In American sports, there is one phrase to define suspense at the end of a game: “money time”. And it perfectly fits to the skin of this Vendée Globe scenario. “It will remain historic,” says Yannick Bestaven. This Monday, the outcome is still uncertain and there are five of them who can win … less than 72 hours from the finish!
A Hollywood scenario
“Do you want an answer on the end of the race? You won’t get one! The observation of Sébastien Josse, weather consultant for the Vendée Globe this Monday morning, is shared by everyone, on land and at sea. Every day, therefore, we have to deal with this suspense, which is still just as untenable. Thus, some screenings announce on arrival a gap of … three hours between the first three! “It’s worthy of a regatta between two buoys,” laughs Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut), guest at Vendée Live. “It looks like a Hollywood script,” Yannick Bestaven continues, a smile on his tired face at the radio session this morning. A little later, Louis Burton confirms: “It makes you want to tear yourself away to the end to put on a great show. “
What to note from the last hours
Since last Sunday, the leaders have opted for two separate routes. “There are two main options, North or East”, summarizes Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée 2), who conceded his first place to Charlie Dalin (APIVIA). The two men and Boris Herrmann (Seaexplorer – Yacht Club de Monaco), who were making more than 18 knots in the morning, chose the eastern option at the latitude of Portugal. “There is a big match between them, they are very compact”, underlines Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) who is in ambush, explaining “to be always listening”.
180 miles west of the trio, there are the Northerners, with Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut, 4th at 3pm), Yannick Bestaven (Maître Coq IV, 5th) and Damien Seguin (Groupe APICIL, 6th), Maître CoQ IV s he struggles to bypass the Azores archipelago before heading to Europe. “I took a northern route to look for a low pressure front,” says Yannick. I got what I went for with 35 knot squalls. It’s good to have wind and to push. “
Between these two routes, the choices are endless: more than two hundred routes can still be followed! “The Dalin-Burton-Herrmann trio will have to deal with a small area of weak wind in the Bay of Biscay. This will allow the group from the North to come back, benefiting from a more sustained wind, “underlined Yoann Richomme at Vendée Live.
An elongated finish line
In order to alleviate the complicated conditions expected at the time on Les Sables in the days to come, the race director decided to lengthen the finish line, in accordance with article 9.1 of the sailing instructions. The line, which was supposed to be 0.3 miles (500 meters), will now be 1.9 miles (3.1 km) after being stretched south. This will give the fleet water to run for the comers who cut the line at full speed.
Self-Surpassing by Pip Hare
To think that it is only at the head of the race that the skippers are giving everything is a mistake. In the Vendée Globe, position does not matter when sailors are involved in their daily round the world. Pip Hare (19th, Medallia), who had to treat an allergy after the bite of a kind of jellyfish, gave a stunning testimony in a text she sent this morning: “I am impressed by what human beings are able to endure. I hoisted and cast sails sometimes ten times a day, I moved them, I caught bundles of icy sea, I staggered on the deck, I crawled along the boom, I sometimes slept for only a few minutes, I ate packaged meals, I was battered by the cold… ”. But Pip held on, delivering her definition of selflessness: “We are mentally and physically capable of doing so much more than we believe. “
“Where is happiness, where is it?”
Regardless of the position of the skipper, reflections emanate from everywhere, the depth of which we can taste. Armel Tripon (L’Occitane en Provence, 11th), who uses his foiler with panache – 270 miles covered in 24 hours, and who is less than 2000 miles from the finish, never ceases to savor: “ I always felt in symbiosis with my boat. It is not a daze, it is a plenitude. It was something new to fully experience every moment of this race ”. Much further south, Manuel Cousin, who is battling in the heart of the high pressure at less than 5 knots, admits to cramps from eating so little. Happiness is not really there. At least not for now. “That will be the case when it picks up again,” he says.
