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RS Sailing 2021 - LEADERBOARD

Vendée Globe Day 30: The Big South bares its teeth

by Vendée Globe 7 Dec 2020 10:48 PST 7 December 2020
Charlie Dalin on Apivia in the Vendée Globe © Charlie Dalin / Apivia #VG2020

Britain's Pip Hare should cross the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope early tomorrow, her first of the Vendée Globe's three Great Capes. Lying in 20th place, she is chasing Spanish rival Didac Costa hard, just 12 miles behind the Barcelona firefighter who is on his third round the world race in five years, all of them on board his One Planet - One Ocean which started life as Ellen MacArthur's Kingfisher over 20 years ago.

Ticking off her first Great Cape will be a significant moment for 45 year old Hare, who is based out of Poole, England and whose IMOCA is of identical vintage to friend and rival Costa's. Her's was built as Superbigou by Swiss skipper Bernard Stamm and his friends in a shed in Lesconcil, Brittany and launched 11th February 2000, while MacArthur's Kingfisher was launched within the same fortnight on the other side of the world in New Zealand.

Just as the two IMOCAs are lifelong rivals - although Stamm had to abandon the 2000-2001 Vendée Globe on which 24 year old MacArthur led and went on to finish second - so Hare and Costa previously raced Mini 650s against each other and finished within 40 minutes of each other the last time they did the MiniTransat.

Costa, who finished 14th on the last Vendée Globe, reported last night that he had hit something which he believed to be a whale although there was no damage to the mammal nor to his boat. As well as notifying other competitors via Race HQ, he also made sure Hare - who is sailing in his wake - was aware.

"Didac messaged me yesterday to let me know he had hit something. It is really nice to have him there. We keep in touch. It is amazing for me to have him here as a pace setter but I have no intention of letting him go. That is for sure. I think Kingfisher (now Didac's One Planet-One Ocean) is a quicker boat and certainly in the bigger breeze I am pushing hard to keep up. The biggest issue is in the moderate breeze this boat is still quite narrow in the beam. It just does not have power and righting moment. I really struggle then reaching in a moderate range. I can't hang on to him. I have to work very hard in the light and heavy breeze. I have to put the hammer down to keep up with him for sure." said Hare on today's Vendée Globe Live.

Having endured a painful week in the Indian Ocean fighting to keep themselves, their boats and equipment intact in big, choppy seas and very gusty winds to 35-40kts, race leaders Charlie Dalin (Apivia) and Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) are finally finding a fast route east on the leading face of a fast moving low pressure system.

With flat water and strong North Westerly winds they are in ideal conditions which Vendée Globe meteo consultant and three times Vendée Globe racer Seb Josse said this morning might see Alex Thomson's world 24 hours record run of 536 miles - set on the last race - fall. If they can continue to keep pace with the front which is moving at around 25kts eastwards, they could then catch a moderate wind flow from a high pressure at Cape Leeuwin to complete a dream sequence that could open them a massive lead on their pursuers. And they have indeed maintained high averages since last night, more than 20kts and so that means often surfing at 28-30kts. Ruyant has been on port gybe and so not missing the foil he had to cut away.

"The weather is almost sunny, it's rather a good day" commented a relatively relaxed Charlie Dalin during the Vendée Live this afternoon.

But 600 miles back in the fiery depths of the low pressure system it is very windy with big seas, much more like the Dante-esque vision of the Southern Ocean.

"We have 45 knots and horizontal rain" reported fourth placed Damien Seguin in a video.

"I have never seen a sea like this, it is rough, it is very hard to go forwards, it catches the boat, the boat accelerates forwards surging to 29 knots but if you are too slow, the waves will catch up and explode on the transom. It is hideous." confirms Maxime Sorel (11th), this morning on the phone.

The nine boats sailing in Dalin and Ruyant's wake were overtaken by the front which had 50 knots in squally gusts. With huge confused seas, racing is on hold and self preservation becomes the most important challenge. Damien Seguin, who was in fourth place, has been reporting a failure of his main autopilot. His back up has worked intermittently and the sailor who is the first handisport sailor to take on the Vendee Globe is looking for a solution with his team.

"The big South is an endurance race that slowly wears you out" summarizes Josse.


Jean Le Cam / Yes We Cam!:

How do you feel about your return to solo sailing?

"This kind of change in situation is not easy. You're single-handed, and then you go looking for someone and you're double-handed for a week. Then you find yourself on your own again. These transitions are not straightforward."

What will happen in the next few days?

"I've so far always taken a fairly northerly route, so that if problems arise I can always escape a bit from the tricky weather conditions and sail on more manageable seas. Now I have the front to pass through, and I'll be on starboard tack by the end of the day. After that, it will slowly ease off and I'll have to gybe.

"It's as usual really, we've had exceptionally heavy conditions for the last few days, the wind has been relentless and so no real respite at all. It's hard for us as sailors but also for our boats. I'm going to have to inspect my boat because if you keep on pulling on it, the risk of breaking something is much higher."

We saw that the Nivôse (French Navy ship) threw a bag of provisions at you yesterday when Kevin Escoffier disembarked, what did they give you?

Yes, it's true that they gave me some provisions, I had asked for some things to last me until the end. They gave me some Hénaff pâté, bread and butter, because let's face it, everything is better with butter! I don't see why I shouldn't eat butter on the Vendée Globe when I eat it at home. They also gave me a T-shirt from their frigate and letters of encouragement. It was an emotional moment!"

