space…the RACE continues.

January 3rd 2019 12:00 AM

Jean Luc Van Den Heede is 180 Miles from 20 Degrees North latitude where he must spend his 18 hour time penalty. He is headed toward light winds as he sails out of the NE Trades. Things are good onboard and he is relaxed for now in good weather with the finish line just over the horizon! After spending so long at sea, the longest ever in his life non-stop, the last run is the shortest and shortened by his imagination. He knows Mark Slats is sailing hard and now JL VDH choosing the correct weather path ahead for this final run can make or break any sailor. In this sense Mark is still in touch with the leader and could cause an upset even without the extra risk with a damaged mast! Anything can still happen but it looks like it may be a FRENCH flag at the finish?? Maybe?

December 31st 2018 12:00 AM

JEAN LUC VDH has been sailing through the SARGASO SEA an areas of patchy sea weed that floats on the surface and it is catching on his log line and in his water generator. It should not slow the boat as it is light surface weed not like the heavy huge clumps of the Southern Ocean. 600 miles ahead he must stop and turn around to face his 18hr time penalty so for now JL VDH is making the most of the Trade wind conditions making 5.7kts. and sailing as high as he can to the wind but keeping speed. His mast is fine so far. In a week when the trades finish, tactics and hard decision could open a door for MARK or JL VDH…

December 28th 2018 12:00 AM

MARK SLATS is in the TRADES making 5.9kts on course but so is JEAN LUC VDH so the rate of closure is very slow right now and it may stay this way for the next few days. Not good enough if Mark has visions of beating him boat for boat over the next four weeks or so. The good news though is that in the next few days the Doldrums area of light confused winds is closing completely and will stay that way till about the 4th January. this will at least mean that Mark may not be slowed down trying to pass through this ZONE if the forecast is correct and he can get north fast enough! They are currently about 980 miles Apart with so Mark needs to gain on average about 30 miles a day. Both sailors are focused and appreciate that anything can happen beside boat speed! it is an Adventure above all else and they have unknown outcomes!

December 27th 2018 12:00 AM

JEAN LUC VDH must be smiling having crossed the Doldrums so fast. It is always narrow in this area but it moved to the south a little as he arrived and maybe saved him time drifting around. The winds for the next 1000 miles should all be NE trades and still keeping the wind on the stronger side of his mast but after that anything goes. He has suggested an arrival in Les Sables of January 26th just one month away and there will for sure be plenty of adventures between now and then. He more than anyone knows it is not over but it is getting very close! MARK SLATS gained 30 miles in the last 24hrs as he now also races in the SE trades with just 1024 miles separating the two.

December 26th 2018 12:00 AM

JEAN LUC VDH breaks through the EQUATOR into the Northern Hemisphere in the next hour at approx. 0530UTC on 26th DEC. which is sure to be a huge boost to him as he continues to slowly pull away from Mark Slats in the Race to the finish. He is now 1040 Miles ahead but his gains may be harder to earn in the days ahead as he sails into the small band of the doldrums with unsettled weather and generally lighter winds.

December 24th 2018 12:00 AM

MARK SLATS has tacked onto Starboard now heading NNW into moderate headwinds holding as high as he can. He is suffering the same fate in this ZONE of headwinds as JEAN LUC VDH when he sailed through and that effectively allowed Mark to catch up nearly 300 miles. Now the roll is reversed as JL VDH is pulling away fast in the SE trades before the narrow band of Doldrums just ahead and that will probably continue for a few more days. The gap is 1000 miles today and JL VDH may stretch the lead to 1200 or more before MARK can ease sheets in the Easterly trades and try to close the Gap Boat for boat to the finish! All is well onboard both boats and MARK is pushing hard so stopping for a Xmas break will happen between sheeting sails and driving hard. JL VDH is happy on Starboard tack ( the good mast side) and wondering how fast he can get through the Doldrums. That will be important !

December 21st 2018 12:00 AM

JEAN LUC VDH gets a better wind angle now every day he moves further north at 5-6kts. He must be dreaming about easing his sheets and turning the corner. It is hard work but he is making progress and while he has not lost much ground to MARK so far he wants to get away from his as soon as he can to extend the lead in the real trade winds.!.he looks after to his mast all the time and knows it is still a long way.

December 20th 2018 12:00 AM

JEAN LUC VDH is happy that the easterly winds have finally arrived and should start to be more consist and in the days ahead but because he is close to the coast his course now needs to include some East! FREE SHEETS are still a dream for now as he is close reaching at 4.8kts in light 15-20kt winds and 1.5mtr seas. Mark slats is going FASTER! even with head winds so is slowly but steadily gaining ground.

