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Leader Yannick Bestaven is being forced to play chicken with the Vendée Globe’s ice zone limit in the South Pacific as he seeks to extricate his Maître CoQ IV first from a frustrating anticyclone which is offering unusually light to moderate breezes even though they are racing at 55 degrees south. 
Bestaven, who has seen his margin eroded to 84 miles by Figaro one design ace Charlie Dalin while Thomas Ruyant is also about 80 miles behind.

The problem all three leaders face is that the centre of the system is moving east at more or less the same speed as they are. But if Bestaven can wriggle clear and his pursuers remain snared then the leader could hit the jackpot, gaining an advance of many hundreds of miles. Bestaven took himself to within 3.4 nautical of the virtual line today before he gybed back north-eastwards, all the time trying to stay as far south as he could where the winds are strongest.

Charlie Dalin, in second, admitted that the stress of the scenario was keeping him awake during a phase he really needs to be maximising his rest. Speaking on the Vendée Globe English Live show today, in the dark during the Southern Pacific Ocean night, Dalin said, 
 “I am under a high level of pressure because my 90 miles deficit to Maitre Coq could transform into 1000 miles if I cannot manage to outrace this high pressure. I am under a lot of stress, trying to sail as hard as I can to be able to stay east of this high-pressure centre, which will travel towards us in the next couple of days. It is really stressful because I know that if I don’t manage I could end up in a different system to Yannick and lose a lot of ground.”

He affirms, “The weather we have in the Pacific is weird, I feel like I am more sailing a Figaro leg than the Vendée Globe. It is full-on racing at the moment. I have got as many square metres of sail up that I can have up. It is really weird. Before the start of the race I was not expecting to be sailing like this at 55 degrees south. It Is always easier to sleep at night and so I should be asleep right now. But it is keeping me awake. It is hard to find the balance in the long term because when the wind starts to get light then I know I will have to be in top shape. So it is not an easy compromise to find between getting some rest and trimming the boat to be as fast as possible.”

Arriving later towards the centre of the high, the second wave are led by Boris Herrmann (SeaExplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco) and right now are watching closely to see if the three leaders can get out of the system. “We are the hunters for sure right now. Our question is whether they will escape or we all end up in the same system.”

It is the first six skippers, Bestaven, Dalin, Ruyant, Herrmann, Le Cam and rookie Benjamin Dutreux who are most affected by this area of weak and erratic wind. Behind them the systems are aligning to offer a significant catch up in a strong north westerly flow

 “There will be a regrouping they will come back strong from behind, it is a little annoying but it is all part of the game” noted Dutreux. 
Groupe Apicil’s Damien Seguin is fighting hard to make the best of any possible comeback: “I have the opportunity to come back. I am ready to fight. I'm waiting for the right time.”

After his stop at Macquarie Island Louis Burton is in fighting spirits, ready to press as hard as he can to regain lost miles. Having been up to second in the South Indian Ocean before his damage, the skipper from Saint Malo is focused on giving his all in pursuit of the top five finish which was his pre-start target.

And the best in the South Pacific had been consistently Armel Tripon on L’Occitane in Provence. He posted the best average speed of the fleet today: 446 miles 24 hours compared to just 257 for Thomas Ruyant. “Numbers speak louder than words.” Tripon wrote this morning after entering the South Pacific: “To my right, Antarctica, an immense continent that I dream of seeing up close one day, and in front of me, far, very far, Cape Horn! Between us, a gigantic ocean and in front a whole lot of tiny boats I dream of overtaking!” One part of that dream seems sure to come true.

Spain’s Didac Costa: The passage of Cape Leeuwin as his 40th Birthday Present
The Barcelona firefighter who is currently in 19th position celebrated his 40th birthday today asn should cross Cape Leeuwin before midnight on the ex-Kingfisher of Ellen MacArthur with whom she won the Route du Rhum 2002. Didac, who raced his 2016-17 race largely on his own under Australia fighting mainsail and technical issues is fighting in a of 5 IMOCAs in a match which is as exciting as at the top of the fleet. He is tussling all the time with the British skipper Pip Hare, Stéphane Le Diraison, Manu Cousin and Arnaud Boissières who is the leader of the small posse.

