VG2020 : last 5000 miles tensed

Since Isabelle Joschke’s retirement last night at 10:23 pm, the 9th Vendée Globe has 26 competitors still in the race, 13 in full swing up the South Atlantic, 13 pining for Cape Horn in the South Pacific. The remaining 20% ​​of the course for the head of the fleet promises to be devilishly intense with a group of hunters coming back to the leader Yannick Bestaven (Master CoQ IV). “4-5 competitors can still win,” analyzed Jean-Pierre Dick this afternoon, invited to the Vendée Live.

Isabelle Joschke balancing on a MASCF with a dangling keel

“A few days ago, Isabelle had a problem with her cylinder which is used to tilt the keel from one side to the other and when there is a problem with this cylinder, there is a system that allows the keel in the axis, which is commonly called a “false cylinder”. This keeps the keel straight and the boat can continue to sail. This is the system Isabelle had in place for a few days and which broke last night. »Explains Alain Gautier, team manager of the MACSF project. Forced to retire even though she was having a superb race, the sailor will now have to extricate herself to the north from a depression generating heavy seas, making her progress dangerous. “The goal is to get through the next 24 hours because it’s going to be long. There are 35-40 knots of wind with 5-6 meters of trough expected for the full day, it will be tense. Since last night, she has already understood her boat well, she can see how it works and she is doing extremely well. We must therefore wait until tomorrow evening to define a strategy to reach a fallback port. “Adds the former Vendée Globe winner (1992/93). Jean-Pierre Dick, who finished the 2012 edition without a keel in fourth place, added during the mid-day broadcast this Sunday: “Isabelle does not have control of her keel which is suspended on its axes, the keel is a little crazy. There is a permanent sway in his boat. In the end, it was less awkward in my case, I had lost all the keel, I had to navigate differently, it was complicated, but for Isabelle, it is almost more dangerous. “

A cold front and a hot regatta!

The way to the famous “magic point” according to Jean-Pierre Dick, which allows you to travel on starboard tack to go up the South Atlantic pushed by the south-easterly trade winds requires constant attention. For the first five, you have to find the best transitions between the small weather systems while avoiding calm areas. “The rubber band should tighten again, down to the Cabo Frio cold front which looms up in front of our bows. The passages in this cold front change from model to model, it is not easy to find the right trajectory. Charlie Dalin explained at the morning session. Because if Yannick Bestaven left for a few hours, he will soon run into this cold front off Itajaì and everything will have to start all over again! Yannick Bestaven’s miles ahead will be worth gold at that point. Even a thin mattress could still give it an opportunity when it comes to touching the trade winds which will gradually strengthen. Behind him, four men (Dalin, Seguin, Ruyant and Burton) whose reunification is almost certain in a little over 24 hours will put him under hellish pressure. From now until the first arrivals at Sables d’Olonne around January 29, the Vendée Globe is going to stir up many passions …

The Horn, or nothing

Tomorrow Monday will start a great week for Arnaud Boissières, Alan Roura, Jérémie Beyou and Pip Hare. The four skippers will successively overtake the Horn after having had a hard time since entering the South Pacific. The conditions are still difficult on approach to the mythical cape in a freezing southerly wind. The rough weather is expected to last almost as far as the Falklands Islands for this group of 4 IMOCAs. Cali, who is overtaking the Horn for the fourth time, knows it well: “I’m not unhappy to get out of this Pacific! But I know that the Horn is a little way out, we are still in the south after the course, we must continue to watch out and stay vigilant. »Further, in 24th position, Alexia Barrier will face a big blow tomorrow night with gusts to 60 knots. The Finnish Ari Huusela should encounter less strong winds thanks to his trajectory much more northerly than the Varoise.


Isabelle Joschke, MACSF

It’s a Sunday like no other aboard MACSF. Yesterday my keel locking system broke and since then my keel hangs downwind. I have to sail as flat as possible with a very stable boat and with as little body roll as possible. Currently, it is not the easiest because I am sailing in pretty rough conditions with rough seas. There must be 5 meters of swell, between 7 and 9 Beaufort. The conditions are somewhat the same as when passing Cape Horn. I spent the night waterproofing the boat so I bailed it out, pumped it up and there I managed to keep the water out. I am sailing under staysail alone, I lowered my mainsail and the boat is still moving at over 10 knots. Now the most important thing is going to be to connect a port and get me and the boat to safety. I am extremely sad to have to give up. I think the Vendée Globe has been tough on me, but I’m still proud. Proud of my career, proud of my race, proud to have passed the three capes and to have shown that with the MACSF, we were present and that we could be counted on. And that will not be taken away from us.

Charlie Dalin, Apivia

The wind went to bed with the sun, after a fine day of speed yesterday. The sea was tidy. She was very poorly formed and the angle was good: I finally expressed the potential of the boat, it was nice to find speeds worthy of her. The wind has died down this evening, we are somewhat under the influence of a small bubble which should evacuate during the day as it shifts to the east. I have (this morning) wind that is not expected, it allows me to go to 11 knots at a correct angle, which is good news. Yannick (Bestaven) has left: he managed to extricate himself from the bubble that is currently embarrassing me, but I’m happy to have narrowed the gap so much. The rubber band should tighten again, up to the cold front of Cabo Frio which stands in front of our bows. The passages in this cold front change from model to model, it is not easy to find the right trajectory.

Giancarlo Pedote, Prysmian Group

You have to be careful as far as Les Sables d’Olonne. You can pick up a fishing boat 10 miles from the finish line and it can all end. What happened to Isabelle is bad luck because it is a mechanical part that has failed, so on the one hand you have to be lucky, and on the other hand, you should never give up because the slightest drop in attention can cause concern. I always say you go from laughing to crying in 1 second. You must always remain calm with your feet firmly anchored to the boat. In the deep south, it was a bit of survival. I didn’t think of the race, I thought of not breaking anything. So there opens up before us a real regatta with more acceptable seas and winds, less violent low pressure centers and all this will allow us to be able to run a race comparable to races starting from the Bay of Biscay. Prysmian Group is almost at 100% of its potential, I have to release a reef to get back under a high mainsail, I’ll go there. Otherwise all my sails are operational, I can still put coal in the locomotive!

Clarisse Crémer, Banque Populaire X

After my little slack from 2-3 days ago, I’m still tired, but my morale has been restored. I think it was fleeting, I waited too long for Cape Horn as a deliverance and part of me had to imagine arriving in the Maldives after the turn, so I was a little disillusioned. It made me lose my nerves a bit. It’s part of the journey and now I’m able to enjoy life on board much better. It’s a nice psychological victory over me, even if it’s not much. I think very much of Isabelle (Joschke), her abandonment puts everything in perspective a little bit, it boosts morale, after all she has accomplished it is not easy. We know that’s the way it works, but it’s not easy to accept. Ever since I started offshore racing I have always heard that the champion sailor is the one who manages to maintain stable morale. I still have some progress to make at this level, even if at the Vendée Globe scale, I think it’s normal to have ups and downs.

Rankings at 3pm French Time

  1. Yannick Bestaven, Maître CoQ IV, 4883.95 miles from finish
  2. Charlie Dalin, Apivia, 224.22 milles from leader
  3. Damien Seguin, Groupe APICIL, 276.57 milles from leader
  4. Thomas Ruyant, LinkedOut, 308.67 milles from leader
  5. Louis Burton, Bureau Vallée 2, 345.6 milles from leader

Photo Credit : L. Burton

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