Vendée Globe: The western threat

Published on November 26th, 2020

(November 26, 2020; Day 19) – At the same time as Alex Thomson euphorically announced this morning that ‘the BOSS is Back’ after the British skipper completed four days and nights of structural repairs to the inside of the bow of HUGO BOSS, his French rival, second placed Thomas Ruyant and his team are deciding what to do about the damaged port foil on his LinkedOut.

Despite their respective challenges to win the Vendée Globe being compromised for the moment, both skippers remain highly motivated.

The danger in leaving the damaged foil as it is, is that it may break off and cause collateral damage to the hull of his IMOCA or indeed the outrigger support rods. Laurent Bourguès, technical director of Ruyant’s TR Racing has assembled a Task Force group comprising the designers, engineers, and builders who collaborated in the production of LinkedOut’s V2 second generation foil.

So designer Guillaume Verdier is working with Antoine Koch the foil specialist, François Pernelle, who is head of the TR Racing design office, and marine design engineer Hervé Penfornis. This brains trust are in charge of the next steps for skipper Thomas Ruyant who is 120 miles behind the leader and still in the throes of escaping from the light winds of the South Atlantic high.

“First we need to evaluate accurately the structure of the damaged foil,” explains Laurent Bourguès. “Guillaume Verdier performs all the calculations to assess the level of stress safe for a foil of which the shaft structure is compromised. And therefore, in the next few hours we need to work out the acceptable level of risk to hold to a foil which is now unusable.

“Thomas has withdrawn it as much as it comes in but at certain angles of heel, reaching on starboard tack, part of the foil is dragging in the water and so is subject to considerable stress, especially at high speed. In the event of it breaking we then worry about collateral damage at the level of the outrigger tie rod.

“If this risk seems too great to us, Thomas will have to cut the foil. He has all the tools to do so. It is up to us, to recommend where to cut it either in its widest part, flush with the hull, or nearer the tip. We are talking with other teams who have suffered this kind of damage so we can give Thomas all the answers very quickly.”

His team say Ruyant is fully prepared to get on with his race with just a single foil, knowing that statistically his starboard foil is more important than the port side. Even without a foil, his LinkedOut is very powerful, with its ballasts system in particular capable of providing all the power needed on starboard tack to perform despite the loss of the foil. However, without the foil he will need to re-learn the best cant of the keel and sail combinations to remain competitive.

Thomson is back in the thick of the action after taking four days repairing. He is in eighth place this afternoon and in the middle of a well-established pack of boats, circling the west side of the high pressure system and fighting to pull back miles on Sébastien Simon (ARKEA PAPREC) to his east, and Sam Davies and Louis Burton who are quicker than him in the west where there is more breeze.

Briton Davies and Saint Malo based Burton – whose father is Welsh – are nicely positioned now to catch the fast-moving eastbound weather systems first.

Almost all of the lead group seem set to finally be liberated from the clutches of the South Atlantic high pressure and the light winds which have plagued progress since Monday. In a few hours times they should finally be clear and into 25-30kts downwind conditions.

“In six hours time, the sailors will see a complete change in conditions racing on the front of a low from around noon tomorrow,” explains Christian Dumard, weather forecaster for the Vendée Globe. “There will be big miles to be made provided you stay in the front to be pushed at high speed all the way to the Kerguelens.”

Reports Sébastien Simon, “You have to stay focused so as not to miss out otherwise you will miss the train. It will be a very important moment.”

Now with more than 120 miles in hand over compromised Ruyant, Charlie Dalin on APIVIA will be the very first to sail down to the latitude of the Roaring 40s. He will cross 40° South tonight.

Ranking – 17:00 (GMT)
1. Charlie DALIN, APIVIA – 18812.1 nm DTF
2. Thomas RUYANT, LinkedOut – 139.04 nm DTL*
3. Jean LE CAM, Yes We Cam! – 370.93 nm DTL
4. Boris HERRMANN, SEAEXPLORER-YACHT CLUB DE MONACO – 532.95 DTL
5. Yannick BESTAVEN, Maître CoQ IV – 536.88 nm DTL
DTF – Distance to Finish; DTF – Distance to Lead
* Ruyant damaged port foil on Nov. 24 at 02:00.

Race detailsBoat typesTrackerRankingYouTube

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.

2020-21 Attrition
Nov. 16, 2020 – Nicolas TROUSSEL, CORUM L’EPARGNE – dismasted

Participation history:
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

2020-21 Entries
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

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