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Thomas Ruyant Cuts Foil & is Back in Vendee Globe Race Mode

27th November 2020
Thomas Ruyant uses a reciprocating saw to cut away the shattered section of the port side foil on Linked Out. Thomas Ruyant uses a reciprocating saw to cut away the shattered section of the port side foil on Linked Out. Photo: via Facebook

After cutting off part of his damaged port foil LinkedOut solo skipper Thomas Ruyant is back in full race mode, chasing runaway Vendée Globe leader Charlie Dalin who has escaped into the Roaring Forties, surging eastwards towards the longitude of Cape of Good Hope now with a cushion of 300 miles.

Ruyant cut two metres from the tip of his damaged foil in a perilous operation which was made easier by the unusually clement wind and sea conditions in the South Atlantic. His speeds will be compromised on starboard gybe especially during the ensuing month in the southern oceans but the skipper from north of France is determined to all he can to mitigate any loss of performance.

“Thomas is moving well now and wants to get as far south, to cross the fleet before he gybes over and it is good to see him back in the race at almost full potential. In terms of numbers it is difficult to estimate how much his potential will be compromised, the designers and team are working on estimations to what the new polars would be but the boat is compromised we don’t have the righting moment that we used to, but whether that is ten percent or twenty per cent we don’t know yet. It might be two or three or four knots when the boat is being used at full potential.” Team Manager Marcus Hutchinson suggested on the Vendée Globe Live programme at lunch time today.

With more than 300 miles of a lead Charlie Dalin will be able to modulate his speed in the south on the Verdier designed Apivia. He was averaging more than 20kts at times today, now racing at around 41 degrees south, he gybed at around 0800hrs this Friday morning at around 50 nautical miles north of the Antarctic Exclusion Zone – the virtual ice barrier that the solo racers must stay north of. With around 1300 miles to go to the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope, Dalin should cross on Monday morning.

Finally clear of the sticky clutches of the South Atlantic high pressure the main peloton seem to have been gifted a great weather situation, not least Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée) and Sam Davies (Initiatives Coeur) who were first to break south three days ago. They are lined up on the face of a low pressure system which should catapult them east to close with slightly more wind pressure than their closest rivals to their north. But there is the enduring prospect of a fast, close race between the boats placed second to tenth today.

Yannick Bestaven is fourth this afternoon on Maitre Côq, 14 miles up on Kevin Escoffier (PRB) who in turn is 14 miles ahead of Boris Herrmann (Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco) 18 miles clear of ARKEA PAPREC sailed by Sébastien Simon. Further to the south Burton and Davies are 12 and 50 miles behind Simon.

Burton continues to impress. The skipper from Saint Malo is on his third Vendée Globe. His boat won the race in 2016-17 in the hands of Armel Le Cléac’h and Burton’s team had already organised its purchase before it had crossed the finish line last January. He trains independently of the IMOCA training groups at Port La Fôret and Lorient and works to a limited budget, such that the VLP-Verdier design is in the same configuration as when Le Cléac’h triumphed four years ago.

In his wake, Sam Davies is getting ready for a change in her conditions aboard: “We’re off now on the conveyor belt. I have been telling myself that this may be the last time we see blue skies for a while, as they are not very common in the Southern Ocean. The solar panels are being fully charged. I’m spending a lot of time outside to stock up with vitamin D before the South.”

There was a similar atmosphere with Kevin Escoffier (PRB), 5th in the fleet on a slightly more northerly route: “The world will be changing for us tomorrow. We’ll be sailing ahead of the front. We’re going to have to be fast to stick with it for as long as possible. You have to know exactly when to gybe in relation to the front to get in the right place for the low-pressure system forecast for 1st December. It will be slamming a bit more with winds forecast in excess of forty knots and heavy seas according to the charts. I cleaned up the boat to get ready for this ‘New World’ ahead of us in the Forties and the Indian Ocean. My next shower will probably involve using the kettle.”

Meanwhile Alex Thomson took the chance last night to further consolidate his repairs on HUGO BOSS before he heads into the big south. But this morning he had the black and pink machine hammer down averaging over 20kts. He is 11th, 661 miles behind Dalin this afternoon. Front of mind will be memories of 2016-17 when he was 819 nautical miles behind Armel Le Cléac’h at Cape Horn but closed that gap to finish 16 hours behind in second place.

“It feels good to be focusing back on the race again and chasing the leaders into the Southern Ocean” Thomson said. “There is a long way to go but I’m feeling good and looking forward to heading downwind finally where I think we’ll really see what HUGO BOSS is capable of”.

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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