Vendée Globe: Bestaven landing a bonus

Published on December 22nd, 2020

(December 22, 2020; Day 45) – 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 73 miles by Figaro one design ace Charlie Dalin while Thomas Ruyant is about 85 miles behind Dalin. 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 maximizing 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 73 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 center, 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 center 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 that 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 said, “The passage of Cape Leeuwin as his 40th Birthday Present
The Barcelona firefighter who is currently in 19th position celebrated his 40th birthday today and 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 the leader of the small posse. “

Charlie Dalin, Apivia said today, “I have this high pressure above me to my north which is travelling east roughly at the same pace as me and I am under high pressure due to this high pressure because my 90 miles deficit to Maitre Coq can transform into 1000 if I cannot manage to outrace this high pressure.

“I am under a lot of pressure at the moment, trying to sail as hard as I can to be able to stay east of this high pressure center, 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. I am using the American weather model GFS and the European model the ECWMF and the forecast accuracy is not amazing at the moment.

“It is not easy for the models to predict the position of the centre of the high, it changes a lot, every time the new weather updates come in. That is what I use and every now and then I use satellite imagery to see what is going on in real life. It is a race against the high pressure rather than the other sailors.

“I am looking at their other speeds and that is a good indication to see if the models are right or not as I can compare their angle and speed to what they should be able to do, in the conditions they should have according to the GRIB files, it is also a good indication to show if the models are in phase where they are I am trying to use as many elements as I can to make up the best strategy.

“The weather we have in the Pacific is weird, I feel like I am more sailing a Figaro leg than the Vendée Globe at the moment. 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 there is the balance 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.”

Clarisse Crémer, Banque Populaire X said, “Forced to slow down in order not to get trapped by a depression, Clarisse Crémer (Banque Populaire X) has given herself a little time to consider the whirlwind race and ocean racing which has meant she does not spend time to take care of himself, too preoccupied with the boat and the weather.

“Things are very pleasant, it’s calmed down a lot, there’s even a ray of sunshine, and not too much swell; the boat is gliding. In terms of strategy, I don’t have much hope of getting away in the face of the depression that’s about to pass, I don’t need to go fast. There hasn’t been a lot of sea these last few days, I’ve had a lot of sleep, and I’ve been dreaming a lot, it has been really cool!

“This morning I enjoyed a beautiful sunrise. The conditions are cool for another 24 hours, but I’m getting a bit worried about the weather, which is not easy. If he does well, Maxime (Sorel) should manage to get through; Louis, I don’t know what he’s going to play. As for me, I have to find out if I’m attacking from behind or if I’m waiting to be eaten up by the next depression.

“I’m going to tack in the night, go north and, if I stop, then I’ll have the means to attack. The depression is forecast to bring with it 5 meters of swell and it I going to be tough. I’m ready to reduce to 3 reefs in the mainsail and have just a small headsail. It’s unpleasant to have to stop when we’ve made good progress, but it’s even more unpleasant to damage the boat.

“It’s disturbing, these weather files that give good forecasts for the two or three days ahead and then are not so clear afterwards. With each new weather file, it’s like a drumbeat on board, I download everything within a minute. It’s like a TV series you’re addicted to but whose storyline changes all the time.

“I’m better than I was two days ago. I slept well and I realised I wasn’t eating enough. So I started a high calorie diet, I eat all day – I haven’t eaten for two hours, I’m going to get back on it! And… I have to admit that I hadn’t changed in three weeks. The last time I washed properly was in Brazil, and I did not really mind and yet I had had the feeling I was taking care of myself and doing things seriously.

“As time goes by at sea, you end up settling for less. That’s what ocean racing is all about: you are brought up with the idea that the more you hurt yourself, the faster you go. So we are used to doing a giving in to a bit of everything; with our sleep, our food, our hygiene. We can quickly forget to care for ourselves. Now I’ve changed, washed, eaten, and I’m back in charge of my body.”

Ranking – 21:00 (GMT)*
1. Yannick BESTAVEN, Maître CoQ IV – 10260.6 nm DTF
2. Charlie DALIN, APIVIA – 72.9 nm DTL
3. Thomas RUYANT, LinkedOut – 160.0 nm DTL**
4. Boris HERRMANN, SEAEXPLORER – YACHT CLUB DE MONACO – 286.6 nm DTL
5. Jean LE CAM, Yes We Cam! – 346.0 nm DTL
DTF – Distance to Finish; DTL – Distance to Lead

* Time awards given to Yannick Bestaven, Jean Le Cam, and Boris Herrmann for their participation in the rescue of Kevin Escoffier will be applied when the skipper finishes. – Details
** 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, and held every four years, 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
Nov. 28, 2020 – Alex THOMSON, HUGO BOSS – rudder damage
Nov. 30, 2020 – Kevin ESCOFFIER, PRB – hull damage (sunk)
Dec. 4, 2020 – Sébastien SIMON, ARKEA PAPREC – foil damage
Dec. 5, 2020 – Sam DAVIES, Initiatives-Cœur – keel damage (collision)
Dec. 11, 2020 – Fabrice AMEDEO, NEWREST – ART & FENÊTRES – computer failure

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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