Bestaven Invests, Dalin Stays Direct, Herrmann Third
With the anticyclone blocking the route eastwards towards Cape Horn which is still over 2000 miles away, the leading group have made their choices – or had them made for them – and this Christmas morning there is more than 300 miles of lateral separation between Yannick Bestaven (Maitre Coq) who is upwind to the north of second placed Charlie Dalin (APIVIA) who is still on the most direct route 1.2 miles behind in terms of distance to the finish, while Boirs Herrmann (SeaExplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco) is now up to third some 300 miles behind.
The skipper from Hamburg, Germany on his fourth round the world circumnavigation has been racing in close contact with Jean Le Cam (Yes We Cam!) and the pair are less than one mile apart today, leading the peloton which is going at the speed of the anticyclone in the meantime.
Bestaven has gone for the outer city bypass option, sailing many more miles than his rival Dalin who has taken the more direct, shorter route but he can only go as fast as the system lets him, all the time hoping that he can jump clear of the meteorological phenomena and into the stronger pressure away from the glutinous, sticky winds closer the centre. All the time for Dalin and the others it is hard to model, to monitor and predict the evolution of the system while Bestaven’s break for the north now sees the skipper from La Rochelle, whose first time in the Southern Pacific this is, racing upwind in 15-17knots of breeze trying to hook into the new low pressure system and downwind conditions over the weekend which he hopes will accelerate him eastwards towards Chile and to Cape Horn with a growing lead.
Yannick Bestaven said this morning, “I am upwind heading towards the depression I am searching for the shift which should be more downwind, I have 15-17kts, I am making good speed, I want to get to the north of the depression I hope it goes well for me in 24 hours or something like that. After that it is a route towards Cape Horn but it is about managing the front at the same time
I am good, in a good way with the boat at 100 per cent of its potential. Upwind I have lots of sleep, long naps. And Father Christmas has been and given me lots of presents.”
Bestaven should continue to climb and the separation grow before tacking in about 24 hours or so at 47 degrees 30 north, 140 degrees west to find the depression. All the time it seems Dalin will remain bogged down making 10-12 knots along the Antarctic Exclusion Zone.
The denouement, the first sniff of an outcome, will start to be evident from the middle of the weekend and into Monday. Predictions show Bestaven opening his lead in the downwind conditions, perhaps making twice the speed of his rivals at times, while the chasing pack will gradually spread again as the depression finally gives them S and SW’ly winds late Sunday or Monday and the chance to get properly moving again come towards the end of the weekend.
Armel Tripon (L’Occitane en Provence) is only 250 miles from Clarisse Crémer (Bank Populaire X) while Jérémie Beyou (Charal) should overtake Stéphane Le Diraison (Time for Oceans) at the end of the day before tackling a secondary depression between Cape Leeuwin and Tasmania. Finally, the last five sailing along the AMSA plateau or will soon reach it, benefit from rather favourable weather conditions on the southern edge of the Mascarene high pressure area.
Alan Roura, 15th, said this morning, “The conditions are not so bad today, we are close to a depression so the wind is quite gusty, coming up step by step and right now I have between 20 and 25kts wind and we are downwind and the sea is quite short and it is going to stay like that. It is raining outside and so I try to stay inside. The last days have been really tough on the boat. Last night with my family we are always opening presents o the 24th and so I have already opened everything, I had a good meal a bottle of wine and it was quite a cool evening even if I was all alone on the boat but this is all part of the Vendée Globe so I am happy to make Christmas in the middle of the ocean, I am in the Pacific now and so I hope the conditions are going to be better than in the Indian Ocean because the Indian was quite terrible for us. So right now it is not so bad and hopefully now we can make at least half of the Pacific in quite cool conditions. You can’t see so far on the routing but to get half in good conditions would be really great. The boat is starting to be a bit tired too, so we have done more than half of the Vendée Globe and the skipper and the boat are starting to be a bit tired. I need to rest a little bit more.
I was inside at the front of the boat, a wave came and stopped the boat and I went from one side to the other and one of the structural stopped me but not on the hand or the leg but with my back and I was scared because my back is quite fragile and so it is not so bad today, it is getting better and better. I start to be faster now as I had kind of slowed a bit for the last couple of days.”