VG2020 : the war of attrition in the great south

Charlie Dalin and Thomas Ruyant crossed the last strong gale of the Indian Ocean and are heading for the second of the three great capes of this round the world trip, in front of a horde of pursuers worn out by the aggressive sailing conditions of the Deep South .

Three reefs and nothing in front. Even the little neon orange storm sail was rolled up ahead of Apivia, who drew straight into the low pressure system. This is what can be seen in the images sent this morning by Charlie Dalin. Before he tells in person how he lived through his night and his morning in 50 knots of wind, we will have to wait until tomorrow, when the situation has settled down and he has rested. Already this midday, the front passed the yellow boat. The unbeatable leader of this 9th Vendée Globe then jibed to stall in the south-west flow. His speed remained very moderate all day. Charlie is still probably under-canvas, recovering from his efforts and his emotions.

250 miles behind Charlie, Thomas Ruyant drew a more northerly route, passing 7 miles north of the island of Amsterdam, a route which sheltered him from the strongest winds. This morning, the maker of this line was fully satisfied with the result: “I was able to avoid most of this depression. I didn’t really have a choice, Charlie (Dalin) had enough lead to stay ahead of this front, but for me that would have been too hard. ” For the winner of the Route du Rhum 2010, it was not a bit of fun either, but the blow was brief: a couple of hours with gusts to 60 knots, then a somewhat scabrous jibe but mastered. This morning, the LinkedOut skipper took advantage of more “manageable” conditions: 30 knots of wind in a landscape softened by the sunlight. “I’m glad I passed this last hurdle in the Indian Ocean. You’re not immune to anything, but it was the last beefy phenomenon before arriving in the Pacific. “

Heading south, the two leaders should benefit from more stable conditions over the next 72 hours. What to breathe a little on the road to Cape Leeuwin.

“The size and direction of the waves make their law”

In the North of the Kerguelen, on the western part of this gigantic low pressure system which winds its way into the Pacific, the wind is still strong for the sailors chasing Charlie and Thomas. At 45 ° South, Louis Burton, the most southerly of all, regained his seat in 3rd place ahead of Yannick Bestaven, Benjamin Dutreux and Boris Herrmann, whose traces today merge with that of Damien Seguin. For the past three days, the skipper of Groupe APICIL has been spending his time trying to solve electrical problems that cause blackouts, synonymous with disconnection of the autopilot and start to the pile! Fortunately, the situation appears to be under control. Because tinkering on board in such conditions is a punishment. More than the wind, “it is the size of the waves and their direction that dictate their law” admits Damien Seguin. “You have to do violence to yourself to take care of the boat and yourself, otherwise, it becomes unlivable. You have to reduce the sails to be able to boil water and be able to eat. “

For almost ten days, these 11 solo sailors – pursued by Romain Attanasio (12th) and Clarisse Cremer (13th) – have embarked on the ghost train of the Great South and experience an endless succession of stressful strokes. In the din of the interiors, shaken by incessant swerving, these men and women nevertheless demonstrate an incredible capacity for adaptation. And get used to living – because you have to – in this aggressive environment.

Close to a nervous breakdown

Under the African continent, caught by a depression that descended from Madagascar, three men are paying dearly for their entry ticket to the Indian Ocean. Reached this morning by phone, Stéphane le Diraison (17th), stuck in a windless area, facing a 4-meter swell in the center of this depression, was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. 100 miles ahead of him, Alan Roura was also sailing with a headwind, but with 25 knots of crosswind, conditions described as “unlivable”.

This Great South is a war of attrition for sailors. But if Mother Nature does not make much of the misfortune of men, she is also the best comforter. All it takes is a postcard rainbow in the wake of V and B – Mayenne or a blazing southern aurora on the horizon of L’Occitane in Provence, and all is forgotten.

Standing up at 1:30 am on the deck of his boat to change a headsail, Armel Tripon immortalized this moment. He may also be celebrating his limpid escape, alone, in front of his friends Roura, Le Diraison and Boissières. The speed of his Manuard plan allowed him to slip away under the depression. In 10 days, Tripon gained 8 places in the standings and today finds himself in ideal weather conditions to continue his beautiful slide in the Indian Ocean.

At the back, finally, the group of 8 led by Fabrice Amedeo is sailing on the edge of a depression that will carry them to the Cape of Good Hope. In turn, the latecomers have entered the kingdom of darkness. That of the roaring forties.


