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Vendee Globe Faster Foilers Punch West into 40-knots Tonight

10th November 2020
A selfie from Alex Thomson, a Vendee Globe pre-race favourite A selfie from Alex Thomson, a Vendee Globe pre-race favourite

Heading west this afternoon and encountering building winds, Vendee Globe skippers of the many of the faster-foiling IMOCAs are preparing themselves for an overnight pounding, set to last five or six hours, when they punch through an active weather front which is forecast to bring them 40-knot gusts and big seas.

The reward for looking after their boats and themselves as best they can tonight will be some faster, albeit bumpy miles in a more direct, southerly direction.

While 30-year-old Les Sables d’Olonne hometown favourite Benjamin Dutreux tops the afternoon classifications due to his more southerly position, some 50 miles north-west of the Ria de Vigo on the Galician coast, so also Nico Troussel on the new Juan K IMOCA Corum L’Épargne has broken from the other foiler and taken this southerly option which is considered to be safer.

Dutreux on OMIA-Water Family (which was built in Cowes as BT), Troussel, Maxime Sorel (V and B – Mayenne) and Jean Le Cam have led a southerly pack inside the Cape Finisterre TSS (Traffic Separation Scheme no go area).

Troussel’s option may be related to taking a more conservative safe option, sailing more miles but with the benefit of less severe winds, to safeguard his boat which is in its first race. But the 46-year old double La Solitaire du Figaro champion was renowned in the world of the Figaro for taking flyers away from the fleet and often coming out smelling of roses. Such gambles and big gains gave rise to rise to the expression ‘doing a Troussel’.

Troussel was lying fourth on the afternoon standings, almost 100 miles south-east of rivals Jérémie Beyou (Charal), Charlie Dalin (Apivia) and the hard-driving Kevin Escoffier on the older PRB who is just seven and a half miles off Beyou’s leeward quarter.

The worst of the conditions will be tonight between 0200hrs and 0300hrs for this foiling peloton with average windspeeds above 30kts and gusts over 40, but by the morning they should be able to tack into the NW’ly wind and make faster miles down the track, albeit still in bumpy seas.

Nothing comes easily on the Vendée Globe and after breaking across a ridge of high pressure the next big question for this group especially will be dealing with Theta, a tropical storm which crosses their path between Thursday and Friday (13th!). Routings today show a possible timing which would allow these quickest boats to pass the west side of it in the NW’ly wind, but this system is evolving rapidly and being caught in its path is worth avoiding.

After that, the tradewinds are still not established and current timings to the equator are some three days behind the record of 9 days 7 hours set by Alex Thomson who led the 2016 race across into the south Atlantic.

“You have to be wise. This is not where the Vendée Globe is won, but this is where it can get lost,” says Damien Seguin on the Vendée Live program this midday. The Paralympic champion was speaking after diving to free a fishing net which was caught on the keel of his boat. Meantime Arnaud Boissières successfully scaled the mast of his La Mie Caline to free his halyard hook and release his trapped gennaker, a welcome relief for the Les Sables d’Olonne skipper on his fourth successive Vendée Globe.

Having had a composite expert add an additional pad and repair the hairline crack at the top of his mast Fabrice Amedeo is expected to head back out to restart at the Nouch buoy this evening.

“The plan is to leave this evening around 22:15 to rejoin the race, well to start really as we never really got going before!” said Amedeo.

It looks like being pretty nasty out here this evening and there could well be some damage in the fleet… I have got everything prepared with sails ready. The deck has been cleaned up and everything inside is tidy. Aboard the boat, everything is fine. I have managed to get some sleep. I haven’t eaten much, but I have been drinking a lot and I feel better. I’ll try to send you some videos and photos between now and this evening… if I manage it.

"I know that taking the southern option would maybe position me well for the short term and the gain is still there and it is a nice surprise to still be doing well close to the Galician coastline. Jean Le Cam and I crossed paths yesterday, and today again, it is great. We spent quite a lot of time together when preparing for the race at the boat shed and now we are here again here crossing paths. I feel fine after my dive this morning. I am dry and have had some food and a nap. Now I am going to tidy the boat a bit and then going to get another nap in to prepare for the storm tonight. We have had an intensive start to the race with lots of manoeuvres and we have to take care. It is not here that you will win the race, but you can lose it" Damien Seguin (Groupe Apicil)

RANKING 14:00 (French Time)

  1. Benjamin Dutreux, OMIA – Water Family at 23,866 miles to the finish
  2. Maxime Sorel, V and B Mayenne, at 1,2 miles to the leader
  3. Jean Le Cam, Yes We Cam !, at 4,5 miles to the leader
  4. Nicolas Troussel, CORUM- L’Epargne at 6,5 miles
  5. Damien Seguin, Groupe APICIL, at 9,1 miles
  6. Sam Davies, GBR Initiatives Coeur, at 39.9 miles
  7. Didac Costa, ESP, One Planet One Ocean, at 43.1 miles
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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