VG2020 : four days from the rest of their lives

“All I know is I don’t know anything.” Quoting Socrates is a habit on the Vendée Globe route in recent days. The race for victory is more open than ever: there are at least seven who can still claim it when they are expected to reach the Azores overnight. Behind, Armel Tripon confides his states of mind, Maxime Sorel has put on his fisherman’s costume and Alexia Barrier continues to show great fighting spirit.

Total suspense, new episode

First, there is one observation that has not changed since the start of the week. This morning, it was Louis Burton who stuck to it to explain: “It’s rare to have so many boats so tight four days before the finish. It’s pretty crazy and it’s very difficult to predict. ” The skipper of Bureau Vallée 2 announced the following: “In 24 hours, we’ll pass a front and 20 hours later, we’ll jibe towards Les Sables d’Olonne”. “A secondary depression awaits them to the west and should take them to the finish,” explains Sébastien Josse, weather consultant for the Vendée Globe.

In this final rush, Louis Burton, Charlie Dalin and Boris Hermann had taken a “slight advantage” yesterday. Today, there are seven of them – with Thomas Ruyant, Yannick Bestaven, Damien Seguin and Giancarlo Pedote – who can still aim for the podium… You can’t understand anything! The certainty is that they are bypassing the Azores high pressure area and that they should reach the Portuguese archipelago overnight. Then nothing will be easy: you will probably have to zigzag up to Les Sables d’Olonne. “It’s clear that we are going to spin around,” confirms Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut). Yannick Bestaven, who believes “to be still in contention for the podium”, confided this morning: “There will be a lot of variations in wind, a lot of gybes … There will be sport! “The skipper of Maître Coq IV, who has difficulty maneuvering without a balcony, says he has regained steel morale, like his current rivals.

Louis Burton, complicated early morning

In the ‘match in the match’ between APIVIA and Bureau Vallée 2, the ascendant may have changed sides. “This Saturday morning, between 5:30 am and 8:30 am, we noticed that Louis Burton’s road was not as straight as that of Charlie Dalin,” explains Jacques Caraës, the race director. Is it a change of sail, does it operate under spinnaker, is its air (which acts on the performance of the autopilot) still as efficient? “. Louis Burton has since picked up speed (over 15 knots) and remains neck and neck with Apivia. But in these moments where every detail counts, this racing event has escaped no one … and even less the rivals of Le Malouin.

Maxime Sorel, the king of fishing

“I hauled up the nets and I didn’t know, but the fishing was pretty good” Little surprise aboard V and B – Mayenne, 10th in the fleet: Sargassum got caught up and flying fish invited themselves on the bridge. “I don’t understand why they are all attracted to my boat! “And Maxime Sorel, after counting every fish on the boat, announcing” they need to clean up “. “It smells like a fishing boat,” he laughs.

Armel Tripon: “I take no pleasure”

The conditions have an impressive impact on morale. To be convinced, just listen to Armel Tripon. For several days, L’Occitane en Provence has continued to advance off Mauritania. But upwind, nothing is easy, her foiler shatters against the waves and keeping her in good condition is a constant struggle. “These conditions are all I hate. I take no pleasure ”. This unpleasant phase should end by the end of the day. To pass the time, the escape comes through listening and the spectrum is wide: “classical, reggae, rock and I have just finished the audio book of Les Misérables by Victor Hugo”. Difficult to draw a parallel with its current situation, “the Paris of the nineteenth century has little to do with the conditions of the moment”, he laughs. At least enough to keep a smile and keep moving forward, despite everything.

In the South Atlantic, all in the trade winds

The contingent of skippers advancing in the South Atlantic can also have a smile.

From Jérémie Beyou (Charal, 14th) to Didac Costa (One Planet One Ocean, 20th), everyone benefits from the trade winds and conditions at over 10 knots. Arnaud Boissières (La Mie Câline – Artisans Artipôle) and Alain Roura (La Fabrique), a time stuck in windless areas this week, have also picked up speed. In this group spread over nearly 900 miles off Brazil, Jérémie Beyou held the prize for the longest distance traveled (403 miles, 648 km) in the last 24 hours. “He negotiated the ridge of the Saint Helena high pressure well,” said Christian Dumard, the Vendée Globe meteorologist.

