The atmosphere is both freezing and electric 1300 miles from Cape Horn. Firstly because the regatta in 55 degrees South is still as intense in the top 14. Second because the gaps often evolve in favor of the pursuers. Finally, because the weather is far from easy until you exit the tunnel. Under these conditions, everything is a matter of balance. Whip without exhausting yourself and without damaging your mount … a compromise that solo sailors try to master after 52 days at sea.
The weather pattern with which the leaders must deal to reach the third of the three major capes of this round the world trip is rather complex. Here they are, caught between a secondary low in their north that will widen to give tough conditions along the Chilean coast, to the tip of South America, and a corridor of softer and more unstable winds. For the former (Yannick Bestaven, Charlie Dalin and Thomas Ruyant) the idea is to avoid getting bludgeoned in 45 knots and 7 meters of hollows on the approach to Cape Horn. For the following ones, which multiply the gybes along the AEZ, it will be necessary to be careful not to be too braked in a very unstable zone.
In this context, depending on their position on the chessboard, everyone adapts their strategy to avoid “breakage” or loss of ground. In the lead, Yannick Bestaven, Charlie Dalin and to a lesser extent Thomas Ruyant, accelerate to stay ahead of the front and benefit as long as possible from a north-west flow and a steady swell. Stalled on the port tack on her good foil, Apivia even frankly increased the pace: almost 20 knots on average between two classifications.
These two or three will still have to adjust their course so as not to end up in the worst place at the worst time when the secondary low hits their path within 36 hours.
In any case, it’s all about the balance between the desire to be competitive and self-preservation. An art that you have to know how to practice without frustration and that the sailors of the Vendée Globe are beginning (more or less) to master.
31 years old in the middle of the Pacific
Clarisse Crémer, who celebrated her 31st birthday today off Point Nemo – in the middle of nowhere – measured the chance of being so well placed at this stage of the course. Yet she admitted having to negotiate with herself over and over again: “I try to be fast all the time, keeping myself safe. It’s all a story of compromise between performance and emotions, ”she admits. “I’m getting to know myself. It’s a real lesson in life ”.
Nonetheless, the Banque Populaire X skipper (12th) is hanging on to avoid being overwhelmed by Armel Tripon, whose black and yellow foiler continues to gain ground.
A boulevard even seems to open in front of its round bow. “I have super favorable weather conditions up to Cape Horn,” he admitted last night (for himself) at the radio show. I will try to take this opportunity to stick to the package. But you have to whip! There is still a hell of a level of commitment from everyone! My goal is to come back while saving my boat. It’s a balance to be found, you have to be careful ”.
Damien Seguin, Groupe APICIL
The north-westerly wind is decreasing steadily: it is starting to drop below twenty knots. I’m a little surprised to see Apivia move up north because he was at my level before… Personally, I follow my routing and I have the impression that Jean (Le Cam) is doing a bit like me. There is much to be satisfied with what I do. I follow the roads of my competitors to know the average speed and the heading they are following: this allows me to cross-reference this data with my analyzes.
The last 36 hours have been tough enough to navigate with very rough seas and a lot of wind and I managed to get out of the game: I sailed cleanly, I did not hesitate to string together the gybes by thirty knots Wind. I’m delighted to be third! Cape Horn is for Sunday morning! For now, it looks complicated with the low coming in from the north, but there are about 1,500 miles left before this headland with varying conditions to get there. But I would have liked to have had my first Cape Horn other than in a fight …
Theoretically, Yannick (Bestaven) will be more subject than us to the strong wind when passing the Horn. But you have to be prepared for this bottleneck for wind and current. This should not turn into a bad experience. I was told that the Pacific was mostly very long swell, but so far we haven’t had that! But the day is shaping up to be pretty good: in fact for us, it’s the night that is coming. And we are heading straight towards Cape Horn, there is no gale in sight today. And I have a little “mattress” ahead of my competitors, Jean (Le Cam) and Benjamin (Dutreux).
I still have some crafts to do on the boat because we’ve been on the water for a long time! The nights are short here and it is mostly dark, but it’s hard to keep up with the pace as we’re still moving east. But there, the weather is still fine.
Giancarlo Pedote, Prysmian Group
I have a very unstable wind, between 30 and 15 knots in strength and between 270 ° and 300 °. You have to be on the settings all the time. I’m going to get closer to the ice zone to jibe again because there is a nice low to the north there. I’ll stay a little lower so as not to pick up too much. My goal is to pass Cape Horn with a boat in good condition so that I can fully express myself on the way up the Atlantic.
The last 48 hours, we had a very short sea, with a very short period, with between 3 and 3.5 meters of swell. We were progressing badly, we demand a lot of material. I move forward like a good sailor. But I’m fine, but it’s true that the last 48 hours were tiring, especially because it’s not pleasant to hear the boat beating a lot. After that I lost in the standings but I tell myself that’s okay because the object of the game is not to speed up and then stop and repair. There is a high pressure bubble developing ahead: it may still come back from behind.
When I’m in the Atlantic, on a beautiful sunny day, I’ll take a shower and be the happiest man on Earth! You realize the little things, it’s a great happiness. You have no heating, it’s cold, you’re in the gray … When you see the sun, you’re super happy! Currently it is 6 ° outside and 9 ° inside the boat.
Arnaud Boissières / La Mie Câline-Artisans Artipôlea
We are downwind and we jibe along the AEZ. I was still windy until a short while ago, but now it is seriously easing: we have a high pressure bubble for at least 24 hours. Yesterday I sent the spinnaker up and made a nice eggcup in the jibe! I was not proud of myself, but I managed to get it off by playing on the downwind purlin, like in sailing school. Fatigue, a bad wave, I don’t know… There I sent the spinnaker at daybreak, but I will drop it soon before dark to put the gennaker on. In addition, there are big clouds: I will play it safe.
Frankly, these are great conditions for sailing: we can see luminosity in the South! It’s like a mirror: we are not very far from Antarctica at 55 ° S! And then I’m well surrounded with a Swiss on one side and an Englishwoman on the other … It’s nice to fight in a group even though we have quite different speeds at the moment. Well, the foils don’t do me much good at the moment: I put them in and they’re more of a rope trap than anything else.
The day before yesterday, I was tired, but now I’m in great shape! He’s getting hungry. Everyone is looking at Cape Horn, thinking it’s the rescue, but I know it’s not until you’re past the Falklands. The pressure must not drop after Cape Horn because it is not over. But for me, it won’t be before January 8 …
And then today, the weather is good: I used to have the cockpit closed but now I opened it to ventilate. It was starting to smell like the stable! In addition, I had time to take a tour of the boat, to scoop the funds, to put oil in the hydrogenerator: it’s good to have a little time to restore the boat because he still suffers! And the skipper also talks: I wash myself completely, I change and I shave every Sunday.
Rankings at 3pm French Time
|1. Yannick Bestaven, Maître CoQ IV, 8 387,26 miles from finish|
|2. Charlie Dalin, Apivia, 109,07 miles from leader|
|3. Thomas Ruyant, LinkedOut, 170,07 miles from leader|
|4. Damien Seguin, Groupe APICIL, 173,53 miles from leader|
|5. Jean Le Cam, Yes We Cam!, 244,96 miles from leader|
Photo Credit : C.Cremer
– PR –