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Displaying items by tag: Vendee Globe

A successful rescue operation has been carried out between some of the leading boats in the Vendee Globe race with the retrieval of skipper Kevin Escoffier (PRB) from his liferaft by Jean Le Cam (Yes We Cam!).

At 0118hrs UTC the PRB Team was informed that Escoffier has been rescued by fellow competitor Le Cam.

As Afloat reported previously, Escoffier had to abandon his IMOCA 60 PRB following damage yesterday afternoon around 1346hrs UTC and took to his liferaft some 840 nautical miles SW of Cape Town.

The rescue mission was coordinated from Les Sables d’Olonne by Vendée Globe Race Direction in collaboration with CROSS Griz Nez and MRCC South Africa. The President of PRB, Jean-Jacques Laurent was at the Race HQ with race director Jacques Caraës and the race direction team assisting through the entire process.

"He's on board with Jean!" These short words came as a huge relief for the whole team, for Escoffier’s family and all those involved in and following the Vendée Globe

Kevin has so far only been seen aboard YesWeCam via live video as Jean Le Cam had his video system connected during all the search operations. No one has yet been able to talk with the PRB skipper who just appeared smiling, bundled up in his survival suit alongside Jean Le Cam.

Vendée Globe race director Jacques Caraës outlined, “We sent Jean back to a position received by the CROSS Gris Nez, the position sent by the onboard EPIRB distress beacon. Météo France's drift simulation also delivered a trace. Jean set off at 00h15 UT (1h15 French time) on our request to reach this point at reduced speed. He found no one at the given location. He then resumed its journey southeast for three quarters for between 45 minutes and an hour - an hour. As he was making headway at 1.5 knots in a 20-25 knot wind under very reduced sail (3 reefs in the mainsail and no engine), he disappeared from the screen when suddenly we heard him talk. We no longer saw anyone. Then, a few minutes after 1:06 UT or 2:06 French time (time at which he had precisely to retrieve Kevin on board), Jean went back down to the chart table and then we saw Kevin arrive behind his back in a survival suit. They both appeared fit seconds before the video cut. He is fine. Everyone is well. They are recovering!"

On January 6, 2009, during the 2008-2009 Vendée Globe, Vincent Riou, the then the skipper of PRB, rescued Jean Le Cam from his upturned IMOCA 60 which capsized at Cape Horn.

This time 61-year-old five times Vendée Globe racer Le Cam has reversed the roles delivering Escoffier, the 40-year-old skipper from Saint Malo, from a potentially lethal situation.

The whole TEAM PRB and the Vendée Globe community sincerely thanks Jean Le Cam and the three other skippers, Boris Hermann, Yannick Bestaven and Sébastien Simon who have worked heroically and tirelessly to find Kevin, as well as the race director, the CROSS Gris Nez. and the MRCC Cape Town which coordinated the search

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Jean Le Cam, the nearest competitor to stricken Vendee Globe skipper Kevin Escoffier, has seen Escoffier in his life raft and, according to unconfirmed reports on social media, Le Cam is going to start his engine in order to rescue his rival.

Escoffier, 40, who is racing in third place in the Vendée Globe solo non-stop around the world race, positioned some 550 nautical miles SW of Cape Town, triggered his distress beacon this afternoon. He was racing in a strong SW’ly air stream on starboard tack behind a weather front.

Kevin Escoffier on board PRBKevin Escoffier on board PRB Photo: via Facebook

At 1346hrs (UTC), Escoffier managed to send a message to his shore team, explaining that he had an ingress of water into his boat. The rescue authorities (MRCC Cape Town and CROSS Griz Nez) are preparing an action plan in collaboration with his PRB shore team, with Jacques Caraës and the Vendée Globe Race Direction team. Jean Le Cam, the nearest competitor, changed course to sail to the last position given by the boat when the beacon was triggered (40°55 S 9°18 E).

Vendee Globe rivals converge on Kevin Escoffier's stricken PRB after a distress alert was sounded by the third placed skipperVendee Globe rivals converge on Kevin Escoffier's stricken PRB after a distress alert was sounded by the third-placed skipper

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Alex Thomson, the pre-race favourite to win the Vendee Globe, is out of the non-stop round the world race this afternoon after suffering rudder damage in the Southern Atlantic.

