VG2020 : Charlie Dalin (Apivia), first on the finish line

This Wednesday January 27 at 8:35 p.m. and 47 seconds (French time), Charlie Dalin crossed the finish line at Les Sables d’Olonne after 80 days, 6 hours, 15 minutes and 47 seconds of solo racing around the world nonstop and unassisted.

At 36 and for his very first Vendée Globe, Charlie lived up to his status as a big favorite as he led the race 48% of the time! His talents as a racer, as a technician and his strategic intelligence were sublimated during these 24,365 miles solo around the globe. His fighting spirit, despite being handicapped by a port foil that had been unusable since mid-December, was also decisive. However, we will have to wait for the arrival of Boris Herrmann (6:00 am bonus) and Yannick Bestaven (10:15 am bonus) tonight to see if Charlie turns honors on the line into victory in the standings. It will certainly be a matter of minutes…. A completely new scenario in the Vendée Globe.

In the dark night, a formed swell, pushed by about fifteen knots of wind, the bow of the yellow boat cut the line anchored in the south, the Nouch Sud buoy, all sails out. No time to waste for Charlie Dalin: every minute counts for the establishment of the final standings. But whatever his position on the board, the Apivia skipper can be proud: in line with his ambitions, he was on the water the strongman of this 9th Vendée Globe. More than 37 days at the helm of the fleet, or 48% of the race time. Hat!

Charlie’s race

On board his latest generation Verdier plan, he took the reins for the first time on November 11 in the North-East of the Azores. Then, its route is marked by a large bypass to the west of the tropical depression Theta … a shift of around a hundred miles that it will take a few days to fill during the descent of the North Atlantic. Passing Ecuador, he is already in the top three, behind HUGO BOSS and LinkedOut. The trade winds of the southern hemisphere allow her foiler to take off: a few days go by at high speed. As it rounded the Saint Helena high and Alex Thomson stopped to repair cracks in the bulkheads of his boat, Le Havrais took control. A scout cavalcade in the Great South followed: passage of Bonne-Espérance then of Leeuwin in pole position – with Thomas Rouillard, Louis Burton and Yannick Bestaven as main rivals.

For his first Vendée Globe, the one who admitted to appreciating solitude before the start, is revealed in his element, perfectly in control of himself and of the situation. This unparalleled competitor – 4 podiums in the Solitaire du Figaro, victory in the last Transat Jacques Vabre aboard his Apivia – used every weapon to defend his position.

On December 10, after coming out of a very strong gale that he was the only one to take full force before crossing Cape Leeuwin, his average speed was hit hard.

On December 14, Charlie had been the leader for 21 days when the breakage of his port foil low wedge occurred and broke his momentum. With the cape, wrapped in a white jumpsuit, mask on the nose, the skipper Apivia spends 18 hours shaping a new low carbon and composite wedge. When he sets off again, nothing remains of his 60 mile lead, and it is even with a deficit of 135.5 miles on LinkedOut and barely less on Master CoQ IV that he sets off again, port foil unusable.

But Dalin cashed in, hung on and held onto his place in the trio throughout the Pacific crossing. He passed Cape Horn in 2nd position and brilliantly negotiated the meteorological gymkhana which marked the ascent of the South Atlantic. He gained more than 400 miles on Bestaven and regained his leadership position on January 12 off Brazil, while the whole pack of pursuers, served by more favorable weather, came back strongly to contact. The rest is played on a mine with Louis Burton. On the way up the North Atlantic, the skipper of Apivia stayed inside the turn, shifted east from his pursuers, until he passed very close to Cape Finisterre. A winning strategy!

Lover of the sea and boats since his first edges in an Optimist at 6, became a naval architect out of passion, Dalin is a perfectionist who is interested in everything and does not neglect any detail of his preparation, technical, physical and mental. He was setting off on his first round-the-world trip with a dream of victory and the means to achieve it, including a latest generation boat, perfectly developed by the Mer Concept team. Whatever the outcome of the overall standings, one thing remains certain: he has the makings of great champions.


  • He will have covered the 24,365.74 miles of the theoretical course at an average speed of 12.65 knots.
  • Actual distance traveled on the water: 28,267.88 miles at a true average speed of 14.67 knots.

The great passages

  • Ecuador (go) – 3rd on 11/18/2020 at 21:03 UTC after 10d 07h 43min of race
  • Cape of good hope – 1st on 30/11/2020 11:11 UTC after 22d 09h 51min of race
  • Cape Leeuwin – 1st on 12/13/2020 11:25 UTC after 34d 22h 05min
  • Cape Horn – 2nd on 03/01/2021 04:39 UTC after 55d 15h 19min
  • Ecuador (back) – 2nd on 01/16/2021 20:11 UTC after 69d 06h 51min, 59 minutes behind Louis Burton
  • Number of top classifications (Vendée Globe score reference): 226
  • Best 24 hour distance – November 20 at 05:00 UTC: 506.99 miles at 21.1 knots average

His boat

Apivia, Verdier plan (foils), built at CDK Technologies and Mer Concept
Launch: August 2019

Photo Credit : JM. Liot

Tags on NauticNews : Vendée GlobeVG2020, Charlie Dalin

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