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Leader Bestaven Eyes Vendee Globe Christmas Bonus

22nd December 2020
Vendee Globe leader Yannick Bestaven Vendee Globe leader Yannick Bestaven

Leader Yannick Bestaven is being forced to play chicken with the Vendée Globe’s ice zone limit in the South Pacific as he seeks to extricate his Maître CoQ IV first from a frustrating anticyclone which is offering unusually light to moderate breezes even though they are racing at 55 degrees south. 
Bestaven, who has seen his margin eroded to 84 miles by Figaro one design ace Charlie Dalin while Thomas Ruyant is also about 80 miles behind.

The problem all three leaders face is that the centre of the system is moving east at more or less the same speed as they are. But if Bestaven can wriggle clear and his pursuers remain snared then the leader could hit the jackpot, gaining an advance of many hundreds of miles. Bestaven took himself to within 3.4 nautical of the virtual line today before he gybed back north-eastwards, all the time trying to stay as far south as he could where the winds are strongest.

Charlie Dalin, in second, admitted that the stress of the scenario was keeping him awake during a phase he really needs to be maximising his rest. Speaking on the Vendée Globe English Live show today, in the dark during the Southern Pacific Ocean night, Dalin said, 
 “I am under a high level of pressure because my 90 miles deficit to Maitre Coq could transform into 1000 miles if I cannot manage to outrace this high pressure. I am under a lot of stress, trying to sail as hard as I can to be able to stay east of this high-pressure centre, which will travel towards us in the next couple of days. It is really stressful because I know that if I don’t manage I could end up in a different system to Yannick and lose a lot of ground.”

He affirms, “The weather we have in the Pacific is weird, I feel like I am more sailing a Figaro leg than the Vendée Globe. It is full-on racing at the moment. I have got as many square metres of sail up that I can have up. It is really weird. Before the start of the race I was not expecting to be sailing like this at 55 degrees south. It Is always easier to sleep at night and so I should be asleep right now. But it is keeping me awake. It is hard to find the balance in the long term because when the wind starts to get light then I know I will have to be in top shape. So it is not an easy compromise to find between getting some rest and trimming the boat to be as fast as possible.”

Arriving later towards the centre of the high, the second wave are led by Boris Herrmann (SeaExplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco) and right now are watching closely to see if the three leaders can get out of the system. “We are the hunters for sure right now. Our question is whether they will escape or we all end up in the same system.”

It is the first six skippers, Bestaven, Dalin, Ruyant, Herrmann, Le Cam and rookie Benjamin Dutreux who are most affected by this area of weak and erratic wind. Behind them the systems are aligning to offer a significant catch up in a strong north westerly flow

 “There will be a regrouping they will come back strong from behind, it is a little annoying but it is all part of the game” noted Dutreux. 
Groupe Apicil’s Damien Seguin is fighting hard to make the best of any possible comeback: “I have the opportunity to come back. I am ready to fight. I'm waiting for the right time.”

After his stop at Macquarie Island Louis Burton is in fighting spirits, ready to press as hard as he can to regain lost miles. Having been up to second in the South Indian Ocean before his damage, the skipper from Saint Malo is focused on giving his all in pursuit of the top five finish which was his pre-start target.

And the best in the South Pacific had been consistently Armel Tripon on L’Occitane in Provence. He posted the best average speed of the fleet today: 446 miles 24 hours compared to just 257 for Thomas Ruyant. “Numbers speak louder than words.” Tripon wrote this morning after entering the South Pacific: “To my right, Antarctica, an immense continent that I dream of seeing up close one day, and in front of me, far, very far, Cape Horn! Between us, a gigantic ocean and in front a whole lot of tiny boats I dream of overtaking!” One part of that dream seems sure to come true.

Spain’s Didac Costa: The passage of Cape Leeuwin as his 40th Birthday Present
The Barcelona firefighter who is currently in 19th position celebrated his 40th birthday today asn should cross Cape Leeuwin before midnight on the ex-Kingfisher of Ellen MacArthur with whom she won the Route du Rhum 2002. Didac, who raced his 2016-17 race largely on his own under Australia fighting mainsail and technical issues is fighting in a of 5 IMOCAs in a match which is as exciting as at the top of the fleet. He is tussling all the time with the British skipper Pip Hare, Stéphane Le Diraison, Manu Cousin and Arnaud Boissières who is the leader of the small posse.

Vendee Globe Rankings at 1700

1. Yannick Bestaven [Maître CoQ IV] —> 10,293.1 nm from the finish
2. Charlie Dalin - [ APIVIA ] —> 73.42 nm from the leader
3. Thomas Ruyant [ LinkedOut] —> 154.36 nm from the leader
4. Boris Herrmann - [ SeaExplorer - Yacht Club de Monaco ] —> 285.25 nm from the leader
5. Jean Le Cam [ Yes We Cam! ]—> 360.48 nm from the leader

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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