The British sailor is heading for Cape Town after a week of setbacks on his boat Hugo Boss.

The incident occurred on what was Thomson’s 19th day of racing, and it followed significant effort over the last five days and nights repairing cracks to the internal bow structure of his boat. Thomson was getting into his stride at the gateway to the Roaring Forties where his latest generation IMOCA was designed to be at its best.

Alex is currently 1,800 nautical miles from Cape Town and it is expected to take him around seven days to make the journey.

The British skipper, who was racing in the Vendée Globe for the fifth time, had received huge support and respect from around the world for the efforts he made to repair the bow area but there was no way to safely fix the rudder damage to allow him to race on for the what would have been the best part of one month in the hostile Southern Ocean.

Alex Thomson said, “Unfortunately, a repair is not possible. We therefore accept that this will be the end of the race for us. Myself, my team and our partners are of course deeply disappointed. We believe the best was yet to come in this race”

One of the two outstanding favourites to win this Vendée Globe, Thomson was third on the 2012-13 edition and finished second in 2016-17 after fighting back from being 48 hours behind eventual winner Armel Le Cléac’h at Cape Horn to finish only 16 hours behind the French skipper.

Luck has rarely run in his favour on this non-stop solo round the world race. In 2004-5 on his first attempt he had to abandon into Cape Town with damage to his deck after his boom gooseneck failed and in 2008-9 he had to retire early in the race with structural problems caused by a huge gale on the Bay of Biscay.

A statement from Alex and the team:

*******************
After incurring damage to the starboard rudder of the boat, Alex has ceased racing in the Vendée Globe and is now sailing the boat towards Cape Town.

Alex last night disconnected the starboard rudder and has since been sailing the yacht with just one rudder. After assessing the situation today, Alex and the team have decided that the only course of action is to cease racing and sail the boat to Cape Town.

Alex said: “Unfortunately, a repair is not possible. We, therefore, accept that this will be the end of the race for us. Myself, my team and our partners are of course deeply disappointed. We believe the best was yet to come in this race”.

Alex is currently 1,800 nautical miles from Cape Town and it is expected to take him around seven days to make the journey. He’ll do so without the use of his starboard rudder and so will proceed safely and cautiously.

Our technical team will travel to Cape Town to meet the yacht upon arrival.

On behalf of Alex and the team, we thank you for your support during this time.

Published in Vendee Globe

Vendee Globe competitor Alex Thomson Racing has issued an alert describing rudder damage to Hugo Boss which is reported to have occurred around 1900hrs UTC this Friday evening.

Thomson has control of the yacht with one rudder, and is safe and in no danger onboard.

Thomson is racing in 12th position and was doing around 10kts in an easterly direction on the 21hrs TU position report. 

Race tracker observers had noticed he was quite slow last night. Now he is averaging 10 knots when all those around him are averaging 17 knots. It is likely his starboard rudder is disconnected as they are all on port gybe at the moment and that would mean his port rudder would be out of the water if he allowed the boat to fully heel.

A team statement reads as follows: at approximately 19:00 UTC this evening Alex Thomson notified his technical team onshore of damage to the starboard rudder of his HUGO BOSS boat. The team immediately advised Thomson to disconnect the rudder to regain steerage. He now has control of HUGO BOSS with one rudder and is safe and in no danger onboard. The team is working to assess the extent of the damage. A further update will be released on Saturday 28th November.

It is yet another set-back for the British skipper the round the world race. The last four days were spent making repairs to the bow after a structural failure cost Hugo Boss the race lead.

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After cutting off part of his damaged port foil LinkedOut solo skipper Thomas Ruyant is back in full race mode, chasing runaway Vendée Globe leader Charlie Dalin who has escaped into the Roaring Forties, surging eastwards towards the longitude of Cape of Good Hope now with a cushion of 300 miles.

Ruyant cut two metres from the tip of his damaged foil in a perilous operation which was made easier by the unusually clement wind and sea conditions in the South Atlantic. His speeds will be compromised on starboard gybe especially during the ensuing month in the southern oceans but the skipper from north of France is determined to all he can to mitigate any loss of performance.

