Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Displaying items by tag: Vendee Globe

(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
Tagged under

On the Vendée Globe front line the Christmas truce is over. Days of light winds and mild temperatures have been summarily replaced by 30-35 knot winds. Deep reefed sails are the order of the day. It is cold, miserable and wet with freezing South Pacific water sluicing the decks.

As the leading duo Yannick Bestaven (Maître Coq IV) and Charlie Dalin (APIVIA) pass Point Nemo today, the loneliest point on the Southern Ocean - the Furious Fifties offer a rude reminder why they are so called.

From Point Nemo it is nearly 2,000 miles to Cape Horn where deliverance waits. This stage, to the Horn, is about remaining prudent, preparing perfectly for the Cape and knowing the timing of the weather transitions as accurately as possible.

“There is so much contrast with yesterday I almost cannot remember how it was, I cannot remember yesterday it seems.” Said seventh-placed Boris Herrmann wistfully today. “Now we are back to a normal Southern Ocean ambience sailing at 17 knots in 30kts of breeze. We are dealing with a low-pressure system and the contrast is just amazing.”

On his 50th day at sea the German skipper, who stands a fighting chance of being the first ‘Cape Horner’ (he has been round three times) among a group of first-timers at the Cape next weekend mused, “It takes a strong mind to take it all, you are always being thrown into new situations. Better not to think about it too much. Sometimes I think I think too much about the boat. If could let go a bit more I could sail a bit faster…. but looking up I am anxious all the time. In the bunk I am sleeping only 15 minutes. Maybe I should just let it go, and go faster.”

He continues, “But I want to reach Cape Horn in one piece. I have a boat at 100% and very few of the others can say that. So let us get through the week without losing too many miles, but certainly without breaking anything.”

Mike Golding, four times Vendée Globe racer, says this is one of the toughest parts of the course mentally, “But it is essential to keep doing what they have been doing, getting through each day, one day at a time, without pushing too hard, just staying in the rhythm and looking after the boat. The sense of anticipation grows and grows for those who have not been round the Horn before but there is so much can be gained and lost just after, it is important to be there in the best shape mentally and physically.”

Golding adds, “In fact if there is a little more compression, as we might expect, then anyone in this main group can be on the podium in Les Sables d’Olonne. It is that open. Right now I am impressed by Boris and his approach and especially by Isabelle Joschke who has really come into her own. Like Boris she has a largely unbroken boat, she’s in the play. And don’t discount Jean Le Cam. He is ‘steady Eddie’, you never hear of his problems because whatever he deals with, he just gets on with..”

Joschke in fifth is still struggling with the cold, which she does not like at all, and like Herrmann is taking time to re-adjust to the rude return to fast, wet and hard sailing, “Last night it was really slamming and crashing, I even got seasick again because I was not used to the movement again.” Heavily fatigued Joschke was trying to grab some rest before adding more sail area to her charge.

Rest was high on the agenda too for Benjamin Dutreux. The tenth-placed 30-year-old Vendée skipper of OMIA-Water Family has climbed the mast of his IMOCA to release his J2 headsail which had split near the top. The climb was extremely tough, after he reported that he was’ thrown around like a rag doll being smashed between the sail and the mast’.

“And now I have to repair the sail and a few other things, so it is not good for my morale, really,” Dutreux told the French Vendée Globe live show today, his face wracked with fatigue and stress.

Leader Yannick Bestaven was not short of wind - were he in need of any more puff to blow out his 48 candles on his birthday. He had 40 knots of wind at times in front of the depression though with crossed seas which made progress less than comfortable. But the Vendée Globe leader for 12 days has opened more than 50 miles on second-placed Charlie Dalin over the last 24 hours. Maître CoQ IV's lead is now 133 miles over APIVIA which has been closer to the centre of the depression. Thomas Ruyant is third on LinkedOut, now 150 miles behind Dalin and 31 miles behind Damien Seguin (Groupe Apicil) who has consistently been the quickest of the top 10 today.