Vendee Globe Rankings at 1700

1. Yannick Bestaven [Maître CoQ IV] —> 10,293.1 nm from the finish
2. Charlie Dalin - [ APIVIA ] —> 73.42 nm from the leader
3. Thomas Ruyant [ LinkedOut] —> 154.36 nm from the leader
4. Boris Herrmann - [ SeaExplorer - Yacht Club de Monaco ] —> 285.25 nm from the leader
5. Jean Le Cam [ Yes We Cam! ]—> 360.48 nm from the leader

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Yannick Bestaven, who has been at the front of the Vendee Globe fleet for four days, passed the Antimeridian at 1337hrs UTC this Sunday afternoon with his lead now extended to 120 nautical miles over second-placed Charlie Dalin.

Of the mental milestones that the Vendée Globe skippers tick off along the 24,410 nautical miles solo race round the world, the Antimeridian – or 180th Meridian – is a significant boost to morale.

It is there that they see their longitude start to drop from 180 and emotionally each degree feels closer to home and to the Les Sables d’Olonne finish line at 1.799 W.

Bestaven has had the advantage of staying in the better breeze than Dalin and third placed Thomas Ruyant but this looks set to be a complicated week ahead for the leaders as a high pressure will block their path midweek which could require something of a detour north to find better wind and in fact they might find themselves sailing upwind for a period just before Christmas.

The second part of this ninth edition of the Vendée Globe looks set to offer even more tension and excitement with the prospect of the top 11 skippers being within 800 nautical miles of each other at Cape Horn around the 31st December or the first day of 2021.

Consider that the last two editions have seen either the leader or pair of leaders more than that distance ahead of the third placed boat and the climb up the Atlantic in January promises to be a sporting spectacular.

And on his new scow bowed Manuard design Armel Tripon, presently 14th on the standings is on the hunt, seemingly always in a beneficial wind regime which is allowing him to consistently pull back miles on those immediately in front of him, “It's a different phase (for the leaders) now until Cape Horn, the cards can still be redistributed but of course there will be opportunities until the end."

Burton At Macquarie
After arriving in the lee of the remote mist shrouded Macquarie Island, 840 miles south east of Tasmania, this morning (European time) Louis Burton climbed the 28 metre mast of Bureau Vallée 2 as it drifted gently offshore. He went up at 11.18hrs UTC and returned to the deck after two very hard, chilly hours during which he accomplished a partial repair to the mast track damage which had been preventing him from using his mainsail to its full hoist since early in the Indian Ocean. He reported to his team that as he drifted offshore the seas had become too rough to continue his work to finish the repair and deal with the electronics problem he had there too. And so the skipper from Saint Malo was considering anchoring in Lusitania Bay which is much more protected but always involves more risk anchoring and retrieving an anchor unassisted.

With less than 100 miles to go the young Swiss skipper Alan Roura will be the next to pass Cape Leeuwin in 15th place. Britain’s Pip Hare is having a fantastic race right now, profiting in the stronger winds on her first time ever in the Southern Ocean. She has closed miles on Les Sables d’Olonne’s Arnaud Boissières who is on a newer boat and is on his fourth consecutive Vendée Globe and she has also moved more than 60 miles clear of Didac Costa who is on his second consecutive Vendée Globe and third round the world race in five years – as is Jean Le Cam who has been a mentor to the Catalan skipper as he has also to Damien Seguin and Benjamin Dutreux. While Hare may be a newcomer to the south her Medallia a 20 year old Pierre Rolland design knows its own way as this is its fifth racing circumnavigation, the last time in the hands of Roura who is only 453 nautical miles ahead.

Isabelle Autissier, the first woman to complete a solo round the world race, was the guest on the French Live show today, Isabelle Autissier, on the French LIVE.

