Vendée Globe: Managing the Azores High
Published on January 20th, 2021
(January 20, 2021; Day 74) – The race at the front of the Vendée Globe is electrifying. None of the eight previous editions has ever witnessed a race finish as open and intense. Right now the leading skippers are trying to get their heads around a do-or-die sprint to the finish line in Les Sables d’Olonne which has now less than one week to run.
Even the most informed of France’s pre-race race prognosticators did not project a podium finish for the maverick 35 year old from Saint Malo Louis Burton, but most avid race watchers now see the skipper of Bureau Vallée as having a small lead as he is furthest north and faster than his nearest rivals.
Even if the rankings have him fourth this evening – as he is to the west of his rivals – it looks like he may be first to round the Azores high pressure and connect with the low pressure express train to the finish line.
“He can be into the southwesterly winds first and benefit from a lane through the high pressure corridor with a more constant wind flow and then with a more sustained better angle than his pursuers,” suggested Sébastien Josse, the weather consultant for the Vendée Globe. “The others will be more downwind, forcing them to maneuver more. Louis could stay in the same flow as far as Les Sables d’Olonne and be in several hours ahead at the finish.”
But the leader on the rankings, Charlie Dalin, says the two will re-connect. “We will meet again under the Azores and we will have to do a series of gybes and sail changes, there is still a lot of work to do before the finish!”
As the tension builds and time counts down to the finish, the skippers are feeling the pressure like never before. Thomas Ruyant continues to be quick but the skipper was clearly frustrated that with no port foil he will be compromised during the final sprint and may lose out.
“I knew the Atlantic climb was going to be complicated with a lot of starboard tack,” explained Ruyant. “With a compromised boat it is difficult and frustrating not to compete with those around me on equal terms.
“But here I am I take my troubles patiently and hold on to a competitive spirit. In a few days, the downwind conditions will allow me to stabilize things a bit. There might be less of a performance gap so I’ll do everything to keep in touch.”
Germany’s Boris Herrmann (Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco) has progressively recovered miles since his passage across the Doldrums and is back pacing the leaders mile for mile, quickest on all of today’s measures and looking like he has the potential to finish across the line in a podium position.
The wild card continues to be the time awards that were granted for the rescue of Kevin Escoffier. Yannick Bestaven, now 163 nm off the lead, receives a benefit of 10hrs 15mins when he finishes, while Herrmann will have six hours removed from his finish time. The podium may be decided by the international jury and a stopwatch.
Ranking – 21:00 (GMT)*
1. Charlie DALIN, APIVIA – 2304.36 nm DTF
2. Boris HERRMANN, SEAEXPLORER – YACHT CLUB DE MONACO – 109.54 nm DTL
3. Thomas RUYANT, LinkedOut – 117.26 nm DTL**
4. Louis BURTON, BUREAU VALLEE 2 – 150.98 nm DTL
5. Yannick BESTAVEN, Maître CoQ IV- 162.7 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.
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
Jan. 9, 2021 – Isabelle JOSCHKE, MACSF – keel ram failure
Jan. 16, 2021 – Sébastien DESTREMAU, MERCI – autopilot 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