Vendée Globe: Passing Point Nemo

Published on December 28th, 2020

(December 28, 2020; Day 51) – 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 eighth 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 51st 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 sixth 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 ninth 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 178 miles over APIVIA which has been closer to the center of the depression. Thomas Ruyant is third on LinkedOut, now 89 miles behind Dalin and 28 miles ahead of Damien Seguin (Groupe Apicil) who has consistently been the quickest of the top 10 today.

Ranking – 21:00 (GMT)*
1. Yannick BESTAVEN, Maître CoQ IV – 8875.27 nm DTF
2. Charlie DALIN, APIVIA – 178.04 nm DTL
3. Thomas RUYANT, LinkedOut – 263.1 nm DTL**
4. Damien SEGUIN, GROUPE APICIL – 291.72 nm DTL
5. Maxime SOREL, V and B-MAYENNE – 345.58 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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