Vendee Globe Ranking at 17:00

1. Yannick Bestaven [Maître CoQ IV] —> 9,256.64 nm from the finish
2. Charlie Dalin - [ APIVIA ] —> 133.32 nm from the leader
3. Thomas Ruyant [ LinkedOut ] —> 284.7 nm from the leader
4. Damien Seguin [ Groupe Alpcil ]—> 315.72 nm from the leader
5. Jean Le Cam [ Yes We Cam! ] —> 360.03 nm from the leader

Published in Vendee Globe
Tagged under

(Day 49 - One week to Cape Horn) Yannick Bestaven (Maître CoQ IV) shows again today why he is the leader of the Vendée Globe as he has positioned himself well to take the best advantage of a long-awaited low-pressure system which will finally break up the southern Pacific Ocean stalemate. Slow, tactical sailing has largely prevailed for nearly 1,500 nautical miles and some five days of racing.

Bestaven’s optimal upwind course sees him clip the corner flag of the Antarctic Exclusion Zone as the new weather system breathes life back into his attack, allowing him to slant slightly more to the south, passing some 300 miles south of Point Nemo tomorrow

The solo racer from La Rochelle has today opened another handful of miles on second-placed Charlie Dalin (APIVIA) not least because Dalin’s unfortunate timing, as they are still upwind, on the new weather system has required him to tack back to the north in order to make the corner of the ice barrier.

Bestaven should celebrate his 48th birthday Monday with the perfect gift, seeing his lead increase still further, as he crosses the low into fast reaching conditions. Adorned with relatively flat seas in front of the system he might press the accelerator hard on Maître CoQ IV or simply enjoy the fast birthday ride on his VPLP-Verdier design which was launched as Safran for the last Vendée Globe.

The leader has more than 22 years of ocean racing under his belt, his first major success being winning the Mini Transat in 2001.

When Bestaven won the Mini Transat in 2001 the runner up was the amateur British skipper Simon Curwen who drove a wedge between the victor and his third-placed pal Arnaud Boissières.

Friends Boissières and Bestaven – who grew up together in Arcachon – had identical twin Nivelt designs which proved extremely potent. The current Vendée Globe leader won both legs of that Mini Transat, actually, the first sailor ever to do so after Arcachonnais mentor Yves Parlier did - but Parlier was penalised 16 hours on the first leg. He was a major influence on the early sailing career of Bestaven.

“Building your own boat and crossing the Atlantic alone is unforgettable.” Bestaven told the Vendée Globe website before the start, “My career happened little by little, but in particular thanks to the influence of Yves Parlier who took me on board with him. But the Mini-Transat was a real eye-opener. Winning the Mini Transat was transformative, winning both stages and therefore the race on a boat that I built myself. You can hardly do more at that stage of your career.”

Brit Brian Thompson actually led the second stage to Salvador de Bahia but chose to stay offshore overnight to stay with the breeze whilst Bestaven went along the shore to win. Thompson finished sixth and Sam Davies 11th.

A typically virulent low-pressure system is forecast to converge from the north-west, coinciding with the leaders projected rounding of Cape Horn on January 2nd. Presently the weather files predict 45kts averages which would surely require the two leaders -at least- to throttle back and time their passage of the notorious rocky islet better.

“I was sold a Pacific experience of fast surfing and smooth downwind sailing. But is has been like climbing a mountain. So now the idea is to continue down towards the Ice Zone to get closer to the centre of the low. We then cross it and pick up the wind shift on the other side, with fairly strong winds, 40-knot gusts. We’ll be the first to take advantage of that, so that should - if the charts and forecasts are right - propel me as the leader eastwards, towards Cape Horn. So if everything works out as forecast, we should be at the Horn in 6-7 days around the 2nd January. For the moment, we have to be patient. Here it’s cold and wet. If that appeals to you, come and join us aboard Maître CoQ in the South Pacific.” Bestaven said today.

The chasing pack of ten is, to all intents and purposes, now eleven. Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée 2) is in contact with the peloton, 60 miles behind tenth-placed Benjamin Dutreux (OMIA-Water Family) who struggled yesterday with a problem with his J2 headsail, which as yet remains unresolved and will require a mast climb at some point. There is a question whether Burton will be able to hold on to the back of the same low pressure as the peloton.

