Vendée Globe: Drag race sprints

Published on December 23rd, 2020

(December 23, 2020; Day 46) – Compared with the last two editions of the Vendée Globe which, by this time in the race, 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 center 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 was in fourth is under threat from boats on both sides of him, which resulted in him dropping to eighth place, just ahead of Jean Le Cam, who is in ninth.

Benjamin Dutreux is up to fifth place, he had been on the hunt for and passed 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 demeanor. 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. Isabelle said, “I have Damien not far away but can’t see him or pick him up on the AIS. There are conditions that are more favorable 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.”

Thomas Ruyant, LinkedOut, in third place, said today, “We are advancing faster than I had expected, so it’s pretty good. Now the situation remains undecided on the trajectory in the hours and days to come. I am following closely the complexity of the weather and I hope that there won’t be any bungee jump effect from the front. I keep my fingers crossed. I’m in a good phase where I still have a little bit of wind and making good progress on the course.

“I went to look for the shift near the centre of the high, but it is moving more or less fast depending on the models and each time we get a new weather forecast, it’s different. I am trying to deal with what I have and it’s not so easy, you don’t know what to expect and what you are going to get. There are small areas you can make progress through and then some lighter patches around them; it is not a perfectly formed bubble or high. I have a little more wind than forecast and I am happy. The question is, is the high pressure going to be fast enough to catch Yannick?

“I chose to stop heading towards the South, I think that Charlie (Dalin) and Yannick had better stay to the South: I went to catch the right corner of the centre of the anticyclone. I chose the shift rather than the pressure, it’s not so bad. We’ll see, it’s difficult, I’m looking forward to the forecasts coming out in two hours to adjust my course.

“The sky is a little grey, the sea is rather flat, I’ve put all the sail up and try and keep a heel so as not to slow down, and make progress towards the East. It is less cold. These are light conditions; we’ll have this for several days, which are not necessarily the best conditions for our boats. We have hulls dragging water, we have our rakes dragging a bit too. We’re not going to make high speeds! It’s a slow Vendée Globe in spite of our beautiful boats, which know how to go fast.

“Since the end of the Atlantic, we’ve had weather conditions that have not allowed us to go fast, but it’s a race, it’s not a record, that’s the difference. The game is how best we position ourselves, to arrive before the others. It’s always better when there are fast finishes and record times at the finish, but that won’t be the case. I’m not in a hurry to get back as long as there’s confinement and the bars are closed!”

“This could be a time we see the barrier come down before us and he gets away or we could all regroup. What I hope is that Yannick doesn’t get away ahead. He is sailing very, very well and he makes few mistakes, he knows how to go fast with his boat, and you can feel that he is at ease. He has confidence in himself, I wish for him, but I don’t want him to get away ahead, despite him deserving it. He is in his place and was able to cease on the opportunity when Charlie had to slow down.

“He knew how to come back; he knew how to take advantage of our small problems and is managing his course and the lead really well. For the time being, he is doing a perfect course. I’m trying to hang on, I’m not going to let go, I’m ready to pounce and hope to keep close.”

Ranking – 21:00 (GMT)*
1. Yannick BESTAVEN, Maître CoQ IV – 10027.9 nm DTF
2. Charlie DALIN, APIVIA – 67.21 nm DTL
3. Thomas RUYANT, LinkedOut – 209.46 nm DTL**
4. Damien SEGUIN, GROUPE APICIL – 375.84 nm DTL
5. Benjamin DUTRUEX, OMIA-Water Family – 384.54
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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