The nonstop and unassisted solo round the world race is an incredible mechanical, physical and mental challenge. This is what the 33 skippers came looking for at the start of Les Sables d’Olonne on November 8th. Of the 27 still in the race, on this 41st day, none can say they haven’t encountered a technical glitch yet. Each vacation with sailors reveals its share of more or less important odds and ends, whatever its position in the fleet. Autopilots, sails, rudders, energy, lines of all kinds, waterways, a Prévert-style inventory that lacks poetry …
Another big blow for the skipper of Bureau Vallée 2, who has been deprived of autopilot since last night. Louis Burton, 8th in the scoring, who has planned to take shelter along Macquarie Island tonight to climb to the masthead, must now steer his boat H24. A situation unlivable even in the short term, the Malouin can no longer let go of the controls of his IMOCA if only to eat or sleep. Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean, godfather of his boat, gave him positive energy this afternoon at Vendée Live. What difficulties have to be overcome for a single man!
Romain Attanasio, 13th, could no longer reduce the mainsail yesterday as he was surfing in 25-30 knots of wind ahead of a low. 9 hours of practical work including a very precise filing of a small part of the sail carriage got the better of the problem. When a fight becomes a victory …
Manu Cousin is worried about his rudder which he had repaired when he entered the Indian Ocean. Cracks have just appeared, the skipper of Groupe SÉTIN said he was worried, but “so happy to be still racing”.
Stéphane Le Diraison admitted this morning at the end of the line that he had climbed onto his bowsprit to replace a broken furling line which prevented him from rolling his sail in heavy weather: “I gave a wild cry after finishing! My greatest reward was these two enormous whales which stayed for a while beside the boat ”. Moment of happiness after the hardship.
What about Isabelle Joschke, who looks like a cosmonaut, dressed in three layers of clothing to ward off the cold. The MACSF skipper now only has diesel to run her engine and recharge her batteries after the hydrogenerator breaks. Charlie Dalin, this morning, stopped his race for 1 hour to check his foil low hold repair. The list is long, and it shows how much the competitors dig deep into themselves to find a solution to every problem. Stéphane Le Diraison always has the right words: “It’s a daily challenge, to keep the boat moving, to maintain it, to stay in physical shape, to keep a steely mind to cope, it’s an exceptional event, I am still changing, I am moving towards wisdom. “
Grouping in front, conveyor belt behind
An anticyclone in the south of New Zealand forced the head of the fleet to navigate not far from the ice barrier in rather light, but demanding conditions: the variations of the wind dictated the gybes. And it should last several days! Yannick Bestaven keeps the controls 47 miles ahead of Charlie Dalin and 131 miles ahead of Thomas Ruyant. This is little. The group of fighters, now led by Boris Herrmann, maintained good average speeds ahead of a front. The gaps are narrowing over the hours. For the rest of the fleet, this Saturday rhymes with acceleration. Finally enough to reach Cape Leeuwin on an almost direct route!
Lowered Antarctic Exclusion Zone
Following the latest radar satellite images collected by SLC (Satellites Localization Collect) which observes ice drift, 11 GPS points will be lowered to the level of Nemo point, the point on the planet furthest from any land surface. At most, these GPS points are lowered by 100 miles, thus reducing the course from 24,410 miles to 24,354 miles now. The Race Direction warned the whole fleet well in advance. The day before the drifting “icicles” is done daily at a time when the whole fleet will soon be sailing under the Howling Fiftieth.
Yannick Bestaven, Maître CoQ IV
The weather is fine, bright sunshine, the sky is azure blue. The temperatures have risen, it’s pretty weird, by the way, it’s 15 degrees. I have lunch on the terrace, under a large gennaker, and it’s great! I was able to clean the boat and, for sleep, it’s good: we sleep much better in these conditions. It’s important to recover from this tough Indian. Our boats are violent, ultra-violent, even for those with straight daggerboards. You’re tense all the time, and it feels good to relax a bit. I had a really bad back because I took a bowl a day from the Indian. It was super hard on the vertebrae, and I was worried about sciatica for a little while. It’s getting better, I’ve recovered since we can sleep relaxed.
Clarisse Cremer, Banque Populaire X
Yesterday I slept because I was burnt out. I think I am sensitive to the fact that we no longer know very well when it is the morning, with the delays of the night. So I eat when something comes to hand, but I’m not sure where I am, it’s a bit of a mess. I know I sleep best when it’s dark, but if I have to jibe, like last night, I don’t deprive myself. I like knowing that I give myself a four hour window to eat well and sleep. There, I am having trouble fixing my schedule. It’s nothing serious, basically, but I hadn’t anticipated this phenomenon too much. The weather is complicated, I have knots in my brain. It’s not easy to know if I should slow down, to let the heart of the depression coming from the north pass, or if I should try to get past it. I’m waiting for the latest weather files.
Manu Cousin, Groupe SÉTIN
I keep an eye on my rudder and the other too. It has a lot of influence on my way of sailing, because I pay close attention to the material. Yesterday I noticed that more cracks were coming. There is no drama at the moment, but that does concern me. The repair I made holds, but there are more next to it and on the other helmet. I am quite concerned and I am careful. I have ideas if it gets worse, but for now, it’s a matter of caution and care of the material. Every day brings a new challenge. As soon as you feel like it starts to get better, there is another concern, big or small. The big problem on board is the one with the rudders, for the rest, we keep our fingers crossed. There are obviously little odds and ends like everyone else.
Stéphane Le Diraison, Time for Oceans
The day before yesterday was the sad anniversary of my dismasting which remained a vivid and traumatic memory. In a few days, I will be passing around my dismasting. I’m almost superstitious, doing everything to be spared this year. I have the feeling that I will pick up the Vendée Globe where I left off. It’s a pretty euphoric feeling, I rebuilt a project and today I’m back for the end of the course. I realized that the trauma was deeper than I wanted to admit. From the start of the Vendée Globe, it came back. As soon as there were strong and subtle conditions there was always a visceral fear of breaking my boat. It probably made me too cautious at times.
Rankings at 3pm French Time
|1. Yannick Bestaven, Maître CoQ IV, at 11 224 milles from finish|
|2. Charlie Dalin, Apivia, at 46,98 milles from leader|
|3. Thomas Ruyant, LinkedOut, at 131,74 milles from leader|
|4. Boris Herrmann, Seaexplorer – Yacht Club de Monaco, at 343,95 milles from leader|
|5. Jean Le Cam, Yes We Cam!, at 375,84 milles from leader|
Photo Credit : A.Courcoux
– PR –