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Top Vendée Globe Trio Plot Best Route Down the South Atlantic

20th November 2020
A view from onboard Time for Oceans A view from onboard Time for Oceans Photo: Stephane Le Diraison

Day 12 - Racing at the latitude of Salvador de Bahia, Brazil this morning, British skipper Alex Thomson, leader of the Vendée Globe, today emphasized that he feels under no pressure from his nearest two French rivals Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) and Charlie Dalin (Apivia) who have both cut miles from his lead since their exit from the Doldrums three days ago.

The top trio are each trying to plot their best route down the South Atlantic to catch a fast-moving low-pressure system and the strong, favourable winds which would catapult them eastwards into the Southern Ocean. While the weather situation for them is very enticing right now, offering a fast slide down the face of a cold front, at the bottom of the ride there is a potentially lethal transition zone which might evolve into a period of very light winds.

Should today’s weather modelling work out as predicted, according to the Vendée Globe’s weather expert Christian Dumard, the three leaders would gain such an advantage that they might be as much as two days ahead of fourth place and the chasing group by the time they pass the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope.

Asked on this afternoon’s LIVE race show Thomson said, “I am trying to find my way to the Southern Ocean, I am not really being affected by what they are doing. I am clear what we have to do over the next couple of days, I am positioned well so I don’t feel too much pressure. I don’t feel under pressure.”

He responded to suppositions that life in the tropics, living and working inside his boat all the time as opposed to on deck, might be hotter and more tiring, “In terms of the heat I would say it is cooler in here than it is outside. Much the same as the others I am probably drinking four litres of electrolyte a day. It was a struggle to stay hydrated but over the last day or so it is becoming better. I am trying to sleep as much as possible, I am still in debt for sure, so wherever I feel the urge, whenever I can I get my head down and get to sleep. Eating is a constant process for me. I am constantly going to the cupboard and grabbing a snack or a meal.”

Asked about the small miles Thomson has lost in recent days, the naval architect from VPLP who co-designed HUGO BOSS with significant input from Alex Thomson Racing’s own design team, Quentin Lucet suggested, “I think Alex has been sleeping a bit more recently and just not feel the need to push too hard for the moment. Maybe he is more in a controlling aspect on his followers. And maybe in terms of design there might be some slight performance differences due to the real wind they have just now. For now we have no alarm saying Alex has any issues. Probably he just does not see a real need to be accelerating just now.”

Double Vendée Globe winner Michel Desjoyeaux on the French show confirmed that he is a big fan of Thomson’s option to the west, 115 miles closer to the Brazilian shore than Ruyant.

“For sure the changes near the lead are due to a combination of the packages the various leaders have. Foils, sails and hull shape. Also there is a difference to what we see here on land as per the forecasts and what the sailor might actually get on the ocean. I think the further West you go the better the angle you will have to then come back and catch up. And so for me the two behind Alex really need to put their foot down to try and catch him now because the passage towards the Cape of Good Hope is going to give Alex quite a lead. If you look at the projected routing it is now that they need to make the most ground up because after the lead will extend a lot.”

Indeed as the angles have opened to broader reaching ones HUGO BOSS has been quicker than Apivia and LinkedOut; Thomson averaging more than 23 kts. Once again there are some anomalies on the official rankings because the positions are taken from a moving, rather than fixed waypoint. The late afternoon rankings maybe show Ruyant as leader but Thomson continues to be about 40 miles further south.
The breakaway trio are now more than 160 miles clear of fourth placed Jean Le Cam, who has the fast moving Saint Malo skipper Louis Burton on Bureau Vallée approaching in his wake. Burton is racing the IMOCA 60 which holds the current 74 days 3 hours solo round the world record and moved up to fifth today holding definite designs on fourth.

The Vendee Globe comeback kids

Also coming back fast after their own particular technical problems since the start are Sébastien Simon on ARKÉA-Paprec who, in tenth, is chasing Briton Sam Davies hard at 27 miles behind. The 2018 La Solitaire champion, one of four skippers in the race who live in Les Sables d’Olonne, has been consistently fast over the last couple of days since he had to climb the mast of his Juan K design.

Japanese skipper Kojiro Shiraishi is back in the race with an operational mainsail on DMH MORI. Four days of repairs to a tear at the top of his sail and batten repairs are completed, even if the Asian skipper must sail with one reef from now on. He was sailing directly west this afternoon away from the Cape Verde islands which might have provided additional refuge had he needed it.

Fabrice Amedeo (Newrest Amedeo) has nearly completed his comeback after a three-day pitstop back in Les Sables d’Olonne to repair a hairline crack at the top if his mast.

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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