Vendée Globe: The South Atlantic slalom
Published on November 23rd, 2020
(November 23, 2020; Day 16) – On a sequence of gybes stepping downwind underneath the Saint Helena high pressure system in the South Atlantic, Charlie Dalin (Apivia) became the new leader of the Vendée Globe this morning.
Dalin outmanoeuvred his close rival Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) and went on to build a 20+ mile lead as they slalom towards an area of lighter and variable winds which bar the breakaway duo’s passage to the roaring forties which are still some 600 nautical miles to their south. Dalin topped the standings on one position report earlier in the race, but he is one of ten different leaders since the solo non-stop race round the world started on November 8.
The other news of the day was how previous race leader Alex Thomson, just 48 hours after he unearthed structural damage to his HUGO BOSS boat, has confirmed that he is sailing once again.
Thomson discovered damage to the bow area of his IMOCA yacht on late on November 21 and, after alerting his team on shore, was forced to bring the boat to a stop while he carried out a complex repair at sea to reinforce the structure inside the boat.
With the help of his team, led by Design Manager Pete Hobson – together with naval architects, VPLP and structural engineers, Gurit – the 46-year-old skipper was able to stabilize HUGO BOSS, undertake the repairs, and has now begun sailing once again.
“I’ve got a sail up again!” Thomson said. “I’m sailing in the right direction and I’m back in the race. I’m super happy about that. It’s been a tough couple of days, an awful lot of work – cutting, grinding, sanding, gluing and there’s still a lot more to go. It’s certainly not over yet but the structure in the bow is now stable, it’s not moving any more and so I can sail in these moderate conditions, in the right direction. Happy days.”
Having led the fleet for much of the race prior to discovering the damage, the Brit may need all of the nearly 20,000 remaining miles if he hopes to re-join the leaders.
“It’s obviously disappointing but I’m not going to dwell on the negatives here because I think there are way more positives,” Thomson continued. “It’s positive that I found it before it was catastrophic, it’s positive that it happened in the conditions it happened in, which meant the leaders and the rest of the fleet weren’t moving away at 500 miles a day. So I’m just super happy that I’m still in the race. It could so easily have been the end of the race for me.”
Thomson won the hearts of fans around the world when, in the 2016-17 edition of the Vendée Globe, he finished in second place, despite suffering irreparable damage to his hydrofoil just 12 days into the race.
“I’ve been here before, and all you can do is get back on your feet and keep pushing forwards. I’ve probably still got a night and a half of work to do but, looking at the weather, the next few days are going to be quite light, so good conditions for me to finish the job.”
As to what happened to HUGO BOSS, it was the central longitudinal that had broken in several places. “The good news is we carry so much materials to fix this kind of thing, c plates, solid panels, and even girders, we have plenty of material to fix it and the other bit of good news is I am not in the Southern Ocean,” notes Thomson.
“I am in the middle of the Saint Helena High and so have good conditions to be able to do the job and the other good news is I feel super positive and happy to crack on to get this job done and get back in the race as soon as possible. So don’t feel sad. It could take another day or so to do the repair and the engineers and designers are absolutely confident the boat will be as strong if not stronger than before.”
Ranking – 21:00 (GMT)
1. Charlie DALIN, APIVIA – 19331.7 nm DTF
2. Thomas RUYANT, LinkedOut – 23.18 nm DTL
3. Jean LE CAM, Yes We Cam! – 273.54 nm DTL
4. Kevin ESCOFFIER, PRB- 325.81 nm DTL
5. Alex THOMSON, HUGO BOSS – 388.88 nm DTL
DTF – Distance to Finish; DTF – Distance to Lead
Race details – Boat types – Tracker – Ranking – YouTube
The Vendée Globe is the only sailing race round the world that’s solo, non-stop, and without assistance, and it was all systems go for the 9th edition on November 8. Beginning in 1989 with 13 entries, the start line in 2020 had 33 skippers taking off from Les Sables d’Olonne, France.
The development of the IMOCA Class toward foiling will see these boats hurl themselves around the world, teetering on carbon skates through inhospitable regions, chasing the record set in 2016-17 by Armel le Cléac’h of 74:03:35:46.
Nov. 16, 2020 – Nicolas TROUSSEL, CORUM L’EPARGNE – dismasted
1989-90: 13 boats at the start
1992-93: 15 boats
1996-97: 15 boats
2000-01: 24 boats
2004-05: 20 boats
2008-2009: 30 boats
2012-2013: 20 boats
2016-2017: 29 boats
2020-2021: 33 boats
Fabrice AMEDEO: NEWREST – ART & FENÊTRES
Romain ATTANASIO: PURE – BEST WESTERN
Alexia BARRIER: TSE – 4MYPLANET
Yannick BESTAVEN: MAÎTRE COQ IV
Jérémie BEYOU: CHARAL
Arnaud BOISSIÈRES: LA MIE CÂLINE – ARTISANS ARTIPÔLE
Louis BURTON: BUREAU VALLÉE 2
Didac COSTA: ONE PLANET ONE OCEAN
Manuel COUSIN: GROUPE SÉTIN
Clarisse CREMER: BANQUE POPULAIRE X
Charlie DALIN: APIVIA
Samantha DAVIES: INITIATIVES-CŒUR
Sébastien DESTREMAU: MERCI
Benjamin DUTREUX: OMIA – WATER FAMILY
Kevin ESCOFFIER: PRB
Clément GIRAUD: COMPAGNIE DU LIT / JILITI
Pip HARE: MEDALLIA
Boris HERRMANN: SEA EXPLORER – YACHT CLUB DE MONACO
Ari HUUSELA: STARK
Isabelle JOSCHKE: MACSF
Jean LE CAM: YES WE CAM !
Stéphane LE DIRAISON: TIME FOR OCEANS
Miranda MERRON: CAMPAGNE DE FRANCE
Giancarlo PEDOTE: PRYSMIAN GROUP
Alan ROURA: LA FABRIQUE
Thomas RUYANT: LINKEDOUT
Damien SEGUIN: GROUPE APICIL
Kojiro SHIRAISHI: DMG MORI
Sébastien SIMON: ARKEA – PAPREC
Maxime SOREL: V AND B – MAYENNE
Alex THOMSON: HUGO BOSS
Armel TRIPON: L’OCCITANE EN PROVENCE
Nicolas TROUSSEL: CORUM L’ÉPARGNE
Source: Vendée Globe, The Pha Group