Thomas Ruyant, LinkedOut

Things are starting to get better, I know the conditions are improving, it’s better for morale! The night was well toned, I am still happy with the trajectory taken. I was able to avoid most of this depression. Last night, I had 45 knots established with gusts to 60, a crossed and short sea, it was a little hot for two hours, there it is good, I have more manageable conditions with 30 knots of wind . 24 hours ago I was not playing smart with this winding. There was bound to be a bit of apprehension and also the pressure not to get in the way because it wasn’t very easy, you had to be pretty good about where to go. I try to keep my emotions stable, I think it’s important to hold on to this Vendée Globe over time.

Alan Roura, La Fabrique

We are facing difficult conditions, it’s not very manageable. I’ve been under-canvas since the start of the phenomenon because I can’t accelerate in this sea. I try to avoid most of the heavy weather by staying on the border between maneuverable and non-maneuverable. It is unlivable on board. We will have to grit our teeth again until tomorrow afternoon.

Being a little ahead of Arnaud and Stéphane is good, even if it doesn’t mean they won’t come back. As soon as the boat moves forward and I manage to ascend a bit, I’m happy, but we have really difficult conditions this year for our group in the fleet. Yesterday I was upwind in 40 knots in a gust, I don’t remember the south being like that. It’s part of the game, sometimes you have to put the race on hold to spare the boat which is suffering a lot.

Boris Herrmann, SeaExplorer – Yacht Club de Monaco

I have seen Damien Seguin (Groupe APICIL) since this morning at AIS, there he is two miles behind me. We jibed almost at the same time. We’re going to get through the fight together today.

I’m expecting 35 knots of wind with gusts of 40-45 knots. We have twelve pretty muscular hours ahead of us and after that it should calm down until Cape Leeuwin where we will have another depression. Morally, it’s fine, but that wasn’t the case two days ago. I felt alone at sea, the emotions are stronger with loneliness and lack of sleep. I always sail with the same philosophy of being very careful.

Jérémie Beyou, Charal

I’m on the verge of a downwind depression, you have to tack so it’s going fast but I’m not progressing very quickly towards the goal. I’m trying to keep the boat moving as well as possible even if the sea is short and the wind is irregular. It’s hard to have stable speeds there.

Charal is a great boat that just wants to go fast, but we’re only at the start of the race so I think the worst thing to do would be to push down and break everything. I would be very angry. I try to go smoothly, even a step down. I’m not going to find myself 15th or 10th just by forcing the boat, it would take a combination of circumstances and weather conditions for me to win places. I really focus on the glide of the boat.

Stéphane Le Diraison, Time for Oceans

It’s a real ordeal. I have the impression of being punished in this Vendée Globe, all the traps fall on me. This depression is unbearable. I’m on the verge of a nervous breakdown! I am on the verge of depression with ‘Cali’ (Arnaud Boissières), there are 4 meters of waves and 4 knots of wind. We get slaughtered, we do not move forward: it rolls, it hits … I have never had a calm with such conditions. There are mountains of water crashing down on the boat that can’t even move forward.

Having been able to go upwind with an easterly wind in the deep south, I sometimes have the impression of circling the world upside down. That’s a lot of hurdles in a row and it’s hard to keep morale high. This is where we thought it was relevant to do some mental preparation to handle it. I hope that afterwards we will at least have some nice slides all the way to Australia as a reward.

It was hard to imagine that it was so unfavorable. Two, three days ago, we were side by side with Alan (Roura) and we were talking about it on the VHF. We had tears in our eyes, it is not possible. Wait a moment, this has to stop. There is resistance to pain, constantly testing yourself to resist evil. After thirty days, that’s a long time!

Rankings at 6pm French Time

1. Charlie Dalin, Apivia, at 14 655.1 milles from finish
2. Thomas Ruyant, LinkedOut, at 230.56 milles from leader
3. Louis Burton, Bureau Vallée 2, at 295.98 milles from leader
4. Yannick Bestaven, Maître CoQ IV, at 313.46 milles from leader
5. Benjamin Dutreux, OMIA – WATER FAMILY, at 391.07 milles from leader

Photo Credit : Pierre Bouras

Tags on NauticNews : Vendée GlobeVG2020

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