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New York Vendée-Les Sables d'Olonne - Day 7

by Vendee Globe 5 Jun 08:43 PDT 5 June 2024
Sam Goodchild, Vulnerable - New York Vendée-Les Sables d'Olonne day 7 © Pierre Bouras / TR Racing

Whilst the leader of the New York Vendée Les Sables d'Olonne Charlie Dalin (MACIF Santé Prévoyance) continues to work close the to the most direct route towards the race finish line off the Vendée coast, trundling east close to the rhumb line, the sailor from Le Havre looks quite secure.

But whilst Dalin has had the best of his weather recently and it looks set to be slow upwind for him for the coming days, after more than 24 hours in light airs as he works around and through the top of the dominant anticyclone, Germany's Boris Herrmann (Malizia Seaexplorer) should now start to finally reap the rewards for his northerly route. Within the next few hours he should get into the faster downwind conditions which should bring him back south east towards France at quicker speeds than his rivals.

Different routings based on the different weather models and timings still yield different outcomes. The biggest unknown for Herrmann is still how the high pressure will evolve, whether there will be a complete route all the way down the west coast of Ireland or whether light winds may slow Malizia Seaexplorer again. His routing seems to take him close to the Fastnet, almost certainly close enough to see it. But for sure whilst Dalin will be tacking upwind in modest breezes - light at times - Herrmann hopes he will be hitting speeds in the twenties soon.

Questions, questions

The question is not just whether he can pip Dalin - some computer predictions have a couple of hours in It - but also indeed whether he might still finish in the second group which is today now led by the course champion Jéremie Beyou (Charal), winner of the 2016 New York Vendée.

The three times winner of La Solitaire du Figaro Beyou is even with Thomas Ruyant (VULNERABLE) - back-to-back winner of the Route du Rhum and the Transat Jacques Vabre. Sébastien Simon, also a past La Solitaire champion, is having a solid race in fourth.

"Right now the podium is open, it is up for grabs." Said the Les Sables d'Olonne based Simon, "The race is super interesting because there are some of us all in the four corners of the Atlantic and that's got to be great. Boris? We wonder how he will manage to get through. Seeing him blocked, we do wonder if we have an opportunity to take his place."

Now we have a long reaching leg to the south-eastern tip of the Azores. (to avoid the Cetacean zone) before heading for home upwind house. And it is going well. We have this tight group of top skippers all pushing hard and the pace is difficult to follow. Now we need to negotiate the low and its centre to get to the upwind to the finish and then slightly easier across Biscay.

Happy hare hopeful

As James Harayda (Gentoo Sailing Team) clings to tenth under the constant attacks from the race 'Benjamin' - as the French call the youngest skipper in the fleet - Britain has three skippers in the top ten. Sam Goodchild (VULNERABLE) is fifth and Pip Hare (Medallia) seventh. Indeed with Herrmann in sixth and Switzerland's Justine Mettraux (TeamWork - Team SNEF) holding eighth international sailors hold half of the top ten positions.

Hare explains the weather ahead, noting that the best weather is really behind them. As she put her crash hat on this afternoon as Medallia gathered speed and the seas built, she noted, "Right now I feel like I am taking a deep breath and ducking under the Azores and coming out into the hard graft, coming out searching for the centre of the depression and then after that it is close reaching to the finish. I think that will be quite brutal, not fast and this is when we will see. Our big payback is in 48 hours or so."

She will fight tooth and nail to hold on to her position in with some of the class's most storied sailors, hoping a good performance might stimulate further funding as she seeks to close a funding gap ahead of the Vendée Globe and has been working recently with past Vendée Globe hero Pete Goss to find more money. "I really hope this is a good shop window for, an advertisement for our project. All the way along I have been trying to find the funding to allow us to realise the potential I know we have. When you think about the fact that I finished the Vendée Globe in 2021 effectively it was a one woman team, I got the finding at the and it was an old boat, it was kind of just me. And from that we have built a team which was not easy as you don't have the support or the knowledge base. We have taken a boat three generations old and made it relevant, And now I have just spent six days in the top 10 of the most competitive IMOCA fleet ever..."

Battle of the Benjamins

Harayda is finding the constant pressure stimulating as he seeks to close the knowledge gaps, most especially how to make his Finot Conq IMOCA go upwind better. Still with a couple of miles on Violette Orange he commented this morning, "It is a little bit frustrating to see Violette closing to me at about half a knot quicker, on average. She is sailing a bit higher. Upwind is not where this boat excels. But the boat is hanging together perfectly I don't have a single issue save for one of my wind wands. The routing for the next couple of days is interesting as there was a north, south and middle option. There is now just a middle option or a middle north option but I really want to wait and see if anyone else is tempted by the north. It looks interesting and all the models say it is an option but I'd like to see another boat do it too."

But, still, spare a thought for some of the top foilers who were left behind and having something of a nightmare, still in light winds. Maxime Sorel (V &B - Monbana - Mayenne) is 25th, Vendée Globe 2020 winner Yannick Bestaven (Maître CoQ V) is 27th and 28th is Roman Attanasio (Fortinet-Best Western) nearly 661 miles behind Dalin. All today were still making less than 10kts towards Les Sables d'Olonne and perhaps wondering how they have upset the weather gods...

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