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Selden 2020 - LEADERBOARD

Vendée Globe Day 44: A Christmas week cliffhanger

by Vendée Globe 21 Dec 2020 10:04 PST 21 December 2020
Maxime Sorel at Macquarie Island in the Vendée Globe © Maxime Sorel / VandB - Mayenne #VG2020

The Vendée Globe seems set to deliver a South Pacific Ocean cliffhanger worthy of Christmas Holiday week fireside viewing as the front running group try to negotiate a large, tricky high pressure system which is blocking their route east.

If the plot line were written only by leader Yannick Bestaven (Maître Coq IV) he would be allowed to escape from the evil clutches of the anticyclone and to ride off to a much more substantial distance on the two groups that are chasing him, Charlie Dalin (APIVIA) at 129 miles behind and Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) chasing at 165.1 miles.

Behind them Boris Herrmann in fourth is three to four knots quicker at 373 miles behind Bestaven, at the head of the second wave stretching 530 miles back from Herrmann to Maxime Sorel in 10th.

So complex is the modelling, tracking and timing of the sticky system which is moving south east across their path, that Ruyant today admitted he is half prepared to bide his time and watch Bestaven open the course.

But weather ace Christian Dumard, meteo adviser to the race, says there is a slender chance the skipper of Maître Coq might be able to extend his break, sailing close to the ice exclusion, while his chasers are forced north-eastwards to find a different, more roundabout route to hook into the next low pressure system.

"It is not clear if I manage to escape. It is hard to say. Rationally I am the first into the real high pressure areas and then should also be the first to get out, normally!" Explained Bestaven earlier today.

Ruyant responds, "We still have some pressure for a little while but further we go in a straight line the lighter it will be. So I hope Yannick doesn't escape." "The weather files are only seemingly reliable for two or three days with any real degree of confidence," explains the skipper of LinkedOut. "So the forecasts are not very reliable looking forwards towards Cape Horn. We don't know that much and so I am going to stay a bit conservative. I'm lucky to be a hunter, in this not very precise weather, not the hunted - not having to lead the way. I can benchmark myself against others, and I watch hour by hour day by day. "

The one thing which does seem sure about this whole scenario is that the anticyclone is crossing their path, cutting off their supplies of breeze. And all the time they are slowed to positively pedestrian paces scuppering the dream sequence of the latest high tech foilers scything east on long Pacific surfs.

Between two low-pressure systems

A new low pressure is very much on the minds of three competitors. The red stripe on their weather files that comes down from New Zealand is a fairly deep low-pressure system generating gusts in excess of 40 knots. Romain Attanasio and Clarisse Cremer now joined by Louis Burton, after he lost 400 miles with his pit stop off Macquairie Island (he climbed his mast three times to carry out repairs), are going to have to weather the storm between Wednesday and Thursday with strong NE'ly winds forecast forcing them to sail upwind in very nasty seas. "We have to avoid going too quickly as we would end up in the worst of the low," explained Romain Attanasio in a video he sent back. "It does not matter if it catches me coming from behind me, but I am going to slow down. It's not very logical and I find it hard to do that," explained Clarisse Cremer the day before yesterday. As for Louis Burton, his problem is the reverse. He needs to accelerate now ahead of the low so that it does not pass right across his route.

Destremau suffering from steering problems

Everyone is speeding along towards Cape Leeuwin in excellent weather conditions allowing them to lap up the miles. Everyone that is except for Sébastien Destremau, who continues to suffer from problems with his steering and autopilot, causing his boat to broach without warning and stepping up the stress levels for the skipper from Toulon. "You could say that the end is nigh and I don't have many other options than to sail Merci to the nearest port... But having said that, you never know when you're in for a pleasant surprise," explained Sébastien this morning. The skipper is not clear about whether he wants to continue or not or whether he could carry out repairs under shelter in Australia. His route northwards should protect him in any case from the worst of the Southern Ocean with a new low expected to offer stormy conditions around the Kerguelens on Thursday.


Sébastien Destremau / Merci:

"The boat is swerving and I have to find a way to improve its course holding, otherwise I won't be able to continue on without stopping in a port to pick up equipment and make repairs. The situation is clear. Between my keel hydraulic problem, that has plagued me since the Doldrums, my steering system that is no longer operational and the emergency steering system that I have set up, all of this will not hold up in the long term and my autopilot is working very badly. You could say it's starting to not look too good and I quite honestly don't have many options left but stop at the nearest port. But having said that, there are always surprises! We will therefore get closer to Australia by staying very North to avoid depressions while we carry on looking for a new solution to make it more reliable.

Once the boat is close to Perth, I'm going to have to undo what I did the other day in a hurry and reassemble everything differently. I need to make a support to install the rudder angle sensor. I will have to reposition it completely and this will eliminate what is causing the error in the angle measurements. If the sensor is correctly positioned and working properly, it must send the right measurements to the computer which in turn sends the correct commands to the autopilot to operate. This is how the command chain must work.

So, the basis is the quality of the rudder angle measurement... and at the moment we must admit that it is not very good. This does mean that in the meantime we are falling behind the rest of the fleet."

Rankings at 17H00 UTC:

PosSail NoSkipper / Boat NameDTF (nm)DTL (nm)
1 FRA 17Yannick Bestaven / Maître Coq IV10537.70
2 FRA 79Charlie Dalin / APIVIA10654.7117
3 FRA 59Thomas Ruyant / LinkedOut10700.2162.5
4 MON 10Boris Herrmann / Seaexplorer ‑ Yacht Club De Monaco10888350.3
5 FRA 01Jean Le Cam / Yes we Cam !10922.1384.4
6 FRA 09Benjamin Dutreux / OMIA ‑ Water Family10956.4418.7
7 FRA 1000Damien Seguin / Groupe APICIL11032.9495.2
8 FRA 27Isabelle Joschke / MACSF11092.3554.6
9 ITA 34Giancarlo Pedote / Prysmian Group11106.2568.5
10 FRA 53Maxime Sorel / V And B Mayenne11238.7700.9
11 FRA 18Louis Burton / Bureau Vallée 211421.9884.2
12 FRA 30Clarisse Cremer / Banque Populaire X11538.21000.4
13 FRA 49Romain Attanasio / Pure ‑ Best Western Hotels and Resorts11666.31128.6
14 FRA 02Armel Tripon / L'Occitane en Provence12120.11582.4
15 SUI 7Alan Roura / La Fabrique13261.12723.4
16 FRA 14Arnaud Boissieres / La Mie Câline ‑ Artisans Artipôle13477.32939.5
17 GBR 777Pip Hare / Medallia13541.43003.7
18 FRA 92Stéphane Le Diraison / Time For Oceans13633.63095.9
19 ESP 33Didac Costa / One Planet One Ocean13660.83123.1
20 FRA 71Manuel Cousin / Groupe Sétin13811.83274.1
21 FRA 8Jérémie Beyou / Charal14024.83487.1
22 JPN 11Kojiro Shiraishi / DMG MORI Global One14305.23767.5
23 FRA 50Miranda Merron / Campagne de France14645.74107.9
24 FRA 83Clément Giraud / Compagnie du lit ‑ Jiliti14681.84144.1
25 FRA 72Alexia Barrier / TSE ‑ 4myplanet14701.34163.6
26 FIN 222Ari Huusela / Stark15146.44608.7
27 FRA 69Sébastien Destremau / Merci155945056.3
RET FRA 56Fabrice Amedeo / Newrest ‑ Art et Fenetres  
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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