December 19th 2018 12:00 AM

JEAN LUC VDH is enjoying the sailing for many reasons. MATMUT is on Starboard tack the strong side of his mast and the sea still only one meter the sun shining and temperature warm so he makes a good speed on track North for now. The constant Easterly winds are still just ahead so he needs to keep up with the wind change as the center of the HIGH moves North so to will the wind direction if he slows. But all looks ok for the next few days. He has gained a little on MARK SLATS now 800 miles behind but keeping up in head winds!

December 17th 2018 12:00 AM

JEAN LUC VDH is nearly to the edge of consistent easterly winds that will speed him north but his wind for now keeps moving around from OK to too far forward. he is still moving well but so too is MARK SLATS in the past days pushing hard and bouncing off 5mtr seas driving forward in head winds. Fortunately for now they have dropped in strength so it is more comfortable but the days ahead will cause him frustrations with changing directions and strength. There is no easy winner for these two in the next four days with little gains and losses for both predicted but JL VDH not breaking away and MARK not gaining ground! The race continues!!

December 14th 2018 12:00 AM

MARK SLATS is still powering north at 5.6kt despite having relatively light winds from the south as the center of a large LOW pressure system moves over him but his luck is about to turn a little. In the next 6-9 hours his winds will trun to the north and he will be beating to hold his ground. As predicted he is now just 700 miles south of JEAN LUC VDH who is struggling to make any NORTH at all with light to moderate headwinds pushing him east for now. The bad news is that these conditions will continue for at least the next four days so the pressure will begin to mount. While MARK SLATS will also be making slow progress for the next couple days , his weather forecast suggests he may then start making good speed north to continue closing the Gap!!!

December 12th 2018 12:00 AM

JEAN LUC VDH decided to visit the beach in Rio! and maybe find smoother waters with his frustrating head winds. He came to within a few miles of the white sands and now is headed back to the sea but not toward the finish line. His frustration will continue with slow progress for many days. He is looking after his mast and ever day Mark SLATS gets a little closer and could gain 150 miles in the next two days He reports no problem for now with MATMUT.

December 10th 2018 12:00 AM

JEAN LUC VDH is entering the zone of headwinds slowing progress. It will hold for the next four or five days, maybe longer. He seems happy enough for now but is faced with many new decisions. One thing is certain he will protect his mast at all times. This will mean slowing even more losing ground to his rival who now sails with strong incentive. In the days ahead expect to see Jean Luc lose hundreds of miles from his lead. The next two weeks will e hard on the mast maybe?

December 6th 2018 12:00 AM

JEAN LUC VDH is happy onboard making 6.5kts north in great weather for the next two days but then a High Pressure will block his way so he may need to head east fast!

December 3rd 2018 12:00 AM

Jean Luc VDH has been making steady progress north but things are about to get complicated in the next 24hrs at a small intense fast moving LOW pressure is centered about 65miles ESE of him moving NNW with 50-55kt winds in the in SW quarter. he will have some challenges and must be carefull not to get caught on the wrong side of it or face strong headwinds.

November 28th 2018 12:00 AM

JEAN-LUC has been on the Atlantic for 5 days and is progressing well despite his injured rig. Downwind allows Matmut to slide over 6 knots this morning and the race leader will have to make important strategic choices in the days to come. The traditional way of sailing up the Atlantic implies a long detour to the east to escape the zones of high pressures which develop off the Brazilian coast but it could be that the actual good downwinds might accompany him for a while allowing the race leader to stay closer to the direct route … a potentially and very interesting nautical miles saving!

November 26th 2018 12:00 AM

First around and flying away fast. he hit 8.4 kts average shortly after rounding the HORN and had a good run north the past two days passing to the west of the Falklands. Favorable wind will continue for two days but then there is a large area of light headwinds that may slow.

November 23rd 2018 12:00 AM

VDH under the Horn after 145 days at sea !!! set to round Cape Horn at 9pm Local time FRANCE tonight leading the GGR after 145 days and 20000 miles from Les Sables d’olonne after setting out on 1st July, and still 7000 to go to Les Sables finish line. His nearest rival MARK SLATS is 1350 Miles behind. Expected weather 35/45kt North West wind and 6 Mtr seas. Weather will drop to 25kt NW and 3 mtr seas on rounding Cape Horn. Average speed on course 5.75kts, 138 miles a day. He is 86 days ahead of Sir Robin Knox Johnston’s SUHAILI’s Original Race winning time in 1968, and 20 Days ahead of Bernard Moitessier’s JOSHUA time to the Cape Horn. JL VDH has damaged rigging that he has repaired, so must slow down when the wind is forward of the beam. This is expected to slow his progress through the last part of the GGR into the Atlantic. This will allow 2nd Place Mark Slats also sailing a Rustler 36 to catch JL VDH! The big question is how quickly can he run him down. If he can sail 20% faster both boats will be together at the finish!

