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Veteran Vendée Globe Racer Jean Le Cam Lights Up Leading Pack

19th November 2020
61 year old Jean Le Cam is on his fifth Vendée Globe race 61 year old Jean Le Cam is on his fifth Vendée Globe race

French veteran Jean Le Cam continues to light up the leading pack of the Vendée Globe who are slogging south-westward, beam reaching into choppy, slamming seas. Alex Thomson continues to lead the 32 boat fleet by about 10 miles at some 110 miles northeast of Recife, Brazil.

But for all that the 61-year-old Le Cam, who is on his fifth Vendée Globe race, played with Vendée Globe LIVE! viewers’ minds today - altering his virtual backdrop to place himself in an empty café bar - the undeniable reality is Le Cam is still showing a posse of younger, fast foiling IMOCA boats and their much younger skippers, the way down the South Atlantic.

Just 10 hours and 13 minutes behind Alex Thomson’s HUGO BOSS, Le Cam crossed the Equator fourth early this morning on the evergreen 2007 Farr design which, as Foncia, won the 2008 Vendée Globe in the hands of Michel Desjoyeaux. He returned Yes We Cam! one more into the Southern Hemisphere only one hour and 54 minutes behind Charlie Dalin on the new Verdier designed Apivia.

Le Cam’s time for the passage from Les Sables d’Olonne this time is 10 days 10 hours 12 minutes, five minutes faster this time than he was on the same boat at the exactly the same point in 2016 when he lay eighth. Clearly, he only improves with age!

After surgery gave the boat more volume in the bow Le Cam triumphed in the 2015 Barcelona World Race round the world race on this same boat – sailing with Bernard Stamm, in so doing won the IMOCA Ocean Masters world title. Along with Spain’s Didac Costa, he is one of only two sailors in this fleet to be looking to complete his third round the world race in the space of five years.

“I was a bit fed up of my bean bag and my environment so I went to the bistro to go and get a coffee.” Laughed Le Cam as he ‘placed’ himself in his café. Asked about his position in the race he chuckled, “As to the foiling boats getting a chance to stretch their lead: I have always said since before the start that I am in the Renault 4 category, not in the Ferrari one, but I realise that the little R4 is very well tuned!” joked Le Cam today, “The good news is that I had a great night’s sleep. I have not had a good night of sleep like last night’s since the start.”

Leader Thomson saw his cushion shrink on the rankings today to less than ten miles, some of that due to the way the theoretical route is calculated on the official charting. His margin enlarged again this afternoon after the moving waypoint to which the leaders are racing, was recalibrated slightly west.

“Every one of these new boats has a slightly different sail and rig set up, different foil packages, different hull shapes and so each will have its strengths and weaknesses and we are all just learning about these boats in different conditions as are the skippers themselves. I don’t think Alex has any problems on board right now, some boats will be quicker in some conditions some boats in others. Right now it is about staying close. You will see the Figaro one design sailors like Charlie Dalin are keen to stay with the pack and play the long game, whereas maybe Alex and Thomas (Ruyant) are prepared to do their own thing sometimes. This is much more about risk management right now.” Commented second placed Thomas Ruyan’s LinkedOut programme manager Marcus Hutchinson on today’s Vendée Globe LIVE! show today.

Germany’s Boris Herrmann (Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco) crossed the Equator in seventh place at 0650hrs this morning, 2hrs and 54 mins behind Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée 2) and 37 minutes before Britain’s Sam Davies (Initiatives Coeur). As was expected the battle from fifth placed Kevin Escoffier (PRB) to ninth placed Yannick Bestaven (Maitre CôQ) among the boats which formed the vanguard of the 2016-17 race is very engaging, just five hours exactly between Escoffier and Bestaven in terms of time across the Equator.

Otherwise the fleet are all making decent progress, tradewinds sailing, even Kojiro Shiraishi on DMG MORI, has been doing reasonable speeds under headsails as he tries to repair the battens for his mainsail. Fabrice Amedeo (Newrest – Art et Fenêtres) has 120 miles to catch backmarker Clément Giraud and Jérémie Beyou has passed Cape Finisterre this afternoon and was making 19kts on Charal.

And Nico Troussel, who lost the mast of CORUM L’Épargne on Monday morning, finally reached a mooring in Mindelo in the Cape Verde Islands this morning.

Published in Vendee Globe
Afloat.ie Team

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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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