“Thomas is moving well now and wants to get as far south, to cross the fleet before he gybes over and it is good to see him back in the race at almost full potential. In terms of numbers it is difficult to estimate how much his potential will be compromised, the designers and team are working on estimations to what the new polars would be but the boat is compromised we don’t have the righting moment that we used to, but whether that is ten percent or twenty per cent we don’t know yet. It might be two or three or four knots when the boat is being used at full potential.” Team Manager Marcus Hutchinson suggested on the Vendée Globe Live programme at lunch time today.

With more than 300 miles of a lead Charlie Dalin will be able to modulate his speed in the south on the Verdier designed Apivia. He was averaging more than 20kts at times today, now racing at around 41 degrees south, he gybed at around 0800hrs this Friday morning at around 50 nautical miles north of the Antarctic Exclusion Zone – the virtual ice barrier that the solo racers must stay north of. With around 1300 miles to go to the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope, Dalin should cross on Monday morning.

Finally clear of the sticky clutches of the South Atlantic high pressure the main peloton seem to have been gifted a great weather situation, not least Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée) and Sam Davies (Initiatives Coeur) who were first to break south three days ago. They are lined up on the face of a low pressure system which should catapult them east to close with slightly more wind pressure than their closest rivals to their north. But there is the enduring prospect of a fast, close race between the boats placed second to tenth today.

Yannick Bestaven is fourth this afternoon on Maitre Côq, 14 miles up on Kevin Escoffier (PRB) who in turn is 14 miles ahead of Boris Herrmann (Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco) 18 miles clear of ARKEA PAPREC sailed by Sébastien Simon. Further to the south Burton and Davies are 12 and 50 miles behind Simon.

Burton continues to impress. The skipper from Saint Malo is on his third Vendée Globe. His boat won the race in 2016-17 in the hands of Armel Le Cléac’h and Burton’s team had already organised its purchase before it had crossed the finish line last January. He trains independently of the IMOCA training groups at Port La Fôret and Lorient and works to a limited budget, such that the VLP-Verdier design is in the same configuration as when Le Cléac’h triumphed four years ago.

In his wake, Sam Davies is getting ready for a change in her conditions aboard: “We’re off now on the conveyor belt. I have been telling myself that this may be the last time we see blue skies for a while, as they are not very common in the Southern Ocean. The solar panels are being fully charged. I’m spending a lot of time outside to stock up with vitamin D before the South.”

There was a similar atmosphere with Kevin Escoffier (PRB), 5th in the fleet on a slightly more northerly route: “The world will be changing for us tomorrow. We’ll be sailing ahead of the front. We’re going to have to be fast to stick with it for as long as possible. You have to know exactly when to gybe in relation to the front to get in the right place for the low-pressure system forecast for 1st December. It will be slamming a bit more with winds forecast in excess of forty knots and heavy seas according to the charts. I cleaned up the boat to get ready for this ‘New World’ ahead of us in the Forties and the Indian Ocean. My next shower will probably involve using the kettle.”

Meanwhile Alex Thomson took the chance last night to further consolidate his repairs on HUGO BOSS before he heads into the big south. But this morning he had the black and pink machine hammer down averaging over 20kts. He is 11th, 661 miles behind Dalin this afternoon. Front of mind will be memories of 2016-17 when he was 819 nautical miles behind Armel Le Cléac’h at Cape Horn but closed that gap to finish 16 hours behind in second place.

“It feels good to be focusing back on the race again and chasing the leaders into the Southern Ocean” Thomson said. “There is a long way to go but I’m feeling good and looking forward to heading downwind finally where I think we’ll really see what HUGO BOSS is capable of”.

Published in Vendee Globe

At the same time as Alex Thomson euphorically announced this morning that ‘the BOSS is Back’ in the Vendee Globe Race after the British skipper completed four days and nights of structural repairs to the inside of the bow of HUGO BOSS, his French rival, second-placed Thomas Ruyant and his team are deciding what to do about the damaged port foil on his LinkedOut. Despite their respective challenges to win the Vendée Globe being compromised for the moment, both skippers remain highly motivated.

The danger in leaving the damaged foil as it is, is that it may break off and cause collateral damage to the hull of his IMOCA or indeed the outrigger support rods. Laurent Bourguès, technical director of Ruyant’s TR Racing has assembled a Task Force group comprising the designers, engineers and builders who collaborated in the production of LinkedOut’s V2 second-generation foil. So designer Guillaume Verdier is working with Antoine Koch the foil specialist, François Pernelle, who is head of the TR Racing design office, and marine design engineer Hervé Penfornis. This brains trust are in charge of the next steps for skipper Thomas Ruyant who is 120 miles behind the leader and still in the throes of escaping from the light winds of the South Atlantic high.