November 22nd 2018 12:00 AM

This morning, Jean-Luc is only a gale away from Cap Horn ! Matmut shows 7knts on the tracker pushed towards Cape Horn by strong northwesterly winds which will intensify in the next hours ! Only 200 miles from the symbolic passage between the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, our leader has still another gale to face at the end of the day to hope to round the cap and reach the other side of the world tomorrow .. Matmut slides at full speed carried by the Southern Ocean forces, resisting in spite of his wounded rig, and held masterfully by his captain. “Great sun! Drying time before the next dep at 945HPA. Everything is fine!”

November 21st 2018 12:00 AM

JL VDH. has Cape Horn in his sights and weather seems typical southern Ocean for the last days of the effort. he has fixed his water generator and things are well onboard. he maintains safe mode and fortunately all wind is going to be behind the bean for the next five days so he will be smiling. his weather reports and radio are all good. he has lost a little more ground to Mark Slats but it is a long way to les Sables and both know that. the Race continues.

November 19th 2018 12:00 AM

JL VDH has successfully weathered the two latest storms over the weekend as he heads toward Cape Horn now 600 miles away. he has a four day weather window to slip around before the next series of gales approach and he may just make it.

November 16th 2018 12:00 AM

“Passage of a front this morning awaiting for 18th/19th stroms.”As for our leader, WIND, he will have plenty! A first front is passed over Matmut this morning, as a warning of the forming storm, with strong winds announced for tonight and this weekend, but “I manage” he says. Although he is only 1000 NM away from the Cape Horn, last great symbolic point of this immense course, also synonymous with deliverance for solo circumnavigators finally escaping the roughness of the Great South, this approach promises to be tough…
On the program, strong winds and very heavy swell … nothing unusual in this region of the world but the solid sailor will not have too much of all his experience to travel the last miles that separate him from the great return to the South Atlantic.

November 14th 2018 12:00 AM

“One more beautiful day coming: sun/downwind/but cold”
If the approach of Cape Horn is looking thought within a week for JEAN-LUC, with a massive low pressure system forming in the southern tip of Chile, the leader of the race succeeds for the moment in maintaining a good progression, pushed by a northwesterly flow which does not solicit his injured rig too much. The arrival of southerly winds will oblige him to oblique towards the east to preserve its mast as of tomorrow but this change of orientation will be momentary and the leader of the race will be able to pursue its dive towards the mythical rock downwind from Friday on, in relatively moderate conditions that will intensify over the weekend.

November 12th 2018 12:00 AM

Jean-Luc reported this morning during his safety sat phone call, the assessment of this tough week. Difficult morally because after the pitchpole he realized the damage done to the mast and he did not think that he could fix it, but gradually, by dint of reflection and discussions he succeeded. Difficult also physically, since he had to climb the mast no less than 4 times, and “trying to remove the pins was a complicated game”. Now Jean-Luc is rather confident about the repair of his boat, even if he remains very vigilant, and is careful not to overpush his rig, sailing slightly underpowered with less sails up. He hopes next week will be an easier one than this one! This great sailor now aims to sail to Cape Horn and to manage to rownd it one more time, as he rounded Cape Horn 10 times already : “After that, we’ll see!”

November 9th 2018 12:00 AM

Here is the retranscription of the message of Jean-Luc Van Den Heede recovered thanks to the radio-amateurs network and the Terre & Mer collective : Part 1
“I had plenty of time to think about my situation during these four days of escaping the storm (220 miles lost to the North).” My mast is now extremely precarious due to my capsize. If I stop to make a repair, it will be only temporary. For Matmut to continue sailing, it will need more or less long to change to a new mast.
So I decided, to save my soul (dixit Moitessier), to continue my route non-stop and head for Les Sables d’Olonne.

November 9th 2018 12:00 AM

Part 2 :
As soon as the sea will allow it I will climb in the mast to secure it as best as possible with what I can use onboard. If I get dismasted, I have like all competitors a jury rig that will allow me to reach a port in full autonomy. I am no longer in racing mode but in safe mode. This is not the first time I will attempt to bring home a damaged boat. And if by miracle I get to Les Sables d’Olonne, I do not care about the ranking, at least I will have tried. I cross my fingers and thank all those who help me in this adventure.
The message has been transmitted thanks to the network of radio amateurs and the Collectif Terre et Mer, which is our only way of communicating with the earth and providing all the competitors with weather situations. I thank them warmly”.
Signed: JLVDH.

