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Vendée Globe Leader Charlie Dalin Fighting for Every Metre

24th November 2020
Charlie Dalin in Apivia Charlie Dalin in Apivia

Day 16: Charlie Dalin, Vendée Globe leader since yesterday morning, confirmed that he is in full ‘inshore mode, fighting for every metre I can gain,’ as he tries to break through to the southern ocean low-pressure train which should finally catapult him eastwards towards the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope which the leaders should pass during the night of Sunday into Monday.

As Afloat's WM Nixon pointed out earlier, for all of the predictions that the fast new generation foilers would surely break Armel Le Cléac’h's 74 days 3 hours record, on this schedule they will already be four days behind 2016-2017’s pace. In fact Dalin is on the same stretch of South Atlantic which yielded a 24 hour ‘record’ for Alex Thomson in 2016-17 but which could not be validated because he did not break it by one full mile. The 36-year-old solo skipper of Apivia observed wryly today, “I had expected this stage of the South Atlantic to be one of the fastest sections of the round the world race. And I am missing out.

"I imagined the South Atlantic to be the fastest round-the-world zone, and well it's missed! I think this is one of the biggest challenges I have had right now, I work at the routing, I watch the wind shifts on the forecasts and sail by feel in terms of the wind I have at the moment and in front of me. I am not strict with any one model or idea, I try to take into account all the different parameters to pick my best course and where to gybe. I'm happy, we're doing well, but these coming days are set to be full of manoeuvres, sail changes and strategic thinking as I deal with a rapidly changing dynamic situation. We should get into the stronger winds in about 48 hours, so I'm setting up for that. "

Dalin has done well against his French rival Ruyant, constantly eking out miles on Ruyant to be some 70 nautical miles ahead of LinkedOut.

Jean Le Cam maintains his third place, still outpacing a posse of younger foiling IMOCAs on his 2007 Farr design. On today’s “Vendée Live”, speaking to his friend Roland ‘Bilou’ Jourdain, Le Cam was typically phlegmatic on the subject of age. At 61 he has sailed smart and solidly, always routing for smooth trajectories, good average speed and the shortest distances sailed.

Behind Le Cam in fifth and sixth Yannick Bestaven (Maitre CôQ IV) and Germany’s Boris Herrmann (SeaExplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco) were racing within sight of each other just a couple of miles apart. Sam Davies (Initiatives Coeur) and Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée 2) have both broken away from this group, gybing onto a more direct southwards track to try and catch the eastbound train of stronger breezes earlier but from a position further back to the west. At the moment current routings have the peloton two days behind at Cape of Good Hope.

The Doldrums remain active and frustrating for the group of seven IMOCAs near the back of the fleet. Finnish airline pilot Ari Huusela (STARK) was trying to remain cool and focused after being kept in a holding pattern by very light and changeable winds which he today said had taken him on at least one full 360 degree turn. Nearby Miranda Merron (Campagne de France) finally found out why her boat had been slowed, discovering a plastic bag round her keel. In the same area of the Doldrums Sébastien Destremau has been wrestling with a complete loss of hydraulic oil pressure in his keel ram which has left the head of his keel swinging free. He was looking to cannibalise another piece of piping to repair the cylinder leak and meantime had reported he had temporarily secured the keel.

Meantime Alex Thomson continues to complete his repairs to HUGO BOSS now in eighth place this evening 550 miles behind Charlie Dalin. The Brit remains steadfastly upbeat considering the structural repairs he has had to make to an area just behind the bow, the silver lining being the benign conditions, just what the leader Dalin was today complaining about.

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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