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German Vendee Globe Skipper Boris Herrmann is Growing Threat to Leader

15th January 2021
German Vendee Globe Skipper Boris Herrmann is Growing Threat to Leader

Racing now with less than 160 miles to go to pass Recife on the northeasterly corner of Brasil, Vendee Globe leading duo Charlie Dalin and Louis Burton will be starting to recognise a threat from German skipper Boris Herrmann as he moved into third place overnight Thursday and is now just 39 miles behind Dalin and 17 behind Burton;

The 37-year-old from Hamburg has been quickest of the top group overnight, profiting especially from his position with Seaexplorer Yacht Club de Monaco slightly further offshore than Dalin and Burton – about 30 miles – but more particularly because he has a pair of larger, new generation, working foil on his IMOCA 60, which were upgraded last March, and he has consistently reported that he has a full armoury of largely undamaged sails. Herrmann was quicker than leader Dalin this morning by two knots and in theory his gains should continue at least until the transition zone off Recife where the wind could be lighter depending on the time of day the leaders pass.

Herrmann has played to a patient, careful strategy in the Southern Oceans looking to preserve his material as best as possible, staying out of the worst of the winds in the extreme south but pressing for high average speeds from his VPLP-Verdier IMOCA which was built as Edmond de Rothschild and skippered by Sébastien Josse in the last race. In 2016 the French skipper retired in the south with multiple problems. With two racing circumnavigations under his belt already Herrmann was 12th in the Transat Jacques Vabre in 2019 and seventh in last year’s solo Vendée Arctic Les Sables d’Olonne warm-up race. It would not be a surprise to see the German skipper leading the fleet after leaving the Brasilian coast. But the route north is not as simple as it maybe seemed.

The Doldrums extend from about 0 ° 30 South to 3 ° 30 North, that is to say about 200 to 250 miles wide at 33 ° West but it is maybe not as narrow and easy as some have been suggesting. There are a few storm cells forming and the cloud mass appears very dark. The trade winds in the Northern hemisphere seem to converge with those of the Southern hemisphere to generate an approximately easterly flow for the weekend.

But the after the hard, bouncy slamming climb up the NE’ly trades to the Cape Verde archipelago the big question arises about crossing a transition zone, a wide anticyclonic ridge of light winds which will stretch from the Canaries all the way across the Atlantic which must be crossed. And so while there has perhaps been a supposition that the Vendée Globe podium might be decided among the top six just now within 85 miles of each other this morning there are three more behind between 150 and 225 miles behind, including Jean Le Cam in ninth. And the time compensations for the search and rescue of Kevin Escoffier, 6 hours to Herrmann, 10hrs 15 to Yannick Bestaven and 16hrs 15mins to Le Cam may yet prove crucial.

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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