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Vendee Globe Leader Bestaven Building his Margin in 40-knot Winds

28th December 2020
Vendee Globe Leader Bestaven Building his Margin in 40-knot Winds

On the Vendée Globe front line the Christmas truce is over. Days of light winds and mild temperatures have been summarily replaced by 30-35 knot winds. Deep reefed sails are the order of the day. It is cold, miserable and wet with freezing South Pacific water sluicing the decks.

As the leading duo Yannick Bestaven (Maître Coq IV) and Charlie Dalin (APIVIA) pass Point Nemo today, the loneliest point on the Southern Ocean - the Furious Fifties offer a rude reminder why they are so called.

From Point Nemo it is nearly 2,000 miles to Cape Horn where deliverance waits. This stage, to the Horn, is about remaining prudent, preparing perfectly for the Cape and knowing the timing of the weather transitions as accurately as possible.

“There is so much contrast with yesterday I almost cannot remember how it was, I cannot remember yesterday it seems.” Said seventh-placed Boris Herrmann wistfully today. “Now we are back to a normal Southern Ocean ambience sailing at 17 knots in 30kts of breeze. We are dealing with a low-pressure system and the contrast is just amazing.”

On his 50th day at sea the German skipper, who stands a fighting chance of being the first ‘Cape Horner’ (he has been round three times) among a group of first-timers at the Cape next weekend mused, “It takes a strong mind to take it all, you are always being thrown into new situations. Better not to think about it too much. Sometimes I think I think too much about the boat. If could let go a bit more I could sail a bit faster…. but looking up I am anxious all the time. In the bunk I am sleeping only 15 minutes. Maybe I should just let it go, and go faster.”

He continues, “But I want to reach Cape Horn in one piece. I have a boat at 100% and very few of the others can say that. So let us get through the week without losing too many miles, but certainly without breaking anything.”

Mike Golding, four times Vendée Globe racer, says this is one of the toughest parts of the course mentally, “But it is essential to keep doing what they have been doing, getting through each day, one day at a time, without pushing too hard, just staying in the rhythm and looking after the boat. The sense of anticipation grows and grows for those who have not been round the Horn before but there is so much can be gained and lost just after, it is important to be there in the best shape mentally and physically.”

Golding adds, “In fact if there is a little more compression, as we might expect, then anyone in this main group can be on the podium in Les Sables d’Olonne. It is that open. Right now I am impressed by Boris and his approach and especially by Isabelle Joschke who has really come into her own. Like Boris she has a largely unbroken boat, she’s in the play. And don’t discount Jean Le Cam. He is ‘steady Eddie’, you never hear of his problems because whatever he deals with, he just gets on with..”

Joschke in fifth is still struggling with the cold, which she does not like at all, and like Herrmann is taking time to re-adjust to the rude return to fast, wet and hard sailing, “Last night it was really slamming and crashing, I even got seasick again because I was not used to the movement again.” Heavily fatigued Joschke was trying to grab some rest before adding more sail area to her charge.

Rest was high on the agenda too for Benjamin Dutreux. The tenth-placed 30-year-old Vendée skipper of OMIA-Water Family has climbed the mast of his IMOCA to release his J2 headsail which had split near the top. The climb was extremely tough, after he reported that he was’ thrown around like a rag doll being smashed between the sail and the mast’.

“And now I have to repair the sail and a few other things, so it is not good for my morale, really,” Dutreux told the French Vendée Globe live show today, his face wracked with fatigue and stress.

Leader Yannick Bestaven was not short of wind - were he in need of any more puff to blow out his 48 candles on his birthday. He had 40 knots of wind at times in front of the depression though with crossed seas which made progress less than comfortable. But the Vendée Globe leader for 12 days has opened more than 50 miles on second-placed Charlie Dalin over the last 24 hours. Maître CoQ IV's lead is now 133 miles over APIVIA which has been closer to the centre of the depression. Thomas Ruyant is third on LinkedOut, now 150 miles behind Dalin and 31 miles behind Damien Seguin (Groupe Apicil) who has consistently been the quickest of the top 10 today.

Vendee Globe Ranking at 17:00

1. Yannick Bestaven [Maître CoQ IV] —> 9,256.64 nm from the finish
2. Charlie Dalin - [ APIVIA ] —> 133.32 nm from the leader
3. Thomas Ruyant [ LinkedOut ] —> 284.7 nm from the leader
4. Damien Seguin [ Groupe Alpcil ]—> 315.72 nm from the leader
5. Jean Le Cam [ Yes We Cam! ] —> 360.03 nm from the leader

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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