“I find myself dreaming of being in the top 5 at Cape Horn! It would be crazy! “. Not so crazy, not so crazy, not so dreamlike. On this 51st day of racing, 1600 miles from Cape Horn, rookie Damien Seguin has just grabbed 3rd place. His red boat is ahead of LinkedOut by a few miles at the 3 pm check-in.
Thomas Ruyant lost a lot over Christmas when he headed north around a high pressure surge. His position then left him no other choice. He could already foresee the consequences, but the result is now probably difficult for someone who has never been on the podium in a month and a half. At the same time, the double Paralympic champion Damien Seguin is sailing extremely well, leading his boat at high average speeds, gybing in the right place.
Like Damien, the horde of pursuers in ambush can also find themselves dreaming of glory, so thin are the gaps. 370 miles – roughly a day at sea – between Bestaven, 1er and Pedote 10e is nothing. All it takes is a technical glitch – everything quickly becomes tedious, long and complicated for one man to repair on these large 18-meter monohulls – to mortgage a lead built over tens of days of effort.
A Cape Horn like in the movies
And strength is needed today to keep up with the top 14, which has gybes in 55 degrees South, in a sustained westerly wind (30 knots) and well-formed seas.
There is therefore a risk that places will be swapped out like a game of musical chairs, while Rettant could see the odds turn in his favor again when he is wedged on the port tack, on his foil intact. An edge that should also smile to Apivia.
However, another danger threatens: a secondary depression coming from the North is melting on the head of the race and widening. This phenomenon is moving towards the South-East, will come up against the Chilean coasts, upwind of the high peaks of the Andes Cordillera and slide along the land until Cape Horn, in a formidable acceleration corridor …
“It looks like passing the Horn as we dread them” commented this morning Sébastien Josse, weather consultant for the Vendée Globe. This entry into survival mode in 2021 will probably force the former to navigate carefully, therefore slowly, leaving the door open for a new regroupment at the tip of South America.
These little things that bring great joys
But before thinking about this deliverance, the days follow one another with their share of annoyances. A headsail problem for Armel Tripon (13th), an autopilot turned upside down, cause of a big start to the pile for Arnaud Boissières (16th), a mainsail hook rail finally patched up for Stéphane Le Diraison (19th), a broken (but repaired) runners-up for Alexia Barrier (25th).
Between the small and the big fears, despite everything, there are smiles and joy. Like that of Romain Attanasio who feasts on the hot breath pulsed by the pipe of the fan of his engine slipped into the overalls of his oilskin, that of Giancarlo Pedote who (finally) sees the sun, a comforting star, or like Pip Hare (17th) , hilarious at the passage of the anti-meridian, and who seems to experience his first Vendée Globe in a state of complete fulfillment.
Damien Seguin, Groupe APICIL
It’s not easy, the sailing conditions are not easy. The sea is rough. The last 48 hours have not been easy with the sea on the front and the boat beating! There I have about 30 knots of wind, but last night I had up to 40 knots. I managed to get out of the group. I am happy. The boat is going strong. Once you’ve found the right setting, picked the right combination of sails, there’s not much more you can do. You program some maneuvers including reefing and you must not miss them! But I placed well and managed to go fast. I have the boat for that. It’s reliable and optimized to be on the back. It’s sure that in these conditions, you suffer a little, you pray that the pilot manages well. I have no choice with the pilot, I have to trust him. But it’s going pretty well. He missed me, but it’s pretty rare. Fortunately, I was not far from the bar.
This last week before Cape Horn is going to be tough. Models see different things. We’ll see … I can rest, but it’s not always easy to eat. I’ve been eating a lot cold lately and just had a hot meal.
I dream of being in the top 5 at Cape Horn! It would be crazy! But that’s really what I’m going to try to do. It takes me about seven more days to get there. It will be for Sunday or Monday, I think.
Jérémie Beyou, Charal
When you are competing at the forefront, you tend to watch what the others are doing and sometimes, wait for the other to trigger … There, it’s different, I really do what I think is good for the boat , good for my strategy. It’s a different way of sailing than usual, I make my way as if I were all alone on the water. I find another satisfaction, in the pleasure of making good maneuvers, good trajectories.
Charlie Dalin, Apivia
I had a little setback: I had a problem with my low foil chock that I repaired and I spent a little time tinkering with it all. I slowed down a bit before resuming my journey. And I have less than 24 hours of starboard tack left: that’s pretty good news because I’ll be able to aim for Cape Horn on the other side. The situation is under control now. Right now, we have more like 25-30 knots of westerly wind and I’m currently in a little slack at 25 knots. There is still a good flow! On the other hand, the sea is well formed: it is the heaviest I have seen since the start. It’s a beautiful southerly sea like in the books … My port tack was hot: I made a few heap starts and got hit by breaking waves! It was very windy and it was pretty rough as I had never been rocked like this before in other lows. The sea was much bigger than usual. Fortunately, it eased a little later : I am now on starboard tack, heading for the AEZ. But the sea is going to get bigger as I move south. I count the hours …
Rankings at 3pm French Time
|1. Yannick Bestaven, Maître CoQ IV, 8 679,21 milles from finish|
|2. Charlie Dalin, Apivia, 166,75 milles from leader|
|3. Damien Seguin, Groupe APICIL, 239,85 milles from leader|
|4. Thomas Ruyant, LinkedOut, 246,98 milles from leader|
|5. Jean Le Cam, Yes We Cam!, 252,64 milles from leader|
Photo Credit : JL Carli
– PR –