Nonetheless, the shape of January’s race up the Atlantic is taking shape this week. It seems unlikely that it will be restricted to a Bestaven v Dalin match race such as has decided the 2012 and 2016 races. If the second pack can – as predicted – be within striking distance at the Cape then this is still anyone’s race to win.

Ranking at 17:00

1. Yannick Bestaven [Maître CoQ IV] —> 9,256.64 nm from the finish
2. Charlie Dalin - [ APIVIA ] —> 100.92 nm from the leader
3. Thomas Ruyant [ LinkedOut ] —> 313.73 nm from the leader
4. Damien Seguin [ Groupe Alpcil ]—> 365.49 nm from the leader
5. Jean Le Cam [ Yes We Cam! ] —> 376.14 nm from the leader

Published in Vendee Globe
Tagged under

At less than one day from Point Nemo, the most isolated point on earth, Vendee Globe Race leader Yannick Bestaven still has company in the shape of Charlie Dalin who is less than 50 miles behind. But as Thomas Ruyant finally profits from his more northerly position of recent days and returns to third, the leading pair have their buffer of nearly 270 miles.

Bestaven’s position and timing remains better than his nearest rival’s. Dalin is closer to the ice barrier and will have to tack again but they have still not found the faster-reaching conditions yet.

They are now just less than one week to Cape Horn which all of the top three skippers should round for their first time. Certainly, for the two leaders the forecast suggests they will get the full Cape Horn experience with winds in the Drake Strait exceeding 45kts with big seas and as of just now it is hard to see how they will avoid it without slowing down from the middle of the week.

The chasing group should be able to enjoy better breeze from this afternoon, not on Ruyant’s best side but he is best positioned to the north of this group and he should be able to open miles at the head of the peloton.

The light winds for the group should continue to benefit the hard pressing Louis Burton who has been very close to the exclusion zone during the night (European time) but he will be the first of this group to get the new wind and can be expected to close right up. His closest ‘target’ Benjamin Dutreux had technical problems yesterday with a headsail which required him to go north to make a fix. He is doing just over nine knots this morning and may still benefit from his positioning.

As for the other skippers who are more than 900 miles from the leader (almost three days), They will have to work hard to maintain that delta: Clarisse Crémer (Banque Populaire X) is able to sail straight along the AEZ, but will have to watch in her rearview mirror because Armel Tripon (L'Occitane en Provence) should benefit from ideal conditions for his foiling scow: reaching fast on relatively flat seas. He can still harbour hopes of catching the lead group for the climb up the Atlantic.

Alan Roura (La Fabrique) has sorted his keel problems and his boat watching carefully. Behind him, Arnaud Boissières (La Mie Câline-Artisans Artipôle) and Pip Hare (Medallia) are being affected by a depression coming from Tasmania which should abate for them on Monday , but in the meantime, it is a chance to make great speeds under New Zealand.

As for the Beyou-Le Diraison-Costa trio further back, under Tasmania, they are in the tail of the system with a very crossed sea which does not allow them to take any real advantage of the strong N’ly winds. Manuel Cousin (Groupe Sétin) on a more northerly route has it better as does the Japanese sailor Kojiro Shiraishi (DMG MORI Global One) behind it in the south-west sector flow.

Finally, Miranda Merron (Campagne de France) followed by Clément Giraud (Compagnie du Lit-Jiliti) were able to finish the straight line of the AMSA plateau defined by the Australian maritime security services: the way is now more open for them to dive south to get out of the Indian Ocean.

Published in Vendee Globe
Tagged under

Still racing upwind but having changed on to the ‘making’ port tack – the angle taking them closer to the mark than away from it – Yannick Bestaven (Maître Coq) is back in the lead of the Vendee Globe race but only by a small handful of miles over Charlie Dalin (APIVIA).

The seven-strong peloton are now compacted into a postage stamp area some 50 by 70 nautical miles but are once again bumped into the light winds of the high-pressure barrier, they are all making much less than ten knots.

