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Vendée Globe Day 55: Cape epic for leaders?

by Vendée Globe 1 Jan 2021 10:07 PST 1 January 2021
Clarisse Cremer on Banque Populaire X in the Vendée Globe © Clarisse Cremer / Banque Populaire X

Having been slowed since around 1800hrs UTC yesterday evening to evaluate and then today to make some kind of repair to his port side foil system of APIVIA, Charlie Dalin has dropped to third and lost over 120 miles to his two nearest rivals Thomas Ruyant and Yannick Bestaven.

But Dalin, Vendée Globe leader for 23 days up until last night, appears to be back in race mode this afternoon, making over 14kts south eastwards towards the south Pacific Ocean.

Waves as high as a three-storey building and winds gusting to 55kts are expected over a ferocious ten-hour period for Yannick Bestaven and Charlie Dalin as they both seek to double the Horn, the last of the course's three Great Capes, for the first time.

"A drop for me, a drop for the boat, a drop for Neptune, hoping he might be lenient with us" said second placed Charlie Dalin hopefully very early today, celebrating his arrival into 2021 by sprinkling the cockpit of his yellow hulled IMOCA Apivia with a splash of champagne, after having allowed himself a tiny sip of fizz to celebrate the New Year.

And on the 54th day of racing at 430 miles from Cape Horn, Bestaven and Dalin have made good a very successful but hard-won escape from their nearest challengers. A big jump in the last 48 hours means the duo are now closer to the Cape than the 470 miles - or approximately one day - that now separates Dalin from third placed Thomas Ruyant.

At least this magnitude of a lead should allow them to throttle right back, settle into survival mode, and miss the worst of the malicious low pressure system which should be at its worst during Saturday afternoon.

"It feels like it has been a very long time this South. I'm glad it'll all be done soon. Cape Horn will be an important passage in my head. If I can get round in 3rd position, that would be great" said LinkedOut skipper Thomas Ruyant from his secure position in the bottom of his boat where he grabbed a small morsel of foie gras. Leading the chasing posse Ruyant is sailing behind the low, in a freezing SW'ly wind flow that has seen the whole group accelerate this Friday afternoon. And the pace is as unrelenting as ever once more and the distances between boats in this group are tiny. In eighth Isabelle Joschke on MACSF is in sight of Jean Le Cam - less than two miles between the two - while - in terms of distance to the Horn - there is less than a mile between Benjamin Dutreux on OMIA Water Family in fifth and Boris Herrmann on SeaExplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco in sixth.

New Year celebrations tend to be muted. On Medallia Briton Pip Hare catches a few moments for a blast of music and party popper to celebrate New Year arriving for her with the welcome position report showing she has passed Alan Roura to lie in 15th place, her best yet. And her French counterpart Alexia Barrier had time for a jig of happiness having made several key repairs not least her hydrogenerators.

Take Five

To finish any Vendée Globe is a victory in itself. But with this peloton group which is of unprecedented size - 140 miles between fourth and ninth today - and a truly exceptional level of competitiveness within that hard pressing pack, right now every mile, every place won and lost is big boost to morale. Conversely, in the freezing cold, unsettled winds behind the low, it is hard to accept losses and to constantly look only to the long game.

And at this stage all in the top ten or eleven can realistically still harbour hopes of winning, or being on the podium. But what would be the most common measure of success for this group? Podiums speak for themselves and would be the perfect result but probably most of this group left Les Sables d'Olonne with a place in the top five as their realistic target. And right at this point - because it is so tight - there is as much chance of a place in the top five as there is finishing tenth. In this field on this race fifth would be an exceptional result.

But of course just as every Vendée Globe is different so every fifth place is a unique yardstick and the way it looks now the time deltas between third and tenth can be very small.

In 1996 Briton Pete Goss was fifth in 126 days from six finishers in a time of 126 days, 21 days after the winner Christophe Auguin. In 2000 Dominique Wavre was fifth from 15 finishers, 12 days after the winner, the Swiss skipper having an elapsed time of 105 days. Sébastien Josse was fifth in 2004 but missed fourth by nine hours. Thirteen boats finished and his elapsed time was 93 days. Britain's Sam Davies was fifth from 11 in 2008 but missed fourth by 20 minutes. At 95 days she was 11 days behind Michel Desjoyeaux. In 2012 it was Jean Le Cam who was fifth from 11 finishers taking 88 days for his lap of the planet, 10 days slower than Francois Gabart. But Mike Golding missed fifth by six hours. And in 2016 when there were 19 finishers it was Yann Eliès who was fifth in 80 days, six days after winner Armel Le Cléac'h. And this time, recall that Le Cam missed fifth by 30 minutes.


Alexia Barrier (TSE-4myplanet):

"After the repair to my backstay, I have been looking at ways of keeping an eye on the mast without going up the rig because we have some big seas. So, I have built a "mast traveller" which means I can put a camera on it and move up the mast. There is no apparent damage, so I have been sent my big gennaker up.

