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Paralympic Champion Seguin Moves Up To Third in Vendee Globe Race

29th December 2020
Damien Seguin is up to third on his Groupe Apicil, Damien Seguin is up to third on his Groupe Apicil, Credit: Vendee Globe Race

(Day 52- 1450 miles to Cape Horn)  A nasty low-pressure system is converging with the Vendée Globe leader Yannick Bestaven (Maître Coq IV) and could require him to slow significantly to avoid winds in excess of 40-knots and big seas. But Bestaven is under pressure from behind too as the peloton of nine are compressing, closing mileage and pushing hard. Damien Seguin, multiple Paralympic champion is sailing immaculately and is up to third, increasingly taking the race to Dalin who is now less than 70 miles ahead. The chasing group have closed more than 150 miles in recent days. Leader Bestaven is expected at Cape Horn on Saturday.

Seguin is up to third on his Groupe Apicil, the best position yet for the Paralympic champion sailor who has never considered that having no left hand has ever compromised his ability to be competitive in any racing fleet. His accurate, precise routing, gybing down the Antarctic Exclusion barrier has placed him inside Thomas Ruyant, nearly nine miles ahead of the solo skipper of LinkedOut. And in terms of direct distance on the water Seguin is less than 40 miles from Charlie Dalin (APIVIA).

"Sequin has never considered that having no left hand has ever compromised his ability to be competitive in any racing fleet"

His years of Paralympic medal-winning rigour and discipline are complemented by an excellent all-round ability. At 12 he was fascinated by meteorology. He has been top-level competitive in the short, sharp inshore sprints of the Diam24 Tour Voile, long-distance in the Class 40 and in the Figaro class. He modified and prepped his Finot Conq design in Jean Le Cam’s boatyard, advised and mentored by Le Cam himself. Incidentally his seat on his IMOCA – retrieved from a dusty corner at Le Cam’s – is off the 2008 Vendée Globe winning Foncia.

A tired, but extremely focused Seguin said today: “Here I am, dreaming of being in the top 5 at Cape Horn! That would be crazy! But it’s what I'm really going to try to do. I still need about seven days to get there. It will be by Sunday or Monday I think. But this last week before Cape Horn is going to be tough. The models all see different things. We'll see...I am managing to rest but it's not always easy to eat. I've been eating a lot of cold food lately, but I have just had a hot meal. The last few days in the light wind zone have been complicated. It was very unstable, and I found it particularly difficult to rest. I came out of it exhausted. And after that I attacked the transition, and I had to do it quickly. The boat was pounding against the sea a lot! It was really difficult. I can’t say for now whether it’s been the most difficult part of this Vendée Globe. The Indian was also difficult because I had a lot of technical problems. But here, it’s more the sailing conditions that have been complex.”

Seguin suggests, “ People have been saying that the foilers are going to accelerate, and it might well be on this climb up the Atlantic. We'll see... In any case, at Cape Horn it won't be over. We know that this particular ascent has often been full of surprises. But for the moment, I'm focusing on this mythical Cape!"

Young shared Vendee Globe dreams

One thing the second and third placed skippers, Dalin and Seguin, share in common is their youthful dreams of racing the world’s oceans. Their young minds were seeded when they were very little, each seeing the stars of the solo and short handed racing and their fantastic machines up close and personal – a few years apart - in the respective backyards of their childhood.

For Dalin, 35, that was hanging round the Transat Jacques Vabre docks after school in his native Le Havre. Seguin, 41, grew up in Guadeloupe where he saw his heroes of the time winning the Route du Rhum solo Transatlantic race.

Seguin told the Vendée Globe website before the start:

“When we moved to Guadeloupe we went to the finish of the Route du Rhum in 1990. I didn't know anything about it but everyone was talking about it. It was a revelation. I remember these giant boats, the great sailors who were being asked for autographs. Florence Arthaud, Mike Birch, Alain Gautier, Laurent Bourgnon...they were like rock stars. I wanted to do that very same thing, to follow in their wake. My initial project was to do the Route du Rhum. In 1998, I had a difficult choice to make: either I embarked on a Mini project or I started an Olympic programme. Pushed a bit by the National Sailing School I chose the second option, as I knew it would provide a good structure and foundations to get more into ocean racing. Then after four Olympics, it was the right time to change direction first in the Figaro, then into IMOCA. "

And Dalin recalled pre-start, “And at home on Le Havre every two years I would find myself always in among the Transat Jacques Vabre boats, dreaming. I went to admire the racing machines at the start, then I followed the race through the radio, the newspapers. And of course through sailing magazines. That’s how I discovered the Mini Transat in Voiles & Voiliers. I spent hours looking at the smallest details in the photos. I remember a double page spread from Seb Magnen's boat which won the Mini twice in a row. I don't know how many hours I looked at this picture imagining myself in its place.”

A common stepping stone

The more modestly priced, but highly competitive Class 40 has proven a stepping stone on the pathway to the IMOCA and to this Vendée Globe. Six years ago in Guadeloupe the Route du Rhum Class 40 was won by the Spanish sailor Alex Pella but the class was populated by many of today’s Vendée Globe racers, notably Stéphane Le Diraison who finished fourth, Miranda Merron was sixth, Yannick Bestaven, seventh, Damien Seguin eighth, Fabrice Amedeo ninth, and Giancarlo Pedote 10th. Also racing were Maxime Sorel, Alan Roura, Arnaud Boissières and Nicolas Troussel.


Vendee Globe Ranking 17:00 hrs

1. Yannick Bestaven [ Maître CoQ IV ] —> 8,641.07 nm from the finish
2. Charlie Dalin - [ APIVIA ] —> 167.9 nm from the leader
3. Damien Seguin [ Groupe Apicil ] —> 230.25 nm from the leader
4. Thomas Ruyant [ LinkedOutl ]—> 237..96 nm from the leader
5. Jean Le Cam [ Yes We Cam! ] —> 254.94 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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