The significant movers over the course of the last night and yesterday are the ‘comeback kids’ Jérémie Beyou (Charal) now making continued inroads at good speeds, averaging over 20kts for much of the time and so now up to 18th place passing Didac Costa (OnePlanet-One Ocean) and Stéphan Le Diraison (Time for Oceans). And Armel Tripon (L’Occitaine en Provence) has passed Roman Attanasio (Pure-Best Western) to take over 13th place. They are feeling the effects of a new high-pressure system which is slowing them.

The slow down for the peloton, the group led by Jean Le Cam (Yes We Cam!) and Boris Herrmann (SeaExplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco) has been good for Maxime Sorel (V and B Mayenne) and especially for Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée 2) who have made miles back in the group, Burton more than 250 miles over four days.

Alan Roura (La Fabrique) in 15th is more than 300 miles ahead of Arnaud Boissières (La Mie Câline-Artisans Artipôle) and Pip Hare (Medallia): the start of the Pacific is quite good for them although they have this depression chasing them. At the moment three solo sailors (Beyou-Le Diraison-Costa) are in the system in thirty knots as they leave the Indian Ocean. Manu Cousin (Groupe Sétin) has preferred to sail much further north.

Published in Vendee Globe
Tagged under

With the anticyclone blocking the route eastwards towards Cape Horn which is still over 2000 miles away, the leading group in the Vendee Globe Race have made their choices – or had them made for them – and this Christmas morning there is more than 300 miles of lateral separation between Yannick Bestaven (Maitre Coq) who is upwind to the north of second placed Charlie Dalin (APIVIA) who is still on the most direct route 1.2 miles behind in terms of distance to the finish, while Boirs Herrmann (SeaExplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco) is now up to third some 300 miles behind.​

The skipper from Hamburg, Germany on his fourth round the world circumnavigation has been racing in close contact with Jean Le Cam (Yes We Cam!) and the pair are less than one mile apart today, leading the peloton which is going at the speed of the anticyclone in the meantime.

Bestaven has gone for the outer city bypass option, sailing many more miles than his rival Dalin who has taken the more direct, shorter route but he can only go as fast as the system lets him, all the time hoping that he can jump clear of the meteorological phenomena and into the stronger pressure away from the glutinous, sticky winds closer the centre. All the time for Dalin and the others it is hard to model, to monitor and predict the evolution of the system while Bestaven’s break for the north now sees the skipper from La Rochelle, whose first time in the Southern Pacific this is, racing upwind in 15-17knots of breeze trying to hook into the new low pressure system and downwind conditions over the weekend which he hopes will accelerate him eastwards towards Chile and to Cape Horn with a growing lead.

Yannick Bestaven said this morning, “I am upwind heading towards the depression I am searching for the shift which should be more downwind, I have 15-17kts, I am making good speed, I want to get to the north of the depression I hope it goes well for me in 24 hours or something like that. After that it is a route towards Cape Horn but it is about managing the front at the same time
I am good, in a good way with the boat at 100 per cent of its potential. Upwind I have lots of sleep, long naps. And Father Christmas has been and given me lots of presents.”

Bestaven should continue to climb and the separation grow before tacking in about 24 hours or so at 47 degrees 30 north, 140 degrees west to find the depression. All the time it seems Dalin will remain bogged down making 10-12 knots along the Antarctic Exclusion Zone.

The denouement, the first sniff of an outcome, will start to be evident from the middle of the weekend and into Monday. Predictions show Bestaven opening his lead in the downwind conditions, perhaps making twice the speed of his rivals at times, while the chasing pack will gradually spread again as the depression finally gives them S and SW’ly winds late Sunday or Monday and the chance to get properly moving again come towards the end of the weekend.

Armel Tripon (L'Occitane en Provence) is only 250 miles from Clarisse Crémer (Bank Populaire X) while Jérémie Beyou (Charal) should overtake Stéphane Le Diraison (Time for Oceans) at the end of the day before tackling a secondary depression between Cape Leeuwin and Tasmania. Finally, the last five sailing along the AMSA plateau or will soon reach it, benefit from rather favourable weather conditions on the southern edge of the Mascarene high pressure area.

