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North Sails 2021 Innovation - LEADERBOARD

Vendée Globe Day 31: Dalin into Dante-esque night

by Vendée Globe 8 Dec 2020 11:06 PST 8 December 2020
Manu Cousin (Groupe Sétin) passes the Cape of Good Hope for the first time © Manu Cousin / #VG2020

For the leaders of the Vendée Globe, the very difficult conditions in an Indian Ocean depression, are the most challenging of the race so far. Fatigue accumulated over one month of racing is less noticeable when motorway conditions roll out in front of a skipper and his or her IMOCA yacht, but right now in winds of 35-55kts and big seas, the combination of tiredness and continuous stress makes small technical jobs hard, and big jobs seem impossible.

A period of fast sailing yesterday and into last night, averaging close to or just over 20kts, has seen Charlie Dalin extend his lead out to 250 nautical miles - his biggest margin yet as he has now led for nearly half of the race's duration so far.

While the Apivia skipper was ripping out some fast miles at the leading edge of the front, nearly all of his rivals who are chasing in his wake, either had technical problems or slowed to reposition themselves relative to this particularly malicious looking 800 mile wide system which has over 60kts or wind and eight metre waves near its centre.

Technical problems have meant living near the front of the peloton has meant to survive a war of attrition. Autopilot problems have beset Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée 2) and Damien Seguin (Groupe Apicil) and both have slowed periodically and lost places because of this. Seguin has suffered since Sunday night and dropped from third to seventh. Burton has gone from second to fourth.

But Seguin and his team confirmed the solo racer has his problems solved: "I am confident because we tested a lot of things to identify where the failure came from. Now we have to know if it is a solid fix. Yesterday was a very complicated day for me. I was so fatigued, I was feeling low, and I was in a bit of a shambles. But I managed to rest a little, things are going much better, the conditions for sailing are a little better. Even if I am not moving very quickly because I am in backed off a bit, at least I am going in the right direction and I'm still in the game.

In these situations I have complete confidence in my shore team to find solutions, to help me implement them in the boat. It's never easy because you're in a competition and you always have the feeling that every mile lost is a real tragedy. In fact, we must put it into perspective, this is such a long course. I have to keep going and get back into racing mode as soon as I can. Mechanical problems are an integral part of ocean racing, it is a mechanical sport.

I remember the transatlantic races, especially the Route du Rhum with a lot of energy worries where I had really struggled. I am used to fixing things on boats. I know I can go a little bit in the red when it comes to problem solving. Yesterday was a bit extreme, I was really tired but luckily I have people on the team to help me keep my spirits up and to push me to see things in a positive way because it is not easy all the time! "

Meanwhile it is Yannick Bestaven (Maître CoQ IV) who has done well and is up to third place. "I feel like I have lived several different slices of life in a very short time," said Bestaven who is on his second Vendée Globe but never made it into Day 5 on his first one in 2008. "So much has happened in such a short space of time, you would just never imagine it."

"Sometimes I wonder what the hell I am doing out here, absolutely in the middle of nowhere on this very rough sea," reflected Benjamin Dutreux, the 30 year old Vendée Globe first timer from the Ile de Yeu by Les Sables d'Olonne. And Isabelle Joschke (MACSF), asked about how she was feeling after one month of racing, replied, "I feel like a very small thing, very fragile."

Behind 2016's record pace

Although the one month elapsed represents a little less than half of the record times predicted before the start, only 38% of the course has been completed. Right now the leaders are in the middle of the Indian Ocean while four years ago, Armel Le Cléac'h had already passed Cape Leeuwin (on the south-west tip of Australia). Since the start from the French coast, the weather has never really been good for a fast race, especially in the Atlantic. There were no long surfs in the trade winds and no reaching conditions in flat-ish seas to see the fast foilers reel out the 500+mile days that were expected of them.

"At this stage in the Vendée Globe, after a month of racing, it's quite incredible to have eleven boats within 600 miles of each other in the Indian Ocean with so many different design generations all represented" said weather consultants Sébastien Josse and Christian Dumard.

"Between the 2020 generation LinkedOut in second and fifth placed Dutreux's OMIA Water Family there are 12 years or three Vendée Globe generations but they are only 200 miles apart. That is really, nothing! It's less than half a day in some conditions".

Tonight will be the toughest for Charlie Dalin with winds over 50kts at times, while second placed Thomas Ruyant has slowed for periods to avoid the worst of the system.

Joined this afternoon during the Vendée Live, Yannick Bestaven described his life on board as like "animal" living conditions inside Maître CoQ IV. "I retracted the foils because the shocks are so violent. I just sail in all directions. I do everything to not be ahead of the routing, so as not to throw myself into the mouth of the wolf ".

This system is a very deep depression that forms right on the forehead. From Bestaven to Sorel (11th), they are nine to have slowed down to allow this depression to move south. Apivia and LinkedOut are already too far east to avoid it. Dalin has already been experiencing harsh conditions: this afternoon over 40 knots of crosswinds and he has slowed at times to protect himself and his boat.