November 7th 2018 12:00 AM

“THE SEA IS TOTALLY CHAOTIC. I AM STILL DOWNWIND AT 5 KT “. This is the laconic message sent tonight by JEAN-LUC, still on the edge of the nasty storm that has steadily stopped the exemplary trajectory of the leader of the race. And this stationary system forces him to go back to the north, under penalty of suffering even more difficult conditions than those with which he must already compose. Fortunately, gradually, this big depression will shift to the east and leave a sea (a little) more manageable. The blow is hard for the dean of the race who had so far demonstrated an incredible ease coupled with a perfect preparation. But he is handling the situation, with all the experience and determination that have made him a great sailor for decades. And his lead is such that he is still almost 2,000 miles ahead of MARK SLATS, his closest competitor

November 6th 2018 12:00 AM

Jean-Luc was knocked down at 150 ° on 5 NOV at 15.00 UTC, which damaged the mast that did not fall, but is not properly maintained. The bolt split 5 cm off the mast section and released the rigging. He was still in the storm with no sails up with a sea of ​​11m and winds of 65 knots. The wind has slowed down in the last few hours, but the low pressure system is reshaping in a steady state, and is now making a U-turn. Over the next 24 hours, 50 knot gusting southerly winds and a 7 m sea are expected, then the next 24 h will move to light winds from the north with intermediate calm. Jean-Luc was not injured during the knock down, and did not request ANY assistance at the moment. He is confident that he can head to Chile safely.

November 5th 2018 12:00 AM

It’s now JEAN-LUC’s turn to face the storm this morning. If the incredible leader of the race had managed so far to escape the bad weather, thanks to a trajectory of exemplary clarity. It should be at least another 7 hours before the gusting winds at 70 knots weaken rapidly. But this is not necessarily very good news because the huge sea raised by this violent storm (swells that can reach over 10 meters) will be less compressed by the force of the wind and the relatively well organized waves so far could be more dangerous … not to mention another big gale of wind is preparing tomorrow as the depression will move eastward. GGR Race Control has just sent a message to advise him to slow down to let this new difficulty pass before the system runs out of steam …

November 2nd 2018 12:00 AM

“It’s softening a little what a shame! IT WAS PERFECT 170 MILLES IN 24H.”
JEAN-LUC, far ahead in this second half of the Pacific is racing well having traveled 170 NM in a day! Matmut will be caught up by a depression that will generate strong westerly winds that will strengthen by passing through the south and will raise big seas …

October 29th 2018 12:00 AM

JL VDH was held up with little wind by the High Pressure last week but now all is good. He was having a great time sailing under spinnaker the past 48hrs. He hand steers during the day and has a net rigged between the forestay and mast to stop spinnaker wraps. He listens to audio books while steering. Sea has been very good 2/3 mtrs for the past weeks after turning the corner at the exclusion zone. All is well on the boat. He has a good variety of food left & he is still enjoying it. He has onions & garlic left. also 150ltrs of water with plenty of wine. All is dry down below & other than his family he misses nothing. He is expecting to be at the corner of the exclusion zone on 6th NOV. At CAPE HORN by 21st NOV!! He is receiving good weather reports from his New Caledonia Ham operator & has only a coupe of barnacles on the hull above the antifouling, but none on the paint below the water. He agrees it feels like a Pacific Cruise for now with easy miles. He said to say Hi to Susie and tell her to hurry up and catch up with a friendly JL laugh,he is lonely up front.

October 26th 2018 12:00 AM

“Breakfast immuable: Tea petits LU Butter in tin Briois TOP !”.
Still at the front of the GGR fleet, he alone occupies the Pacific Ocean. 3000 miles from Cape Horn, Jean-Luc has already traveled a third of the Pacific.
He benefits from conditions of “fast cruising”, in a little formed sea, with a moderate wind that pushes Matmut mainly downwind.
“After the day under spinnaker yesterday the wind is back tonight. Everything is very good.”

October 24th 2018 12:00 AM

“Still cool but sky covered hiding the sun. Pacific! Everything is ok”. 2000 mile ahead of Mark Slats, Jean-Luc is still opening up the Pacific route which has calmed down a lot since this weekend. The leader of the race is now sliding on a calm sea, at around 6.5 knots average these last hours. And this comfortable navigation, but relatively fast on the scale performance of the boats of the 2018 Golden Globe Race, should continue thanks to the relatively north position of JEAN-LUC which preserves Matmut from the bad weather. “Excellent fowl tonight with a very nice Bordeaux! TOP!”

October 18th 2018 12:00 AM

“Matmut ready for storm. Very big swell. End in 15h” Jean-Luc wrote last night.
Entered in the Pacific Ocean for several days, for JEAN-LUC evolves in the high border of a powerful and very extensive system which raises an impressive swell, even for the one who has experiences so much! “THE WORST IS BEHIND BUT THERE IS A GRANDIOSE SEA WITH 6 / 7M HOLES”! Were it’s words this morning.

