Happy New Year 2021: Sailing Into The Winds of Luck in a Unique Gambling Feat (Giveaway Edition)

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January 3rd, 2021
Back Happy New Year 2021: Sailing Into The Winds of Luck in a Unique Gambling Feat (Giveaway Edition)

So many casino players, so many wishes for 2021: Maybe we all share the same one, just as all the sailors in the toughest single-handed ocean race around the world do.

A few days ago, we finally rounded the corner of 2020. We still have to give it a proper name. For now, we may call it that year. When midnight of New Year’s Eve came, one might argue the whole world wished and hoped for the same: That we never have to use the plural, like those years, God forbid, in future reminiscences.

Ever.

We’ve served time in a windless place, our sails trapped. We’ve seen our reflections in mirror-like seas quite sufficiently. We don’t need to ride the invisible, insidious current anymore, with no zephyr in our sights. We’ve had enough of the doldrums.

We. Want. The. Wind.

All of it. Light and gentle breezes, fresh and strong squalls, moderate and high gusts, trading easterlies, prevailing westerlies and their Roaring Forties, Furious Fifties, Shrieking Sixties.

Heck, we even look for gales and storms.

For, that’s what life’s about: To be able to use knowledge, legacy, determination, luck to harness the flows of air, to tackle obstacles, challenges, disasters, and proceed toward destinations, wishes, goals, avoiding standstills.

Gambling is no different, not to mention sailing — and that brings us to the once-in-a-four-year pinnacle of ocean racing: The Vendee Globe.

If there’s a race summarizing our expectations from the next year and so vividly corresponding to conditions each player in any casino faces, this is the one.

Known as the Everest of the Seas, the contest is, in a word, unbelievable, with a deceptively simple premise.

One person. One boat. Around the world. Non-stop. Without assistance.

We won’t find Vendee's oceans ingredients in Hollywood: The sailors' preparations and training, ridiculous tactical levels of their skills, outstanding comprehension of calculations governing their sailing strategies, the adversities they face throughout circumnavigation, twists of luck that sinks hopes and hard work, tales of personal sacrifices and rescue operations, Phoenix-like comebacks, insane technological advancements of their boats.

But we'll find them all in online gambling.

Conveniently enough…

The Vendee Globe 2020/21 — ninth in its thirty-one-year-old history — is ongoing as you read these lines. It marks the first one in the last twenty years that I have no favorite in, which finally gives me a chance to follow the event in a relaxed manner.

Of course, between the last two Vendee editions, I’ve infected myself with an exciting virus — to bring more value to the players around the world as a member of the LCB team.

Thus, the story of this race, intertwined with gambling, seemed fitting to kick-off the New Year through a unique, long-read giveaway to our readers.

Undock the sailboat! We’re getting underway!

(Editor's note: In your dreams. I'm a very, very experienced player. I ain't getting into any seagoing, let alone ocean racing vessel, before I realize jurisdictional and regulatory details, terms and conditions, organizational background, participants' protection protocols, and the exact type of fun I'm about to embark. I prefer to enjoy my winds and waves prudently and responsibly.)

But of course!

Formula One in the Ocean Lanes

Sailing boats on the Vendee Globe are technological marvels governed under IMOCA 60 class’ auspices, resembling reputable online jurisdiction with a plethora of interactive hubs.

The International Monohull Open Class Association regulates this racing circuit, which, apart from Vendee Globe, also includes other transatlantic competitions. All yachts participating in are by default limited to a maximum hull length of sixty feet (18.29 meters). Hence the name.

The keyword here is: Open.

Namely…

There are only several restrictions imposed in terms of boat design: Overall length, beam, draught, weight, maximum mast height, up to five hull appendages (rudders, keel, foils), no more than eight sails onboard, strict structural regulations — materials used for construction, number of watertight compartments, safety hatches, ballast tanks, and such — as well as exceptionally rigid safety protocols.

Everything else is entirely open, which means designers enjoy significant levels of freedom to experiment. Each monohull’s naval architecture serves the purpose of overall success, speed, reliability, security, and skipper’s individual preferences.

(Any similarity with gambling is intentional.)

All boats are custom-made, tuned for downwind sailing, designed as light as possible yet solid enough to withstand the worst possible conditions of the Southern Ocean.

Since they’re built for single- or double-handed racing, they by default utilize tillers instead of the steering wheel, although autopilots keep them on the course more often than not.

The revolutionary steps in technology and innovation Open 60 sailboats spearhead are astonishing.