Quotes from the skippers

Isabelle Joschke, MACSF:

Things are going well today, but I am starting to get tired of these conditions that are not easy. The sea is very disorderly, and the wind just keeps changing strength and also direction which means that there is just no consistency on board and the boat goes either too slowly or starts to accelerate really fast, so I have to take care to not just get stuck between two waves. There is not that much rest!

We have massively reduced our potential and I never thought we would be able to reduce our potential to this extent, it is just impossible to sail fast in these conditions. It is so strange, and so with regards the rest of the fleet, for sure I am keeping an eye and watching my speed, but above all I am sailing by instinct and how I feel the boat. Every boat, according to where they are positioned in the low, will be able to sail more or less, faster. I am trying to preserve the boat more and more and I realise that when I do a manoeuvre, I do it with great care. I am doing my utmost to preserve the boat and I realise that I have been at sea for a month now and it is beginning, and it is beginning to feel the wear and tear. There were a whole lot of things and if we are going to make it all the way around, we have to take great care of it.

Before the start I thought I could do well, but I did not realise just how hard it would be to get a good position and the start of the race was just so, so hard. I think I imagined it would not be as tough and in particularly psychologically. Now after a month at sea, and a month in the South, I realise that I am just a tiny little speck in the face of all the elements. I feel much more fragile than I did in the Atlantic and I had not anticipated that.

I ask myself how long it is going to last. Does it just bang like this for a whole month, because if so, I am going to go mad!

I try to look ahead two to three days and thank goodness there are charts because I focus on those and see that there is Cape Leeuwin ahead and that means I will be South of Australia. I am not sure if it will be more comfortable, but I then see there is New Zealand to pass and then we enter the Pacific, but I do really question myself. Is it going to be this hard for a whole month? I suppose it won't and that there will be moment s of calm. In a week we should get caught up in a big high and that will do us some good, give us a bit of a chance to repair things on the boat.

For now, I look ahead in the short to medium term and then I hope in the long term that things will change even though I know I will get used to it. Before things were very busy but then now things are much similar. The days paradoxically pass quickly, they blend into one, they are very similar. It feels as if time has been stretched out. I find it all very hard to understand and so for now I am just focusing on Australia!"

Boris Herrmann, Seaexplorer - Yacht Club de Monaco:

"I kept an eye on the weather this morning, if it would be light enough wind for my J2 repair. But no. It wasn't just quite right. Still 20 knots every few minutes. Drops to 13 but very short. Now we are back in accelerating breeze stable at 20-22. Boat speeds up to 32 sometimes. At night I had to furl the headsail twice. Take a reef. Squalls. So fragmented sleep but still a good night after all.

From now on the wind will increase and only ease off in 48 hours 800 miles east from here then. It will be the strongest low so far. I am fine with it. My next inner milestone is the gybe on Thursday - then I know I will have made it through the worst and have easier conditions for the next 1600 miles to Cape Lieuween where I expect to be on the 13th.

The other major milestone will be this Friday the 11th when for the first time since entering the Southern ocean the wind should drop below 15 knots and I can tick off my J2 and other repairs. Gaining the J2 back will be a boost in confidence as I am lacking the sail for an entire ocean. It has made life more difficult and cost me lots of miles. Something really to look forward to.

After that I will close my navigation program and restart it in anti meridian view - with NZL in the center of the chart and the Pacific to the right of it. Europe at the border of the chart then... I haven't looked on the tracker in quite a while as I was fearing it could demotivate me. Anyway I'll do my best and my focus is 100% on the race."

Find out more...

Rankings at 17H00 UTC::

PosSail NoSkipper / BoatDTF (nm)DTL (nm)
1 FRA 79Charlie Dalin / APIVIA14936.60
2 FRA 59Thomas Ruyant / LinkedOut15185.2248.7
3 FRA 17Yannick Bestaven / Maître Coq IV15301.9365.4
4 FRA 18Louis Burton / Bureau Vallée 215312.8376.3
5 FRA 09Benjamin Dutreux / OMIA ‑ Water Family15372.5435.9
6 MON 10Boris Herrmann / Seaexplorer ‑ Yacht Club De Monaco15416.4479.8
7 FRA 01Jean Le Cam / Yes we Cam !15417.6481.1
8 FRA 1000Damien Seguin / Groupe APICIL15437500.4
9 FRA 27Isabelle Joschke / MACSF15523.6587
10 ITA 34Giancarlo Pedote / Prysmian Group15618.5681.9
11 FRA 53Maxime Sorel / V And B Mayenne15721.4784.8
12 FRA 49Romain Attanasio / Pure ‑ Best Western Hotels and Resorts15973.31036.8
13 FRA 30Clarisse Cremer / Banque Populaire X16099.51162.9
14FR FRA 02Armel Tripon / L'Occitane en Provence167741837.4
15 SUI 7Alan Roura / La Fabrique17086.12149.5
16 FRA 92Stéphane Le Diraison / Time For Oceans17146.52209.9
17 FRA 14Arnaud Boissieres / La Mie Câline ‑ Artisans Artipôle17151.42214.9
18 FRA 71Manuel Cousin / Groupe Sétin17301.32364.7
19 ESP 33Didac Costa / One Planet One Ocean17445.82509.2
20 GBR 777Pip Hare / Medallia17477.62541.1
21 FRA 56Fabrice Amedeo / Newrest ‑ Art et Fenetres18253.13316.5
22 FRA 72Alexia Barrier / TSE ‑ 4myplanet18310.63374.1
23 FRA 50Miranda Merron / Campagne de France183113374.5
24 FRA 83Clément Giraud / Compagnie du lit ‑ Jiliti18413.93477.4
25 JPN 11Kojiro Shiraishi / DMG MORI Global One18523.23586.6
26 FIN 222Ari Huusela / Stark18557.53620.9
27FR FRA 69Sébastien Destremau / Merci18630.73694.1
28 FRA 8Jérémie Beyou / Charal18761.73825.1
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  