October 17th 2018 12:00 AM

“All ok! I’m slowing down volontarily to let go a big depression”.
At the front of the fleet, a huge system is forming on JEAN-LUC, which will go over him, generating a very strong swell that can exceed 10 meters. To avoid the worst of the bad weather, the dean of the race has wisely decided to slow down, to stay at the very edge of this very deep depression … The symbolic passage of the antimeridian (which marks the limit between east and west) is therefore under strong weather conditions for the leader, recalling if it was needed, how far still is the route towards Les Sables d’Olonne, even if numbers indicating the degrees of progress towards the arrival will now decrease … there are still more than 10,000 miles in front of the bowof Matmut, after 108 days at sea! And Cape Horn remains to be rounded …

October 15th 2018 12:00 AM

“Waves of the Pacific ocean are not tidier than the Indien ones”. His record so far is simply impressive, clairvoyance and ease, although things of course are much more complicated than suggests appearances. The passage this weekend of the Strait of Foveaux for example, located between the island of the South in the north and the islands Stewart, Solander and Ruapuke in the south was not done in the sweetness. In this rock-infested corner, it took a constant watch from the leader to leave the Tasman Sea and to reach the vast Pacific Ocean where for now, in his own words, “the waves are not tidier than in the Indian Ocean.” Nothing serious for the one who has just increased his lead to nearly 1900 miles on his first pursuer … and will continue to enjoy the coming days of powerful downwinds!

October 12th 2018 12:00 AM

“Still strong conditions to arrive to Foveaux Strait”.
The ideal hours that followed the mandatory stop of JEAN-LUC VAN DEN HEEDE by Hobart Gate are gone. The Tasmanian Sea visibly shows an impressive face by lifting a big swell of 6 to 7 meters slamming on the side of his sailboat, bringing a high humidity. The route of the dean of the race might surprise because relatively north at the moment, he is 100 miles off the coast of New Zealand. But the current SSE wind will turn SW at the end of the day and should allow JEAN-LUC to dive south, while the sea begins to calm down. Once again, what a sense of timing!

October 11th 2018 12:00 AM

An Ocean in between… While Matmut is approaching New Zealand passing the longitude 160° in fairly steady conditions that will increase in the coming days, Coconut and Esmeralda have just crossed the longitude 50°, stuck in a high pressure system ! VDH sailing in strong weather conditions already, will have to pass between the southern tip of New Zealand and the imaginary point 48 °, close to the 50th roaring. The weather conditions will continue to build up in the coming days, and should overtake Matmut quickly, ensuring a good pace in this passage, but could lift a swell of more than 8m high…

October 10th 2018 12:00 AM

“I’m paying for my 2 beautifull days with a good gale 40 noeuds. Everything is good”
After the emotions of this weekend, with VDH interviews at the Hobart Drop Point, real HIGHLIGHT of this GGR 2018, the leader has just faced his first gust of wind that will strengthen with a swell of 6m expected as he progresses to the southern tip of New Zealand…As Gandalf the magician, the dean of the race continues to show the way for this extraordinary quest in which only 9 sailors are still racing. If the experience and the flawless preparation, the stainless steel envy, to say the least, the talent brought JEAN-LUC VAN DEN HEEDE to 1700 miles in front of its first competitor, MARK SLATS, his pursuers maintain more complicated relationships with the elements. “Tonight it will calm down a little but tomorrow evening another gale!”

October 9th 2018 12:00 AM

“This morning i’m having my 100’s bag of tea! So 100 days done”.End of the nice weather! After 50 hours of sailing under the sun, which allowed to air the boat, the big gennaker is down. But it probably takes much more to spoil the enthusiasm of the leader of the race. The rain is even welcome as it is synonymous with water supply, so precious aboard the boats of the GGR2018.Tomorrow he will be (already) halfway between Tasmania and New Zealand. A good southerly wind of 25-30 knots, generating a swell of at least 4 meters. It is the return of the Great South and the premises of the Pacific Ocean, the largest of all! Once the southern tip of New Zealand will be passed, it will again be the big dive into the immensity, reminding if it was needed that this extraordinary course, it is only halfway through, after 100 days of sea yet

October 8th 2018 12:00 AM

While VDH took off again after his short Tasmanian stopover, in “a dream weather, beam reach and under great gennaker” says his message this morning, It’s getting complicated in the back, to such a point that the detour imposed by Hobart Gate did not even make him lose any ground! In the Great South, it’s the world upside down! The way to Tasmania is riddled with bubbles of high pressure and headwinds, while VDH slides quietly under the sun to New Zealand . To believe that Eole and Neptune decided to unroll the red carpet ( blue?) for the last circumnavigation of a legendary veteran. In short, the road is still long for the veterans of the race who benefits from a clear trajectory and a flawless preparation. He wore a broad smile when he was in Hobart and his sparkling eyes were all about a child having fun, a game that few men are able to shine at yet.