Alan Roura, 15th, said this morning, “The conditions are not so bad today, we are close to a depression so the wind is quite gusty, coming up step by step and right now I have between 20 and 25kts wind and we are downwind and the sea is quite short and it is going to stay like that. It is raining outside and so I try to stay inside. The last days have been really tough on the boat. Last night with my family we are always opening presents o the 24th and so I have already opened everything, I had a good meal a bottle of wine and it was quite a cool evening even if I was all alone on the boat but this is all part of the Vendée Globe so I am happy to make Christmas in the middle of the ocean, I am in the Pacific now and so I hope the conditions are going to be better than in the Indian Ocean because the Indian was quite terrible for us. So right now it is not so bad and hopefully now we can make at least half of the Pacific in quite cool conditions. You can’t see so far on the routing but to get half in good conditions would be really great. The boat is starting to be a bit tired too, so we have done more than half of the Vendée Globe and the skipper and the boat are starting to be a bit tired. I need to rest a little bit more.

I was inside at the front of the boat, a wave came and stopped the boat and I went from one side to the other and one of the structural stopped me but not on the hand or the leg but with my back and I was scared because my back is quite fragile and so it is not so bad today, it is getting better and better. I start to be faster now as I had kind of slowed a bit for the last couple of days.”

Published in Vendee Globe
Tagged under

(Day 46 - 650 miles to Point Nemo) Strategies are now diverging significantly between the leading two skippers Thomas Ruyant and Charlie Dalin at the front of the Vendée Globe fleet. Ruyant has split north to seek a low-pressure system first, looking to reap the rewards of a fast downwind ride after the weekend but he must sail many more miles – some of them at an oblique angle to the best course east – and some of them potentially upwind into 25-30 knots of wind.

While third-placed Thomas Ruyant has now dropped to be over 300 miles behind leader Bestaven, as the distance to the finish line dropped today to be less than 10,000 nautical miles, so it seems that Dalin might be rewarded by returning to the race lead on Christmas Day, by virtue of his more direct course.

Dalin said today, “The situation is tense, we're trying to escape from the high-pressure bubble and trying not to get swallowed up, but depending on the weather models, we could get through or we might not. It's not easy on the nerves to deal with.”

“What is certain is that my decision was taken based and supported by my initial position to the south. Going north meant drawing a "huge circumflex accent" (an upturned V) in the Pacific and my southern route I think means a better chance of finding a favourable outcome. But I decided to dare, to try and to believe. Every mile gained towards the East is a victory but it is still too early to draw conclusions.

Asked about the sub 10,000 miles marker he said, “I've been looking at this number for quite some time like many others and it's true that it's symbolic to pass this milestone. It's a good thing, like a milestone; I like these markers that make the race more enjoyable!”

Haunting Cali

In 17th Pip Hare is relishing the tough going on her first time in the big south. The English skipper continues to impress the French cognoscenti and long time race fans with her ability to attack on her evergreen 20 year old IMOCA. Today she is threatening to pass French skipper Arnaud ‘Cali’ Boissières who is on his fourth consecutive Vendée Globe on a 2007-8 design which has been retrofitted with foils and has been posting consistently fast speeds and high 24 hour runs.

“I want to salute the very good race of Pip Hare who, with a 1999 boat (Superbigou, built by Bernard Stamm), a late and modest budget, stands up to skippers benefiting from newer and updated boats with foils. Her routes are beautiful and smooth, we can see that she knows how to use the weather and navigate, I find what she is doing is quite fantastic on a high level.” Wrote Yoann Richomme today in the French e-newsletter Tip & Shaft

Laying to rest the ghosts of Christmas past
For Stéphane Le Diraison on Time for Oceans, this Christmas period is a long awaited contrast to four years ago. At this time in 2016 after breaking the mast of the same IMOCA 60 that he is racing this time he was crawling at five or six knots towards Melbourne, Australia.