“First we need to evaluate accurately the structure of the damaged foil," explains Laurent Bourguès. "Guillaume Verdier performs all the calculations to assess the level of stress safe for a foil of which the shaft structure is compromised. And therefore, in the next few hours we need to work out the acceptable level of risk to hold to a foil which is now unusable. Thomas has withdrawn it as much as it comes in but at certain angles of heel, reaching on starboard tack, part of the foil is dragging in the water and so is subject to considerable stress, especially at high speed. In the event of it breaking we then worry about collateral damage at the level of the outrigger tie rod. If this risk seems too great to us, Thomas will have to cut the foil. He has all the tools to do so. It is up to us, to recommend where to cut it either in its widest part, flush with the hull, or nearer the tip. We are talking with other teams who have suffered this kind of damage so we can give Thomas all the answers very quickly. "

His team say Ruyant is fully prepared to get on with his race with just a single foil. They said today ‘His determination to do very well is entirely intact. He knows that statistically, his starboard foil is more important than the port side. Even without a foil, his LinkedOut is very powerful, with its ballasts system in particular capable of providing all the power needed on starboard tack to perform despite the loss of the foil. He will re-learn the boat again, play with the cant of the keel and his sail combinations in order to stay in the heart of the Vendée Globe action.”

Thomson is back in the thick of the action after taking four days repairing. He is in eighth place this afternoon and in the middle of a well-established pack of boats, circling the west side of the high-pressure system and fighting to pull back miles on Sébastien Simon (ARKEA PAPREC) to his east, and Sam Davies and Louis Burton who are quicker than him in the west where there is more breeze. Briton Davies and Saint-Malo based Burton – whose father is Welsh – are nicely positioned now to catch the fast-moving eastbound weather systems first.

Almost all of the lead group seem set to finally be liberated from the clutches of the South Atlantic high pressure and the light winds which have plagued progress since Monday. In a few hours times, they should finally be clear and into 25-30kts downwind conditions.

"In six hours time, the sailors will see a complete change in conditions racing on the front of a low from around noon tomorrow," explains Christian Dumard, weather forecaster for the Vendée Globe. “There will be big miles to be made provided you stay in the front to be pushed at high speed all the way to the Kerguelens."

Sébastien Simon said “You have to stay focused so as not to miss out otherwise you will miss the train. It will be a very important moment."

Now with more than 120 miles in hand over compromised Ruyant, Charlie Dalin on APIVIA will be the very first to sail down to the latitude of the Roaring 40s. He will cross 40° South tonight.

Stephane Le Diraison, skipper of Time for Oceans has been pressing hard over the past four days in unstable south-easterly trade winds and his reward is 160 miles gained back on La Fabrique of the Swiss skipper Alan Roura. Both are racing 2007 Finot-Conq designs retro fitted with foils. Le Diraison’s boat started life as HUGO BOSS and has yet to finish a Vendée Globe in three successive starts as HUGO BOSS, Energa and last time with Le Diraison as Compagnie du Lit, Boulogne-Billancourt. Roura’s boat was second in the 2008-9 race as BritAir and but was first to abandon in 2016 in the hands of Bertrand de Broc.

Le Diraison, who had to retire into Australia after his mast broke on the last edition of the race, was in great form today, smiling "I'm happy to see that I managed to pick up a bit on those in front of me and I have recovered about 100 miles on the lead group. Yes it is a good bit of a charge on for me. This motivates me, I absolutely want to stay in the same weather system as those in front, so we must not give up now..I need to seize all the chances that come my way.”

Despite making important repairs to her pushpit, Isabelle Joschke (MACSF) has also managed to stay on track with an average of over 16 knots over the past 4 hours. Finally, there are only two IMOCAs left in the northern hemisphere: 2020 sisterships DMG Mori Global One and Charal which is entering the Doldrums.

Published in Vendee Globe
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While lying in second place in the South Atlantic in the Vendee Globe Race, some 72 nautical miles behind leader Charlie Dalin (Apivia), Thomas Ruyant last night sustained damage to the port foil of his IMOCA LinkedOut. He had to stop for a short period to assess and says he will now be unable to use the foil on the port (left) side of his boat for the remainder of the race.

