Vendée Globe: Seguin’s Sweet Dreams
Published on December 29th, 2020
(December 29, 2020; Day 52) – With 1450 miles to Cape Horn, a nasty low pressure system is converging with the Vendée Globe leader Yannick Bestaven (Maître Coq IV) and could require him to slow significantly to avoid winds in excess of 40kts and big seas. But Bestaven is under pressure from behind too as the peloton of nine are compressing, closing mileage and pushing hard.
Damien Seguin, multiple Paralympic champion is sailing immaculately and is up to third, increasingly taking the race to Dalin who is now less than 45 miles ahead. The chasing group has closed more than 150 miles in recent days. Leader Bestaven is expected at Cape Horn in five days time.
It would be a dream as Seguin is up to third on his Groupe Apicil, the best position yet for the Paralympic champion sailor who has never considered that having no left hand has ever compromised his ability to be competitive in any racing fleet. His accurate, precise routing, gybing down the Antarctic Exclusion barrier has placed him inside Thomas Ruyant, nearly 14 miles ahead of the solo skipper of LinkedOut. And in terms of direct distance on the water Seguin is less than 45 miles from Charlie Dalin (APIVIA).
His years of Paralympic medal winning rigor and discipline are complemented by an excellent all round ability. At 12 he was fascinated by meteorology. He has been top level competitive in the short, sharp inshore sprints of the Diam24 Tour Voile, long distance in the Class 40 and in the Figaro class. He modified and prepped his Finot Conq design in Jean Le Cam’s boatyard, advised and mentored by Le Cam himself. Incidentally his seat on his IMOCA – retrieved from a dusty corner at Le Cam’s – is off the 2008 Vendée Globe winning Foncia.
A tired, but extremely focused Seguin said today, “Here I am, dreaming of being in the top 5 at Cape Horn! That would be crazy! But it’s what I’m really going to try to do. I still need about seven days to get there. It will be by Sunday or Monday I think. But this last week before Cape Horn is going to be tough. The models all see different things. We’ll see. I am managing to rest but it’s not always easy to eat. I’ve been eating a lot of cold food lately, but I have just had a hot meal.
“The last few days in the light wind zone have been complicated. It was very unstable, and I found it particularly difficult to rest. I came out of it exhausted. And after that I attacked the transition, and I had to do it quickly. The boat was pounding against the sea a lot! It was really difficult. I can’t say for now whether it’s been the most difficult part of this Vendée Globe. The Indian was also difficult because I had a lot of technical problems. But here, it’s more the sailing conditions that have been complex.”
Seguin suggests, “People have been saying that the foilers are going to accelerate, and it might well be on this climb up the Atlantic. We’ll see. In any case, at Cape Horn it won’t be over. We know that this particular ascent has often been full of surprises. But for the moment, I’m focusing on this mythical Cape!”
One thing the second and third placed skippers, Dalin and Seguin, share in common is their youthful dreams of racing the world’s oceans. Their young minds were seeded when they were very little, each seeing the stars of the solo and short handed racing and their fantastic machines up close and personal, a few years apart, in the respective backyards of their childhood.
For Dalin, 35, that was hanging round the Transat Jacques Vabre docks after school in his native Le Havre. Seguin, 41, grew up in Guadeloupe where he saw his heroes of the time winning the Route du Rhum solo Transatlantic race.
Seguin told the Vendée Globe website before the start, “When we moved to Guadeloupe we went to the finish of the Route du Rhum in 1990. I didn’t know anything about it but everyone was talking about it. It was a revelation. I remember these giant boats, the great sailors who were being asked for autographs. Florence Arthaud, Mike Birch, Alain Gautier, Laurent Bourgnon, they were like rock stars.
“I wanted to do that very same thing, to follow in their wake. My initial project was to do the Route du Rhum. In 1998, I had a difficult choice to make: either I embarked on a Mini project or I started an Olympic program. Pushed a bit by the National Sailing School I chose the second option, as I knew it would provide a good structure and foundations to get more into ocean racing. Then after four Olympics, it was the right time to change direction first in the Figaro, then into IMOCA. ”
And Dalin recalled pre-start, “And at home on Le Havre every two years I would find myself always in among the Transat Jacques Vabre boats, dreaming. I went to admire the racing machines at the start, then I followed the race through the radio, the newspapers. And of course through sailing magazines. That’s how I discovered the Mini Transat in Voiles & Voiliers.
“I spent hours looking at the smallest details in the photos. I remember a double page spread from Seb Magnen’s boat which won the Mini twice in a row. I don’t know how many hours I looked at this picture imagining myself in its place.”
The more modestly priced, but highly competitive Class 40 has proven a stepping stone on the pathway to the IMOCA and to this Vendée Globe. Six years ago in Guadeloupe the Route du Rhum Class 40 was won by the Spanish sailor Alex Pella but the class was populated by many of today’s Vendée Globe racers, notably Stéphane Le Diraison who finished fourth, Miranda Merron was sixth, Yannick Bestaven, seventh, Damien Seguin eighth, Fabrice Amedeo ninth, and Giancarlo Pedote 10th. Also racing were Maxime Sorel, Alan Roura, Arnaud Boissières and Nicolas Troussel.
Ranking – 21:00 (GMT)*
1. Yannick BESTAVEN, Maître CoQ IV – 8592.59 nm DTF
2. Charlie DALIN, APIVIA – 176.93 nm DTL
3. Damien SEGUIN, GROUPE APICIL – 220.34nm DTL
4. Thomas RUYANT, LinkedOut – 234.34 nm DTL**
5. Jean LE CAM, Yes We Cam! – 298.21 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.
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.
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
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