The Ninth Edition of the Vendée Globe Returns Some Exceptional Numbers

One month ago today, Sunday November 8th, 33 solo racers, 27 men and 6 women, took the start of the ninth Vendée Globe amidst an unprecedented health crisis. Today December 8th presents the ideal opportunity to take stock.

After 30 days of racing a press conference was held this afternoon in the Vendée Globe village, in the presence of Yves Auvinet who is President of the Vendée Globe and the Vendée Department, Lionel Pariset, who is the elected Vendée Globe delegate for the town of Les Sables d'Olonne and Jacques Caraës, the Race Director.

"For the first time in its history, the organization of the Vendée Globe had to face the challenge of a global health crisis. This unprecedented context forced all those involved in the event - organizers, sailors, teams, the public - to adapt so that the start would be given for the 33 competitors ready take on the round-the-world solo, non-stop, without assistance race. Despite these difficulties, the challenge has been met. After a month of racing the review is really excellent", declared Yves Auvinet.

Today, almost one in two French people (49%) intend to follow the race according to the latest ODOXA - RTL - WINAMAX Barometer: it is better than the Tour de France cycling or Roland Garros!

The free e-ticketing system enabled the Vendée Globe to reconcile the health and safety rules with the enthusiasm of the visitors. Between 17th October and 29th October, within the limits set by the health authorities, the village saw 15,000 visitors a day, remembering that only 5000 people were allowed at one time in the Village. In all, 200,000 people visited the Village.

As for the origin of the visitors, 2/3 of them came from the Pays de la Loire Region, with just over 40% of them from Vendée, with 1/3 from the rest of France and 1% from abroad.

Developed by the Vendée Department, Vendée Globe Junior offering new fun and educational tools, has been a resounding success. 6000 educational packs have been distributed with an updated website which has new features and this too has been increasingly popular: 2.8 million pages viewed, which is an increase of 373 % in comparison to 2016; 220,000 visitors, or on average 6000 visitors a day.

The race itself: Jacques Caraës, the Race Director, carries out a full appraisal

The composition of the fleet

In comparison to previous editions, and in particular 2016, the racers, in spite of COVID restrictions, have sailed more, and certainly more than four years ago. The selection process that was put in place (number of races and number of miles to cover to qualify) required the competitors to take part in races: The Monaco Globe Series, the Route du Rhum, the Bermudes 1000 Race, the Rolex Fastnet, the Transat Jacques Vabre and the Vendée Arctique les Sables d'Olonne. The boats have been well-prepared, even in the smaller teams. There has been a higher standard of preparation. There are also some highly innovative boats, which had not been tested in every set of conditions, such as in heavy seas sailing downwind. This means we will be able to carry out a thorough appraisal at the end of the race. For the new foilers, the Vendée Globe and the Southern Ocean have been a testing ground. In heavy weather, and in cross seas, the well-prepared traditional boats have managed to keep up a pace close to the foilers, as they are unable to use their foils all the time.

In the South, the chosen trajectory is also very important. The more experienced sailors, even in older boats, have managed to keep up the pace in the group of the 5-10 leading the race. In the end, it appears that the ability of the boats seems to be closer together than expected.

The weather

So far, the weather has not been easy. In the Southern Ocean, there have been some very active systems. The lows tend to deepen and move very rapidly. This has generated very untidy seas with huge waves. This has been a particularly difficult Vendée Globe. In the Northern Hemisphere they did not find the fast sailing they expected in the trade winds. Only the passage through the Doldrums was quicker than usual.

Retirements

Out of the 33 at the start, five boats have been forced out with damage. This is a proportion that is not that surprising unfortunately. We need to remember that the average proportion of boats retiring from the Vendée Globe is around 50%. For the moment, this has chiefly concerned the newer boats.

The gaps and race times

The gaps will perhaps be wider than in previous editions. The leaders are only in the middle of the Indian Ocean. When they enter the Pacific, the gaps will widen, which is hardly surprising. If we compare the oldest boats with the latest generation ones, the differences in speeds are huge, with some achieving almost double the speed of others.

It is always tricky to talk about a record in the Vendée Globe, as in a race like this one, you do not get to choose your weather opportunities and this means conditions have a major influence on performance. The boats can clearly perform better, but they may not improve on the reference time of 74 days (set by Armel Le Cléac'h, the winner of the last edition). It is still too early to make any predictions.

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