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Five Vendee Globe Boats Within 26 Miles of Each Other in Race for Finish Line

12th January 2021
Charlie Dalin (Apivia) has taken the lead again Charlie Dalin (Apivia) has taken the lead again

(Day 66, 250 miles east of Rio) After 65 days racing and over 23,000 nautical miles sailed on the course, the Vendée Globe in effect restarted off Rio de Janeiro, Brazil today with the five top boats regrouping within 26 miles of each other in terms of the distance to the finish line in Les Sables d’Olonne.

Charlie Dalin (Apivia) has taken the lead again from Yannick Bestaven, the French skipper of Maître Coq IV who lost the biggest leading margin of the race, over 435 nautical miles. But the 48-year-old skipper from La Rochelle has found breeze this afternoon, closer to the Brazilian shore, and is marginally further north than the Apivia sailor.

Dalin, Bestaven, double Parlympic gold medallist Damien Seguin (Groupe APICIL), Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) and Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée 2) are compacted tightly off the Brasilian coast, trying to climb into the Easterly tradewinds which are not at all well established at least until the NE’ly corner at Recife.

“The route to the north is anything but clear. Until Recife, the northeast trade winds are unstable, there are bubbles with less wind, and variations in strength and direction. On the water, there must be pressure differences and therefore speed differences between the boats. It is not at all easy,” Sébastien Josse, the weather consultant for the Vendée Globe explained this morning.

And from now to the finish in Les Sables d’Olonne it seems certain the final 4600 miles will be contested with the intensity of an inshore coastal race where every mile counts. And the tiny gaps – there are just 127 nautical miles back to ninth placed Jean Le Cam (Yes We Cam!) – suggest this epic ninth edition of the Vendée Globe may see places decided on a photo finish.

Dalin warned this morning, “Nothing is settled yet, the wind is not at all established in this area where I am sailing. I still see 24 hours of winds which remain unstable in terms of strength and direction. As we are not yet into the more constant wind there are still lots of things going on. I don’t think it will be until Wednesday morning on the early rankings that we will really see things settle a bit.”

He added, “I'm glad I got back into this. Four days ago, I was 450 miles behind. If I had been told then that I would take the lead four days hence I would not have believed it. It is great to have had this opportunity.”

Dalin casts his eye over his title rivals and remarks, “The condition of the boats will matter. I suspect that not everyone is at 100%, no one really is, but who has what? I know what I have: I am handicapped by my port foil. We'll really see what that means when the wind sets in, so don't lets jump to any conclusions right now. We will see if the real performance against these guys is affected. I touch wood, I have no sails problems. I hope it lasts ! "

Bestaven, in second this afternoon, said: “It is a complicated day both in the East and in the West. I thought at the beginning that by being more West, I might be the first one to get out, but I can't say, from one weather file to the other, because it changes in all directions. I'm here because it’s where I could go with the wind there was in the soft zone. I'm making "small gains" trying to get closer to the direct route. I’ll get back in the race when I have more established winds. The sea is fairly crossed, which shakes up the whole boat and reduces the speed a lot as soon as you fly forwards. Even if I launch off at 5.7 knots, the speed is reduced to 4.3 knots. It's very hot, already 35 degrees this morning, yesterday I had up to 38°C."

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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