439 miles. This is the distance that now separates Yannick Bestaven, who has been in charge of the fleet for 21 days, and his closest opponent Thomas Ruyant. It’s even the biggest gap ever in the race between a leader and his runner-up. But there is still nothing to do cocorico. While the skipper of Master CoQ IV relishes his great but fragile advance, others taste – figuratively – in the fury of the Pacific.
Off the coast of Uruguay, Yannick, freshly shaved, his face rested, seems to have been 10 years younger. He is not, however, immune to getting a few more gray hairs during this tortuous climb up the South Atlantic.
A string of high pressure bubbles and small low pressure centers unfurl in front of the bow of the red boat, forming a meander through which the shortest path will have to be found. While waiting to be slowed down, Master CoQ IV is still sailing under the influence of the low pressure that formed off Buenos Aires. “I have 15 knots of crosswind,” said his skipper. But he knows that the great breakaway may only be short-lived. “We’ll have to keep a cool head because I’m going to lose a lot (…). I don’t think anyone really knows how it’s going to turn out, but we’ll have to be on top of it, it will be small wins, like in Figaro ”.
The complexity of the situation could indeed benefit Apivia, LinkedOut, Groupe APICIL and the whole pack launched on the boss’s heels. A pack in dispersed order! In the West, Charlie Dalin and Thomas Ruyant, side by side, are done with single-digit speeds. Upwind, on the edge of the depression, they will have to reduce the canvas in a strong wind, before tacking (tonight?) To find more favorable speeds, on the edge that suits their foil.
400 miles east of Charlie and Thomas, Damien Seguin and his pursuers skirt the Ice Barrier, Heading East, and deal with the high pressure today. Within 48 hours, these two groups will converge and may have made up some of their delay on Master CoQ IV.
Hot in front, cold sweats behind
As the fleet progresses towards the North and gains in latitude, the temperatures heat up: “I put away my big fleeces, my gloves, the hat and company, all that is in the closet! I pulled out my offseason clothes. In a few days it will be very hot, even too hot, ”explains Charlie Dalin. Romain Attanasio, who passed Cape Horn at 6:45 am (HF) this morning, must also be eager to find a milder climate.
And what about those who still sail in the Pacific?
Pip Hare devastated but combative
Since January 3, the Fiftieth have been screaming in the ears of the group led by Pip Hare. On the back of a huge depression, these 8 solo sailors live exhausting days, in 35/45 knots of wind (gusts to 60), grains of sleet or snow, a rough and crossed sea. In this context, it is impossible to move quickly, under penalty of breaking the boats already worn out by 60 days at sea. Despite caution and precautions, Medallia’s port rudder bit broke today. In a poignant video, the British sailor struggles to hold back her tears, overwhelmed by this twist of fate which forces her to forget her race in order to prioritize her safety. The pain is as intense as the struggle she has waged for so many days against the elements to keep her 15th place. Pip Hare has a spare rudder. But it is not possible to replace it at this time. For that it needs to find less agitated waters. She is therefore forced to sail at very low speed, with the mainsail lowered, while waiting to find an opportunity. She is already ready to return to battle.
1000 miles from Cape Horn, another three and a half days of sailing at the current speed of the boats, this whole group is suffering. Apart from a slight lull on Friday evening, the sailing conditions will still be very rough on the way to rescue.
They won’t be the only ones with hours of tension. Because from tonight, Miranda Merron (23rd) and Clément Giraud (24th) will be picked up by a depression from the North.
Yannick Bestaven, Maître CoQ IV
It’s great I have been able to get through the high pressure, I was able to rack up the miles and speed up afterwards, it’s quite nice. I’m happy with that, but when I look at what’s going to happen in front … The rubber band will get shorter and behind they are going to come back. I hope there will be enough wind not to stop me.
Looks like we’re doing everything we can to ensure that we don’t get to Les Sables d’Olonne quickly! The situation is very complicated, there are a lot of stops, it has low pressure lows that will suck all the wind … Strategy is complicated, depending on the cards it is not the same thing. I don’t think anyone really knows how it’s going to turn out, but we’re going to have to be on it. I go fast but I also rest a lot to have my eyes wide open during the difficult 24/48 hours that are coming and to be able to exploit the veins of wind. It will be necessary to make an approaching route at low speed in the north to recover new winds. It will be a bit of a “Figaro vibe”, and I know I have experts behind me. It will not be easy! We will try to advance towards the goal.
Stéphane Le Diraison, Time for Oceans
I can’t wait to reach Cape Horn to get out of these somewhat difficult conditions. We have a lot of wind and frankly very bad seas. It’s gonna be like that until the Horn. I expect to have more wind tomorrow. There is beginning to be a little fatigue from the cold and demanding conditions. And then, to see the friends who have taken the turn to the left, it makes you want to join them. In 24 hours, given my position, I will have to take the strong wind. That’s 40 file nodes, which actually means 50. This will be my fourth depression. It’s the sea, the most impressive. The waves are high and short and are breaking. You have to have a certain speed anyway, but not too much! I had a breaking wave in the cockpit. I heard a rumbling sound like on the beach, it was like I had gone for a swim. The waves are arched, so the boat accelerates really hard and it’s a hit that it breaks in half. With Alan (Roura), Cali (Boissières), Jérémie (Beyou), we are not moving forward. This is especially obvious for Charal who is a fast boat, but who cannot go fast. (…) My sleeping bag is soaked, everything is soaked in the boat. I unplug my brain. I’m not asking a question, especially not the one: “Why should I grieve such punishment! “I hide all forms of thought external to the maneuver, I have a mission, I don’t think so, I am no longer hungry, I manage the parameters as information.
Charlie Dalin, Apivia
I’m upwind towards this little depression, it’s going to be like that all day. I should be able to tack in the evening to resume a route a little more East – North / East. Yesterday it was complicated with the center of the high pressure area.
Now I move on, I have changed the system. There I have a little windy phase with the depression, I should have 30 knots. The sea is not too rough, which is quite pleasant. Afterwards, we should encounter a new area of weak wind, but the routing changes completely with each new output of weather files. After the situation is not easy, but there is no reason for it to be simple. The descent was not easy, the south was not easy … It’s consistent, we stay within the theme!
In the light wind area, something will happen… The race is far from over! So much the better! But in terms of race time, I won’t be surprised when it comes to February. Well, maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit… I don’t think we’re breaking the Atlantic ascent record.
Rankings at 3pm French Time
- Yannick Bestaven, Maître CoQ IV, 5562.41 miles from finish
- Thomas Ruyant, LinkedOut, 439.55 milles from leader
- Charlie Dalin, Apivia, 441.26 milles from leader
- Damien Seguin, Groupe APICIL, 469.39 milles from leader
- Louis Burton, Bureau Vallée 2, 555.92 milles from leader
Photo Credit : Pip Hare
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