VG2020 : a last sprint at the end of the suspense

“It is urgent to wait”, this oxymoron formulated today by Jacques Caraës, the Clerk of the Course of the Vendée Globe, is struggling to extinguish the excitement that has gripped the public and the teams in the face of the incredible scenario of this end of a solo round the world trip, without stopovers and without assistance. In a state of advanced fatigue after 79 days of contact racing, the five sailors competing for the honors are drawing on their last reserves to win this final sprint against the clock. Whatever the outcome of the race, and the order of the classification after application of the bonuses, these five men all deserve to be recognized for their merit, their fighting spirit and their talent.

Charlie Dalin (Apivia), Boris Herrmann (SeaExplorer – Yacht Club de Monaco), Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée 2), Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut), Yannick Bestaven (Maître CoQ IV). Here are the headliners, the leading roles of this 9th Vendée Globe, who play their last scene here in the improbable outcome of our winter film. United in their fate like the five fingers of a hand, they are expected at Les Sables d’Olonne on Wednesday evening and until early Thursday morning. In what order and in what place?

For 79 days, these five sailors seduced and impressed us. With his heart or his reason, everyone has perhaps already chosen his favorite, his champion. On the water, Charlie Dalin and Yannick Bestaven were the two big bosses. The first achieves a remarkable race of precision and efficiency. He spent more than 36 days at the helm, and today he leads his world near Cape Finisterre. The second also delivers a magnificent performance: 26 days scouting in the Pacific and South Atlantic, with an unparalleled ability to operate his boat (2016 generation) at 100% of its capacity. Thomas Ruyant, whose port foil broke two months ago, is the other great host of this round-the-world tour. To pass 72% of the course in the leading trio, a large part of which was “on the run”, the LinkedOut skipper had to sublimate himself! Louis Burton, the sublime galley galley, proved to be reckless in his choice of route and with great combativeness in the face of adversity. More discreet, but always on the lookout for the hunter pack, the German Boris Herrmann could be the first foreign skipper to win the Vendée Globe!

Time will be the ultimate judge in this evil scenario. A scenario that forces these five men to tap into what remains of their energy to win this race against the clock, and have nothing to regret once the finish line is crossed. Their physique and their mind are however well under way by these 11 weeks of contact racing where never, at any time, have the leaders known the peace and quiet, the opportunity to calmly manage their lead.

So we start to imagine them when they are done with this journey at the end of themselves. Imagine their eyes and the features of their face, marked by an experience we have not had and which fascinates us by its extreme remoteness from our daily lives. In these times of confinement, they opened the doors to a free and wild world, revived noble values: selflessness, combativeness and courage. They told us a thousand stories that speak of man and nature, of man reduced to his basic needs: to eat, drink, eliminate, sleep, ensure his safety. These primary needs constitute the base of the pyramid imagined almost a century ago by the psychologist Abraham Maslow. At the top of this pyramid, other desires appear: the esteem of others and self-fulfillment. It is towards these two summits that our five sailors extend their arms. But whatever their place in the final standings, Charlie, Boris, Louis, Thomas and Yannick will arrive at Les Sables d’Olonne as accomplished men and sailors.

And we, spectators – earthlings, have only one word to say – a word that the last competitor to have abandoned this 9th Vendée Globe would not deny -: thank you!

But while waiting for the cheers and cheers, there is still some way to go! More than 24 hours of navigation in the Bay of Biscay, in which the quintet has split up. In the south, Charlie Dalin, followed by Boris Herrmann, flirt with Cape Finisterre and go along the Spanish coast. In terms of distance to the goal, this is the shortest route but it will require them to multiply the gybes to the finish line. To the north, Louis Burton, Thomas Ruyant and Yannick Bestaven are further from the mainland, but they can sail on only one side (starboard), pushed by a southwest flow strengthening in front of a front. The routing projections give the clique almost equal off the Sables d’Olonne. Only a few hours should separate all these laurel contenders between Wednesday evening and early Thursday morning. So, as race director Jacques Caraës points out, “it is urgent to wait”.