Thomas Ruyant is managed by Irish man Marcus Hutchinson as Afloat's WM Nixon describes here.

Ruyant told his team that it was around 0200hrs UTC this morning while he was resting inside his boat LinkedOut, that he was awoken by a loud noise outside the boat. He did not, however, feel any shock to the boat. But on inspecting the boat with his headtorch he immediately noticed major cracks in the "shaft" of his port foil. Ruyant immediately stopped the boat and sailed downwind to further inspect the damage.

Thomas RuyantThomas Ruyant - massively disappointed the port foil (visible on the left behind the skipper) is now unusable

"I was about 120° to the wind, I was sailing at about 20 knots when I heard this loud noise" reported Ruyant this morning. "I don't really have an explanation. I have brought the foil in all the way so that it doesn't drag in the water. In daylight, I was able to inspect the foil and it's OK at the top and speaking with my team and the architects it seems safe. There is no water coming in and the foil well itself is undamaged. But the foil itself is cracked in a number of places. The structure of the foil is compromised. I am waiting for the designers' analysis to see if I should cut it."

Ruyant is massively disappointed. He was close to the leader Dalin and having a great race so far. Although shocked, the LinkedOut skipper is staying positive:

"I am second in the Vendée Globe. Since Sunday small problems have built up which I managed to deal with, but which really are topped by this damage. I carry on racing nonetheless even if I am a bit handicapped with only one foil. But I am comforting myself in the knowledge I still have my starboard foil, which is statistically the most important for a round-the-world race. The course is still very long. I'm continuing, I’ll hang on in there!”

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Day 16: Charlie Dalin, Vendée Globe leader since yesterday morning, confirmed that he is in full ‘inshore mode, fighting for every metre I can gain,’ as he tries to break through to the southern ocean low-pressure train which should finally catapult him eastwards towards the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope which the leaders should pass during the night of Sunday into Monday.

As Afloat's WM Nixon pointed out earlier, for all of the predictions that the fast new generation foilers would surely break Armel Le Cléac’h's 74 days 3 hours record, on this schedule they will already be four days behind 2016-2017’s pace. In fact Dalin is on the same stretch of South Atlantic which yielded a 24 hour ‘record’ for Alex Thomson in 2016-17 but which could not be validated because he did not break it by one full mile. The 36-year-old solo skipper of Apivia observed wryly today, “I had expected this stage of the South Atlantic to be one of the fastest sections of the round the world race. And I am missing out.

"I imagined the South Atlantic to be the fastest round-the-world zone, and well it's missed! I think this is one of the biggest challenges I have had right now, I work at the routing, I watch the wind shifts on the forecasts and sail by feel in terms of the wind I have at the moment and in front of me. I am not strict with any one model or idea, I try to take into account all the different parameters to pick my best course and where to gybe. I'm happy, we're doing well, but these coming days are set to be full of manoeuvres, sail changes and strategic thinking as I deal with a rapidly changing dynamic situation. We should get into the stronger winds in about 48 hours, so I'm setting up for that. "

Dalin has done well against his French rival Ruyant, constantly eking out miles on Ruyant to be some 70 nautical miles ahead of LinkedOut.

Jean Le Cam maintains his third place, still outpacing a posse of younger foiling IMOCAs on his 2007 Farr design. On today’s “Vendée Live”, speaking to his friend Roland ‘Bilou’ Jourdain, Le Cam was typically phlegmatic on the subject of age. At 61 he has sailed smart and solidly, always routing for smooth trajectories, good average speed and the shortest distances sailed.

Behind Le Cam in fifth and sixth Yannick Bestaven (Maitre CôQ IV) and Germany’s Boris Herrmann (SeaExplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco) were racing within sight of each other just a couple of miles apart. Sam Davies (Initiatives Coeur) and Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée 2) have both broken away from this group, gybing onto a more direct southwards track to try and catch the eastbound train of stronger breezes earlier but from a position further back to the west. At the moment current routings have the peloton two days behind at Cape of Good Hope.