These yachts use hydraulic canting keels moving sideways to counteract the sails’ heeling force, empowering them to harness more wind. They use retractable hydrofoils, enabling boats to lift the hull out of the oceans as the speed increases, thus decreasing the drag. Masts vertically rotate to boost overall momentum up to fifteen percent or even more.

Essentially, these sailboats resemble the windsurf boards with extremely wide sterns and compact cockpits, with no sails surface area limitations — certified for Category 0 ocean racing.

(Editor’s note: Why did you put that in bold? Like ‘ocean racing’ was not enough? It makes me wonder what comes before that zero.)

By definition, this type of sailing refers to “trans-oceanic races, including [those passing] through areas in which air or sea temperatures are likely to be less than 41°F (5°C), where boats must be completely self-sufficient for very extended periods of time, capable of withstanding heavy storms, and prepared to meet serious emergencies without the expectation of outside assistance.”

That is where electronic equipment, safety protocols, and sailors’ preparation come into the picture.

Each boat hosts various devices to help skippers navigate the route and keep them protected: Radars, distress beacons, VHF and satellite communication, several artificial intelligence-based autopilots capable of detecting yaw, pitch, and roll, hundreds of data sensors for reliability, wellbeing, and performance distributed throughout the boat, fiber optics to track dynamic loads, several computers to run the whole show, including the trial use of the Pinger system, an acoustic deterrent devices to repel marine mammals.

(Editor’s note: Like the whales?)

Exactly.

Just Don’t Hit Something

In the Vendee Globe 2008/09, Roland Jourdain, a French sailor and one of the living legends, violently collided with a whale off Argentina’s coast. The impact damaged the keel and the structure of his boat. The event probably contributed to another incident twenty days later, when his keel’s bulb fell off, forcing him to retire from the race.

He was one of the favorites to win that edition of Vendee. To his credit, he only said: “I cannot blame a whale; it is on its territory.”

Finally…

Each Open 60 sailboat goes through an extremely rigid vetting process regarding regulations, safety measures, and necessary protocols, resembling the casino licensing procedures in well-regulated markets.

These boats have to be able to right themselves up without outside assistance in case of capsizing, excluding seawater ingress. They use closed-cell foam crash box at their bows in case of a violent collision with unidentified floating objects; the material automatically expands and hermetically seals the rest of the yacht. They have several compulsory emergency exits and mandatory EPIRB devices, Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons that automatically alert search and rescue authorities.

(Editor’s note: Did you just say ‘unidentified floating objects’?)

Yes.

They’re usually containers that fall off the cargo ships, get some water in but not enough to sink, and they float just below the waves. It’s common at Vendee Globe to have at least a couple of instances when skippers smash into UFOs at high speed, often in remote regions. These collisions usually mean the end of the race, as they either pierce the hulls or, more often, destroy rudders and foils.

UFOs are genuinely hazardous.

The detection tools are scarce to this day, although the experimental developments revolve around thermal cameras and artificial intelligence to monitor the area ahead of the sailboat.

Still, whether the Vendee Globe competitor will hit the UFO or not boils down to blind luck.

(So, who’s gambling now?)

Anyway…

As I try to suppress my loquacious urges when it comes to these vessels and Open 60 class, what Vendee Globe participants do is this:

They depart at Les Sables-d’Olonne, in the Department of Vendee on the Atlantic Coast of France, and they sail to the Cape of Good Hope. Then, they turn left and go clockwise toward Cape Leeuwin in Australia and Cape Horn in South America. Once in the Atlantic again, they dash upwind as fast as possible to return to where they’ve started.

The circumnavigation covers approximately 24,000 nautical miles (a bit over 44,400 kilometers).

The Vendee Globe always starts in November and lasts close to three, maybe four months, depending on the boat, sailing skills of skippers, and meteorological conditions.

To avoid collision with icebergs, the organizational committee establishes Ice Exclusion Zone around Antarctica, representing the line skippers can’t cross over for security reasons.

As our climate changes and the planet warms, this zone tends to grow by each edition.

Meet Impossible, Even Deadly Odds

(Editor’s note: Let me get this right. I’m alone, in the middle of nowhere, amid the worst possible sea conditions, I’m dodging whales and UFOs — and now there are also floating growlers in the story? I’ll tell you what: You go and do that if you’re crazy enough. I will remain here in front of my screen, giving you all my support as I keep track of your adventure. I assume they do have multimedia stations onboard, considering the NASA-like infrastructure you’ve described.)

Oh, yes, they do.

