The final act of the Vendée Globe will test the two skippers still at sea. What to do? Where to go? How to get out? Di Benedetto is in hole and De Lamotte has one in front of him, with apparently no way round it on the way back to Les Sables. At 503 miles from the finish in Les Sables d'Olonne De Lamotte has little choice but to be patient in the face of this unwelcome calm and must just head east as fast as he can. After enjoying a few down of downwind speeds, his last 24 hours have been at a sedate 10.7-knot average and the gauge will continue to drop.
'My routing has me arriving on Saturday evening, I think that’s too late to go directly up the channel, so it will be Sunday morning,' De Lamotte had written, perhaps hopefully, on Thursday morning.
But the routing is becoming increasingly complicated. The computer models suggest at the moment that he will be 80 miles from Les Sables on Saturday afternoon but that the wind will go so light and easterly. That would mean he would still get in on Sunday morning with the tides allowing him directly up the canal. But if it veers right and is more south-easterly, he could be looking at arriving on Sunday evening. It is not seem like fair news for his Initiatives Cœur campaign – the boat with a heart – to have on Valentine’s Day.
The pressure is not just mental, he will also be keen to get out of the heavy traffic zone as fast as possible. He already another UFO scare on Wednesday.
'I was on the deck, finishing shooting a short video, I hit another Unidentified Floating Object, a piece of wood this time...' he wrote. 'It hit the starboard rudder blade, which had already been seriously damaged, but at least it didn't make things worse. I'm on my way to Les Sables and I shouldn't have to use that rudder blade too much, but I'll still keep an eye on it.'
For a moment, De Lamotte’s heart would have been in his mouth because all the skippers know that they cannot take for granted finishing the Vendée Globe until they have crossed the line.
Di Benedetto, averaging just 5.1 knots for the last 24 hours and zigzagging his way north, 500 miles south of The Azores, is in a similar position, but has more options open.
Di Benedetto is currently sailing in the heart of the anticyclone, the punishment is severe as he has made just 121 miles in 24 hours. As well as many frustrating manoeuvres, he has passed the time making donuts, growing salads and writing for a possible book on his race. In 24 hours, the arrival of a front should allow him some westerly downwind sailing to Cape Finisterre. But on Thursday he was suggesting that a February 21 finish was looking optimistic.
Alessandro Di Benedetto (ITA, Team Plastique) writes: The days pass between squalls and unstable wind that runs continuously and force me to manoeuvre a lot. I often find myself to change tack four times in the same hour, send and lower the Code Zero several times in a row, just to earn a few miles. On the day before yesterday, after problems with the hydrogenerator, I decided to set up the wind turbine so for now a big part of the battery charge is made from the wind. The circuit wedge of the rudder is broken, so I made some knots to replace it and it should hold until Les Sables. I started again my little 'vegetable garden' production to make new salads as between the two tropics, without the high humidity and heat, it is more difficult to grow the seeds. From time to time I find flying fish and presto... there we go to the kitchen! Today I prepared donuts again but now the meal is almost over ... it's time to go home ... ;-)
Tanguy de Lamotte (FRA, Initiatives Coeur): After a night where the wind gradually dropped, I jibed this morning at dawn and sent the spinnaker. This may be the last time but it is good because there is where the biggest heart is: 50sq meters. So for Valentine's Day, I hope the lovers are in love and the others are happy. And if you are 'good' today we could announce the operation of the 14th child: so please, click! My routes indicate I'll in Les Sables on Saturday evening. But I think, It will be too late to sail up the channel so it will be rather on Sunday morning... Stay tuned. Good day to all, see you soon aux Sables.
Alessandro Di Benedetto (ITA, Team Plastique): Yes, it’s true unfortunately (I’m stuck in a hole), but this is sailing and racing, this is part of going around the world just with sails, so it’s quite normal. I am in the high of the Azores, it’s quite complicated. So, now I am going a little north-east, east-north-east and west, north-west, just going one side then the other to go up north as fast as possible. I will join the west winds, there is a low press coming from the west. The situation is OK on board, there is sun outside, I’m in my T-shirt. I’m cooking some sweets. I’m taking care of the boat and using this time to clean the boat and my clothes and to prepare my clothes for the coming days when I will have strong winds. I’m going slowly but I hope in a little bit more than one week I’ll be there (in Les Sables d’Olonne).
Nao et Tanguy refont la course by VendeeGlobeTV
Magnifique nuit sur Team Plastique by VendeeGlobeTV
Vendee Globe website
by Vendee Globe
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8:37 PM Thu 14 Feb 2013GMT
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2012 Vendee Globe
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