The legendary pioneer has sailed around the world four times, including once in the Vendée Globe, in the terrifying 1996-1997 race, when out of the fifteen boats that set off, only six finished the race. That was the race which saw Gerry Roufs lost at sea. Autissier spent a long time looking for him in hellish seas in the Pacific. Out of the official race after a pit stop in Cape Town to repair a damaged rudder, she went back to complete the course – as Sam Davies is inspired to do now – arriving ‘hors course’ back in Les Sables d’Olonne after 105 days with a lot of memories. "I knew I would only do that race once. The Vendée Globe is something that has to be earned."

Today Autissier remarked, “This is a pretty incredible race. I do not recall having ever seen one likes this, and I have followed them all, with so many different battles going on and such a big bunch together in the lead. The speeds are just amazing. I did the Vendée Globe a long time ago now and then I thought we were going fast, but today it is just incredible, there is no comparison. I am happy to see that there have not been too many breakages, some of course, but I see that the sailors are all very capable and able to fix things, which is pretty impressive because it shows the boats are strong and safe.”

A staunch advocate for ocean health, she commented, “In my role as president of WWF France, we work hard to protect the remote areas the fleet goes through like the Kergeulen Islands. Earth is the only planet with an Ocean, and it is the ocean that gives life to Earth. We depend on the Ocean for the health of our planet and we must protect her. It is of the utmost importance to us; it provides 50% our oxygen through the plankton and it regulates the temperature of our planet. If ultimately, we do not respect it, it will be us who suffer in the long term. We need to look at it from the climate change perspective, the fishing, plastic pollution and there is just a lot to do.”

Talking of Davies she said, “I did send a message to Sam when she was in Cape Town saying that it was a real opportunity to complete her journey and that she would enjoy doing the full trip, like I did when it happened to me. For me it was a real pleasure to be able to finish it, and I did not have the pressure to race, which at the time was quite tough as I was among the favourites in third place when it happened, but after I set off again full pelt and complete at one with the boat and the sea. I got the welcome in the Sables d’Olonne, when I finished 24 hours after the first, as if I were second overall. I am watching Sam and she will finish her race around the world.”

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Caught up in the lighter winds at the back of a front during the hours of the European night, daytime for the leaders, has seen second-placed Charlie Dalin concede handful of miles to leader Yannick Bestaven. Looking briefly at comparisons with the 2016-17 race – this edition is more than six days slower – Dalin observed this morning, “I am I'm looking at Armel's track of four years ago and, yes, he's way ahead of us. So we are not going fast, are we? I would prefer it to be a little more 'sporty' and a bit less comfortable ”.

The solo skipper who originates from Normandy might not exactly be feeling short-changed in the south Pacific Ocean racing at 55 degrees south – the so-called Furious Fifties –yesterday seeing 15 degrees in the boat, blue skies and sunshine and moderate winds but the gybes between the lighter winds to the north and the ice barrier to the south become wearing and there is little strategy involved.

“Yes I am knitting a bit, pure New Zealand wool!” joked Dalin of the zig-zag gybing path he is constrained to slide eastwards on.

“Last night the front passed over me, we had been racing with it for a long time, it was a really slow-moving front and unfortunately for me I had a fairly light breeze after the front, so I have lost a bit of ground on Yannick and also a bit of ground on Thomas. And now my wind is a bit different from Yannick and so that is why I cannot make the same course and yes, another front is arriving towards me and I will gybe as the wind turns and we will start a long series of gybes between the ice zone and the high pressure. Unfortunately, the high pressure is moving east at roughly the same pace as us and so it gonna be the same scenario for a few days, stuck between the ice zone and the high pressure and so we will have to do a lot of gybes to stay in the wind. After that then we could be upwind for a while. For now I am focusing on my short term strategy and everything is good on board, my repair seems to be holding. I am still in the process of learning still how to use the boat without the foil it is a new way to trim the boat on starboard, the main thing is my repair seems to be holding. That is good news and so I will probably gybe fairly soon.” Said the Apivia skipper.

After being 59 miles behind Bestaven last night and the gap widened this morning to 90 miles. Maitre Coq has been at 14 knots on average during the last 24 hours Dalin has been around 11.5 to 12.

