VG2020 : Buffet stops and terminus

Alex Thomson arrived in Cape Town in the morning. Sébastien Simon is expected to moor there between Saturday and Sunday. For the two men, the South African port is the last stop in this 9th Vendée Globe. They are only 29 sailors in the race. 12% of the boats departing from Les Sables d’Olonne have given up, figures which, at the entrance to the Deep South, are unfortunately not exceptional. We know that the Vendée Globe statistics are bad and that on average only half of the competitors manage to return to the Vendée port.

“It’s sad for each of the dropouts because the commitment to each project is enormous. But giving up is a possibility to be prepared for before the start, ”explained Armel Tripon, the skipper of L’Occitane en Provence, during the Vendée Live this afternoon.

On a non-stop, unassisted solo round-the-world tour, excellence and merit are not the only justices of the peace. And sporting logic is sometimes flouted by the vagaries of the race. Favorite Alex Thomson and rookie Sébastien Simon, author of a superb descent of the South Atlantic which had propelled him to 4th position, do not deserve what is happening to them. No more than Nicolas Troussel and Kévin Escoffier. But despite everything, they will have to come to terms with this feeling of injustice. A feeling made worse by the fact that the Vendée Globe is a rare race. Like the Olympics, it only takes place every four years …

It was perhaps these thoughts that assailed Sam Davies at dawn this Friday, December 4, and that made him burst into tears on the deck of his boat, despite his good night’s sleep, the presence of a sun. heartwarming and majestic albatross. The Navigator of Initiatives-Cœur has yet to throw in the towel. She is heading for Cape Town to take shelter in the bay and attempt to repair. She should reach her goal tomorrow, Saturday, at midday.

On the rutted trail of the Indian
A little over 30% of the course was completed by the leading men. The “descent” of the Atlantic “(North and South) was not meteoric. We bet that the crossing of the Indian Ocean will be very fast. Carried by a huge low pressure system that stretches almost as far as Cape Leeuwin (in Australia), the top 7 sailors have daily averages of over 400 miles. And again, they tend to be on the brake. The reason ? It is Yannick Bestaven, who reveals it: “I don’t know if this is the Great South, but it is unlivable on board! The sea is rough, the boat is banging in all directions. It hits too hard. Getting up is dangerous, making coffee is dangerous (…) the boat is constantly under water (…) I live like a wild boar, I only do essential and vital things ”. This is probably the price to pay to end up in 4th position, he continues. “Besta” is doing a superb race for the moment, accompanied by an excellent Damien Seguin, the first rookie in this top 5.

Leader of these Great South breakaways, Charlie Dalin is not always the fastest. In 48 hours, his runner-up Louis Burton took back 100 miles. Here is another which impresses since its very southern option, at the end of November, and in spite of its 6 hours of penalties collected since the departure. Of course, the skipper of Bureau Vallée 2 is not a rookie. This is his 3rd Vendée Globe. Its discreet but effective preparation in its stronghold of Saint-Malo, far from the usual nerve centers of ocean racing, contributes to its status as a maverick. “But nothing surprises me coming from him,” confided his partner, sailor Servane Escoffier today. He has a steel mind and although he doesn’t have the same pedigree as some, he has been improving for 10 years. He is a great sailor “. And a Formula 1 enthusiast who loves high speeds!

From Dalin to Sorel (even if the latter is struggling to stay hooked to the wagon) – this group which runs in 20 to 30 knots of wind on a sea that Damien Seguin described as “broken up”, is creating the break. Respectively 12th and 13th, Romain Attanasio and Clarisse Crémer were caught up by the high pressure and saw their speed plummet today (less than 10 knots). They will soon be left behind.

And what about the rest of the troop who valiantly continues on their way despite the daily problems and an invading Saint Helena high? Half of the fleet still sails in the South Atlantic. The last are now 10 days behind Apivia and others.