This morning I stratified a piece that holds the hydrogenerator to the hull, a gudgeon, which had broken in two. I waited for it to dry, sanded, drilled and it's back in place. Now I'm waiting for the right time to go to the back of the boat to install the hydrogenerator again, but for the now the waves are too big.

I love 2021 so far, I've got 15 knots of wind and it feels good! I know that a big gale is forecast further ahead in a week's time so I'm taking advantage of this relative calm. It's quite nice. I need to regain confidence in my mast, in the repairs I have done, so the fact that I can test the gennaker being up in this weather is great, it gives me a chance to see how my DIY work holds up.

No, I'm happy to be here, everything is going relatively well and there are far more serious things in life than breaking a pulley."

Alan Roura (La Fabrique):

"Conditions are favourable with 10-12 knots of downwind breeze as I round the high-pressure system before I get the stronger winds that should get me as far as Cape Horn. It should go quite I should reach it in about 7 or 8 days, but the weather varies very quickly so we'll see.

I have been plodding along for the past four days with under 15 knots of wind and with a few problems on the boat, so it has been hard. I'm still having problems with the keel; it's positioned almost on the axis. It's hard on my morale because the race has to be put aside for me. The objective now is to sail as safely as I can to the finish and hope that the system holds up until the end. You just have to know how to accept the hardships. I've been working on it for more than 24 hours now and more trying to find out where the problem is coming from.

It is hard for the shore crew to figure it out without seeing it. We don't really know if one or two cylinders or pistons are damaged or if it's the pump that's broken. It is just part of the breakdowns you have on a Vendée Globe and for now the competition has to be set aside.

Miranda Merron, Campaign France:

Today, I have absolute freedom, but also an individual responsibility that no one can take away from me. I am responsible for myself, for my boat and for everything that this entails, including my safety. Apart from the maritime law that we respect, we are in a free world at sea and we are lucky to be here. It's not always fun, but the conditions are superb, so I am taking advantage of it. It's grey, there is fog, there are a lot of birds because I'm only 50 miles from the Macquarie Islands, it's quite cold outside (it's normal because I'm at almost 55 degrees South...).

Stéphane Le Diraison, Time for Oceans:

"Happy New Year! I will probably be one of the last on Earth to pass in 2021, given my geographical position. But I've anticipated because I'm on UTC time, so I've already called some friends in mainland France. And then there, I have almost ideal weather conditions with moderate north-westerly wind.

I live the Pacific very differently from my two experiences in the Indian. There is more light, a more beautiful sea, more regular wind: what more could you want! And this passage in Macquarie allowed me to see this island: fate allowed me to discover this place at the ends of the earth because you don't see much on the Vendée Globe really."

Ranking at 17H00 UTC:

PosSail NoSkipper / Boat NameDTF (nm)DTL (nm)
1 FRA 17Yannick Bestaven / Maître Coq IV7435.30
2 FRA 79Charlie Dalin / APIVIA7575139.7
3 FRA 59Thomas Ruyant / LinkedOut7908.2472.8
4 FRA 1000Damien Seguin / Groupe APICIL7962.6527.3
5 FRA 09Benjamin Dutreux / OMIA ‑ Water Family8062.5627.1
6 MON 10Boris Herrmann / Seaexplorer ‑ Yacht Club De Monaco8063.4628.1
7 FRA 27Isabelle Joschke / MACSF8084.3649
8 FRA 01Jean Le Cam / Yes we Cam !8089.4654.1
9 FRA 53Maxime Sorel / V And B Mayenne8114.2678.9
10 ITA 34Giancarlo Pedote / Prysmian Group8138.7703.3
11 FRA 18Louis Burton / Bureau Vallée 28150.7715.4
12 FRA 30Clarisse Cremer / Banque Populaire X8489.91054.5
13 FRA 02Armel Tripon / L'Occitane en Provence8579.81144.4
14 FRA 49Romain Attanasio / Pure ‑ Best Western Hotels and Resorts8707.41272.1
15 GBR 777Pip Hare / Medallia9817.42382.1
16 SUI 7Alan Roura / La Fabrique9848.22412.9
17 FRA 14Arnaud Boissieres / La Mie Câline ‑ Artisans Artipôle9884.82449.5
18 FRA 8Jérémie Beyou / Charal100212585.7
19 FRA 92Stéphane Le Diraison / Time For Oceans10165.92730.6
20 ESP 33Didac Costa / One Planet One Ocean10231.62796.3
21 JPN 11Kojiro Shiraishi / DMG MORI Global One10560.83125.5
22 FRA 71Manuel Cousin / Groupe Sétin10933.83498.4
23 FRA 50Miranda Merron / Campagne de France11427.33991.9
24 FRA 83Clément Giraud / Compagnie du lit ‑ Jiliti11520.84085.5
25 FRA 72Alexia Barrier / TSE ‑ 4myplanet12288.74853.4
26 FIN 222Ari Huusela / Stark12484.95049.6
27 FRA 69Sébastien Destremau / Merci13734.36299
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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