Meantime Germany’s Boris Herrmann (SeaExplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco) is leading the charge behind, working close to the ice wall in better breeze, and has closed to within 109 miles of third-placed Thomas Ruyant.

Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée 2) is heading at low speed (9.2 knots) for Macquarie Island, which he should join in the next few hours, to repair his rigging. The good news is that since last night the skipper from Saint-Malo can again rely on an autopilot which is good news as Burton hadn't slept since Thursday ...

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Thomas Ruyant, who is lying in second place in the Vendée Globe, has slowed his boat to a near halt after discovering that the front bow compartment of his IMOCA LinkedOut was filling with water.

Shortly before 2100hrs Ruyant, who is managed by Ireland's Marcus Hutchinson, has engaged both his main pumps to drain this usually watertight compartment.

The bulkhead doors are closed and so the main living space on the boat is not affected.

As soon as the water is fully evacuated Ruyant will make a complete examination of the boat to make a definitive diagnosis of the problem.

Published in Vendee Globe

The Vendee Globe International Jury published their decisions for time compensations awarded to three of the four skippers who were involved in the rescue operation for Kevin Escoffier during the period late afternoon and overnight Monday, November 30 when the PRB skipper had to abandon his boat some 850 miles SW of Cape Town. Race Direction asked four competitors to change their course and put their race on hold, to assist Escoffier, the PRB skipper. The four skippers subsequently requested redress.

Sébastien Simon (ARKEA PAPREC), who was involved was later forced to retire due to damage to his boat and therefore waived his claim for redress.

The three skippers are Yannick Bestaven (Maître CoQ), Jean le Cam (Yes We Cam!), Boris Herrmann (SeaExplorer - Yacht Club de Monaco).

The international jury of the Vendée Globe 2020, chaired by Georges Priol (FRA), after investigation, established that the progress of these three solo sailors "was significantly altered through no fault of (their) own, to go and give help to FR85 in accordance with RRS 1.1. The conditions for giving redress are met (RRS 62.1 (C)"

These "rectifications" are expressed as a time compensation.

This time will be credited to the three skippers once the finish line is crossed. Decisions are final with no appeal.

Decisions

Boris Herrmann (SeaExplorer - Yacht Club de Monaco): "The majority international jury gives redress to MON10 as follows: the finish time of MON10 will be the time at which it finishes minus 6 hours".

Yannick Bestaven (Maître-CoQ): "The majority international Jury gives redress to FRA 17 as follows: the finish time of FRA17 will be the time at which he finishes minus 10hrs 15mins".

Jean le Cam (Yes We Cam!): "The majority international Jury gives redress to FRA01 as follows: FRA01's finish time will be the time at which he finishes minus 16hrs 15mins".

The Race Direction which managed the rescue operations also took note of the redress request made by the skippers. It reports to the President of the Jury and to the Vendée Globe race committee. The jury takes its decision by a majority decision of its members. It is up to the race committee to apply them when the skippers cross the finish line.

Jury Members

Georges PRIOL IJ FRA President
Lance Burger IJ RSA
Romain Gautier IJ FRA
Trevor Lewis IJ GBR
Ana Sanchez IJ ESP

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Yannick Bestaven, skipper of Maître CoQ IV took the lead of the Vendée Globe early this morning. And though the 47-year-old from La Rochelle who is sailing a 2015 launched boat has threatened the lead before sailing an accomplished, express passage on his first time across the Indian Ocean, ‘Besta’ today becomes the 10th different leader on the 20th lead change on this remarkable Vendée Globe since the start in Les Sables d’Olonne back on Sunday 8th November.

Bestaven is now jousting with Thomas Ruyant as the pair scythe eastwards leaving the Indian Ocean behind and passing into the Pacific tonight, on a fast port gybe running as close to the Ice Exclusion Zone as they dare in the decidedly chilly Fifties. The leaders will also pass the midpoint of the 24410 nautical miles course this evening.

