Less than 5,400 miles remain in front of the bows of Maître Coq IV, or 22% of the course. However, the first two months of racing in this 9th Vendée Globe were not quick if we consider that at this stage, four years ago, Armel Le Cléac’h was about to cross the ‘Ecuador. The comparison is only as anecdotal as it is futile to compare very different editions in terms of weather. Three weeks from the finish in Les Sables d’Olonne, what are the remarkable facts? First of all, 80% of the fleet is still racing. Then, the latter has never been so compact, heralding gusty arrivals in late January or early February in the Vendée port.
61 days is a huge slice of life on the sea planet. Since the launch of Les Sables d’Olonne exactly two months ago, solitary people have been roaming free on the immensity of the liquid. Free, yes, but subject to the tyranny of their best traveling companion – their monohull – which demands constant attention and care. It is about performance, but also and above all about safety.
Like most of his competitors at one point in the race, Pip Hare was forced into a difficult operation. Last night, in still very rough seas, she managed to replace her port rudder, the bit head of which had broken. In this exhausting manipulation – she comes out full of stiffness and covered in bruises – she certainly lost two places, but she is on her way again and that is the main thing. “I’m proud of myself, yet I don’t say that so often,” says Pip Hare, who can’t wait to rest. “You are my heroine” says Bernard Stamm, the one who built with his own hands (20 years ago) the boat with which the Briton impresses her world.
Worn out boats and sailor
Over the course of these endless days spent under canvas slowing down the pace and gritting our teeth in the train of depressions, the impatience to pass Cape Horn becomes more pressing for the peloton which extends from Alan Roura (now 15th), to Kojiro Shiraïshi (21st). This morning, after noticing a tear on his J2, Jérémie Beyou (18th) did not hide his weariness, not to say his fed up: “From the Tasman Sea, the wind has not gone below of 35 knots, that’s quite tiring. Three days ago it was rubbish, it was super violent. There was between 6 and 7 meters of hollow and it came from side by surging. The boat was going in a wave and suddenly a breaking wave came from the side. I got thrown out the back of the boat a few times. You really don’t feel like much, that’s impressive. “
At the rear of this group, Manu Cousin had his share of troubles today: during an involuntary jibe due to an autopilot failure, a mainsail batten carriage broke, the main -sail itself is partially torn above the 3rd reef, forcing the adopted Sablais to drop everything. She is currently sailing at low speed under J3 alone, knowing that this small headsail is also showing some signs of weakness.
Another 850 miles, or just under 3 days of self-sacrifice for this stretch of the Pacific.
After two months at sea, the equipment wears down and so does the food supply. Those who did not take the margin may well have to deprive themselves a bit by the end of the day. Fortunately, most have not eaten their full Southern rations (7,000 calories a day) and have nothing to worry about. “I have enough to do a second round the world,” jokes Alexia Barrier. This is not the case with Thomas Ruyant, who had only loaded 80 days of food and who will miss breakfasts and a few sweet snacks by the time the line crosses.
The LinkedOut skipper doesn’t seem undermined by this prospect. Coming back to Charlie Dalin after a nice crossing of the high pressure from the west, Thomas wound up like a clock. Of course, he will have to make a new ascent on his mast to repair an aerial that deprives him of wind mode (his 5th ascent!). But the clinch with Apivia galvanized him to get back into the transom of the one he was paying homage to this morning: “If there’s an opportunity to do something, you can count on me!” But Yannick is in great shape, everything is successful! He’s going fast, he’s having an incredible Vendée Globe. He must have confidence in himself and in his important boat at the moment ”.
Slowed down late in the morning, the skipper of Maître Coq has regained some speed off Buenos Aires, so much so that for the moment, he remains some 400 miles ahead of Charlie and Thomas. But the weather is still uncertain in front of its bow. Yannick will experience various slowdowns in his progress north (he may pass very close to the Brazilian coast!) Before being able to escape with the south-easterly trade winds. There will be many “accordion hits” in the next 48 hours. To our greatest delight…
Some statistics after 2 months of racing:
- Leader Yannick Bestaven completed 78% of the route
- Against 48% for the last Sébastien Destremau
- Skipper the most times at the top of the official scores: Charlie Dalin (137 times) who will be joined in the 18 hours classification by Yannick Bestaven
- 10 leaders have shared the lead since the start (in order according to the time spent in the lead): Charlie Dalin, Yannick Bestaven, Alex Thomson, Thomas Ruyant, Jean Le Cam, Maxime Sorel, Jérémie Beyou, Damien Seguin , Louis Burton, Benjamin Dutreux
- Longest distance covered in 24 hours since the start: Thomas Ruyant November 21, 2020 with 513.3 miles (954.3 km), at an average speed of 21.6 knots
- More than 30 ascents in the mast to carry out repairs
Jérémie Beyou, Charal
I have between 18 and 38 knots, with a wind that switches by 30 degrees with each squall pass. There is nothing that is very stable.
