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New York Vendée-Les Sables d'Olonne - Day 9

by Vendee Globe 7 Jun 12:01 PDT 7 June 2024
Charlie DALIN / Macif Sante Prevoyance © Ronan Gladu / Disobey

After leading the New York Vendée Les Sables d'Olonne solo race across the Atlantic since Monday morning, top French skipper Charlie Dalin (MACIF Santé Prévoyance) is expected to cross the finish line during Saturday night to take a resounding victory on a showcase race which is the last big test before this winter's upcoming 10th edition of the Vendée Globe.

When he succeeds it will be a proper, popular triumph for Dalin and he should be afforded a warm summer Sunday morning welcome into Les Sables d'Olonne. To date his arrivals into the famous channel of Les Sables d'Olonne date have been either muted or tinged with uncertainty. Bizarrely when he won the storm-afflicted Vendée Arctic in 2022 it was when that course was shortened and he celebrated at a remote anchorage in Iceland before returning to the Vendée in 'delivery' mode.

And, of course, January 2021 he was first to finish the Vendée Globe but he arrived in back in the the channel after 80 days 6hours of racing, knowing at that point the win was likely to go to either of Yannick Bestaven or Germany's Boris Herrmann who both had been granted time recompense for their help in the search for the stricken Jean Le Cam in the Southern Ocean.

Dismasted

While Dalin now has a relatively straightforward course into the finish line, the race fleet were sharing the pain of British skipper Sam Goodchild whose VULNERABLE was dismasted yesterday afternoon whilst he was in fourth SE of the Azores. He has set up a rudimentary jury rig and was heading for the island archipelago today where he will meet his technical team who are evaluating the best way to repatriate the boat back to France.

"I'm sad for Sam (Goodchild). We were in difficult conditions for the boats when it dismasted. Today, the team is mobilizing to bring him and his boat back, but also to find a new mast. There is a lot of work ahead but these things happen and we are well supported." commented Thomas Ruyant in whose race team colours Goodchild sails and who was closest to him when it happened.

"We are even now sailing in difficult conditions when we have to set the cursor in the right place between speed and preserving the machine. It's not easy because our IMOCAs are really racehorses which are sometimes hard to hold back." Ruyant explained this morning, "And we are not dealing with proper Atlantic swell but with short seas which is breaking and not easy to negotiate."

Dubbed the 'King of the Transatlantics after six wins in four different classes in the Route du Rhum, threee Transat Jacques Vabres and the MiniTransat, Ruyant is fighting his corner for third against 2016's winner of the first New York Vendée Les Sables d'Olonne Jéremie Beyou (Charal) whose Sam Manuard designed scow is very quick upwind.

Going downhill fast

Meantime Herrmann is now flying fast south east towards the finish and looks set to be rewarded after his calculated ascent to the northern latitudes with a sold second place, perhaps around 12 hours behind Dalin.

He is forecast to be about 24 hours ahead of third. As he hoped, his average speed is more than 20 knots, often sitting at 25 and above, as he spears towards France. His nearest rivals are upwind at around 16-17kt.He is fourth this evening and all being equal should be second by the morning.

Not out of the woods yet....

For the 'southerners' the closely matched group of top foilers, the notorious Cape Finisterre where the winds accelerate around the rugged NW corner of Spain, needs to be avoided if possible, especially as the option to go inside the Traffic Separation zone leaves little room to escape to offshore.

In seventh, just ahead of Sam Davies and Pip Hare, Switzerland's Justine Mettraux (TeamWork - SNEF Group) explained today that their routing is taking them close to Finisterre and they need to decide to go inside the TSS or not. "The idea is clearly to keep things as simple as possible, but right now it's good to have someone next to you. We all press forwards as quickly as possible towards the finish, especially as the wind is quite unstable and it is not easy to make the boats go as fast as we would otherwise like."

Mettraux is eight miles up on her good friend Davies -who ten years ago was her skipper on the crewed Team SCA Volvo round the world race, and at home is her number one wing foiling buddy. And Brit Pip Hare (Medallia) is doing her best to hang on in ninth with Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée) hunting from behind. They should finish daytime Tuesday.

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