This is D Day for this Vendée Globe, when it will slowly become evident how the two different strategies are going to play out. It looks like the group which have gone north to come in with the stronger breeze, Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) in fourth and fifth placed Yannick Bestaven (Maître Coq IV) have taken most of their losses relative to the three leaders – Charlie Dalin (APIVIA), Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée 2) and Boris Herrmann (Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco) and when they gybe today will start to head towards Les Sables d’Olonne hoping to bring in the stronger wind and come in faster to close down the top trio.
The more direct route – the one taken closer to Cape Finisterre – looks lighter in terms of breeze and perhaps with some potholes but Dalin meantime has put miles on Burton whose speeds do look to be all the time more variable, at times last night down to eight to ten knots, but again fast enough this morning. And in terms of straight line distance to the finish line Herrmann has gained to be seven miles further from the line than Burton.
From now until the finish the intensity will be maximised, naps will be measured in minutes but enough to ensure that the skippers are lucid enough to make what can be the key decision of their race.
Ruyant has been quickest overnight making 411 miles in 24hrs to Dalin’s 316 miles but at 310 miles behind it is hard to see how the fourth placed skipper can make back enough over his final 830 miles to the finish unless the Bay of Biscay turns lighter than forecast. That said with the finish due Wednesday night into Thursday it can be lighter during the night.
In terms of the time/distance deltas and the compensations right now Dalin could just win outright but a realistic appraisal will only really be possible when all are heading towards Les Sables d’Olonne.
Meantime the match race for sixth and seventh still sees Damien Seguin holding the advantage over Italian skipper Giancarlo Pedote. Seguin is about 15 miles ahead on his straight daggerboard Groupe Apicil but Pedote has been quicker this morning and is catching back at Prysmian Group.
“I’m being extra careful I hit something with m rudders, you have to be vigilant all the way to Les Sables d’Olonne” confided Benjamin Dutreux (OMIA-Water Family) at 1228 miles to Les Sables d’Olonne when he spoke this morning at the 5am shift. The young Vendéen who was passing the Azores archipelago says he should be back home on Friday midday but admitted that he was no longer really in race mode. “I’m trying to stay focused for the finish, so that the boat is going well. I now have real affinities with my boat, I do everything with peace of mind. But suddenly, I have to be careful, because when you get comfortable it can bite you back”
Staying focused is also the maxim for 12th placed Clarisse Crémer who found her boat fill up with water when she was filling the ballast system. “I was filling the ballast by gravity (not with a pump), I knew I had to be patient so I was off for a nap. It was horrible to wake up to the sound of water lapping not outside, but in my boat! »
She has been taking advantage of the high pressure ridge to get more rest because since the Doldrums as she has been busy dealing with her anemometer and completely cleaning the inside of Banque Populaire X. The Doldrums are hard for Jérémie Beyou as they were to Romain Attanasio. For the skipper of Charal it is tough, “It’s a nightmare. I am at 4 knots while the others are heading at 20 knots towards victory and Les Sables d’Olonne. It’s hard. ”