The Doldrums remain active and frustrating for the group of seven IMOCAs near the back of the fleet. Finnish airline pilot Ari Huusela (STARK) was trying to remain cool and focused after being kept in a holding pattern by very light and changeable winds which he today said had taken him on at least one full 360 degree turn. Nearby Miranda Merron (Campagne de France) finally found out why her boat had been slowed, discovering a plastic bag round her keel. In the same area of the Doldrums Sébastien Destremau has been wrestling with a complete loss of hydraulic oil pressure in his keel ram which has left the head of his keel swinging free. He was looking to cannibalise another piece of piping to repair the cylinder leak and meantime had reported he had temporarily secured the keel.

Meantime Alex Thomson continues to complete his repairs to HUGO BOSS now in eighth place this evening 550 miles behind Charlie Dalin. The Brit remains steadfastly upbeat considering the structural repairs he has had to make to an area just behind the bow, the silver lining being the benign conditions, just what the leader Dalin was today complaining about.

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Before the 33 boats went off from les Sables-d'Olonne on November 8th to start the Vendee Globe, there'd been much talk of the possibility of reducing Armel le Cleac'h's notable record of 74 days established in the 2016-2017 event.

It was thought that, as the eight new-generation IMOCA 60s in the fleet have now moved several stages forward in their development of foils, some really sensational average speeds for significantly long periods could see the circuit time brought below 70 days, and 60 days became a theoretical possibility.

But right from the start, with obtuse conditions making the first stages getting out of the Bay of Biscay a messy business where le Cleac'h had made a clinical one day exit, the fleet was struggling. And now in the south Atlantic, the leaders are at least a day and a half behind the 2016 time, and the forecasts seem to suggest that a great big relatively windless area is determined to keep re-positioning itself to get between them and the strong westerlies which blow beyond the horizon, far to the south of the Cape of Good Hope.

Thus in the current big picture, the more cynical might think the famous headland could be more appropriately re-named the Cape of Fat Chance. But those who have actually endured the heaven and hell which is experienced in even the shortest offshore race will have felt their sympathies totally engaged by the challenges faced by lone skippers who all have had their preparation plans and timing knocked askew by the pandemic.

Despite that, on Sunday the leading boat Hugo Boss, with Alex Thomson seemingly at the apex of his twenty years of devotion to this one great event, was streaking along in front. But as the days had gone past, it had become increasingly clear that Thomas Ruyant in LinkedOut was finding extra speed, and early Monday morning he took the lead.

When the going was good – Alex Thomson's Hugo Boss at the startWhen the going was good – Alex Thomson's Hugo Boss at the start.

In doing so, he may have pushed Thomson that bit too hard, for soon afterwards Hugo Boss was stopped, with a forward bulkhead needing repair work. Thomson has since lost at least a day putting it partially right with grinders and glue and dust and God knows what else. So anyone who thinks this is a celebrity sailing joyride would do well to imagine what it's like down below, right up forward with the boat bouncing on the open ocean, and you in a fume-filled space in tropical temperatures desperately trying to create a vital repair.

As it is, with the pace which had been set by the three leaders, Thomson's shore team had insisted he get some real sleep – or as real as it could be in the circumstances – before they'd talk him through the repairs.

But meanwhile, although Thomas Ruyant had his moment of glory in storming past Hugo Boss when the latter was still at full speed and seemingly in full health, LinkedOut's skipper knew that he also had an Appointment with Destiny as soon as they reached an expected area of light winds, as he'd to go aloft to the top of the 28-metre mast to sort out a J2 halyard and lock problem.

They reached the soft patch and up he went, still with a good lead-in hand on next-in-line Charlie Dalin in near-sister Apivia. But time aloft in a windless area in mid-ocean is not at all a period of calm and contemplation. He got the job done but was bruised and battered when it was finished, and though he was soon moving again as the breeze re-gathered strength, Charlie Dalin – on whom the smart money in France has been from the start – seemed to be getting it all together in more effective style. He came through Ruyant at 0430 yesterday (Tuesday) morning, and since then hasn't put a tactical or performance foot wrong to stretch into a 70 mile lead on Ruyant, while in this cut-and-thrusting race of races, Alex Thomson is now back in eighth, 500 miles off the lead

The pain of it all can be traced by backing up on the tracker here

Meanwhile, we've a pithy explanation for the name of Thomas Ruyant's Marcus Hutchinson-managed boat:

LinkedIn is for the Haves who want to Have More

LinkedOut is for the Have-nots who want to Have a Chance.