Thanks to all the nuts and bolts of technological advances in live streaming, we can now fully enjoy sailors’ voyages in real-time. They have daily video calls and podcasts, and a plethora of GoPro cameras. They also use their own handheld devices to capture the beauties of nature they witness, and boat sponsors use those mandatory feeds in their marketing materials.

Of course…

Not all racing participants are blessed with outstanding budgets and new boats, just as all the gamblers don’t have unlimited bankrolls.

The essence of Vendee Globe is to participate, conquer limitations, and have stories to tell.

Equally so, just as only a few punters get to see huge jackpots, only a handful of sailors stepped onto the podium thus far, while more people went to space than raced in the Everest of the Seas.

That is where individual skills and knowledge of skippers — the human element — takes the central stage, no matter the outcome.

Vendee sailors utilize spectacular resourcefulness to maintain all systems, repair just about anything on their boats, and possess ridiculous abilities to command yachts in all weather conditions.

To that extent, they resemble prudent players who understand national regulations, casinos' T&Cs, gaming strategies, and also nurture sought-after discernment and responsibility in their gambling adventures.

Yachtsmen’s expertise pool is immense since any assistance from the outside world — minus advice from shore crews — equals disqualification.

(They cannot even turn on the propulsive engines, sealed before the start and inspected at the finish line. If they do so, they’re out. Instead, they use solar panels and hydro-turbines to generate electric energy, as diesel generators are history.)

The account of Yves Parlier, another Frenchman, in the Vendee Globe 2000/01, probably sums up the levels of inventiveness and determination these guys have.

Nicknamed ‘The Extra-Terrestrial’ for his knowledge of weather patterns, Parlier is on his third Vendee race — that’s twelve years span — when the mast of his Aquitaine Innovations crashes during a ferocious storm in the Indian Ocean.

His response in a short telex message? “I have dismasted. I am going on. I do not need assistance.”

So…

Parlier puts his jury rig — basically any pole serving as the mast, using a makeshift sail to make a way — and travels almost 2,200 nautical miles (more than 4,000 kilometers) for three weeks before reaching Stewart Island off the coast of New Zealand.

There, he spends ten days exploiting what he has onboard — including scavenging materials he finds in the island flotsam, such as survival blankets, light bulbs, food containers — to get the mast in a vertical position and finish the repairs.

Once done, he still has to travel half the world. He not only loses the time — the podium is out of the question now — but he faces food shortage, as he uses valuable supplies during his pit-stop.

On his way back, Parlier eats everything he has; he even consumes fish and seaweed. Then his satellite phone breaks down, leaving him without any direct contact with the shore team.

Still, this guy doesn’t quit.

He crawls up the Atlantic, and after 127 days at sea, he receives a hero’s welcome as he enters Les Sables-d’Olonne — more than a month after the winner. Parlier’s reception even eclipses one of Ellen MacArthur, the second-placed skipper in that edition, and the only woman ever to reach the podium.

Despite all his hurdles, Parlier manages to finish the race in front of two remaining competitors.

The Authority of Chances and Choices

Then you have a story of Michel Disjoyeaux, a.k.a. The Professor in the Open 60 sailing community, and probably the best sailor ever to compete on Vendee Globe.

Disjoyeaux wins the edition in which Parlier pulls his heroic feat.

At that time, back in 2000/01…

Disjoyeaux helms PRB. His closest competitors are Roland Jourdain — remember the whale? — Parlier, and MacArthur as the newcomer and media favorite.

After breathing down each other’s' neck for almost the whole race, The Professor seals his victory only after crossing the Equator on the upwind Atlantic portion, in no small part due to his astonishing weather strategy and breakage of the stay on MacArthur's boat. She arrives twenty-five hours later.

After the triumph, Disjoyeaux departs into the world of trimarans and returns for the 2008/09 edition of Vendee Globe.

While he is away…

Another giant arises in IMOCA 60 peloton, Vincent Riou.

A former shore-crew member of Disjoyeaux’s team, Riou purchases the same PRB boat and goes on against Jean Le Cam in the 2004/05 edition. The latter has a better, newer yacht, but Riou is poised.

As they reach the Indian Ocean and latitude of forty degrees — which brings roaring westerly winds blowing clockwise; hence the name, Roaring Forties — Riou and Le Cam are within sight of each other.

Their drag-race continues to the Cape Horn, which Le Cam crosses in the lead. As they start their climb through the Atlantic Ocean, the general public imagines Le Cam taking the podium.

Riou disagrees.

