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Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables d'Olonne Race update: Beyou now leads three-way battle

by Ed Gorman 7 Jul 2020 03:43 PDT 7 July 2020
Jérémie Beyou on Charal leads the Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables d'Olonne Race © Gauthier Lebec / Charal

Approaching the end of their third day at sea, the leaders in the Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables d'Olonne Race are heading northwest in strong-northeasterly winds, about 550 nautical miles southeast of the IOC UNESCO Waypoint. After leading the race almost continually from the start, Thomas Ruyant on LinkedOut has now been overtaken by fellow Frenchman Jérémie Beyou on Charal.

The change in order at the head of affairs came this morning as the boats were sailing to the west of a centre of low pressure at a position about 225 miles west of Donegal.

Beyou had chosen a course slightly further west than Ruyant (+2.3) and this gave him a faster reaching angle and both he and Charlie Dalin on Apivia (+3.4) - who is close to him on the water - were benefitting.

Beyou is on course to reach the turning mark south west of Iceland at around midday on Thursday, but first he and his rivals will have to cross an area of light winds which could re-shuffle the order once again.

Race director Jacques Caraës says it remains an open contest at the head of the fleet. "The wind is only going to ease off and be relatively erratic," he said this morning. "We are starting to see the strategies taking shape, particularly Thomas Ruyant's strategy, which is more off to the east...but this IOC-UNESCO buoy is still a long way off and anything can still happen."

The other big change up front is that Kevin Escoffier has lost quite a bit of ground after suffering a tear in his mainsail on board PRB. Escoffier who is aiming for his first Vendée Globe start in November on Vincent Riou's now much-modified old boat, had dropped to 6th place in the ranking, around 40 miles behind Beyou.

Just ahead of Escoffier, Boris Herrmann on Seaexplorer-YC de Monaco remains locked in a tight scrap with Isabelle Joschke on board MACSF who are holding fourth and fifth places respectively, with Herrmann around 34 miles off the leading pace.

In his reports from on board Herrmann has made it clear that he has been holding back a bit in the tough upwind battles to protect his boat from conditions that he says are unlikely to be encountered in the Vendée Globe itself. He has also found it hard to settle in and get sleep on a course that has given the sailors little respite from the start.

Elsewhere in the fleet, Clarisse Crémer is continuing to sail an impressive race as the leading non-foiler on Banque Populaire X. She was lying in eighth place, 62 miles behind Beyou and with Maxime Sorel, the next best non-foiling entry, about 20 miles behind her in 10th position on V and B-Mayenne.

The backmarker is Manuel Cousin whose Groupe SÉTIN was 260 miles behind Beyou at a position about 170 miles west-southwest of the Fastnet Rock.

The catalogue of damage in the fleet continues to mount with three retirements out of the 20 starters. Following in the wake of Sébastien Simon (broken foil), is Damien Seguin (broken alternator mounting) and now Armel Tripon on board L'Occitane en Provence who is currently on his way back home.

Tripon's boat suffered structural damage in a collision three weeks ago and it is thought a weakness in the section of hull affected by that earlier impact has now been exposed by the upwind conditions in this race. Although disappointed to be retiring from a race that he was using to qualify for the Vendée Globe, Tripon was in an upbeat mood as he headed back to Brittany to get the problem sorted out.

Under the rules he will still be able to qualify for the Vendée Globe because he can sail a replacement 2,000-mile course so long as he completes it by September 15th. So his team will be up against the clock.

Other boats reporting on board issues include Kojiro Shiraishi's DMG MORI Global One which has a mainsail hook problem which has prevented the Japanese sailor form raising his sail above a certain point, while the Italian sailor Giancarlo Pedote has electrical problems on board Prysmian Group.

Find out more at www.imoca.org/en/races/imoca-globe-series/vendee-arctique-les-sables-d-olonne

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