From tomorrow evening (Wednesday), arrivals will be linked in the Vendée port. Behind the top 5, three competitors should be done with their solo round the world tour late in the afternoon: Damien Seguin, Giancarlo Pedote and Jean Le Cam. Friday the 29th, it should be the turn of Benjamin Dutreux, currently in the northeast of the Azores archipelago. Then, we will watch like milk on fire for the arrival of a major depression on January 30 and 31, which may hamper the progress of Maxime Sorel and Armel Tripon. “It’s the biggest depression of the winter,” warn Sébastien Josse and Christian Dumard, the weather consultants for the Vendée Globe. 65 knots in gusts and 12 meters of troughs in the Bay of Biscay…


Charlie Dalin, Apivia

I don’t realize the arrival is in less than 36 hours. I am focused on my race, on my trajectories, my sequencing of sail changes and on the next hours and obstacles to overcome. I’ve been at sea for so long that I’ve forgotten that life on land really exists. My daily life is now to be on my boat. It’s kind of my state of mind at the moment. The finish line still feels a long way off considering how much I have to do, especially next night.

I am in my playground, I know the Bay of Biscay better than my own garden. I’ve been crisscrossing this area across and across the Figaro for 10 years. I feel like I’m on the last day of the Solitaire du Figaro.

Benjamin Dutreux / OMIA – Water Family

It’s amazing what’s happening at the head of the fleet. I look pretty good, it’s interesting. The group of three boats (Dalin, Burton, Herrmann) is doing well! I don’t have too many favorites, they are all sailing really well. These last days of racing are a bit special: there is impatience and a strangeness in thinking that we are returning to active life. I find the time a bit long. I’m not really in competition mode, I’m careful: last night I hit something in the rudders. I have the impression that Les Sables d’Olonne is still super far! And at the same time, I have the feeling that the start from Les Sables d’Olonne was yesterday. The remaining days seem very long to me. I’m trying to stay focused for the finish so that the boat is going well.

Damien Seguin, Groupe APICIL

I find it hard to realize that I am coming. I know I’ll be at Les Sables d’Olonne in two days because I’m obviously watching the ETAs, but I think I’m far from coming to my head. Even if I want to, I am still a sailor in the Vendée Globe, I still fight with competitors around me. This finish is going to be special, like all races, but I’m not going to anticipate it too much, I’m going to leave it to my instincts for the time being and I’m going to try to keep doing what I’m doing well. that is to say finish this Vendée Globe.

You have to stay focused because even if it seems to be on the straight line, we will have complicated wind conditions, we will find a lot of maritime traffic and the Bay of Biscay is never something easy with the rise of the continental shelf. . The last 48 hours are not going to be easy, so I took this opportunity to get as much sleep as possible tonight.

Clarisse Crémer, Banque Populaire X

I don’t feel like I’m coming at all! It still seems far away to me. The wind calmed down well, I slapped at 27 knots and slack with choppy water. There I have 12-15 knots. This is the advantage of my position on my own: it is that I can rejoice when it eases! I’m starting to get under the influence of the high pressure, I really should stop. I should take 4 to 5 days to go to the Azores. And then after that, it will be hairy until Les Sables d’Olonne, there should be a big depression but it is not very stalled actually. If Romain (Attanasio) and Jérémie (Beyou) come back, I would have to attack in the depression, otherwise I will go easy, I am not within 24 hours.

Rankings at 3pm French Time

  1. Charlie Dalin, Apivia, 382.57 milles from finish
  2. Boris Herrmann, SeaExplorer – Yacht Club de Monaco, 82.02 miles from leader
  3. Louis Burton, Bureau Vallée 2, 123.19 miles from leader
  4. Thomas Ruyant, LinkedOut, 229.93 miles from leader
  5. Yannick Bestaven, Maître CoQ IV, 266.01 miles from leader

Photo Credit : JM. Liot

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