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Seguin Shows IMOCA's The Way South in Vendée Globe

9th November 2020
Damage at the top of his mast added more frustration for Fabrice Amedeo who is expected to return to the race course tomorrow morning after making a U-turn Damage at the top of his mast added more frustration for Fabrice Amedeo who is expected to return to the race course tomorrow morning after making a U-turn

Vendee Globe Day One: France’s double Paralympic gold medallist and 2017 winner of the Tour Voile Damien Seguin leads the 33 boat Vendée Globe fleet as the early rankings favour a leading group of older generation IMOCAs as they race southwestwards across the Bay of Biscay towards Cape Finisterre.

While the fastest latest generation foiling boats worked a more northwesterly route last night and in the first part of the morning, Seguin, Maxime Sorel (V and B Mayenne) and veteran Jean Le Cam (Yes We Cam!) hold a small advantage on the afternoon ranking. But they are expected to lose out as they sail for longer in a north-south zone of lighter winds.

Seguin, who was born without a left hand, has scored successes in pretty much every different inshore and offshore discipline, including Class40, before taking on this Vendée Globe on the boat which Eric Bellion raced to ninth place last time. He has been helped in his round the world preparations by veteran Jean Le Cam, who was some seven miles behind the talented and competitive 41-year-old race leader.

After the excitement, indeed for some the sheer euphoria, of finally being on the solo round the world race course, the first full day of this Vendée Globe has offered a few hours of lighter winds allowing the skippers the chance to rest, to take stock, to work through their jobs list and to prepare for a moderately nasty front which will bring strong winds and steep seas during the night of Tuesday into Wednesday.

Nico Troussel on the Juan K designed Corum L’Épargne continues to be quickest of the fast foilers which are racing on the same angle this Monday afternoon some 50-60 nautical miles to the west and making similar speeds in the sunshine and lighter airs in the high-pressure ridge.

Troussel, a double winner of La Soltaire du Figaro, was more than seven miles ahead of Britain’s Sam Davies who has been going well on her Initiatives Coeur. Neither skipper seemed to have suffered the first night niggles – small technical problems – which cost miles. Both Jérémie Beyou (Charal) and Alex Thomson (HUGO BOSS) snagged fishing gear on their various appendages. The British skipper had a night-time battle with his J3 headsail when a sheet detached. Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) reported he lost 15 miles when a sail unfurled.

“These things are minor just now. In a few days they will look back and think them nothing much but some of them come from not having been sailing for a while” commented Seb Josse on the Vendée Globe LIVE show this lunch time in Les Sables d’Olonne.

Josse has been working closely as a part of a dream team getting Corum ready, trying to ensure the May 2020 launched design is as reliable as possible,

“We worked a little bit like Alex Thomson, on our own not doing the races but we sailed as many longer race like passages as we could, trying to break things, which we did and repaired them.” Explained Josse.

Speaking of Tuesday’s strong winds the race’s weather expert Christian Dumard reports, “Gusts in excess of 40 knots are forecast with cross seas and waves building to 5 metres on Tuesday night. The whole fleet will be changing tack to head towards the SW in the NW’ly air stream ahead of the ridge of high pressure. Winds will become lighter as they advance towards Spain. For the leaders, it is going to be important to find their way south without getting becalmed in these calmer conditions. The precise moment at which they change tack will be crucial. There is therefore the choice now of diving south with a higher risk of getting stuck in light airs off Spain, along with the disadvantage of reaching the front after those further west, but on the other hand, conditions will be quieter by then. Those who decide to go further west are less likely to be caught in the light airs, but face a more violent front with the risk that entails for their gear. No doubt, they will all be seeking out their own personal compromise between the fastest route, no doubt be tougher on the boat and the skipper and a trajectory to the south, which is likely to be kinder to both.”

Speaking live this morning Alex Thomson said “The next big thing will be crossing this front. There is this light patch off Finisterre so I would prefer to be further West, but I am not and then we will be sailing towards the front which will be interesting. Last night I saw 2.5m waves average when we will be looking at 4.5 to 5m waves so my hull fibre optics were getting close to their limits last night. So, I am not sure I am going to belt into this too fast, if I can I will try and get a bit further south and avoid the worst of that.”

