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Christmas Day Choices Made for Vendee Globe Leaders

25th December 2020
Santa has made it aboard the Vendee Globe fleet Santa has made it aboard the Vendee Globe fleet

With the anticyclone blocking the route eastwards towards Cape Horn which is still over 2000 miles away, the leading group in the Vendee Globe Race have made their choices – or had them made for them – and this Christmas morning there is more than 300 miles of lateral separation between Yannick Bestaven (Maitre Coq) who is upwind to the north of second placed Charlie Dalin (APIVIA) who is still on the most direct route 1.2 miles behind in terms of distance to the finish, while Boirs Herrmann (SeaExplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco) is now up to third some 300 miles behind.​

The skipper from Hamburg, Germany on his fourth round the world circumnavigation has been racing in close contact with Jean Le Cam (Yes We Cam!) and the pair are less than one mile apart today, leading the peloton which is going at the speed of the anticyclone in the meantime.

Bestaven has gone for the outer city bypass option, sailing many more miles than his rival Dalin who has taken the more direct, shorter route but he can only go as fast as the system lets him, all the time hoping that he can jump clear of the meteorological phenomena and into the stronger pressure away from the glutinous, sticky winds closer the centre. All the time for Dalin and the others it is hard to model, to monitor and predict the evolution of the system while Bestaven’s break for the north now sees the skipper from La Rochelle, whose first time in the Southern Pacific this is, racing upwind in 15-17knots of breeze trying to hook into the new low pressure system and downwind conditions over the weekend which he hopes will accelerate him eastwards towards Chile and to Cape Horn with a growing lead.

Yannick Bestaven said this morning, “I am upwind heading towards the depression I am searching for the shift which should be more downwind, I have 15-17kts, I am making good speed, I want to get to the north of the depression I hope it goes well for me in 24 hours or something like that. After that it is a route towards Cape Horn but it is about managing the front at the same time
I am good, in a good way with the boat at 100 per cent of its potential. Upwind I have lots of sleep, long naps. And Father Christmas has been and given me lots of presents.”

Bestaven should continue to climb and the separation grow before tacking in about 24 hours or so at 47 degrees 30 north, 140 degrees west to find the depression. All the time it seems Dalin will remain bogged down making 10-12 knots along the Antarctic Exclusion Zone.

The denouement, the first sniff of an outcome, will start to be evident from the middle of the weekend and into Monday. Predictions show Bestaven opening his lead in the downwind conditions, perhaps making twice the speed of his rivals at times, while the chasing pack will gradually spread again as the depression finally gives them S and SW’ly winds late Sunday or Monday and the chance to get properly moving again come towards the end of the weekend.

Armel Tripon (L'Occitane en Provence) is only 250 miles from Clarisse Crémer (Bank Populaire X) while Jérémie Beyou (Charal) should overtake Stéphane Le Diraison (Time for Oceans) at the end of the day before tackling a secondary depression between Cape Leeuwin and Tasmania. Finally, the last five sailing along the AMSA plateau or will soon reach it, benefit from rather favourable weather conditions on the southern edge of the Mascarene high pressure area.

Alan Roura, 15th, said this morning, “The conditions are not so bad today, we are close to a depression so the wind is quite gusty, coming up step by step and right now I have between 20 and 25kts wind and we are downwind and the sea is quite short and it is going to stay like that. It is raining outside and so I try to stay inside. The last days have been really tough on the boat. Last night with my family we are always opening presents o the 24th and so I have already opened everything, I had a good meal a bottle of wine and it was quite a cool evening even if I was all alone on the boat but this is all part of the Vendée Globe so I am happy to make Christmas in the middle of the ocean, I am in the Pacific now and so I hope the conditions are going to be better than in the Indian Ocean because the Indian was quite terrible for us. So right now it is not so bad and hopefully now we can make at least half of the Pacific in quite cool conditions. You can’t see so far on the routing but to get half in good conditions would be really great. The boat is starting to be a bit tired too, so we have done more than half of the Vendée Globe and the skipper and the boat are starting to be a bit tired. I need to rest a little bit more.

I was inside at the front of the boat, a wave came and stopped the boat and I went from one side to the other and one of the structural stopped me but not on the hand or the leg but with my back and I was scared because my back is quite fragile and so it is not so bad today, it is getting better and better. I start to be faster now as I had kind of slowed a bit for the last couple of days.”

Published in Vendee Globe 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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