Bestaven and Ruyant are 15 nautical miles apart this evening. Earlier in the day they spoke on VHF radio. The LinkedOut skipper noted on the morning call that maybe Bestaven’s older generation VPLP-Verdier design might prove quicker as the 25 kts breeze moves aft to give more VMG downwind conditions. Meantime the Maître Coq IV skipper has continued to show high average speeds on what will be a long port gybe drag race for the next three days at least.

One hundred and forty miles behind them previous leader Charlie Dalin is back in the game after an exceptionally tough and exacting repair made to the foil bearing and housing on the port side of his APIVIA. Dalin told today how he worked steadily through a detailed plan including accurate drawings of the replacement carbon composite part he had to cut and replace into the foil housing, while suspending himself from a halyard.

Dalin explained, “The hardest part was fitting it. I was going back and forwards between the cockpit and the foil exit location on the hull I was suspended by a halyard to reach the point where I could fit the chock and I don’t know how many times I went back and forth, I don’t know 30 or 40 times to adjust the carbon piece to fit in the foil case. And in the end just before nightfall I managed to fit the piece in and tinker it. It was a big relief as I could see the sun going down. I was saying to myself ‘Charlie you really have to do this, you have to do this before it is dark because after that it is going to be too late. I worked really hard and managed to do it.”

Wearing a smile of relief he had admitted, “I have had a few problems. But this one puts the rest in perspective. Before a small problem felt big for me, a big concern, and after this one all my problems before they feel small. I am glad this one is over and I feel I have gained confidence in my ability in fixing the boat and I really hope the repair will hold. I now know what the Vendée Globe is about it is about surviving, managing to carry on with the boat. Boats tend to lose percentages of performance as you go on and the game is to lose fewer percentages than the opposition. So I hope I won't lose any more per cent from now.

Now I have to cross the biggest ocean in the world, the Pacific and in my line of sight is Cape Horn, it seems so far, far away, so many thousands of miles, but believe me I am glad the Indian Ocean is over soon.”

He concluded “I happy to do this and to still be in the race. I am only 150 nautical miles behind the leaders. It is not unachievable to come back, so I am here and I am back and I have them in my sights.”

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Having been slowed since around 1800hrs UTC yesterday evening to evaluate and then today to make some kind of repair to his port side foil system of APIVIA, one-time Vendee Globe leader Charlie Dalin has dropped to third and lost over 120 miles to his two nearest rivals Thomas Ruyant and Yannick Bestaven. But Dalin, Vendée Globe leader for 23 days up until last night, appears to be back in race mode this afternoon, making over 14kts south eastwards towards the south Pacific Ocean.

His team have so far only shared scant details about the problem, saying only that the damage is not thought to have been caused by a collision with an object.

Dalin’s communication said “The port foil remains whole. The damage is to the lower support, where the foil rests as it leaves the boat. Charlie has therefore been focusing on strengthening the foil attachment to make sure the casing remains secure.”

Meanwhile, Ruyant, who himself has no working port foil on LinkedOut, has taken over the race lead again with a small margin of around 10 miles over Bestaven’s Maître CoQ as the leading group broad reach south eastwards towards the Antarctic Exclusion Zone before gybing to parallel the ice boundary and accelerate into the Pacific Ocean later tomorrow or Thursday.

Over three hundred miles behind the leading trio, after 36 days and very nearly half of the 24,410 nautical miles course, five IMOCAs are racing within sight of each other in high-pressure conditions more akin to the Mediterranean than 47 degrees south, some 1000 miles south of Adelaide, Australia.

Boris Herrmann, the German skipper of SeaExplorer - Yacht Club de Monaco was visited by Louis Burton’s drone, then – predictably – they all started filming each other! There is less than four miles between Jean Le Cam (Yes We Cam!) in fourth Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée 2) in fifth, sixth-placed Herrmann, seventh-placed Benjamin Dutreux (OMIA-Water Family) and eighth positioned Damien Seguin (Groupe APICIL).