October 6th 2018 12:00 AM

Jean-Luc Van Den Heede reached the BoatShed.com Hobart film gate at 07:30 local time on Saturday (21:30 UTC Friday) to drop film and letters before heading out of Storm Bay tro resume his lead in the Golden Globe Race.

October 5th 2018 12:00 AM

“Woke up EARLY in the NIGHT AND 3 HOURS later I took 2 reefs ! “. Here was the message of JEAN-LUC received yesterday, while he was sailing in a good southwest wind that allows him to slide over 6 knots to Tasmania. Hobart is only 150 miles away this morning but the last leg is complicated. The wind should indeed drop considerably now, and to disappear as VDH gets closer to the coast. Matmut is still expected on friday or Saturday morning. “I’m on the Tasmanian Map now. Hope this wind stays”.

October 2nd 2018 12:00 AM

JEAN-LUC continues its descent to Hobart, which is only 450 NM (on the direct road), at 6 kts average in the “Tasmanian drizzle”, and is about to cross the Boatshed. com Drop Point, in the south of Hobart Bay in Tasmania. “Tasmanian rain since yesterday! I’m collecting water. Wind SE”. Yesterday he says: “All is well, I had a good week, but since this morning close-hauled in SE winds that prevent me from going further south at the moment. No major or minor problems. Expected arrival in 3 or 4 days depending on the wind “. Initially expected Thursday morning, the leader of the race will probably have to wait another day, the fault of a weak wind from the east that prohibits him to go directly. It does not really matter! He has an insolent lead on MARK SLATS, solid second but distant nearly 1500NM away, a good 15 days at the current pace.

September 29th 2018 12:00 AM

Less than 900 miles from Boatshed.com Drop Point, JEAN-LUC VAN DEN HEEDE continues the design of its beautiful trajectory that should soon curve, first to pass under Tasmania then to go back to Hobart, where he is expected around October 3rd. The westerly wind at the moment is going to grow as it goes down and the small areas of weather transitions will not fail until the race leader reappears in front of a part of the GGR team, currently leaving for Australia.

September 26th 2018 12:00 AM

JEAN-LUC VAN DEN HEEDE has passed Cape Leeuwin and is now only 1150 miles from the Boatshed Drop Point of the city of Hobart, Tasmania.
“My log shows 10000 milles since the Canaries buoy” said the leader and dean of the race this morning. And it is clear that he has traveled this great distance with ease, to the point of holding today a solid mattress 1250 miles ahead of his first pursuer, MARK SLATS. “A beautifull day with 20 to 30kts W and sun for the sextant”.

September 24th 2018 12:00 AM

Yesterday, after an uncomfortable night hoove to in winds of about forty knots, JEAN-LUC VAN HEEDE DEN was preparing to pass the second major step of the race, the famous cape Leeuwin, at the forefront southwest of Australia. He lost some ground on MARK SLATS, his first pursuer, still over 1300 miles anyway…
Today he writes to us: “Finished with the Indian Ocean map. Here i am in the Kangaroos country”. “I’m happy about the rescue and hope that Abhilash will be better soon”

September 20th 2018 12:00 AM

Around the world in 80 days?! .. For Jules Verne, Yes … But only 1 third of the course for the GGR skippers. Even if the latest forecasts show that the in-stoppable Jean-Luc VDH could well establish an incredible record and pass below the bar of the 200 days! In less than 198 days as shown on the tracker, with already 10 days ahead of schedule !

September 19th 2018 12:00 AM

At more than 8 knots average over the past 4 hours, JEAN-LUC VAN DEN HEEDE is once again the fastest in the fleet this morning. Driven by a good northwest wind, under two reef on his forestay sail, in a relatively manageable sea, the leader of the race continues its momentum, uninterrupted for almost 80 days now … what a pace! He digs a little further the ground with his first pursuer MARK SLATS, 1350 NM behind this morning… And the gap should increase even more ! Jean-Luc van den #Heede (via satellite) “The cold front pursuing me will pass soon. 2 reefs/forestaysail. ALL GOOD”

September 19th 2018 12:00 AM

In front, JEAN-LUC VAN HEEDE DEN continues his rider alone and will soon be less than 2000 miles from Boatshed Drop Point Hobart where he is expected on October 3 according to the latest forecasts. Nothing seems to stop the septuagenarian who is even mounted to the mast to repair. “But it’s okay, I’m in shape and the boat too” confided the leader of the race from the top of its 73 springs! Well settled in a good northwesterly flow, it could also face a small transition zone before the wind moves west and then southwest. But it will be very short and will not slow it down. Jean-Luc van den #Heede (via satellite) “Jibe to stay north of the 40. Wether still grey. But all good”

