VG2020 : from one extreme to another

This morning at 5:39 am (French time) it was Charlie Dalin’s turn to climb the last of the three peaks around the world, 3 pm behind the red hull of Maître CoQ IV. First at Bonne Espérance, first at Leeuwin, second at Cape Horn… the skipper of Apivia is close to perfect. The one-on-one battle between him and Yannick Bestaven throughout a very complex climb up the Atlantic promises to be exciting. In the meantime, the two men went from one extreme to the other in the space of a few hours. From storm to calm. From maritime desert to islands and coasts. From muscular downwind to fine strategy. From survival to regatta. Despite the immense fatigue accumulated after a month of mistreatment in the South Seas, they still have to get back to new things very quickly …

Apivia passed 7 miles from the rocky promontory. In the half-light of the high southern latitudes, her skipper saw the shadow of the rock and the lights of the coast. He even got to have a quick chat with the lighthouse keeper at the base on Horn Island. “It’s just bliss. A strong moment. I am also happy to no longer have the heavy seas that have accompanied us for several days ”declared the 36-year-old sailor this Sunday morning, on the first round-the-world trip of his life. Perfectionist and optimalist – the ability to do the best with what you have – … that’s how Charlie described himself before leaving Les Sables d’Olonne. It certainly takes a strong dose of these two qualities – and a few others – to excel in the Vendée Globe. In fact, Charlie has had to deal since December 16 with a failing port foil which cost him the leadership at the entrance to the Pacific.

Relief is now (or soon)

The cry of Bestaven yesterday as he passed Cape Dur betrayed the intensity of his relief. “In my life as a sailor, this is the biggest storm I have ever seen. Crazy seas, gusts of 60 knots. I had never seen so big. It’s a huge relief because it’s been so hard ”. Joined on this Sunday’s show and congratulated by writer Erik Orsenna, Yannick, bundled up in a big red ski puffer jacket, was haggard-eyed and exhausted. “Finding myself calm knocked me out,” he admits. A month of living K.O standing under the incessant uppercuts of the Great South has enough to mess you up the most dashing of sailors. Once past the tip of South America, the backlash is enormous.

Yet, all call this deliverance of their vows. Starting with Thomas Ruyant, next on the list with Damien Seguin. “Antarctica is not far away, we can see the exit of the tunnel! Morale is rising to the surface because we know that this is the end of a big chunk “confesses Rouillard, who is suffering from the cold by 58 degrees South. “If I had butter on board, I would have a hard time spreading it on my toast,” he jokes.

This biting cold fell on the head of Maxime Sorel, 10th. Within minutes, a huge squall laden with sleet covered the deck of her green boat with flakes of white ice.

Jean le Cam, who is about to pass the Horn for the 7th time in his long and successful career, is also eager to put an end to the fight: “We faced terrible conditions for over a month. Cape Horn is also the road to home and warmth. It’s not just a symbol, it’s a lot of physical things. ”

Ruyant and Seguin are expected in southern Horn Island in the early hours of January 4. Dutreux, the Cam and their pursuers half a day later. From Monday evening, there could be traffic jams at Cape Horn!

The shadow of the wind

In the meantime, the two leaders have moved into another world. Stopped for a long time in the vast windfall that stretches over 350 miles in the south-eastern tip of Argentina, Yannick Bestaven certainly took the opportunity to carry out a complete check of his boat and to rest. He also lost half of his lead over Charlie Dalin. The latter is now on the hunt for the red boat, in a one-on-one battle that risks keeping everyone on edge, as the two men could take very different routes for their ascent up the South Atlantic.

Close to the coast, this afternoon Dalin embarked on the Strait of Le Maire, a small 16-mile corridor between Tierra del Fuego, south of Argentina and the Isle of the States. As Bestaven traced eastward, almost parallel to the Ice Barrier. Both will try to find the best passage to cross a high pressure which forms north of the Falklands and which hinders their progress towards the North …

1000 miles behind them and almost to the last competitors, the high pressure conditions that prevailed in the Pacific give way to the low pressure train more common in these regions. It’s windy, a lot of wind for almost everyone. The Great South will regain its usual face throughout the week to come.


Charlie Dalin, Apivia

It’s a pretty strong moment to cross this first Cape Horn, there were a lot of seas, a clear sky dotted with squalls, a beautiful moon. I called the lighthouse keeper so we got to talk a few words even though I didn’t always understand what he was saying, it was nice. It’s a pretty strong moment to take this step. I celebrated it by sending back some canvas (laughs). I passed near the Diego Ramirez Islands, islands that look quite hostile, they are sharp pebbles, this is the first land I saw from the Trindade Islands, I almost forgot it existed. At that time, the continental shelf was parallel to the swell so I didn’t notice any difference in the state of the sea. On the other hand, I had to deviate a little bit from my route to be sure to pass. far enough from the coast.