Alexia Barrier, a lesson in courage

The conditions are not easy for the three skippers who are approaching Cape Horn. Outside the race, Sam Davies should spend it at the end of the day. Initiatives-Cœur had to face particularly tough conditions overnight from Friday to Saturday with gusts of 50 knots. On the other hand, for Alexia Barrier (TSE – 4myplanet), which should cross the legendary milestone tomorrow evening, conditions are slightly milder.

But she was not spared either: “I had my fill the last two weeks with fronts up to 50 knots, swells … For hours, we keep the ball in the stomach. I know the best way to get out of this the quickest is to move on. Can’t wait to get out! “Especially since on board, the small glitches accumulate: port hydrogenerator torn off, satellite antenna problem, watermaker leak …” I would not be against stopping a week in Patagonia to fix everything! Alexia says it all with a smile, because she’s prepared, because she knows “to be part of an extreme race” and she gives the best. A great lesson in resistance.


Louis Burton, Bureau Vallée 2

As I am the furthest north, I perceive the effects of the front first. Normally, it will be more and more unstable as you get stronger until Sunday morning! The Azores will depend on how quickly the front moves, our speed and our ability to stay ahead. It’s rare to have so many boats so tight four days before the finish. It’s pretty crazy because a lot can still happen! Everyone has the pressure of the finish … But I’m trying to stay away from it all and focus on the end of the race. It will go very quickly: in 24 hours, we cross a front. 20 hours later, we’re down to Les Sables d’Olonne … And then we’re going to knit as we approach Cape Finisterre to the bottom of the Bay of Biscay!

Thomas Ruyant, LinkedOut

Surprises are non-stop! There is grouping on all floors from the start. That’s good, it makes for close races, even if we hoped to have a slightly quieter end of the world tour. There, we will do it in “Figaro stage” mode! I am full of shared feelings because I really want to arrive but at the same time, I need a little time to come back to those in front… And I want to make the most of my last days in sea. This starboard was hard on the mind, so I need to sail to the other side! I still have my head around what’s going on and if there is some physical fatigue, I’ve had a good rest the past few days.

Boris Herrmann, SeaExplorer – Yacht Club de Monaco

There are big lulls, it’s quite stressful, from 14 to 28 knots, I just passed the ship CMA CGM Fort Fleur Depee (container ship heading to Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe), which is heading southwesterly at 20 knots. CMA CGM is one of my partners. They walked over to say hello, so that was cool. They were a mile away, they turned on their searchlights and greeted me from the bridge! It was pitch black, the moon is only present in the first part of the night, currently we have 12 or more hours of darkness, unlike in the south where we sail in the light all the time except for a few hours.

Yannick Bestaven, Maître CoQ IV

There will be variations in the wind, a head-on passage and gybes where you have to be well positioned. There will be activity all the way to Les Sables d’Olonne! I’m still in the game for a podium. I had a lot of damage to the boat which I more or less repaired. In the tough conditions ahead, it’s rock hard: I turn up the loudest possible to motivate myself! It’s rock’n’roll aboard Master CoQ!

Armel Tripon, L’Occitane en Provence

I’m upwind, it’s really not a very pleasant situation. The boat is constantly banging, everything is shaking, it’s a bit violent. Thats everything I hate, there are risks of breakage. It’s nerve-racking, for the boat. Normally I go out during the day! Every minute is painful. I have headphones, I play music, I listen to podcasts, it dampens the noise a bit. I listen to a bit of everything, classical, rock, reggae, jazz. I just finished “Les Misérables” as an audiobook, it was cool.

Alexia Barrier, TSE – 4myplanet

I still had strong winds this week as we approach Cape Horn. Two nights ago I was still in a strong front with 35 to 50 knots of wind. The sea was not too rough, I had 3 to 4 meters of swell. You deserve Cape Horn, right? The conditions are not very pleasant, when you keep the ball in your stomach for hours … But hey, I know it’s over soon. I embarked on the most extreme race that can exist. I’m trying to get over it by trying to keep smiling!

Rankings at 3pm French Time

  1. Charlie Dalin, Apivia, 1 403, 6 miles from finish
  2. Louis Burton, Bureau Vallée 2, 34, 5 miles from leader
  3. Boris Herrmann, SeaExplorer – Yacht Club de Monaco, 62, 3 miles from leader
  4. Thomas Ruyant, LinkedOut, 95, 3 miles from leader
  5. Yannick Bestaven, Maître CoQ IV, 158, 3 miles from leader

Photo Credit : V.Curutchet

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