Hungary’s Szabi Weöres (New Europe) checked another important box in his pursuit of a place on the start line of next year’s Vendée Globe today when he crossed the Retour à La Base finish line off Lorient this morning at 07:18:57hrs UTC to take 28th place. His elapsed time is 12d 15h 18min 57s and he finished a tantalising 14 minutes behind 27th placed Fabrice Amedeo (Newrest-Art et Fenetres).

The 50 year old ex-America’s Cup rigger who grew up racing on Lake Balaton and is an elite level triathlete only hatched his dream to race the Vendée Globe three or four years ago. He has an ideal boat in the Owen Clarke design which did the last race as Ari Huusela’s Stark IMOCA. With no solo racing background he admits his learning curve is steep, but his abiding philosophy is take things day by day, step by step and try and learn something new every day. After having to retire from last year’s Vendée Arctique race on the first night because a keel sensor swich failed, Szabi trained hard with his boat and completed last year’s Route du Rhum in 26th place.

His biggest set back on the Retour à La Base has been breaking a daggerboard on the second night at sea, but as most of the course has been on the other tack and downwind he has not been too compromised.


"It is a good feeling to be finished, not just to be across the line but to feel the end of a long season with a lot of things on, it is great to finish with this solo race, the only one of the season. In fact, I think everyone was really looking forwards to this race. And after the TJV and all the other races I think everyone – especially me – was already feeling a bit tired – but it was a very important race and I am very happy to have it finished. I was quite conservative, yes. The first goal was to finish the race and then to be conservative and safe, and not break too many things. But on the second night I broke my daggerboard and then as we went into the low pressure systems come across you have to head east but I stayed generally in the low part of the lows, on the edges. But at the end of the race you have these groups develop and so you all have your opponents and then you are really racing. I was in the right group for the age of my boat and also all of the same designers – Merf Owen – four other designs of his and it was interesting to race against them. 

I am still on a steep learning curve in terms of racing the boat, how to sail it fast, the angles and the trims. And this was a perfect opportunity to go a little bit deeper into the low and it is too much you can come out a bit. My sails are all good. I tore one old A5 which was past its useful life anyway. But actually I am very happy. I raced with my delivery sails and I did not break them, but they are still good sails. I am very tired. I did not get much sleep. I did not have too much sleep as it was so intense I was always watching, trimming and so I had no long sleeps, nothing ever more than 30 minutes for the last two weeks. So now I am looking to eat, shower and rest. Nest season will be short and intense and so I need to work on the boat but I need to focus in my strength and fitness. As a small team when you have to do a lot yourself it is something which slips because you always have something else to do so I am going to be very disciplined."


Finish time 13/12/2023 07:18:57 UTC Elapsed time 12d 15h 18min 57s
Delta to winner: 3d 15h 15min 09s
Delta to 27th: 14min 11s
Average speed on course 3 497.42 nm / 11.53 nds
Average speed on course sailed 4 075.55 nm / 13.44 nds

Source : Retour à la Base