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Every Minute Counts in Last 24 Hours of Vendee Globe Race

26th January 2021
With less than 400 miles to the finish this evening Charlie Dalin (Apivia), 36, leads by over 85 miles With less than 400 miles to the finish this evening Charlie Dalin (Apivia), 36, leads by over 85 miles

With something less than 24 hours until the first solo sailor finishes the Vendée Globe Race off Les Sables d’Olonne Wednesday night, even the most advanced modern weather routing programmes operated by some of the finest minds in ocean racing cannot seem to agree on who the winner of a truly epic ninth edition of the non-stop solo round the world race will be.

The margin of victory looks set to be down to tiny minutes after 80 days and 24,350 miles of racing. With five skippers harbouring realistic hopes of winning, the reality is that any one of Charlie Dalin, Boris Herrmann, Louis Burton, Thomas Ruyant and Yannick Bestaven have delivered performances equally worthy of overall victory.

Over 80 days and nights, 24/7, always on, they have engaged millions of spectators like never seen before since this race was founded in 1989.

Each of these top protagonists – as have all the 20 still racing – have revealed their characters day by day, ocean by ocean. By the hour, their modus operandi, their strengths and their weaknesses, have seeped out these heard earned miles.

With less than 400 miles to the finish this evening Charlie Dalin (Apivia), 36, leads by over 85 miles heading into his long, dark final full night at sea, from 39 year old Boris Herrmann (SeaExplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco) who will become the first German to finish the race.

Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée 2), 35 from Saint Malo is third at 57 miles behind Herrmann. Fourth placed Thomas Ruyant, 39 from Dunkirk has with Dalin and Bestaven been one of the occupants of the podium positions all the way round the globe, while Yannick Bestaven (Maître CoQ IV) celebrated his 48th birthday leading the race just west of Point Nemo and is fifth at 295 miles behind Dalin.

Pre race favourite Dalin has raced surgically precise courses with metronomic consistency on the newest and most proven boat. He has led for 36 days and at two of the three great capes.

Herrmann has paced his attack perfectly, quietly and efficiently preserving himself and his equipment, like a grand tour cyclist, in readiness to ratchet up his attack when the final miles chime perfectly with the sweet spot of his slightly older – but perfectly prepped and optimised boat. He has never led the race but – with a time compensation of 6 hours – may well become the first ever non-French winner.

Burton the maverick from Saint Malo collected three time penalties over the duration of his course and some would say pressed his boat closest to its limits, suffering numerous pilot and sail problems but prepared to dare harder, faster and deeper in the south. Remarkably he recovered more than 800 miles on the leader and 400 miles on the peloton after he had to repair at the remote Macqaurie island.

Ruyant has been in the top three for 72 per cent of the race despite losing his port foil before the Cape of Good Hope and has the race’s best 24 hours run of 518 nautical miles. And Bestaven has been the revelation, sailing the perfect combination of fast and smart on a well optimised boat, sailing a good boat excellently.

The outcome seems set to be decided by tiny fractions of the race’s overall duration. Almost certainly time compensations allotted to skippers for their role in the rescue of Kevin Escoffier will decide one or even two of the podium positions. Herrmann at six hours has to finish four hours and 15 minutes ahead of Bestaven who has 10 hrs and 15 minutes.

The Bay of Biscay is the arena for the ultimate showdown. In the south, Charlie Dalin and Boris Herrmann work the shortest and most direct route close to Cape Finisterre, with Burton, Ruyant and Bestaven on the longer, faster route from the north. Bestaven had made 100 miles back on Dalin in the 24 hours before 1700hrs UTC this evening but was still 266 miles behind doing 19.6kts compared to Dalin’s 15.1kts.

The harsh reality is that with the time bonuses Thomas Ruyant might lose out most, left out in the cold in fourth or fifth after an excellent race. On the English Live show today his team manager Marcus Hutchinson looked at the bigger picture,

“The reality in this race now is that if we had told Thomas before the start that he was going to finish within four or five or six hours of the first boat crossing the finish line he would have taken that. And that is what he will get, but here we have three or maybe four boats in between him and the first to finish and that is secondary. But we have to contextualise these things. All of these guys and girls to get to the start line is an achievement, to get to the finish is even more special. But here we are 24 hours or a bit more from the finish and we just don’t know how this is going to pan out. So thank you to all of these skippers they have made this an incredible sporting spectacle like we have never seen on this race.”

Rooting for Dalin, and with whom he won the Transat Jacques Vabre in 2019, Yann Eliès concluded sagely,

“Here we are. We just need to be patient, to wait and see what happens right up until the first crossing of the line.”

Tracker Chart here

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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