Jean-Yves Bernot (meteorologist) always tells us that we have to change the mode once Cape Horn has passed, I will finally be able to understand what he means by this formula. I’m glad I’m done with the Pacific. It’s a new phase of racing that opens up to me now. I have already been working for a few days on the ascent strategy, there are a lot of weather phenomena to deal with and a lot of things to do. I won’t be bored. Before the jibe, I’ll do a little check of the boat. On the face of it, I’m fine, I took care to preserve the boat in this latest gale. It was a top priority for me to get out of there with a boat in good condition so for me there are no worries, I’m not worried about the conditions of the boat.

It’s slowly easing, the sun is rising, I’m still between 25-30 knots, the sea has calmed down since I was protected by the islands. The difference is really not to have this heavy sea that accompanied us for a few days, I had up to 7 meters of waves.

I am really happy, I can say that I am Cape Hornier now. It was the third milestone, I passed the first two in the lead, but now, fate will have wanted otherwise for this one. There is still a long way to go, there are 7,000 miles of racing left, there are still plenty of moves to play. It was a happy moment.

Yannick Bestaven, Maître CoQ IV

It’s an important transition that we’re going through, I’m proud to be Cape Hornier, leading the Vendée Globe. Now, in terms of the weather, there is a lot to do to sail up the South Atlantic so we have to go back in the right direction at all levels and put the boat and the man back in order.

It’s full of emotions and it’s a deliverance, because it’s a goal in the South Seas that we set ourselves and then it’s also the exit of complicated, dangerous seas, where there is no nobody. On top of that, I passed Cape Horn in a huge storm so it was a great relief to get out of it.

Thomas Ruyant, LinkedOut

This morning at 5:39 am (French time) it was Charlie Dalin’s turn to climb the last of the three peaks around the world, 3 pm behind the red hull of Maître CoQ IV. First at Bonne Espérance, first at Leeuwin, second at Cape Horn… the skipper of Apivia is close to perfect. are calming down after they were rough yesterday. I’m going down to the Southeast and the wind will turn to the Northwest again, so I will go full out towards the AEZ before jibing. I will try to pass the ap Horn in one leg …

But there, I am already quite South and it really curdles! I have never been so low: I have already passed 60 ° North, but now I do not know. There are superb lights in my South: you can tell you are in an extreme zone. Antarctica is not far away, the Horn is approaching and the exit of the tunnel is visible! Morale is rising to the surface because we know that this is the end of a big chunk: it will soon be out of high latitudes. And the good thing is that the conditions to reach Cape Horn are pretty good.

I know Yannick (Bestaven) and Charlie (Dalin) had difficult conditions. For us it will be easier even if there will be a little wind and the sea will still be anageable. I’m happy to be done with this South which was complicated for me. And I don’t know yet if I found what I came for: the long swells… I should pass the Horn in the middle of the evening, around midnight.

I’m not on the right side for foils at the moment and I realize that I have done (unfortunately) a lot of starboard tack in the South Seas. The difference is noticeable from one side to the other: the boat starts slower, the foil pushes less hard. The hull and the set of sails are designed around a foil! At certain speeds, I have to load the boat more, at others to load it less … I have good morale on the port tack and it is less good on the starboard

I have two days with a lot of port side, which is not bad. First, I’ll have a 100% boat, and when you’re a competitor, it’s nice! I made a reason for myself. I looked at the tactical possibilities up to Rio de Janeiro: there are several possible routes! It will create a game because not all boats have the same potential. I look forward to the next weather files.

Boris Herrmann, SeaExplorer – Yacht Club de Monaco 

I’m in a westerly wind and it’s going pretty fast. I have 2020 version foils, the same as Isabelle Joschke’s. But now is not really the time to use the foils because the seas are quite rough. From time to time I accelerate and there it foils! In fact, I don’t really know how to move the boat forward with the VMG bearing here: I can do it well in the Atlantic, in the conditions that I know, but the seas are more marked, the swell is heavy in the Pacific. It’s not the same and I find myself a bit slow. Cape Horn is only 550 miles away: I can’t wait to be there! We’re going to run into each other so we’ll follow each other on the AIS… It’s a bit of a gybes battle.

I should sail over Cape Horn by Monday night: I’m going to enter the Atlantic and there are at least two possible routes. The first passes through Le Maire Strait with little sea and the other through the open sea, leaving the Falklands to port.

This will be my fifth Cape Horn! I believe that it is only Jean Le Cam who has more …

Rankings at 3pm French Time

  1. Yannick Bestaven, Maître CoQ IV, 6 815,71 miles from finish
  2. Charlie Dalin, Apivia, 68,48 milles from leader
  3. Thomas Ruyant, LinkedOut, 357,91 milles from leader
  4. Damien Seguin, Groupe APICIL, 359,9 milles from leader
  5. Benjamin Dutreux, Omia – Water Family, 553,27 milles from leader

Photo Credit : C.Dalin

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