VG2020 : to another world

Charlie Dalin (Apivia) is increasing his lead at the top of the 9th Vendée Globe, with 300 miles ahead of Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) and 370 over Jean le Cam (Yes We Cam!). Behind, the hunters see their routes converging as they join the 40th parallel South, where the sea and winds roar. Louis Burton’s bet (Bureau Vallée 2), placed on the table at the start of the week, will it pay off?

Without particularly nurturing the culture of secrecy, Louis Burton lives in hiding. On land, it has its lair in Brittany from up there, near Saint-Malo, far from the beating heart of the offshore race which beats between Lorient and Port-la-Forêt; far from the meetings organized by the two grandes écoles frequented by a good part of the skippers of the IMOCA class, at Christian Le Pape, makers of champions of the Finistère Offshore Course, or at Tanguy Leglatin in the capital of Morbihan.

Also in his corner, Louis has refined his boat, Bureau Vallée 2 (the former Banque Populaire with which Armel Le Cléac’h won the Vendée Globe 2016) in the lair of the offshore racing team he runs with his wife, Servane Escoffier.

In his corner finally, Louis Burton has honed his tactical move, taking the risk. He worked through the Saint Helena high pressure in his own way. Wedged in the group of hunters until Monday morning, he plunged due south (with a swig from the west), to be the first to poach the conditions of his acceleration.

A great option for what benefits?

Five days later, it’s time to collect the lockers. If it is still pointed at 8th place, 550 miles from the lead, it is currently prancing very south, already ready to receive the flow of the first depression which will propel the solo sailors towards the Cape of Good Hope, with a route a bit shorter than the squadron positioned in its North.

By Sunday we will know to what extent the catapult effect, in which the skipper bet – and which also engulfed Sam Davies – will have paid off.

“There were a few days of knitting in the light winds to play this slightly different option,” he summed up at noon on the Vendée Live show. I wanted to anticipate the rotation of the high pressure. It’s been gone since last night. I hope that the days to come will pay off and that the places (for me, editor’s note) will go up, to bring me into the Indian in a good position. It will help even more for morale, even if everything is going well ”.

There was no lack of work aboard Bureau Vallée 2: during the calm weather that gripped the entire race leader for a few hours, Louis took out the tool kit. “I took the opportunity to deal with the small problems related to the first fifteen days of racing, including a structural bulkhead at the front, which I blew up on the 2nd front. I had other issues including things about the keel cylinder.

Ready for a month of psychological warfare?

Life has already changed on board for the leading women and men. The air is cooler, and the boat is sailing at 29 knots in a northerly flow. 25 degrees and slacks are already a thing of the past. “This break was good, because the foilers are unliveable as soon as things go fast. We left for thirty days at very high speed, we will have to manage to rest, which is not easy; we will crawl on all fours, with unwanted brakes that are not obvious and water constantly on the boat. For those who play forward, it is already the beginning of the fight, a real psychological fight during the coming month, until Cape Horn “.

In her wake, Sam Davies (Initiatives-Cœur) prepares for the change of life: “It’s gone now, we’re on the treadmill! I think this might be the last time I see the blue sky for a while, because in the South it’s pretty rare. The solar panels are charging, I’m going to spend some time outside to stock up on vitamin D before the South! “.

Same atmosphere at Kevin Escoffier (PRB), 5th in the fleet on a somewhat more conventional route: “We are going to ‘change the world’ from tomorrow. We are going to be ahead of the front, we will have to go fast to stay there as long as possible. We will have to know where to jibe in relation to this front to position ourselves in relation to the depression which is announced for December 1st. There, it will hit a little more, I have winds forecast over 40 knots with sea on the files. I’ve ‘cleaned up’ the boat to prepare for this change of world, with the Forties and the Indian Ocean looming. The next shower will probably be with the kettle!

we were(n’t) going to forget

  • In the 3:00 p.m. French time classification, Charlie Dalin (Apivia) is leading the fleet at a good pace (21.3 knots over the last four hours). He is 300.9 miles ahead of Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut), 370 over Jean le Cam (Yes We Cam!) And 470 over the group led by Yannick Bestaven (Maître-CoQ IV) who slipped ahead of Kevin Escoffier (PRB).
  • Ross Daniel made official the new work on HUGO BOSS by Alex Thomson in the early morning. As the fleet advanced at over 15 knots, the black boat trotted at less than 10 knots for a few hours. On the menu, a reinforcement of the repairs carried out recently “in order to increase the safety factors before it enters the Southern Ocean” specified the technical director of Alex Thomson.
  • Isabelle Joschke finished the repairs on the rear balcony of her MACSF. It had been taken on board by the sudden movement of the sheet of her gennaker after a block gave way.
  • This morning, Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) cut his damaged foil (port side).


Jean Le Cam, Yes We Cam!

We had a little air, we managed to readjust a little. We continue. We will see at the end what that gives. The day is going to be difficult. The high pressure is clearing, so it’s pretty good. What happens next will really depend on the conditions we have. Close to two knots, that can change everything. In front, they are better positioned in relation to the wind. It is better to be a hunter than to be hunted! They had an opportunity behind it too, they grabbed it. The situation is as it is: I still have grain to grind! There, we are on the port side, then there will be a jibe. The roads will take us relatively south, that’s for sure. They bring us close to the exclusion zone. We will pass far from the Aiguilles current, we will be far from all that. I have passed the Cape of Good Hope seven times: five times in the Vendée Globe, once in the Barcelona race, more once with Tabarly.

Alan Roura, La Fabrique

It’s getting cooler: it’s a little fleece and quilts at night because the cold is coming nicely! Finally, it was a very dense sleeping bag for cool areas that made the last Vendée Globe with me… Because I know that in the South, we need to warm up a bit.

I finally started to veer to the left: I hope for full ball to Bonne-Espérance because a few days ago we were heading towards Cape Horn instead! It was a little tough on morale, but now it feels good to dive into South Africa, to do the miles in the right direction. In recent days, it has not been easy with squalls and unproductive roads: it is good to head southwest and pick up a little speed with faster angles. Saturday afternoon, we will get a little more into the heart of the matter: it should move quickly in a little more intense conditions. We will first take the north of a depression to start with a flourish, and then we will move on fairly quickly to Bonne-Espérance with sustained wind! Four years ago, I went there in “adventure” mode and it was not the same boat. It wasn’t the same spirit either because this time I’m going with more will to shoot the boat. And I apprehend the South as if it was the first time: we have to hang on! But I love it: it’s daylight for hours and hours, with absolutely magnificent colors, long swells that push the boat in endless surfs, storms: it’s a set that I love very much.

Rankings at 3pm french time

1. Charlie Dalin, Apivia à 18 580 milles from finish
2. Thomas Ruyant, LinkedOut at 300,9 milles from leader
3. Jean Le Cam, Yes We Cam! at 370,2 milles from leader
4. Yannick Bestaven, Maître-CoQ IV at 472,5 milles from leader
5. Kevin Escoffier, PRB at 486 milles from leader

Photo Credit: Stéphane Maillard

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