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Crosshaven & Kinsale Battle for Vendee Lead as Enda O'Coineen's Former Boat Slips From Top Slot

13th November 2020
Hugo Boss has finally managed to get the skates on for Crosshaven nipper Alex Thomson, and is currently leading the Vendee Globe as the serious contenders shape their course southeast of the Azores. And no, they haven't added a Korean car manufacturer to the sponsorship line-up - it's just a big no No for the Finnish phone makers……. Hugo Boss has finally managed to get the skates on for Crosshaven nipper Alex Thomson, and is currently leading the Vendee Globe as the serious contenders shape their course southeast of the Azores. And no, they haven't added a Korean car manufacturer to the sponsorship line-up - it's just a big no No for the Finnish phone makers…….

The Vendee Globe Race has finally started to get serious after several days of faffing around in flukey winds off northwest Spain and Portugal in conditions so volatile that last night they'd a messy frontal system going through to provide everything from flat calm to 50-knot gusts in the space of half an hour. But now with the weather pattern becoming clearer with a low pressure area to the south of them moving west-east to pass between Madeira and the Canaries, the challenge is to place yourself northwest of this system in favourable winds.

This means that getting well west was the Number One priority for those who thought more in terms of strategy rather then tactics, and none did this more assiduously than Thomas Ruyant with the new foiler LinkedOut, whose shore manager is Marcus Hutchinson of Kinsale. At times LinkedOut was showing a best overall placing of third in her sometimes very solitary progress southwestward, while others took the short term gain of working local winds relatively close inshore off Cape Finisterre.

None did this more assiduously than Maxime Sorel with the veteran daggerboard boat V & B Mayenne, and he did it so successfully that for a day he was showing repeatedly as the overall leader. There's an enormous irony in this, as one of V & B Mayennne's previous manifestations was as Souffle du Nord, which was of course Ruyant's entry in the 2016-17 Vendee. She was doing very well in that, but was invalided out into New Zealand in a decidedly separational state. However, nothing daunted, she was re-glued with Kiwi ingenuity and finished back in Les Sables-d'Olonne on St Patrick's Day 2018 as Enda O'Coineen's Team Ireland Souffle du Nord, and soon afterwards was sold to Maxime Sorel.

Enda O Coineen's Team Ireland Souffle du Nord in 2018. Re-incarnated as Maxim Sorel's V & B MayenneEnda O Coineen's Team Ireland Souffle du Nord in 2018. Re-incarnated as Maxim Sorel's V & B Mayenne, she was showing as overall leader in the current Vendee Globe for more than a day

Thus while the hot favourites were trying either to keep a middle course as per former Crosshaven schoolboy Alex Thomson (his dad was a helicopter pilot out of Cork Airport at the time) with Hugo Boss, while Ruyant stayed doggedly further west, there was the old Souffle du Nord to the eastward staying persistently at the top of the leaderboard even if, like all good things, it was just too good to last.

The long-expected meandering front came in with so much peculiarity in in that at one stage it was shaping up to form a completely new low pressure area, which put everybody's strategy haywire for a while. But as things have been settling down today, there are certain boats of very sharp performance starting to emerge at the top of the leaderboard.

Thus now, four days after the gun was fired, we can finally say the Vendee Globe has really started - we have a race rather than a lottery. And it's Kinsale up against Crosser as they start facing up to the next tactical decision of whether or not to cut through among the eastern islands of the Azores, because staying on the right (or rather top left) side of that low is paramount.

And it's certainly time to get a move on. Yesterday afternoon, three days after the start, they still had to pass the point which Armel le Cleac'h with Banque Populaire had put astern after just two days in 2016 when he set the 74 day record which the stars reckon could be brought below 70 days this time round, and 60 was theoretically possible.

"The Kinsale Boat" – Thomas Ruyant's LinkedOut shortly after the start"The Kinsale Boat" – Thomas Ruyant's LinkedOut shortly after the start.

For now, though, it's definitely Game On with Alex Thomson in Hugo Boss first at 18.4 knots, Benjamin Dutreux second but only showing 11.1 knots, Thomas Ruyant still well west of Thomson and showing 16.9 knots in third place with LinkedOut, and Charlie Dalin right beside him with near-sister Apivia in 4th place at 15.1 knots.

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Published in Vendee Globe
WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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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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