Racing for the Have-Nots – Thomas Ruyant's LinkedOutRacing for the Have-Nots – Thomas Ruyant's LinkedOut

Published in Vendee Globe
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On a sequence of gybes stepping downwind underneath the Saint Helena high-pressure system in the South Atlantic, Charlie Dalin (Apivia) became the new leader of the Vendée Globe yesterday. He outmanoeuvred his close rival Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) and went on to build a 20 mile lead as they slalom towards an area of lighter and variable winds which bar the breakaway duo’s passage to the roaring forties which are still some 600 nautical miles to their south.

Charlie Dalin topped the standings on one position report earlier in the race, but he is one of ten different leaders since the solo non-stop race round the world started on Sunday 8th November. As the duo lead at the latitude of Itajai, Brazil they have more than 250 miles in hand over third placed Jean Le Cam (Yes We Cam), although the wily, persistent veteran Le Cam is more than holding his own.

Dalin and Ruyant, who both originate from the north, from the Channel coast of France, may yet see two areas of high pressure join together to make the course south extremely tricky. As the top group try to find the best routing through a complex weather pattern, at 16-18kts boatspeed this afternoon, British skipper Alex Thomson remains purposely slowed in light winds, more than 350 miles north west of the leaders. He is 48 hours into dealing with a complicated series of repairs to the main central longitudinal support beam towards the bow of his HUGO BOSS.

The British racer sent a detailed video of the damage today, emphasising, “The problem is fairly significant. The central longitudinal is broken in several places. The good news is we carry so many materials to fix this kind of thing, c plates, solid panels, and even girders, we have plenty of materials to fix it and the other bit of good news is that I am not in the Southern Ocean. I am in the middle of the Saint Helena High and so have good conditions to be able to do the job and the other good news is I feel super positive and happy to crack on to get this job done and get back in the race as soon as possible. So I don’t feel sad. It could take another day or so to do the repair and the engineers and designers are absolutely confident the boat will be as strong if not stronger than before.”

From his position 120 miles off the African coast, Jérémie Beyou offered his British counterpart his support today. The French sailor should have been Thomson’s main rival on this race but while Thomson repairs, Beyou is chasing the fleet still 600 miles behind back marker Kojiro Shiraishi and 3000 miles behind Dalin. Their Vendée Globes are now massively different to what they hoped for.

Damage to his Charal means Beyou had to return to Les Sables d’Olonne and restart nine days after the original departure. So just as Thomson acknowledged yesterday repairing can be part and parcel of the Vendée Globe, so Beyou’s race to catch up has become a different Vendée Globe too, one of self discovery and a test of motivation.

“In terms of morale I have ups and downs” said Beyou this morning, “ Right now, I'm sad for Alex, because it's a pain in the ass for him, it's a pain to see him slow down. He's got a big repair to do, it's really not cool. I've been thinking about him all day. I support him, I hope he will fix it and get back in the fight soon. But when I see that I am 3000 miles behind the lead, that I am in the North Atlantic while they are at the bottom of the South Atlantic, it is not easy to live with. I take advantage of the fact that the boat is going well, and I'm making progress hour by hour.”

Thomson’s German friend and rival Boris Herrmann (Seaexplorer - Yacht Club de Monaco) was the next in line to benefit from the HUGO BOSS sailor’s problem and moved up to fifth this afternoon. Britain’s Sam Davies (Initiatives Coeur) is in tenth and pressing hard to stay with the newer, theoretically faster ARKEA PAPREC of Sébastien Simon. At the back of the second group of six boats, Davies might take an option to dive south early and potentially sail more miles but avoid the messy roadblock of light winds which are forecast to develop.

Her British compatriot Pip Hare, who is on her first Vendée Globe, brought Medallia across the Equator into the South Atlantic this afternoon after a challenging Doldrums passage. She is in 20th place in the 31 boat fleet, 11 miles up on Catalan rival Didac Costa – a former rival from Mini 650 days. The duo will be profiting from each other’s competitiveness, not least as the full time fireman from Barcelona had very sporadic contact with other skippers on his 2016-17 race because he had to restart four days late due to a ballast tank leak which flooded his alternator.

Published in Vendee Globe
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