A dropout rate that remains very low
Sunday evening, Isabelle Joschke moored at the port of Salvador de Bahia. She had announced her abandonment on January 9 after the breakage of her keel cylinder. For fifteen days, the MACSF sailor worked to get back safely to the Brazilian port. It was the 8th retirement of this Vendée Globe. In short, 25 skippers, or 76% of those who took the start, are still racing. Such a statistic has never been seen in previous editions: at best, only 65% of the candidates had crossed the line (in 2004-2005).
Louis Burton, Bureau Vallée 2
Can’t wait for it to end, there is a bit of fatigue. It’s the end of food and water supplies. It makes you want to arrive, there is a lot of excitement in the regatta. I’m trying to go as fast as possible. Last night on this tack was complicated, I was on the attack but it was going in a heap so I eased off, especially as the sails are starting to get tired. A compromise had to be found to relieve the boat a little. It’s interesting what’s going on in the race. After that, we’re not in the best physical condition for that … But that’s what makes the whole thing even more awesome and exciting. We’ll have to tear ourselves away, sleep well. I took the opportunity to rest last night, I’m up for it. With the number of gybes to be done, a lot can still happen until the finish.
Yannick Bestaven, Maître CoQ IV
I am sailing as I did the whole race, not worrying about how much time is left until the finish. I had a good performance last night. I’m heading north to find the low pressure front, the wind was quite strong with squalls at 35 knots. I got what I went for. It’s good to have wind and to push, I can use my hollow downwind sails. The weather files are not fully calibrated for the future. I feel like I’m going to come back with some air with the second front. It could be to my advantage. It will all be a matter of ‘timing’ and separation from others. Finishing a Vendée Globe, in itself, is great. This end of the race is historic! It’s great to be able to live this adventure and this regatta.
Jean Le Cam, Yes We Cam!
It’s colder than a week ago, the butter is more compact! There are no more flying fish. We will arrive in the Azores. The strategy to follow is to get to Les Sables-d´Olonne! There is a great fight in the lead between Apivia and Bureau Vallée 2, it’s funny. I saw Louis (Burton) slowed down last night. I am for Louis Burton to win. I find that in the South, he had some nerve. He went into the heart of depressions. He stopped at Macquarie to repair, his journey is interesting. I can’t wait for this to end honestly. There it is!
Armel Tripon, L’Occitane en Provence
I’m less than 2000 miles from the finish. It’s weird, like a feeling… It suddenly falls on you. I can’t wait to finish, can’t wait to meet everyone, to finish this race, to complete the loop. It is also the end of a great adventure, there is like a twinge in the heart. And I tell myself that, as I am well at sea, if it could last a little longer, I could gain other places.
I have always felt in symbiosis, from the 10th, 20th days at sea. It is not a second state, it is fullness. Living fully every moment of this race was something very new for me, and very intense. I am satisfied with what I have been able to experience. This race is a situation that I accepted, I found my account there.
Manuel Cousin, Groupe SETIN
The conditions are not easy, there is not a lot of wind in the middle of the high pressure area, it is not very pleasant. You have to deal with fatigue and lack of sleep, because you have to ‘be on it’. I didn’t sleep for a second last night. It’s holding up painfully at 2-4 knots. I didn’t even have time to eat. I had cramps, which is a warning sign (of trouble, editor’s note), so I made myself some hot chocolate, some coffee, and I ate some chocolate. But I didn’t take the time to make myself a good meal. I’m going to have to drink: if the cramps happen, it’s because I haven’t drunk enough. Happiness ? That’s when it starts again.
Rankings at 3pm French Time
- Charlie Dalin, APIVIA, 688,2 miles from finish
- Louis Burton, Bureau Vallée 2, 26,9 miles from leader
- Boris Herrmann, Seaexplorer – Yacht Club de Monaco, 78,2 miles from leader
- Thomas Ruyant, LinkedOut, 184,5 mill=es from leader
- Yannick Bestaven, Maître CoQ IV, 253,8 miles from leader
Photo Credit : B. Herrmann
– PR –