September 14th 2018 12:00 AM

After more than 74 days at sea, the record time set by Armel Le Cléac’h at the last edition of the Vendée Globe (74d 03h 35m and 46s), JEAN-LUC has just entered the second half of the Indian Ocean, getting closer to Australia and the next Drop Point of Hobart. And yet the dean of the race does not rest ! At one-third of the race, he further increased his lead this morning, just over 1200 miles ahead of MARK SLATS. Still in the upper limit of a low pressure system that propels Matmut to more than 7 knots in a well formed sea, he still enjoys a solid wind ideally oriented to speed while his first pursuer dabbles in a calm zone. To sum up, while JEAN-LUC will benefit from a strong downwind all next week, the rest of the GGR fleet will once again have to deal with many transition zones, slowing once more its progress .Jean-Luc (via satellite) “Night spent to shorten sails : Forestay sail. 2 reefs on reach and birds following”.

September 12th 2018 12:00 AM

“I am alone!” as said by the leader yesterday morning on his weekly phone call. And for good reason ! Already nearly 72 days at sea, without stopping, with for only companion a windvane on which it is necessary to count, with whom it is necessary to compose, which one must understand all the subtleties to obtain the best and continue to progress as fast as possible, even if the finish line is still far away.JEAN-LUC can at least be satisfied with having sailed half of the Indian ocean already, this ocean so twisted and tricky, constantly threatening of damages. This great sailor bends with insolent brio to this wearying routine. Look at its trajectory, compared to the erratic ones of these pursuers, it goes straight, full east, at good speed, sometimes carried by the current, in limit of the strongest winds and seas! JEAN-LUC still keeps a very comfortable lead (nearly 1200NM, or approximately a week of navigation) .”Nice meteo which allows us to make good progress easily. ALL OK”.”Done! I passed St Paul to much south to be able to see the island. It’s calming 20nds”.

September 10th 2018 12:00 AM

1000 miles ! If it had been predicted such an advance to JEAN-LUC VAN DEN HEEDE after 70 days of racing, he would probably have had trouble believing it. At 7 knots average, after a small slowdown (very appreciated) this weekend at the edge of an area of high pressure, the leader and dean of the race has found a good pace, in favorable conditions, wind of north-west to the rear and a reasonably formed sea. “THIS SUNDAY IS CALM…CLEANING MAINTENANCE” ; “I have turned my map! By Africa Hello Australia. Petol”

September 6th 2018 12:00 AM

While JEAN-LUC VAN DEN HEEDE imperturbable continues his progress on the direct route, in a good northwest flow, just a little above the fortieth, where weather phenomena are supposed to be a little less violent, his pursuers are still struggling to catch up with the system in which the leader of the GGR 2018 is sliding on.”It was a beautiful day sun apparition drying all ok”

September 3rd 2018 12:00 AM

At the front, the race continues … and in what way! Always launched in a good flow of north, JEAN-LUC VAN DEN HEEDE this morning is now 900 miles ahead of his first pursuer! He reported this morning on his weekly Sat phone call that he is sailing in a long 3 / 4m swell without any visibility, but that “It has softened a little. I released Ris2 and kept the forestay sail up. It’s humid”. A screw from his furling headsail tried to unscrew and escape, but he managed to put it back into place before it came out!He also told us that he is currently sailing south of the Crozet Islands Archipelago, not far from Pig Island, where he had the chance to communicate with a scientist during a radio session during his first around the world navigation.

August 29th 2018 12:00 AM

JEAN-LUC VAN DEN HEEDE still leads the way, 500 miles ahead of MARK SLATS, even if he slowed down a bit after the crazy slips and heavy weather of the weekend. “The wind is back gentle! Yesterday it was Doldrums and unstable All OK”.During his Sat phone call Monday morning, he sounded fine, and he seemed confident, scheduling an arrival in Tasmania early October! He wrote this morning: “Peacefull night with still nice conditions and sunshine Great”.

August 27th 2018 12:00 AM

Van Den Heede rounds Cape of Good Hope! His performance to-date has been quite remarkable. He has rounded this, the first of three capes (the other major headlands are Cape Leeuwin, Western Australia and Cape Horn) some 34 days ahead of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s record aboard his ketch-rigged yacht Suhaili 50 years ago. In a satellite call to Race HQ this week, Jean-Luc was asked when he expected to reach Hobart, the second photo drop point in the Race. “My mind is not on that, but the finish back in Les Sables d’Olonne. I predict a return early in February.” That would make a circumnavigation time of between 210 – 217 days against Suhaili’s time of 312 days. Based on this, Race organisers are predicting the first arrival off Hobart in mid October.Jean-Luc has just passed a depression with averages speed up to 10 knots for Matmut last weekend! But “Finally a beautifull sunny day to get ride off the humidity! All OK”

August 22nd 2018 12:00 AM

Yesterday Jean-Luc was doing fast in 7,6 knots, next to the door of South Africa, before heading through the Cape of Good Hope. After leading the float for about fifty days in his down Atlantic course, the elder of the GGR 2018 group will finally be the 1st skipper to enter the Indian Ocean. Supported by his first albatross yesterday, VDH can already be happy about his West option chosen after the Canaries Islands gate and confident about his next Ocean challenge !

