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Thomson Back in the Vendee Globe Race After Repairs, Charlie Dalin Leads

24th November 2020
Charlie Dalin (Apivia) became the new race leader Charlie Dalin (Apivia) became the new race leader

On a sequence of gybes stepping downwind underneath the Saint Helena high-pressure system in the South Atlantic, Charlie Dalin (Apivia) became the new leader of the Vendée Globe yesterday. He outmanoeuvred his close rival Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) and went on to build a 20 mile lead as they slalom towards an area of lighter and variable winds which bar the breakaway duo’s passage to the roaring forties which are still some 600 nautical miles to their south.

Charlie Dalin topped the standings on one position report earlier in the race, but he is one of ten different leaders since the solo non-stop race round the world started on Sunday 8th November. As the duo lead at the latitude of Itajai, Brazil they have more than 250 miles in hand over third placed Jean Le Cam (Yes We Cam), although the wily, persistent veteran Le Cam is more than holding his own.

Dalin and Ruyant, who both originate from the north, from the Channel coast of France, may yet see two areas of high pressure join together to make the course south extremely tricky. As the top group try to find the best routing through a complex weather pattern, at 16-18kts boatspeed this afternoon, British skipper Alex Thomson remains purposely slowed in light winds, more than 350 miles north west of the leaders. He is 48 hours into dealing with a complicated series of repairs to the main central longitudinal support beam towards the bow of his HUGO BOSS.

The British racer sent a detailed video of the damage today, emphasising, “The problem is fairly significant. The central longitudinal is broken in several places. The good news is we carry so many materials to fix this kind of thing, c plates, solid panels, and even girders, we have plenty of materials to fix it and the other bit of good news is that I am not in the Southern Ocean. I am in the middle of the Saint Helena High and so have good conditions to be able to do the job and the other good news is I feel super positive and happy to crack on to get this job done and get back in the race as soon as possible. So I don’t feel sad. It could take another day or so to do the repair and the engineers and designers are absolutely confident the boat will be as strong if not stronger than before.”

From his position 120 miles off the African coast, Jérémie Beyou offered his British counterpart his support today. The French sailor should have been Thomson’s main rival on this race but while Thomson repairs, Beyou is chasing the fleet still 600 miles behind back marker Kojiro Shiraishi and 3000 miles behind Dalin. Their Vendée Globes are now massively different to what they hoped for.

Damage to his Charal means Beyou had to return to Les Sables d’Olonne and restart nine days after the original departure. So just as Thomson acknowledged yesterday repairing can be part and parcel of the Vendée Globe, so Beyou’s race to catch up has become a different Vendée Globe too, one of self discovery and a test of motivation.

“In terms of morale I have ups and downs” said Beyou this morning, “ Right now, I'm sad for Alex, because it's a pain in the ass for him, it's a pain to see him slow down. He's got a big repair to do, it's really not cool. I've been thinking about him all day. I support him, I hope he will fix it and get back in the fight soon. But when I see that I am 3000 miles behind the lead, that I am in the North Atlantic while they are at the bottom of the South Atlantic, it is not easy to live with. I take advantage of the fact that the boat is going well, and I'm making progress hour by hour.”

Thomson’s German friend and rival Boris Herrmann (Seaexplorer - Yacht Club de Monaco) was the next in line to benefit from the HUGO BOSS sailor’s problem and moved up to fifth this afternoon. Britain’s Sam Davies (Initiatives Coeur) is in tenth and pressing hard to stay with the newer, theoretically faster ARKEA PAPREC of Sébastien Simon. At the back of the second group of six boats, Davies might take an option to dive south early and potentially sail more miles but avoid the messy roadblock of light winds which are forecast to develop.

Her British compatriot Pip Hare, who is on her first Vendée Globe, brought Medallia across the Equator into the South Atlantic this afternoon after a challenging Doldrums passage. She is in 20th place in the 31 boat fleet, 11 miles up on Catalan rival Didac Costa – a former rival from Mini 650 days. The duo will be profiting from each other’s competitiveness, not least as the full time fireman from Barcelona had very sporadic contact with other skippers on his 2016-17 race because he had to restart four days late due to a ballast tank leak which flooded his alternator.

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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