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Vendée Arctique Les Sables d'Olonne Day 2 - Hitting the buffers, pacemakers into light winds zone

by Vendée Arctique 13 Jun 2022 13:55 PDT 13 June 2022
Louis Burton on Bureau Vallée during the Vendée Arctique Les Sables d'Olonne © Jean-Louis Carli / Alea / Vendee Arctique

After a fast night and first day of racing on the 3,500 nautical miles Vendée Arctique Les Sables d'Olonne race round Iceland, the leaders are expecting a significant slow down tonight as they struggle across a high pressure ridge of light winds.

While speeds on board the most extreme, leading IMOCA 60s peaked at more than 30 knots - Louis Burton the hard driving Bureau Vallée skipper claiming 35kts on his speedo - the second night will be one of extreme contrasts. According to the race's weather expert Christian Dumard, "In the middle of the ridge there is just one or two knots on the weather files".

And while it might offer a welcome pause for the skippers in the fleet who have repairs to make before what promises to be a rapid climb north in a brisk SW'ly breeze, it will also see some compression of the fleet as the slower boats behind hold the wind longer and catch up.

The four widely tipped favourites, Charlie Dalin (Apivia), Jérémie Beyou (Charal), Burton and Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) have chosen to go furthest west, seeking to break into the new SW'ly breeze first. To their east Isabelle Joshcke (MACSF) is on a slightly more northerly slant and is the race leader. Dalin had eked out a margin of two miles over his three nearest rivals.

SZABI Racing Retires

While the lead group were scorching across the ocean last night it was a disappointed, tired but objective Szabolcs Weöres who nudged his IMOCA SZABI Racing back to the dock in Les Sables d'Olonne at just before 0200hrs Monday morning. The Hungarian skipper had keel hydraulic issues, turned back after about 30 miles of the course and today confirmed he has had to abandon. His hydraulics have proven to be irreparable within an acceptable time frame. "We already had hydraulic problems already before the start. I started and hoped that I could sort it out but I couldn't. I decided to come back and following the evaluation of the hydraulic experts it is more serious than can be done in one day. Most probably we need parts but generallythe system has not been serviced since the last Vendée Globe last time and it is quite old. But we tried and that is it." Said the 49 year old rookie solo racer, adding "Qualification (for the Vendée Globe) is getting more difficult, I knew that as soon as I was missing the Transat Jacques Vabre I could not buy the boat in time. We have tried to catch up but the gap is just opening. Everything is happening so fast in this class it does not leave too much time for learning or errors or problems like this. But in the end I am happy because I am learning a lot. Fixing the hydraulics and how it works will be a new skill. In a small team you have learn to do everything by yourself."

The daggerboard boats were generally routing more to the east, closer to Ireland but weather ace Nico Lunven (Banque Populaire) explains his option "I chose my southern positioning, but the ridge is changing quickly, the forecasts are neever perfect and the weather models don't quite agree. Some see the ridge wider than others. It will be a bit of a surprise how it plays out."

Hare's Happy Place

Britain's Pip Hare is in the mix, in the group of mid-fleet foilers where she wanted to be on her Medallia, just behind Italian Giancarlo Pedote (Prysmian Group). She reported this afternoon:

"At not quite 24 hours into the race and I am just about to clock up 400 miles which is quite amazing. I have enjoyed it so much. The minute I get on the water I feel so much better. And we got so much right about this start. We are not really sailing towards Iceland yet, so we are just blasting out into the Atlantic to get across this ridge of high pressure as soon as we can. I pushed quite hard during the evening and then backed off overnight because I really wanted to get some sleep to be sure I go into this with my head screwed on. I am pleased that despite not having my foot hard on the gas I haven't fallen back, I am still where I aspire to be in the fleet. There is so much more to come, so much more. On a race of this length we really need to think that we will have problems on the boat, things are going to break. The weather will change massively over the course of the race but right now I am in my happy place."

Ridge is DIY time

This light zone will allow competitors to tackle the running repairs required after the tough first night in 25-30kts winds. Louis Duc (Fives - Lantana Environnement) said this morning in a measured voice, that he had "a small problem with the rudder, the electronics and hydrogenerator that is tearing itself apart". Manuel Cousin (SÉTIN Group) is also experiencing problems with hydrogenerators, following a collision with an object in the water. Kojiro Shiraishi (DMG MORI GLOBAL ONE), had mainsail hook problems this morning. But he fix it after hoisting and lowering the mainsail five times. The Japanese skipper has been back up to speed but admitted in a video sent this afternoon to being very tired after his many maneuvers. Benjamin Ferré (Monnoyeur - Duo For A Job) tore his J2 and admitted this morning, like Éric Bellion (COMMEUNSEULHOMME Powered by ALTAVIA), to have been sick during the first hours of the race.

Track the fleet here...

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