Herrmann enthused, “It has been such an amazing day, I really had to jump on my pilot to not crash into Damien, we were kind of converging like magnets pulling the boats one to each other. Of course, we were observing for a long time but I really didn’t want to touch my pilot because my boat was on the perfect set up for going fast. Now, I can see 4 lights around in the total darkness, and this is pretty amazing, 5 boats inside halfway around - this has never happened before! I was so close to Damian that I could talk to him boat to boat and look closely inside his cockpit and so on…And then we also chatted on WhatsApp.. it’s really nice - no more loneliness. My dream day! It was warm… part of the day I was working outside without a jacket: I made the stern of the boat my workbench and I was playing with the grinder and the drill and this and that… and glueing the sail back together. A really fun day for a change! With distractions and nice things to do. The boat was going nicely by itself while I was working! Still a bit to overtake them but let’s see how tonight goes. Not sure what happens with Apivia, seems like he has a problem with the foil case… but yeah, the Vendée Globe is always good for surprises! Like Francis Joyon says "Tu n’es jamais à l’abri d’une bonne surprise” = "today was really a nice surprise day": warm and quiet. Gentle in any sense.” Watch the video HERE

Herrmann’s objective for the day, to work through his job list while the benevolent conditions prevailed, was mirrored elsewhere in the fleet, although some jobs were achieved through sheer necessity rather than because of the conditions. Yannick Bestaven was ecstatic to have climbed his mast and patched his J2 headsail leech to make his workhorse sail serviceable again before the Pacific and therefore render his Maître CoQ back to 100% efficiency again.

Bestaven said this morning “It is good for our little group as we never stopped. We're going to get wind as we advance and we'll get more wind along the ice exclusion zone limit. We're going to continue to build the gap on the group behind; that's the aim. I had seen that the area of light pressure was catching up with us, that's why I used the little gennaker, a bit on the limit, it wasn't comfortable, and I had to be careful. I had to follow so as not to be caught up in the light patch with no wind behind. I did not know about Charlie (Dalin) but I could see he was slowing down. I'm not surprised! They are faster boats; they should have better averages than me. I suspected he had a problem, but I think Thomas (Ruyant) is doing well anyway. My foils aren't very big, but they are strong!”

Further back in 11th place Maxime Sorel’s J2 repair was less than easy on board V and B - Mayenne. He had been working round the clock since yesterday. "I'm burnt out, I've just spent nine hours non-stop repairing my J2 (one of his headsails). I don't have any hands left! I've repaired four metres of it. I started at 10pm GMT and finished at 7.30am. My only breaks were for gybes along the Ice Exclusion Zone. I did this listening to music and with lots of elbow grease! I slept for an hour and will sleep another hour before I take the sail out. It's very stiff, all 100m2 of it. It takes up the whole boat! Once the sail is out, I’ll have to rig it on the cable. Then I'll have to go back up to the mast to attach it. Given the state of the sea, I'll have to do it now because the conditions won't be so good afterwards."

"Right now, it looks like the South Atlantic, it's pretty cool. When I climbed the mast, I couldn't understand the state of the sea: we've been sailing on rough seas for ten days now. As the sea conditions had improved, I had the impression that it was OK. But once I got to the top, it wasn't so good! Now though it's going a lot better, I'm going to take advantage of it. I listened to an evening playlist while tinkering about, I had the Fugees playing, a bit of everything really. I had enough hours to play the playlist several times!" Conclude Maxime.

Rankings 17:00 UTC

1. Thomas Ruyant - [ LinkedOut ] —> 12,551.8 nm from the finish
2. Yannick Bestaven [Maître CoQ IV] —> 8.83 nm from the leader
3. Yannick Bestaven [Maître CoQ IV]—> 127 nm from the leader
4. Jean Le Cam [ Yes We Cam ! ] —> 433.23 nm from the leader
5. Louis Burton [ Bureau Vallée ] —> 436.62 nm from the leader

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After race leader for more than three weeks Charlie Dalin reported damage to his port foil system on APIVIA yesterday evening and has been slowed to less than six knots dealing with the issue as best he can it is the Irish managed Thomas Ruyant who leads the Vendée Globe standings this morning.

It is the second time Ruyant has topped the leaderboard having also led on November 21st.