After passing Cape Leeuwin two days ago, Le Diraison has also crossed the point where he lost his mast on the 42nd day of racing last time.

“It was a long, long, long time to get to Melbourne and so in fact Christmas was a welcome diversion to open presents and to open presents and to be alone on the boat. But to be honest I prefer this time with a mast. I am looking forwards to learning the Pacific now, here I am living my dream.”

Paul was in third place at the time and was going really well before he broke his hydraulic keel ram and he had to lash it in the middle. He was further across the Pacific and so the safest thing was for him to go to Tahiti. It was stressful for him as it took him ten days and it was a stressful time for us. He could not go to New Zealand as it was upwind. We did want him to go all the way to Chile as it was a lee-shore. I had to head out with the team on Boxing Day.

At the same time Hutchinson had to juggle with the logistics and management of a difficult situation with Enda O’Coineen the Irish skipper who was dangerously fatigued due to computer and other issues and had to stop into Stewart Island. He dismasted not long after leaving.

This year Hutchinson’s skipper Thomas Ruyant is in third place, again, but in much more placid sailing conditions, dealing this time with too little wind rather than too much.

“In fact it was a great experience in Tahiti but it was a Christmas with the family ruined. And it was very, very disappointing for Paul as he was in third place at the time.”

Vendee Globe rankings  at 17:00 hrs 

1. Yannick Bestaven [Maître CoQ IV] —> 10,293.1 nm from the finish
2. Charlie Dalin - [ APIVIA ] —> 16.05 nm from the leader
3. Thomas Ruyant [ LinkedOut] —> 282.43 nm from the leader
4. Boris Herrmann - [ SeaExplorer - Yacht Club de Monaco ] —> 358.15 nm from the leader
5. Benjamin Dutreux [ OMIA Water Family ]—> 358.65 nm from the leader

Published in Vendee Globe
Tagged under

There were shoreside Christmas honours this week for the French offshore sailor Jean Le Cam was awarded 'Officer in the Order of Maritime Merit' by the French Minister of the Sea, Annick Girardin, for his involvement in the rescue of a competitor in the Vendee Globe solo race around the world.

As Afloat reported on November 30th, Le Cam, the nearest competitor to stricken skipper Kevin Escoffier, plucked him from his life raft.

Le Cam, who will receive the distinction upon his return from his solo circumnavigation, responded [translation into English via Google] "Thank you for paying attention to what we do. When someone is in distress, you have to go rescue them, not just on the sea. Solidarity is not a vain word, it is part of the true values of human beings, even more in difficult times".

Jacques Caraës and Christophe Gaumont, respectively race director and president of Vendée Globe race committee, were appointed knights for their part in the rescue.

Published in Vendee Globe
Tagged under

Compared with the last two editions of the Vendée Globe which, by Day 45, had both been distilled down to high octane drag race sprints across the Pacific to Cape Horn, at the front this ninth edition is increasingly becoming an exacting game of strategy and patience.

For the top ten right now rather than spearing eastwards to Point Nemo, the most remote spot on the course which right now is still over 1000 miles to the east, the sport is more reminiscent of an inshore race in the Mediterranean in benign, fickle breezes, fighting with the track of a voracious zone of light winds,

Not only is this edition not going to break any speed records, so slow was second-placed Charlie Dalin moving at one point in the last 24 hours that he noted that he joked he would back in Les Sables d’Olonne in July or August.

Leader Yannick Bestaven is threatening to escape from the dominant high pressure and second-placed Charlie Dalin and third-placed Thomas Ruyant, close to the centre of the high pressure, are powerless to stop him.

Weather strategy expert, two times winner of La Solitaire du Figaro Yoann Richomme explained today on the English Live show,“There is going to a be a break. Yannick is in front of the system and the others are behind. It is a like a wall which is slowly moving so that entire group for me from V and B La Mayenne to Charlie Dalin is gonna be pretty closed up with eight or nine boats within a hundred miles or so of each other by this weekend. Yannick has another low pressure coming down this Saturday and it depends how strong and how it is positioned but right now I see him getting a nice 200 or 300 miles lead.”