Taking the more extended, dream-route allowing him to sail faster, Vincent the Terrible — as Jean now nicknames him; you have to admire his spirit — crosses the finish line first, as Le Cam arrives less than seven hours later.

Riou and Le Cam, plus several other high-end competitors — thirty at the start line, all in all — line up for the 2008/09 edition…

…when The Professor decides to take another shot.

(Imagine yourself winning huge at the blackjack table only to see Don Johnson as he cozily seats next to you, gives you a wink, and grins: ‘Sup?’)

The Bay of Biscay greets the start of the Race of the Century, as this edition is referred to, with an unusual storm. Four skippers retire, dismasted at the bay — talk about expectations and four years of preparations, blown away with the wind; no scatter symbols here — and five have to return to the port for repairs.

Disjoyeaux is among them: He has a ballast leak which floods his boat, Foncia, damages his engine, and the majority of his electrics.

His reaction? “Pas de problème.”

The Professor set sail again forty-one hour after the start. On November 15, his deficit is 670 nautical miles from the last competitor in the peloton.

As Disjoyeaux climbs the rankings, the dismasting carnage hits the frontrunners, forcing several retirements in the Indian Ocean. At that time, only sixteen sailors are left in the race.

(That’s slightly less than fifty percent attrition rate; so much about the house edge.)

By December 16, The Professor takes the lead.

You Can’t Make These Things Up

Jourdain, Le Cam, Riou, and Armel Le Cléac'h — another rising star and one of my personal favorites — follow him closely as they pass the Nemo Point.

(Editor’s note: So, now we have Jules Verne in this story?)

In a way. If you type 45°52.6S, 123°23.6W into your GPS or Google Maps, you’ll see the Nemo Point. Its name is a tribute to Captain Nemo, yes, but also represents Latin translation for the word ‘no man,’ which is only fitting: As you reach this spot, you’re closer to astronauts in space than to any land on Planet Earth.

Anyhow…

Riou knows he’s the best upwind sailor amongst them, so he patiently waits his chance to round the Cape Horn and strike.

Suddenly, Le Cam capsizes on his VM Matériaux two hundred nautical miles from the Cape Horn in South Pacific. The seawater floods his boat. He spends sixteen hours trapped in an upturned yacht on the big seas, as the wind speeds exceed 25-30 knots. (One knot equals a nautical mile).

Riou, onboard newly constructed PRB, comes to his aid.

Le Cam escapes through the stern hatch but cannot fetch the line Riou throws. As Vincent The Terrible maneuvers to get closer, his outrigger — angled spreader rising from the deck, reducing compression of the mast — hits the keel of Le Cam’s inverted yacht.

The PRB’s mast bends thirty degrees, but Riou manages to consolidate his position. On the third attempt, Le Cam catches the line, and Riou winches him in onboard PRB.

(Mind you, no engine involved: All sails, taming gusts.)

As Riou and Le Cam pass Cape Horn joking about making history as the only two people in the Vendee Globe ever to round it on the same sailboat, the main rigging on PRB gives way, and the yacht losses its mast.

Vincent Riou, who came only to win this edition — this guy doesn’t count anything else as success; I like him a lot — is out. He forfeits four years of preparations, a brand new boat, his dreams, and hopes, without hesitation, just to save Le Cam, which, in return, cost him the race.

Disjoyeaux wins Vendee Globe and becomes the only sailor ever to do it twice thus far.

Now…

Now lucky was Disjoyeaux in this edition? Exceptionally. To compensate for such a deficit and to emerge victoriously is nothing short of remarkable. Was luck the only thing that helped him? By all means, no. If it weren’t for his determination, knowledge, and skills, none of the misfortunes of others would have mattered.

He believed he was there to compete, went out, and won, despite all hurdles.

(Talk about gut feeling or intuition driving roulette players to make a straight-up bet when no one else even contemplates it.)

Not all Vendee competitors were that lucky. One of them, Gerry Roufs, tragically lost his life in 1997.

Others went down in legends, such as Bertrand de Broc, who bit off his tongue in the 1992/93 edition when a mainsail halyard hit him straight into the face. Guided by the physician’s instructions, telexed him from the shore, de Broc used a needle and thread to suture his tongue back.

Indeed…

The drive these people have to go across "tempest-ravaged seas [and] house-sized swells" is nothing short of amazing.

Age has nothing to do with it. You’ll find sailors in their twenties or thirties just as you’ll see those in their sixties.