How to groom yourself then? That’s the question. So you cover yourself in 25 knots of wind and when there are 38 knots you are overpowered, when there are 18 knots you are stuck in the water. It’s not a very pleasant feeling. And then with those seesaws, you write your name on the water, you do S. In terms of average speed towards the goal, it’s starving. We have wind, but that does not allow us to move forward.
I’m a little annoyed, because I’m not in maxi attack mode, I have been taking care of my sails from the start and yesterday I unrolled J2 when I had been under J3 or large for a week. veil alone. Time and time again, I have sailed a mainsail alone with three reefs. Yesterday, I noticed that the J2 is torn on the leech, and I used it a few times to ride it correctly. I hope he doesn’t go to pieces because there is still a strong wind ahead, especially at Cape Horn. According to the models, even after Cape Horn, there are 30 knots. Normally in the Pacific or the Indian, you always have a ridge between two depressions and there, we don’t have enough to breathe, even enough to inspect the boat, the smallest glitch can quickly turn into a disaster.
Thomas Ruyant, LinkedOut
I didn’t get much sleep last night. We had to be on the set because I don’t have enough wind information on the boat at the moment … I’m missing two, three things. It requires a lot of vigilance and attention. It makes the feeling sail a little more, it’s a little different mode. I have enough to solve the problem, not now but soon. I have a little climb on the mast to do, but now, by force, it’s a formality! This will be the 5th climb. Just kidding, it’s not a formality at all, it’s never a formality to climb the mast.
I’m glad I got back in touch with Charlie (Dalin). It feels good when things are going the right way. It’s stimulating this little speed test with a boat that is fairly close in terms of performance. It will stimulate us to join Yannick (Bestaven), even if it will be very, very complicated. Even if we don’t let go, we still need favorable weather conditions to pick up. It is now and up to the latitude of Salvador de Bahia and then in the North Atlantic for the last week that we can hope to do something. It doesn’t leave many windows of fire.
Alexia Barrier, TSE-4myplanet
I was wondering if I was going to go further north to avoid the depressions. Finally, I’m going to go straight because I’m really looking forward to reaching Cape Horn, keeping a little margin with the ice zone. I’ve been thinking about this for two days, to see how not to break out too much with the depressions to come …
I have Sam (Davies) next to me, we chatted a lot on Whatsapp. We know each other well, we sailed together during the Roxy days. We have a WhatsApp group of girls. We give each other some news, we talk a lot between women skippers, it’s nice to talk with girls! The six of us are very keen to complete this round the world trip, we really support each other (…) I haven’t had much wind for 24 hours, but I’m still moving in the right direction. With what happened to Pip (Hare), I inspected my rudders well, I took the time to look at everything on board. Everything is going well so it is rather reassuring. I’m getting a lot of rest too because it’s going to be less fun afterwards. It’s going to be a week or even 10 days of tough weather. I have the impression that the Pacific is gently sucking in the wind and all of a sudden it will give up everything! There are two big gusts of wind coming. If I shave the ice area, the wind will be a little less strong. It’s the last straight line before the Horn. There are 3,000 miles to go, I grit my teeth and go for it!
I could go around the world twice in terms of food. I have 4,000 calories a day and from the start, I can’t eat half of it. I still have plenty of food on board. It’s not going to be a problem for me. My team was a little terrified that I was missing!
Manu Cousin, Groupe SÉTIN
I didn’t expect that, I dreamed of big swells. I just did a jibe again to try to get a little better conditions. The sea is super hard, that’s nonsense. We have to reduce speed because the boat falls back into the waves with a crash. The sea is short and very rough. We must avoid breaking everything. It spoils the fun a bit to be honest. It’s good now, we saw, we understood, I can’t wait to get out. I squeeze the buttocks because I still have my cracks on the rudder. Sometimes it hurts for the boat. It’s not easy to live with, but we have roughly a week left to parry the Horn with a boat unharmed.
We have the impression of being in another space-time. It is at the same time majestic, but it can also be frightening by this immensity of water. I haven’t seen land for a long time. I don’t even remember the last land I saw. I think it’s Les Sables d’Olonne. We actually forget, it’s so far now.
Rankings at 3pm French Time
|1. Yannick Bestaven, Maître CoQ IV, à 5 337.78 miles from finish|
|2. Charlie Dalin, Apivia, 394.95 milles from leader|
|3. Thomas Ruyant, LinkedOut, 404.19 milles from leader|
|4. Damien Seguin, Groupe APICIL, 466.61 milles from leader|
|5. Louis Burton, Bureau Vallée 2, 561.5 milles from leader|
Photo Credit : A. Huusela
– PR –