Damage at the top of his mast added more frustration for Fabrice Amedeo who is expected to return to the race course tomorrow morning after making a U-turn and arriving back at the race dock in Les Sables d’Olonne on this morning’s 0700hrs tide. A fast pitstop has not been possible after effecting the replacement of a gennaker hook (lock) after additional problems surfaced.

"Jérémie Beyou (Charal): The first hours were nice there was a flat sea with 20 knots of speed but things have become a bit more complicated now, I think something caught in the keel in the middle of the night. I think I’ve lost a bit of time. You get back into the swing of very quickly – the set up and the routine comes back quickly, afterwards it’s not easy to get into your sleep and physical rhythm. It’s not going to be easy but we’re waiting for the first ridge- we are going to get wind this afternoon. There will be a bit of difficulty with the storm tomorrow which is a bit worrying."

Published in Vendee Globe
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The 2020/2021 Vendée Globe Race

A record-sized fleet of 33 skippers will start the ninth edition of the Vendée Globe: the 24,296 nautical miles solo non-stop round-the-world race from Les Sables d’Olonne in France, on Sunday, November 8 at 1302hrs French time/1202hrs TU and will be expected back in mid-January 2021.

Vendée Globe Race FAQs

Six women (Alexia Barrier, Clarisse Cremer, Isabelle Joschke, Sam Davies, Miranda Merron, Pip Hare).

Nine nations (France, Germany, Japan, Finland, Spain, Switzerland, Australia, and Great Britain)

After much speculation following Galway man Enda O’Coineen’s 2016 race debut for Ireland, there were as many as four campaigns proposed at one point, but unfortunately, none have reached the start line.

The Vendée Globe is a sailing race round the world, solo, non-stop and without assistance. It takes place every four years and it is regarded as the Everest of sailing. The event followed in the wake of the Golden Globe which had initiated the first circumnavigation of this type via the three capes (Good Hope, Leeuwin and Horn) in 1968.

The record to beat is Armel Le Cléac’h 74 days 3h 35 minutes 46s set in 2017. Some pundits are saying the boats could beat a sub-60 day time.

The number of theoretical miles to cover is 24,296 miles (45,000 km).

The IMOCA 60 ("Open 60"), is a development class monohull sailing yacht run by the International Monohull Open Class Association (IMOCA). The class pinnacle events are single or two-person ocean races, such as the Route du Rhum and the Vendée Globe.

Zero past winners are competing but two podiums 2017: Alex Thomson second, Jérémie Beyou third. It is also the fifth participation for Jean Le Cam and Alex Thomson, fourth for Arnaud Boissières and Jérémie Beyou.

The youngest on this ninth edition of the race is Alan Roura, 27 years old.

The oldest on this ninth edition is Jean Le Cam, 61 years old.

Over half the fleet are debutantes, totalling 18 first-timers.

The start procedure begins 8 minutes before the gun fires with the warning signal. At 4 minutes before, for the preparatory signal, the skipper must be alone on board, follow the countdown and take the line at the start signal at 13:02hrs local time. If an IMOCA crosses the line too early, it incurs a penalty of 5 hours which they will have to complete on the course before the latitude 38 ° 40 N (just north of Lisbon latitude). For safety reasons, there is no opportunity to turn back and recross the line. A competitor who has not crossed the starting line 60 minutes after the signal will be considered as not starting. They will have to wait until a time indicated by the race committee to start again. No departure will be given after November 18, 2020, at 1:02 p.m when the line closes.

The first boat could be home in sixty days. Expect the leaders from January 7th 2021 but to beat the 2017 race record they need to finish by January 19 2021.

Today, building a brand new IMOCA generally costs between 4.2 and €4.7million, without the sails but second-hand boats that are in short supply can be got for around €1m.

©Afloat 2020

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