Jérémie Beyou, Charal:

"Since I've been on the other side of the front, the wind hasn't been very regular. I have been tacking for a while now right up close to the Ice Exclusion Zone with an average wind of 20 knots in the morning, which will get stronger. Of course, I would have liked to stay in the front a little longer. When you cross on to the other side, there are many more miles to cover, the wind is gustier and the sea was pretty choppy to begin with. We are going to be in strong downwind conditions for a few days now, and it is better at least than going around the St. Helena High which was a bit endless...

"Everything is fine, I'm really trying to take care of the boat, to do things day by day, to concentrate on how the boat is gliding, and to avoid looking too far ahead. The situation is really very changeable, especially at the Cape of Good Hope. I'm trying not to look too far ahead and I would like to make the crossing with the group in front of me. Psychologically, and in terms of safety, that would be good.

"Of course, I'm going faster but the problem is that I'm always behind the weather systems. I was the first to stall behind the front while Fabrice (Amedeo) stayed at the front of it, on port tack, where I'm now tacking. Even if you go faster, it's not that easy to pass around a weather system. I'd like to catch up with the group before the Cape of Good Hope.

"Like everyone else, the Kevin (Escoffier) episode left a bit of a mark on me and one of the conclusions from it is that if there hadn't been boats around, it would have been way more complicated for him. When you attack the South, you're happy if there are other people around. I am really trying not to load the boat too much and be gliding it rather than forcing it too much. Yesterday I had a good day, I managed to get good average speeds.

"Mentally, it's still difficult to be last in the race. At the beginning, I wasn't managing to eat very well. It was a bit hard psychologically. Now, the fact that I can eat and sleep, means that physically it's going well. Mentally, you just have to take it day by day, not try to get too anxious about what's going to happen a week later and not think that it's actually going to take longer than I had planned.

"When I left Les Sables-d'Olonne, we saw a weather system that could have been favourable for me and allow me to recover quite a bit of time. In fact, it closed up straight away and I found myself on a rather complicated route to the East, not the best time in the Doldrums, and in the South Atlantic, I saw that I had to do a big tour of the St. Helena High...

"That whole period was very hard: you are ten days behind and you realise that you will never catch up. But now, since the weather has been clearer and I can see that I am getting closer to those in front, things are going a bit better. It's really the weather that decides things: you can hardly skip a weather system but if it at least allows you to get closer to the group in front in terms of speed, you can make way more headway. And it's way more fun like that."

Rankings at 17H00 UTC:

PosSail NoSkipper / Boat NameDTF (nm)DTL (nm)
1 FRA 79Charlie Dalin / APIVIA15281.60
2 FRA 59Thomas Ruyant / LinkedOut15466.4184.8
3 FRA 18Louis Burton / Bureau Vallée 215513.1231.5
4 FRA 17Yannick Bestaven / Maître Coq IV15599.7318.1
5 FRA 01Jean Le Cam / Yes we Cam !15612.4330.9
6 FRA 1000Damien Seguin / Groupe APICIL15615.3333.7
7 FRA 09Benjamin Dutreux / OMIA ‑ Water Family15712.2430.6
8 MON 10Boris Herrmann / Seaexplorer ‑ Yacht Club De Monaco15781.3499.8
9 FRA 27Isabelle Joschke / MACSF15885.5603.9
10 ITA 34Giancarlo Pedote / Prysmian Group15954.2672.7
11 FRA 53Maxime Sorel / V And B Mayenne16055.9774.4
12 FRA 49Romain Attanasio / Pure ‑ Best Western Hotels and Resorts16322.91041.3
13 FRA 30Clarisse Cremer / Banque Populaire X16423.41141.8
14 FRA 02Armel Tripon / L'Occitane en Provence17168.51887
15 SUI 7Alan Roura / La Fabrique17242.71961.1
16 FRA 92Stéphane Le Diraison / Time For Oceans17318.82037.2
17 FRA 14Arnaud Boissieres / La Mie Câline ‑ Artisans Artipôle17327.32045.7
18 FRA 71Manuel Cousin / Groupe Sétin17543.22261.6
19 ESP 33Didac Costa / One Planet One Ocean17716.52434.9
20 GBR 777Pip Hare / Medallia17745.52463.9
21 FRA 56Fabrice Amedeo / Newrest ‑ Art et Fenetres18387.23105.6
22 FRA 50Miranda Merron / Campagne de France18498.43216.9
23 FRA 72Alexia Barrier / TSE ‑ 4myplanet18517.33235.7
24 FRA 83Clément Giraud / Compagnie du lit ‑ Jiliti18618.63337
25 FIN 222Ari Huusela / Stark18737.43455.8
26 JPN 11Kojiro Shiraishi / DMG MORI Global One18789.63508
27 FRA 69Sébastien Destremau / Merci18885.13603.5
28 FRA 8Jérémie Beyou / Charal19060.83779.2
RET FRA 109Samantha Davies / Initiatives ‑ Coeur  
RET FRA 4Sébastien Simon / ARKEA PAPREC  
RET GBR 99Alex Thomson / HUGO BOSS  
RET FRA 85Kevin Escoffier / PRB  
RET FRA 6Nicolas Troussel / CORUM L'Épargne  

Find out more...

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