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RS Sailing 2021 - LEADERBOARD

Vendée Globe Day 37: Top trio stretch towards the Pacific

by Vendée Globe 14 Dec 2020 13:06 PST 14 December 2020

Update: Charlie Dalin has this evening reported damage to his port foil system. No water ingress noted, but level of foil damage is uncertain.

The three leaders of the Vendée Globe, Charlie Dalin, Thomas Ruyant and Yannick Bestaven now have the potential to open up a meaningful distance on the group which has been chasing them hard as the top trio benefit from fast sailing conditions on the back of a low pressure system.

Over the last 24 hours the distance between the hard driving third placed Bestaven and Damien Seguin in fourth has increased by more than 60 nautical miles whilst leader Charlie Dalin can certainly contemplate reaching the midpoint of the race in the next few days with a margin of more than 300 miles in hand over Seguin and Jean Le Cam.

The trio should make hay for the next three day benefiting from SW'ly winds of 20-25kts. The huge Mascaregne high pressure system which is dominating the South Indian Ocean is set to slow the speeds of Seguin, Le Cam, Benjamin Dutreux, Louis Burton and Germany's Boris Herrmann and more especially the sailors just behind them. And so Dalin, Ruyant and Bestaven might make a definitive break as they enter the Pacific Ocean where, traditionally, a longer, more even swell should welcome them.

Once again underlining how close this race has been, eight solo skippers have crossed the longitude of Cape Leeuwin within 24 hours of leader Dalin. Herrmann crossed at 0809hrs UTC this morning on SeaExplorer Yacht Club de Monaco while Franco-German Isabelle Joschke on MACSF passed at 1109hrs UTC, 23 hrs and 49 minutes after the yellow hulled Apivia of leader Charlie Dalin. Joschke has been one of the fastest in the Indian Ocean from Cape to Cape. Italian skipper Giancarlo Pedote (Prysmian Group) crossed in tenth during the afternoon.

As they approach the midpoint of the race the leaders are now more than six days behind the race record but the group at the back of the fleet are more than one day ahead of the 2016 race pace of the equivalent group, confirming the race is more compact from front to back than on the last edition.

Dalin looked relaxed but very focused when he spoke on the Vendée Globe Live today, admitting that while he did not feel too much pressure he was monitoring his closest rivals much more closely, "For sure it is not the same now as a few days ago when they were 200 miles back. Now it makes more sense to compare their speeds and angles than before. Apivia is good everything is holding up well. My next complete check will be in the next period of lighter airs, maybe sailing past New Zealand but all is good."

He added, "I am enjoying the race. You have some low moments, but they don't last long for me. I know an awful lot of people would trade everything to be in my spot here with a latest generation boat."

Guest on the Vendée Globe Live show today was Merf Owen, designer of four IMOCAs in the race fleet, Arnaud Boissière's La Mie Caline-Artisans Artpole, Didac Costa's OnePlanet-One Ocean, Miranda Merron's Campagne de France and Ari Huusela's Stark.

He highlighted the tenacity and drive of Barcelona's Didac Costa who is sailing the former Kingfisher which was designed and built for Ellen MacArthur:

"Didac is doing a fantastic job. He and Pep his brother prepped the boat themselves largely. We did a whole lot of lightening work on the 'old girl' this year. It was in doubt whether he would make it to the start but here he is on his second time around. Last time he showed some excellent speeds in the Pacific and he is doing the same things again. He is quite a guy."

Owen explained, "We took the daggerboards out. The boards are old and Didac did not have the money to build new boards and they did not look to be in great condition. So we decided to give it go and we chopped them out. One of the strengths of our (Owen Clarke) boats is in the South Atlantic we have twice had boats which have lead because they were good upwind boats, but maybe (with no boards) he will suffer in the Atlantic a little but by taking the boards and the cases out we pulled nearly quarter of a tonne out of the boat."

Maxime Sorel noticed two large tears on two of the headsails on board V and B - Mayenne which he has climbed the mast to fix.

Thomas Ruyant: "I can't wait to be in the Pacific"

"It's going fast, and it's not so easy, as there are still a lot of squalls. We're with the depression and the wind oscillates between 18 and 30 knots of wind, you have tuning and adjusting. I stay close to the winches and the pedestal. There's a high-pressure system that's reforming in our NW: we're going to go South and we're going to look for the wind shift to the NW. I am fed up with being on the wrong tack! I'm happy to be doing good averages, the sea is rough, I'm managing to get out of it even if I feel that the boat is starts up slower and continues slower. I use the ballast tanks and load the boat in terms of sail to keep up the pace. I manage to not get slowed down too much. I am on top of it, I don't let go, I try to stay in the pack, it is a good group, and we are going to build an advantage on those chasing.

"There is still a lot of starboard left before we can gybe and be on the other side. I'm taking the day and night shift and adjusting my meals so that means I am going to have lunch soon by the way! The sky is beautiful, there is blue and dark clouds. But the wind varies a lot in strength and direction. At night, it's cold! I put on several layers of fleeces and jumpers and sleep with a duvet. My cockpit is closed so in there and in the boat it's nice and warm. We're going to drop below 50 soon, and then it's going to get really cold.

Geographically, we are still in the Indian Ocean and I can't wait to get past the longitude of New Zealand, to be in the Pacific which I do not know. I've had my share of problems, and now everything's fine! I hope that in the Pacific we'll have a better swell and some nice surfs. I am now just making the most these days in the deep South."

Rankings at 17:00 UTC:

1. Charlie Dalin - [ APIVIA ]—> 13,710.6 nm from the finish
2. Yannick Bestaven [Maître CoQ IV]—> 65.01 nm from the leader
3. Thomas Ruyant [LinkedOut]—> 65.01 nm from the leader
4. Damien Seguin [ Groupe Apicil ]—> 320.88 nm from the leader
5. Jean Le Cam [ Yes We Cam! ] —> 324.68 nm from the leader

Find out more...

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