But while all three leaders, Ruyant (LinkedOut) Yannick Bestaven (Maitre Coq), and Dalin (APIVIA) were within ten miles of each other this morning on the early rankings it was Ruyant who has been going fastest and looking set to capitalise when he resumed the lead he last held on 21st November.

Thomas Ruyant is the new leader of the Vendee Globe but the top three boats are all within ten miles of each otherThomas Ruyant is the new leader of the Vendee Globe but the top three boats are all within ten miles of each other

Dalin called his team around 1800hrs UTC last night to report that he had heard a loud noise whilst he was reaching southeastwards at around 17-19kts of boatspeed. He immediately slowed APIVIA and saw damage to his port foil system, the extent of which has not been communicated by his team. As he deals with the situation he has lost all of the 65 nautical miles lead he had over the Maître Coq IV skipper Bestaven.

Ruyant suffered damage to his port foil too but has remained in the top three since he hit an object in the South Atlantic and had to cut a large part of it off on 26th November and, though compromised he has managed to stay with the leaders.

Ruyant’s gains overnight are not just because Dalin has been slowed to less than six knots, but Bestaven also revealed this morning that he has just spent 90 minutes at the top of his mast repairing his J2, ‘all terrain’ headsail which has been damaged and out of action for more than a week. Sounding breathless but exuberant at his successful repair which was made at just the right time before heading into the south Pacific tomorrow or Thursday.

“I just came down from the mast! I'm sweaty but so happy. I didn't say anything to anyone, but it had been on my mind for days. I couldn't use my J2 which is the all-terrain sail which is more adaptable than the gennaker. I had to use my little gennaker, the boat has been on the edge for a long time, it was not at all comfortable and almost dangerous” confided Bestaven on his return from the top of the mast after cutting, patching, gluing his sail.

Although slowed noticeably this morning the top trio have been able to virtually double their lead over the chasing peloton, fourth-placed Benjamin Dutreux now 330 miles behind Ruyant.

Dutreux, the young 30 year old Vendée Globe first timer, is keeping veteran Jean Le Cam at bay for the meantime in fourth, Le Cam just nine miles behind and in turn still almost alongside Damien Seguin.

Boris Herrmann has closed right up to Louis Burton and is challenging for seventh this morning. The German skipper said last night:

“I did not really have time to celebrate at Cape Leeuwin but it was certainly a good moment, but I am thinking I will save the celebrations for the second half of the race. This little high pressure has stopped us a bit at the corner of the exclusion zone and after my routings yesterday it showed it stopping all of us, including Damien and Jean in front of me and maybe there will be some regrouping but the models are never so accurate down here. So I stay open minded and there there is nothing much to do about it, we can’t go left or right and we have to wait til it passes. But we see a clear separation with Yannick – who was my compagnon de route – who I lost quite a bit to. I am regretting how many miles I lost to him but I am very happy for him he is doing such excellent and showing what he can do and I truly admire him. So at 300 miles or so the separation is more defined for a longer time and they will get away and so right now we will have to see in the second half of the Pacific if there are opportunities to come back but my routing shows us keeping this separation for as long as I can see on the weather file.”

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The leader of the Vendée Globe since 23rd November Charlie Dalin has this evening reported damage to his port foil system, a situation that may well cost him the overall lead over the next few hours. 

Second-placed Yannick Bestaven's Maitre Coq now in second place is now going eight knots quicker than Dalin who is now is only 42 miles ahead.

While sailing in the southern Indian Ocean some 900 miles south-west of Tasmania at around 1800hrs UTC and leading the fleet by some 65 miles, Dalin heard a loud noise and immediately slowed the boat to assess the situation, discovering damage to his port foil system. Dalin called his technical team immediately.

On first inspection, the APIVIA skipper noticed that the port foil system was damaged. He did not report any water ingress. He and his team are reviewing the level of damage and repair options.

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Day 36 - Leader 620 miles to the longitude of Tasmania - The three leaders of the Vendée Globe, Charlie Dalin, Thomas Ruyant and Yannick Bestaven now have the potential to open up a meaningful distance on the group which has been chasing them hard as the top trio benefit from fast sailing conditions on the back of a low-pressure system.