August 15th 2018 12:00 AM

Big braking this morning at the head of the fleet. JEAN-LUC VAN DEN HEEDE was looking forward to diving south. He finally decided to tack yesterday late morning and will now have to cross a wide strip of high pressure in which PHILIPPE PECHE is already stuck, now in Chichester Class.The dean and leader of the fleet, however, should be hit tomorrow by western winds at the tail of a depression that is heading to the tip of Africa. The winds would gradually turn south and allow Matmut to slide at full speed towards the Cape of Good Hope.

August 13th 2018 12:00 AM

Jean-Luc Van Den Heede who is riding the same strong winds, also reported problems with the self steering on his Rustler 36 Matmut. A bolt sheared under the strain of steering the yacht downwind in the strong conditions, but he was able to replace it. Now “Upwind, in strong wind and showers.Careful!” But yesterday “Beautiful day which allowed me to climb up the mast PB A1 BDF resolved”. He wrote after Peche’s problem this weekend : “I’ve just had the news about Philippe Stop. I am very very sad”.

August 9th 2018 12:00 AM

To the east, closer to the direct route, the leaders continue their descent towards the southern tip of the African continent. And apparently things are not easy for JEAN-LUC VAN DEN HEEDE, leader for almost 10 days. The dean of the race reports “very variable winds in strength and direction, constantly maneuvering”. A situation that makes his duel with PHILIPPE PECHE even more intense.

August 6th 2018 12:00 AM

Van Den Heede moved into the lead over the weekend simply by virtue of being closest to the computer lay line between the Cape Verde Islands and the Cape of Good Hope. He and Péché are 100 miles apart in terms of latitude and Péché is 37 miles further south, but both are caught on the western side of the High and running into light airs. Race leader Jean-Luc Van Den Heede has been suffering similar problems with the solar panels on Matmut, but still has his water generator and engine to keep batteries charged. His main solar panel is broken, but fortunately he had planned two small spare solar panels that work perfectly!

August 1st 2018 12:00 AM

After crossing the equator on July 29, Jean-Luc takes the lead this morning! Faster in recent days and closer to the direct route to the Cape of Good Hope, JEAN-LUC VAN DEN HEEDE is ahead of his fellow Vendéen of about fifteen miles, despite some trouble with his solar panels that will force him to limit his energy consumption. The lack of electronics on board should help him out!

July 20th 2018 12:00 AM

Jean Luc is keeping the pressure on Philippe and Mark Slats, breathing down their necks. It looks like he will cross the doldrums midway between Philippe and Mark. If the Windy TY overlay on the GGR Tracker is right he will have very little wind. Jean Luc may have some slow days ahead.

July 13th 2018 12:00 AM

Jean Luc charged around the southern tip of Lanzarote looking relaxed. His film drop went without a hitch and he was off again. He is very much in striking distance of Philippe and Mark. All going well we probably won’t see him until the gate in Storm Bay, Tasmania. There is a lot of miles to cover before then.

July 11th 2018 12:00 AM

Jean Luc is breathing down Philippe’s neck. His reports are jovial and matter of fact, giving the impression that he is not even really trying. Is this because he is a master of covering up the craziness onboard or a reflection of how comfortable he is with it all?

July 6th 2018 12:00 AM

VDH has been consistently among the front runners

Jean Luc has sailed a classic race, ensuring that he kept well away from Coruna. He has been consistently among the front runners and his performance is nothing less than what we would expect from such an experienced player

May 3rd 2018 12:00 AM

Fresh from the baptism of his Rustler 36 MATMUT at the end of April, French veteran Jean-Luc Van Den Heede has only to antifoul the yacht and purchase his food supplies and says that he will be ready, a month ahead of the Race start on July 1st.

April 5th 2018 12:00 AM

French veteran Jean-Luc van Den Heede still has a list of work to prepare his Rustler 36 Matmut, and since most of this has to be done outdoors, the cold, wet Spring weather has not helped. “I prefer to anticipate wear rather than improvise makeshift repairs and plan a long navigation to test sail the boat before the start.”
The yacht will be baptised at a public ceremony at Cite du Vin, Bordeaux on April 28 before being hauled out for antifouling in May ahead of a final test sail to Falmouth at the beginning of June.

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