And the second group is compressing too, running into the buffer zone of light winds on the west of the high. Boris Herrmann in fourth is under threat from boats on both sides of him.

Benjamin Dutreux is up to fifth place albeit only seven miles ahead of Jean Le Cam on the water. But he is on the hunt for fourth placed Herrmann, the two on a converging course this evening in light winds, making five to seven knots only.

Le Cam and Dutreux are both sailing very similar Farr designed 2007-8 generation boats.

The 30 year old Vendée sailor Dutreux is sailing an incredibly accomplished race. He was born in the north of France – the French sailors’ strict demarcation making him a ‘Chti’ like second placed Dalin from Le Havre and third placed Ruyant from Dunkirk. But his grandmother had a house on the Ile de Yeu where he spent all his time each summer sailing. He joined the Ile de Yeu club at eight before graduating to the local mainland club.

He was on the French youth team at 16 and won national, European and world titles before he was 18. After college he became a sailmaker for three years and in his 20s joined the Vendée Formation Figaro training group going on to finish fifth overall in 2018.

Dutreux’s boat was previously Kojiro Shiraishi’s Spirit of Yukoh, which Dutreux brought from Japan. While Le Cam’s Yes We Cam has already won as Michel Desjoyeaux’s Foncia in 2008, Dutreux’s was on the podium on the 2012 race as Alex Thomson’s Hugo Boss.

He and his brother have a boat renovation and repair yard in Les Sables d’Olonne where he is very popular for his very down to earth, friendly demeanour. His best IMOCA result to date was 19th in the Transat Jacques Vabre.

Damien Seguin (Groupe Apicil) and Isabelle Joschke (MACSF) are racing almost in sight of each other – four miles apart – in seventh and eighth.

“I have Damien not far away but can’t see him or pick him up on the AIS. There are conditions that are more favourable at times for my boat, and at others for his. Now it is great to have caught up with him when he was quite long way ahead, but he has also had a few issues to deal with, either way it is nice to have caught up. I have felt a lot better in the Pacific, better than in the Indian and I am more confident and less scared. There are things that you are naturally scared of, but which you overcome, and it is wonderful to have the chance to make the most of it and enjoy it now. I am loving the Pacific; it is just the opposite of the Indian. We will have to see what conditions are like at Cape Horn.”

She adds, “I am enjoying eating well and doing a bit of cooking, when the conditions are good of course. We have light conditions, and we are sailing with stunning conditions, under the moon and with very short nights. I am sailing to the South West of an anticyclone and will be into it and so it should get a lot lighter which means that those ahead will slow down and those behind will continue to catch up until they too get the lighter airs. I will have to see how I negotiate it and it is not going to be too easy because it will be very light.”

Vendee Globe Ranking at 17:00 hrs 

  1. Yannick Bestaven [Maître CoQ IV] —> 10,293.1 nm from the finish
  2. Charlie Dalin - [ APIVIA ] —> 78.91 nm from the leader
  3. Thomas Ruyant [ LinkedOut] —> 191.07 nm from the leader
  4. Boris Herrmann - [ SeaExplorer - Yacht Club de Monaco ] —> 366.73 nm from the leader
  5. Benjamin Dutreux [ OMIA Water Family ]—> 373.6 nm from the leader
Published in Vendee Globe
Tagged under

Leader Yannick Bestaven is being forced to play chicken with the Vendée Globe’s ice zone limit in the South Pacific as he seeks to extricate his Maître CoQ IV first from a frustrating anticyclone which is offering unusually light to moderate breezes even though they are racing at 55 degrees south. 
Bestaven, who has seen his margin eroded to 84 miles by Figaro one design ace Charlie Dalin while Thomas Ruyant is also about 80 miles behind.

The problem all three leaders face is that the centre of the system is moving east at more or less the same speed as they are. But if Bestaven can wriggle clear and his pursuers remain snared then the leader could hit the jackpot, gaining an advance of many hundreds of miles. Bestaven took himself to within 3.4 nautical of the virtual line today before he gybed back north-eastwards, all the time trying to stay as far south as he could where the winds are strongest.