The same goes for sex: Aside from Isabelle Autissier, Anne Liardet, Karen Leibovici, Lady Ellen MacArthur, Dee Kafari, and Samantha Davies — who took part in earlier editions — among thirty-three skippers at the start of this year’s Vendee Globe, there are six women.

(If you watched the video above, that red and white yacht, Initiatives-Coeur — that’s Sam Davies.)

Fair-Play of Well-Regulated, Um, Casino?

Notwithstanding budgets and the ensuing quality of their sailboats, all sailors compete under the same conditions. Each one receives identical GRIB files — a unique binary format of weather data — from the race headquarters to ensure they all have equal chances to win.

In fact…

Boat-to-shore-to-boat communication is closely monitored to ensure fair play.

People of different nationalities, varying motives, and skills, with hugely diverse yachts participate in Vendee Globe. The last thing any of them want is to have the rogue environment they compete in.

(One guy, Donald Crowhurst, a British businessman and amateur sailor, did try to fake his accomplishments while racing the 1969 Sunday Times Golden Globe Race — Vendee Globe’s predecessor. He abandoned the contest on top of the South Atlantic, begun to report false positions while attempting to create an appearance of racing, with an idea to resume the race on the same spot in the upwind portion. Principally, Crowhurst’s goal was to cheat. He was lost at sea, and his logs indicate complex psychological issues, even remorse. All he ever wanted was attention, and he certainly got it in the most tragic way.)

In case two or more sailors chase each other across oceans, all they strive for is — to remain in the same weather system.

Michel Disjoyeaux exploited this particular phenomenon to the greatest possible extent in his comeback of all comebacks. As Roland Jourdain quipped sardonically at the time, “I do not know what Mich has done to deserve it, but he opens all the weather doors and closes them politely behind him.”

The 2016/17 edition of Vendee Globe offers an even greater testimonial on the gamble these people take when it comes to winds in their sails.

Armel Le Cléac'h, on board Banque Populaire, and Alex Thompson, behind the tiller of Hugo Boss, chase each other since the beginning of the race. These supreme skippers already have several Vendees under their belt; they know their sailboats perfectly and are not shy to push them insanely hard.

Just like Riou once upon a time, both of them are here only to win.

In the South Pacific…

Le Cléac'h finally catches a different weather system, enabling him to build 800 nautical miles lead over Thompson. That’s an almost unbeatable advantage: Even under the ideal conditions, Alex is close to two navigational days behind Armel.

(Keyword in the last sentence? Almost.)

Upon rounding Cape Horn, Le Cléac'h hits the wall of light air. Thompson, on the other hand, still in the Pacific, has all the wind he needs.

Six days later, the distance between the two of them is thirty nautical miles. In his Atlantic pursuit, a British sailor even breaks the world record for the greatest distance solo-sailed in a day: 536 miles.

(Talk about volatility, ha?)

Le Cléac'h — known in the Open 60 community as the Jackal for his reputation of chasing and hunting down his opponents — is all of a sudden the hunted one.

But…

This guy is something special. For the last two Vendees, he comes in second place. This time, he’s not giving his prize to anyone.

Le Cléac'h uses remarkable equanimity, tricky weather conditions, plus Thompson's faulty steering and extreme exhaustion; the latter two reasons cost Armel dearly in the previous edition he lost to Francois Gabart, Disjoyeaux's protégée.

Eventually, he slips away to win the race in seventy-four days.

Thompson arrives second, fifteen hours later.

(Let that sink in: 24,000 nautical miles around the world and a bit more than a half of a day separate the first two at the podium.)

The reaction of Alex Thompson when Le Cléac'h crossed the finish line? “I don’t care about the finish right now; I just want to sleep.”

The Joy of Little Things and Returning Favors

That’s the level of exhaustion these people face.

To remain so vigilant in facing such adversity, sailors sleep in twenty minutes intervals when they can and undertake special training to get used to it. The objective is to wash away the tiredness but remain alert.

The same goes for the food they consume, whether as pre-cooked meals, similar to MRE, or freeze-dried ones. Each day has a zip bag marked with the date; the menu varies depending on the conditions and the temperature.

However…

Eating pleasure ranks high, just as fun remains the essential ingredient of gambling.

Sebastien Josse, yet another Frenchman, takes onboard meals prepared by Michelin starred chef, as he cherishes delicious bites. There’s an anecdote describing how Josse managed to save a few packs all the way to New Zealand; he was happy as a clam.

Others take peanuts, fruit pastilles, hazelnuts, chocolate, sweets, jelly babies, whatever gives them joy and energy. But, come Christmas and New Year celebrations, they all open presents, enjoy special treats, and take a sip of champagne.

