Vendée Globe: Making the turn

Published on January 3rd, 2021

(January 3, 2021; Day 57) – After Vendée Globe leader Yannick Bestaven passed Cape Horn yesterday after 55 days and 22 minutes of racing, Charlie Dalin (Apivia) became the second skipper to round Cape Horn at 0439hrs early today, trailing Bestaven by 14 hours and 56 minutes.

Fighting his way north in 30-35 knot winds on his 2019 Verdier designed IMOCA, Dalin was just six miles offshore of Cape Horn, passing during the hours of darkness.

Despite the accomplishment, Dalin held a tiny amount of regret, having led at two of the race’s three Great Capes but not the third is contrary to his methodical, empirical mathematician’s mind – his ideal of completing the set.

However, with the start of the 7000 nm climb up the Atlantic to the finish in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, the route looks set to be every bit as complicated – big picture strategy and small time tactics – as was the descent out of the Saint Helena high into the Roaring Forties five long weeks ago.

“It’s just bliss… a great moment. I am also happy to no longer have the big seas that have been with us for several days,” said Dalin who described himself as a ‘perfectionist and an optimalist, someone who will always do the best I can with what I have’ before he started his first ever round the world race.

Dalin has had to deal with a compromised port foil bearing which caused him to cede the lead to Bestaven back on December 16, though he did have the lead again momentarily on Christmas Day.

Bestaven, who is pushing for a more easterly route to the east side of a building high pressure, was almost gushing as he relived his relief during the hours since Cape Horn.

“In my life as a sailor, that was the biggest storm I have ever seen. Mad seas, such as I have never seen so big, and gusts of 60 knots. It’s a huge relief now because it’s been so hard.”

When making the turn, Dalin celebrated by putting up more sail. “I passed close to the islands, the rocks no doubt, it was the first land I had seen since the islands of Trinidad. The continental shelf was parallel to the swell and the wind, so I didn’t notice any difference in the sea state. On the other hand, I had to get offshore a bit so that I did not end up in the winds hadow.”

Dalin, talking of the change of regime said, “Jean Luc Bernot (meteorologist) always tells us that we have to change our mode after Cape Horn; I’m going to do that. It’s a good thing to be back in the Atlantic. I’m happy to have finished with the Pacific. It’s a new phase of the race. I’ve been working for a few days now on the strategy for the climb back up, there are quite a few things to going on.”

Now the strategy for the climb back to the Equator is all about looking long term. The initial strategies seem to see Bestaven going east to get round the east of the anticyclone and Dalin trying to work west to get through the initial light phase earlier. Dalin – looking like he will pass inside Staten Island through the Le Maire Straits – will gain initially but the real outcome would not be seen for more than ten days when they finally get back to the trade winds of the Saint Helena anticyclone.

Sébastien Josse, weather consultant to the Vendée Globe explains, “We see this high pressure going east so Bestaven has to stay to the right, to the east of the high pressure but it is moving quite fast so he can end up parked in this area of light winds. He has to manage the high pressure but to stay to the east and in ten days it is about catching the trade winds of Saint Helena. So it is a hard job to make a strategy for the long term.

“There is a lot of work right now ahead of them, one high pressure, one low pressure and a high pressure to get to the Trade Winds and beyond that to the Doldrums. So the next 14 days will be hard, intense work for the two leaders.”

The mountain ranges in southern Chile rise to more than 3,000 meters and the islands of Patagonia have peaks of nearly 1000 metres. In the W’ly wind there can be very many areas of light winds especially closer to the land. And even though weather modelling has improved a lot here, the reality on the water is often different from the models.

As Dalin notes today, they are out of big ocean mode and back into regatta mode, from maintaining high, safe average to fine tuning, sleeping less and trimming more, looking for every marginal gain.

A high pressure system is developing now from the coast of South America, north of the Falkland Islands. It will then gradually extend to the AEZ forcing the second group to cross it or make a big detour to the east, but with no real certainty of finding any extra wind.

Weather specialist Christian Dumard confirms, “There are two possible options, to follow the direct, shortest route north and try to push through the high before it expands too much, or to go east in search of more wind which is the better long term option.”

Thomas Ruyant (Linked Out) and Damien Seguin (Groupe Apicil) are neck-and-neck in their race to be third at Cape Horn, Seguin a matter of five or six miles closer to the rock. With under 200 nm to go the pair should round in quick succession tomorrow morning.

Ranking – 21:00 (GMT)*
1. Yannick BESTAVEN, Maître CoQ IV – 6745.82 nm DTF
2. Charlie DALIN, APIVIA – 115.58 nm DTL
3. Thomas RUYANT, LinkedOut – 361.0 nm DTL**
4. Damien SEGUIN, GROUPE APICIL – 398.15 DTL
5. Benjamin DUTREUX, OMIA – WATER FAMILY – 584.28 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 skippers finish. – 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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