Yannick Bestaven – Maître CoQ IV

These are not the big surfs of two days ago. It’s an “underwater” atmosphere, the boat is constantly underwater. I can’t wait for the sea to be a bit tighter to please me a bit more. I live like a boar, I only do the essential and vital things. When you want to go and brush your teeth outside, you take risks… That night, the boat left in the heap. I can no longer count the number of times I get thrown from my bunk. There, you squeeze your buttocks! But hey, I’m not complaining, my speed has been good over the last four hours, but it’s really quite uncomfortable. It’s reassuring to have people around, we saw it for Kévin (Escoffier) ​​a few days ago. We are not next to each other either, these are still areas where you shouldn’t have to bother. If it continues like this, we may have to think about easing off. It seems complicated to me to do three weeks like this …

Giancarlo Pedote / Prysmian Group

The sea is crossed, you have to adapt the speed of the boat to the sea conditions. It is 13 ° C in the boat, I am in an undercoat. We closed the back so that the humidity doesn’t get in too much. I discover the life of the South!

I currently have 16 to 23 knots of wind. In the sky, there are cumulus clouds, the air is very, very compact, so you have to change the way you navigate, because it grows more in the sails. We have a beautiful swell of more than 4 meters. We often bake. It’s “4 × 4 driving mode”, you have to be careful.

Damien Seguin / Groupe APICIL

It is not calm: the sea is rough, it is really badly paved in the area! Especially since it changed direction a little and I didn’t have it on the side. It’s not very pleasant for the boat as it is for the skipper. It skips the waves and it feels like you’re riding speed bumps all the time. And there is still a lot of wind: you have to know how to temporize because we are still on the back of the southern depression. But we will finally leave the Cape of Good Hope area and the meanders of the Aiguilles Current, things should improve soon.

The ice zone has been raised to the level of the Crozet archipelago and we will be able to slide afterwards, but that will depend on the weather. Each day is enough its trouble … The field opens up a little more strategically: there is less risk of getting stuck on the ZEA. The daily life remains rather harsh! I don’t often put my nose outside, because already, the sea conditions are impressive, and above all, it’s very wet … I’m completely soaked if I go out, and what’s more, it’s starting to pinch: it’s 7 ° C on the outside and probably the same on the inside. That makes life in the boat more difficult: we are already a bit of the “hermit” style, a bit cloistered in front of the chart table, trying to make the right sailing choices over the long term (because we are not going not maneuver all the time), and to know where do you want to go or not!

You can tell that those who come back for the second, third, fourth time in these Southern Seas have an undoubted advantage, because they know how to manage these choices, how to distinguish between maneuvers and performance. The experience is priceless in the South! The atmosphere is rather gray, although I was allowed a few rays of sun in the early morning. But then it was rain, hail, squalls: I don’t expect to see Santa Claus on his sleigh at the corner of a wave, but still, if it continues like this, it will snow! It’s really new to me and I have to get used to it because I don’t have to keep wondering what I’m doing here… We’re still a bit trapped in our boat.

Clarisse Crémer / Banque Populaire X

It’s a little too peaceful this morning, I’ve been wondering what sauce I’m going to eat with this high pressure swelling behind me for several days. And this morning it’s a bit – a lot – too quiet, as they say. I went too North, the files were saying a bit of nonsense. I had a wind that was 40 degrees farther to the left than expected. I really wanted to shave the ice area and unfortunately I was not too successful. I got embarked in an area that is not great! Hope I don’t get stuck there all day! Me right now, for sure it’s not a stormy atmosphere at all. There are 7 knots of wind there … I really hope it doesn’t last too long. It’s quite annoying not being able to follow its routings, when things don’t go as planned … But it’s true that the events of the last few days have taught me to put things into perspective. As long as my boat is floating, I’m healthy, and I’m able to move towards the goal, that’s fine!

Poor Alain (Roura) got stuck in the St. Helena high pressure when he had his keel cylinder problems. They are a whole small group behind. I am a bit all alone in my corner. I would like to manage not to get too dumped by Romain (Attanasio) but he has a much more advantageous position. It might not be ‘folichon’ in terms of regatta and ranking in the next few hours … I’ve put my mainsail up high, and I have a mainsail ahead to try to go fast. I do what I can, but there is a lot of swell and it’s freezing cold!

Rankings at 6pm Fench Time

1. Charlie Dalin, Apivia, at 16 254 milles from finish
2. Louis Burton, Bureau Vallée 2, at 140,74 milles from leader
3.Thomas Ruyant, LinkedOut, at 213,06 milles from leader
4. Yannick Bestaven, Maître CoQ IV, at 382,9 milles from leader
5. Damien Seguin, Groupe APICIL, at 386,86 milles from leader

Photo Credit : Stéphane Maillard

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