Charlie Dalin, in second, admitted that the stress of the scenario was keeping him awake during a phase he really needs to be maximising his rest. Speaking on the Vendée Globe English Live show today, in the dark during the Southern Pacific Ocean night, Dalin said, 
 “I am under a high level of pressure because my 90 miles deficit to Maitre Coq could transform into 1000 miles if I cannot manage to outrace this high pressure. I am under a lot of stress, trying to sail as hard as I can to be able to stay east of this high-pressure centre, which will travel towards us in the next couple of days. It is really stressful because I know that if I don’t manage I could end up in a different system to Yannick and lose a lot of ground.”

He affirms, “The weather we have in the Pacific is weird, I feel like I am more sailing a Figaro leg than the Vendée Globe. It is full-on racing at the moment. I have got as many square metres of sail up that I can have up. It is really weird. Before the start of the race I was not expecting to be sailing like this at 55 degrees south. It Is always easier to sleep at night and so I should be asleep right now. But it is keeping me awake. It is hard to find the balance in the long term because when the wind starts to get light then I know I will have to be in top shape. So it is not an easy compromise to find between getting some rest and trimming the boat to be as fast as possible.”

Arriving later towards the centre of the high, the second wave are led by Boris Herrmann (SeaExplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco) and right now are watching closely to see if the three leaders can get out of the system. “We are the hunters for sure right now. Our question is whether they will escape or we all end up in the same system.”

It is the first six skippers, Bestaven, Dalin, Ruyant, Herrmann, Le Cam and rookie Benjamin Dutreux who are most affected by this area of weak and erratic wind. Behind them the systems are aligning to offer a significant catch up in a strong north westerly flow

 “There will be a regrouping they will come back strong from behind, it is a little annoying but it is all part of the game” noted Dutreux. 
Groupe Apicil’s Damien Seguin is fighting hard to make the best of any possible comeback: “I have the opportunity to come back. I am ready to fight. I'm waiting for the right time.”

After his stop at Macquarie Island Louis Burton is in fighting spirits, ready to press as hard as he can to regain lost miles. Having been up to second in the South Indian Ocean before his damage, the skipper from Saint Malo is focused on giving his all in pursuit of the top five finish which was his pre-start target.

And the best in the South Pacific had been consistently Armel Tripon on L’Occitane in Provence. He posted the best average speed of the fleet today: 446 miles 24 hours compared to just 257 for Thomas Ruyant. “Numbers speak louder than words.” Tripon wrote this morning after entering the South Pacific: “To my right, Antarctica, an immense continent that I dream of seeing up close one day, and in front of me, far, very far, Cape Horn! Between us, a gigantic ocean and in front a whole lot of tiny boats I dream of overtaking!” One part of that dream seems sure to come true.

Spain’s Didac Costa: The passage of Cape Leeuwin as his 40th Birthday Present
The Barcelona firefighter who is currently in 19th position celebrated his 40th birthday today asn should cross Cape Leeuwin before midnight on the ex-Kingfisher of Ellen MacArthur with whom she won the Route du Rhum 2002. Didac, who raced his 2016-17 race largely on his own under Australia fighting mainsail and technical issues is fighting in a of 5 IMOCAs in a match which is as exciting as at the top of the fleet. He is tussling all the time with the British skipper Pip Hare, Stéphane Le Diraison, Manu Cousin and Arnaud Boissières who is the leader of the small posse.

Vendee Globe Rankings at 1700

1. Yannick Bestaven [Maître CoQ IV] —> 10,293.1 nm from the finish
2. Charlie Dalin - [ APIVIA ] —> 73.42 nm from the leader
3. Thomas Ruyant [ LinkedOut] —> 154.36 nm from the leader
4. Boris Herrmann - [ SeaExplorer - Yacht Club de Monaco ] —> 285.25 nm from the leader
5. Jean Le Cam [ Yes We Cam! ]—> 360.48 nm from the leader

Published in Vendee Globe
Tagged under
Page 7 of 25

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