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Eight Boats Finish Vendee Globe Round the World Race in 24 hours, Ten in 35

31st January 2021
Maxime Sorel brings V and B Mayenne home in tenth place in the Vendee Globe Maxime Sorel brings V and B Mayenne home in tenth place in the Vendee Globe

Day 84 - Bringing the ninth edition of the Vendée Globe to an incredible crescendo eight competitors arrived back in Les Sables d’Olonne within 23 hours and 44 minutes.

With a record entry of 33 boats and an atypical sequence of weather systems which meant the top 10 or 12 boats regrouped and re-started on three main occasions, the race went down to the wire with five boats pitching for the podium places at 36 hours from the finish.

Three skippers carried time compensations, Boris Herrmann, Yannick Bestaven and Jean Le Cam. And it was only on Thursday evening when Le Cam finished that the final rankings were settled. Bestaven with his 10hrs 15mins of allotted time won, Dalin – who crossed the line first was second and Louis Burton third and behind them – finishing over the next 48 hours great sailors without whom the race would not have been so enthralling.

Who could have guessed on 30th November that the search and rescue operation for the skipper of Kevin Escoffier would affect the final outcome? Jean le Cam, Sébastien Simon, Yannick Bestaven and Boris Herrmann went to the aid of Kevin Escoffier, whereas the leaders, Charlie Dalin and Thomas Ruyant were too far ahead to be called on. The redresses awarded by the Jury and the weather patterns meant that it would be a closely fought contest to the finish.

Between Wednesday and Thursday evening the first eight boats finished within 23 hours and 44 minutes, compared to a gap of 19 days and 19 hours back in 2016 between the winner Armel Le Cléac’h and the eighth-placed boat.

Yannick Bestaven became the overall winner of this ninth edition. He impressed with his ability to drive hard, fast and consistently in the south and again on the final sprint with a perfect layline, but also with his sincerity and sportsmanship ashore, when he declared alongside Charlie Dalin,

“There are two winners in this Vendée Globe.”

Dalin the skipper of Apivia took line honours, after leading the fleet for almost half the race, but would end up officially ranked second missing out on overall victory by less than three hours.

The final place on the podium went to Louis Burton, who showed total commitment and determination aboard the boat that won the race in 2016.

The race will also be remembered for the heroic rescue of Kevin Escoffier by Jean Le Cam, who ended up in fourth place when his redress was calculated. At the age of 61, he has lost none of his skills as a competitor. There was a major scare for German skipper, Boris Herrmann a few hours before the finish, when he collided with a fishing vessel. Shortly before the incident, he had still been in contention for overall victory after a consistent and steady race, which saw him permanently up with the frontrunners. To suffer what he did after such a beautifully executed programmed race once again showed the cruel side of the Vendée Globe.

In sixth place, Thomas Ruyant was the loser in the rankings, as this position does not really reflect his performance out on the water. The skipper of LinkedOut spent two-thirds of the race in the top three, in spite of breaking his foil before entering the Indian Ocean. The disappointment will be difficult for him to overcome, particularly after the strength of the performance of the skipper from Northern France, who certainly left his mark on this ninth edition.

The two times Paralympic champion Damien Seguin took seventh place and impressed everyone adding another line to his list of achievements. Born with just one hand, he wanted to prove that everyone should attempt to make their dreams come true. Finishing in eighth position, Italian skipper and former philosophy lecturer, Giancarlo Pedote now based in Lorient, Brittany, achieved the best performance ever for an Italian in the Vendée Globe and was able to express his competitive edge throughout the race.

Finally, local hero, Benjamin Dutreux returned home on Friday morning to finish ninth, less than 24 hours after the arrival of the first boat in this exceptional ninth edition, and today Maxime Sorel brought V and B Mayenne home in tenth, a 2007 build boat which started twice previously but only finally completed the full Vendée Globe course non stop for the first time today.

Finishing just before 5am this morning 2 days, 10 hours, 45 minutes and 29 seconds after Yannick Bestaven’s corrected time, Maxime Sorel (V and B - Mayenne) took 10th place in this Vendée Globe. Four years ago, the 10th place was Arnaud Boissières, who arrived 32 days after the winner, Armel Le Cléac’h. Of course, the 2016-2017 edition was exceptionally fast at the top of the fleet but eight years ago, Tanguy de Lamotte was also 10th and took 20 days longer than François Gabart, and that Raphaël Dinelli needed 41 more days than Michel Desjoyeaux in 2008-2009.

That V and B – Mayenne completed a non-stop lap is finally a comfort to previous owners perhaps. Launched one day in September 2007 not with champagne but with milk the sponsors were Groupe Bel. But the cow did not laugh often. Kito de Pavant (Groupe Bel) retired at the same time as Bestaven did – hours into the 2008 race dismasted in a Biscay storm. And in 2010 it made it to just west of Cape Horn in the Barcelona World Race when the keel bearings failed and De Pavant and Seb Audigane had to retire. And it was the boat which Thomas Ruyant (Le Souffle du Nord) nearly lost in 2016 after hit an object near New Zealand.

But Sorel still had problems with the boat – returning to Les Sables d’Olonne today he revealed a big composite repair he had made to the deck of the boat which was bult as a close sistership to PRB.

He outran a Biscay storm to make it home safely, reporting to his Press Conference this afternoon:

"The last 72 hours, it was a race against the clock. I made the decision on my own to go through this depression. The Race Direction warned me that it was bad, that there was going to be a lot wind and sea, that it was going to be difficult to cross the line and join the channel. There were a lot of things that made me want to wait, but I saw that it was passing, I wanted to finish too. I put all the things on the table, and I was like "I'm going" ... and here I am. I pushed to the end, I was above my routings. I 'was 105% of my polar! Unfortunately, I couldn't see what I went through. I didn't have time to think about my race.

The V and B - Mayenne deck cracked

“It's true that at the time of the PRB sinking, I had that in my head. My boat is almost identical, PRB being a little lighter. And my boat had big problems in the last Vendée Globe 2016 Obviously I had that in my head and I couldn't attack when I wanted in the deep south. Maybe if I had attacked more I wouldn't be here today. When the deck cracked and I had to fix it, I did not really show it. And when I made the decision to pass ahead of the front I had to go hard to get home. If it ever broke I was close to land so it was fine."

The civil and marine structures engineer Sorel admitted: “I knew when I left that I had an important mission: to finish. But finishing this Vendée Globe with this boat, which had quite a few setbacks in other races, is great. I inspected the boat a lot of times, my team helped me do it, we kept a spreadsheet to see what we had to check. Then one time I noticed a small crack in the paint, really tiny. And in fact, I pass my finger over it and there was a dip. I immediately alerted my technical team who contacted the architects. They said directly "You have to open it up the first skin is broken, the foam too". Major surgery had to be done to prevent the crack from spreading to the deck!

"When I found out what happened on PRB, it was hard to go through at sea. The race comes to a standstill because you know there is a guy all alone on a raft. We pushed less after that. It was a hard moment, at the start of the Great South, I dreamed of huge waves and long surfs. I did not want to plant the bow at 25 knots."

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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