Over the last 24 hours, the distance between the hard-driving third-placed Bestaven and Damien Seguin in fourth has increased by more than 60 nautical miles whilst leader Charlie Dalin can certainly contemplate reaching the midpoint of the race in the next few days with a margin of more than 300 miles in hand over Seguin and Jean Le Cam.

The trio should make hay for the next three day benefiting from SW’ly winds of 20-25kts. The huge Mascaregne high-pressure system which is dominating the South Indian Ocean is set to slow the speeds of Seguin, Le Cam, Benjamin Dutreux, Louis Burton and Germany’s Boris Herrmann and more especially the sailors just behind them. And so Dalin, Ruyant and Bestaven might make a definitive break as they enter the Pacific Ocean where, traditionally, a longer, more even swell should welcome them.

Once again underlining how close this race has been, eight solo skippers have crossed the longitude of Cape Leeuwin within 24 hours of leader Dalin. Herrmann crossed at 0809hrs UTC this morning on SeaExplorer Yacht Club de Monaco while Franco-German Isabelle Joschke on MACSF passed at 1109hrs UTC, 23 hrs and 49 minutes after the yellow hulled Apivia of leader Charlie Dalin. Joschke has been one of the fastest in the Indian Ocean from Cape to Cape. Italian skipper Giancarlo Pedote (Prysmian Group) crossed in tenth during the afternoon.

As they approach the midpoint of the race the leaders are now more than six days behind the race record but the group at the back of the fleet are more than one day ahead of the 2016 race pace of the equivalent group, confirming the race is more compact from front to back than on the last edition.

Dalin looked relaxed but very focused when he spoke on the Vendée Globe Live today, admitting that while he did not feel too much pressure he was monitoring his closest rivals much more closely, “For sure it is not the same now as a few days ago when they were 200 miles back. Now it makes more sense to compare their speeds and angles than before. Apivia is good everything is holding up well. My next complete check will be in the next period of lighter airs, maybe sailing past New Zealand but all is good.”

He added, “I am enjoying the race. You have some low moments, but they don’t last long for me. I know an awful lot of people would trade everything to be in my spot here with a latest generation boat.”

Guest on the Vendée Globe Live show today was Merf Owen, designer of four IMOCAs in the race fleet, Arnaud Boissière’s La Mie Caline-Artisans Artpole, Didac Costa’s OnePlanet-One Ocean, Miranda Merron’s Campagne de France and Ari Huusela’s Stark.

He highlighted the tenacity and drive of Barcelona’s Didac Costa who is sailing the former Kingfisher which was designed and built for Ellen MacArthur

“Didac is doing a fantastic job. He and Pep his brother prepped the boat themselves largely. We did a whole lot of lightening work on the ‘old girl’ this year. It was in doubt whether he would make it to the start but here he is on his second time around. Last time he showed some excellent speeds in the Pacific and he is doing the same things again. He is quite a guy.”

Owen explained, “We took the daggerboards out. The boards are old and Didac did not have the money to build new boards and they did not look to be in great condition. So we decided to give it go and we chopped them out. One of the strengths of our (Owen Clarke) boats is in the South Atlantic we have twice had boats which have lead because they were good upwind boats, but maybe (with no boards) he will suffer in the Atlantic a little but by taking the boards and the cases out we pulled nearly quarter of a tonne out of the boat.”

Maxime Sorel noticed two large tears on two of the headsails on board V and B - Mayenne which he has climbed the mast to fix.

17:00 UTC

1. Charlie Dalin - [ APIVIA ]—> 13,710.6 nm from the finish
2. Yannick Bestaven [Maître CoQ IV]—> 65.01 nm from the leader
3. Thomas Ruyant [LinkedOut]—> 65.01 nm from the leader
4. Damien Seguin [ Groupe Apicil ]—> 320.88 nm from the leader
5. Jean Le Cam [ Yes We Cam! ] —> 324.68 nm from the leader

Published in Vendee Globe
Tagged under
Page 6 of 23

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