Both sleep and food patterns, as well as fluids intakes — sailors use desalinators to produce fresh water from the sea — are closely monitored by shore crews since they’re not only paramount for the health but performances as well.

Each calorie is calculated, every minute counts.

In the current edition, sailors even wear belts that continuously collect data — pulse, heart rate — to measure fatigue and recovery needs. Some use portable devices and sensors to analyze physical and mental state and avoid red zones.

(Quite similar to responsible punters who do not chase their losses or go above stop-win limitations, thus avoiding traps of compulsive gambling behavior.)

Speaking of the 2020/21 race…

As said, this is the first one I don’t have my favorite. It’s a matter of generational change: Riou and Le Cléac'h don’t compete anymore, and I still have to locate the chosen one among the youngsters.

It also means this race is infinitely slower, as the newcomers have less experience and confidence.

For instance, Le Cléac'h passed Cape Horn in 2016 on December 24, while this time, the peloton only surpassed New Zealand on the same date.

Despite that, one sailor got to return a life-saving favor in this edition: Jean Le Cam rushed to Kevin Escoffier’s aid just as Vincent Riou on board PRB came to his twelve years ago.

On December 1, 2020…

Escoffier’s sailboat literally breaks in two, in 25-30 knots southwesterly winds, some 840 nautical miles off Cape Town, South Africa. At that moment, he is third in the race.

As he describes the experience:

“In four seconds, the boat nosedived, the bow folded at 90 degrees. I put my head down in the cockpit; a wave was coming. I had time to send one text before the wave fried the electronics. It was completely crazy. It folded the boat in two. I’ve seen a lot before, but this one…”

EPIRB on his yacht activates automatically, and the race headquarters diverts Le Cam, the closest sailor — among other three — to conduct the rescue operation.

Now 61 years old, Le Cam arrives eleven and a half hours later, in the middle of the night, only to find Escoffier in his liferaft, fully dressed in the survival suit.

(Talk about expecting the unexpected and being prepared for just about anything: Kevin had minutes to inform his shore team, grab his gear, and launch the lifeboat.)

Le Cam picks him up, and several days later, Kevin debarks to a French Navy frigate, which takes him to Reunion Island, east of Madagascar.

Guess what the name of Escoffier’s sailboat was?

PRB.

This Is Why We Need the Winds

All these sailing stories of human achievements are here to remind us why we seek and need winds in 2021.

No, not only to find out who'll win Vendee Globe but, much more importantly, to feel the flow of life no matter how we label the events, and to keep moving forward regardless of obstacles, challenges, or even disasters.

As any sailor or player, and all of us after windless 2020, will testify, anything between breeze and gale takes us one step closer to our destination or goal.

Even the doldrums do, albeit not comfortably, both as periods of stagnation or depression and the Intertropical Convergence Zone as well.

This particular area near the Equator is where the northeast and southeast trade winds converge. It is notorious for its gamble-like unpredictable weather conditions, which create dreaded impediment each Vendee competitor has to negotiate twice.

Perhaps 2020 was precisely that; only we draw the short straw.

Indeed…

That year took away our chances to make new choices and start all over again, just like Disjoyeaux had to return only to be graced with the victory.

That year forced us to forfeit our dreams for the sake of saving lives, just as Riou did when he picked up Le Cam only to see his four-year efforts dismasted in doing so.

That year has taught us how to stitch our expressions and feelings on Zoom or Skype, alone, just as de Broc had to suture his tongue back.

That year administered lessons of humility and returning favors to each other, just as Le Cam paid Riou his debt of life by saving Escoffier.

All those longitudes and latitudes between life and sailing and gambling bring us back to the beginning of this literary journey, just as Vendee Globe takes its sailors back to Les Sables-d’Olonne.

We. Want. The. Wind.

To take away that year full of standstills and to take us into the next one.

There is a word in ex-Yugoslavia states describing the still, windless condition of the sea: Bonaca. Well, in 2021, we hope for the bonanza as we seek all the blows and puffs life has to offer.

With that in our hearts and minds…

To all beloved LCB'ers and each soul in this world, we wish you a Happy New Year on behalf of our whole team.

Have a lot of wind in your sails and not a single capsize or dismasting issue as you ride the waves of your skills, luck, responsibility, and fun this year.

(Editor's note: Now, that’s the vessel I want to undock and get underway!)

“the story of this race, intertwined with gambling, seemed fitting to kick-off the New Year”

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