Vendée Globe. Cape Horn looms not too far over the horizon

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Vendée Globe

Deliverance Awaits Dalin and Bestaven

As Cape Horn looms not too far over the horizon for the two leaders winds are building as forecast in the Drake Passage and the sea state grows correspondingly, leader Yannick Bestaven should pass the Cape later this afternoon with Charlie Dalin about 10-12 hours later but this depends on how much the leading duo slow in the conditions.

For sure there seems to be significant respite for them once they are past the familiar outline of the Cape, the seas calm down and the winds ease back to 25kts but with big squalls and gusts. The change will be radical but this is not a time to relax completely because these squalls can be sustained and mean, and there is 140 miles to the passage outside Staten Island or through the Le Maire Strait. There are always nasty surprises here.

By the Falklands the weather should be quite moderate, a W’ly wind. But while it might seem that Bestaven and Dalin have made a good breakaway there is plenty that can happen on the climb back up the Atlantic.

It is very unlikely that the two leaders will see Cape Horn, their routings will be more towards the middle of the Strait, around 50-60 miles off the rocky island and its iconic silhouette. Inshore the 35-40kts wind will be much more gusty, carrying the imprint of the high, rocky mountain range to the north west.

Speaking this morning from 58 degree south the two leaders both confirmed they are in good shape and ready for their first ever roundings of the Horn. Yannick Bestaven said he has his third reef with his J3 (small jib) on and Charlie Dalin (Apivia) poised in his ‘standby’ seat noting he had never been so far South. Bestaven has reducedsail area and is limiting his speed because he planted the bow of Maître Coq with his foils (2015 version) completely extended. Dalin too noticed that the seas were building racing with his foils (version 2019) half-retracted.

As he leaves the Pacific Yannick Bestaven should retain his advantage at around 170 miles over his Dalin who will lose some ground on pack led by Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) with a margin, of between 250 and 300 miles. But behind Ruyant, Damien Seguin (APICIL Group) is leading tightly matched group who will pass in quick succession, maybe around 50 miles between each. In the conditions Boris Herrmann (SeaExplorer-YC of Monaco) and Isabelle Joschke (MACSF) should make the best gains during their final days in the Pacific. But the trio behind, (Crémer-Tripon-Attanasio) are 500 miles back from the main group.

As for those further back in the Pacific there is a succession of southern depressions that will send them speeding towards Cape Horn, normal service in the south, around 25 to 30 knots of wind in the systems. With his keel blocked in the axis following his hydraulic problems, the Swiss skipper Alan Roura (La Fabrique) has already lost of Pip Hare (Medallia) but has Arnaud Boissières (La Mie Câline-Artisans Artipôle ) and Jérémie Beyou (Charal) charging at him.

Alexia Barrier (TSE-4myplanet) should enter the Pacific before tonight while the Finnish skpper Ari Huusela (STARK) who is sailing together with Sam Davies (out of the race) this Saturday morning French time, will leave the Indian Ocean before the end of the weekend and pilot STARK into the Pacific.

This Saturday evening there will be a little less than 7,000 miles to cover to get to the finish for the leader Yannick Bestaven and for the back markers almost double that distance. T’was ever thus at Cape Horn in recent editions.

Dalin said this morning, “The wind is picking up slowly and going left, changing from the North to the North-West and so correspondingly my course is also slowly lifting towards Cape Horn. I have around 30 knots of wind, a little less than expected, but it should build the strongest should be in the afternoon French time. I don’t really see the sea state too bad it is not as bad as I have seen but it should increase to 6.5 meters this afternoon. I’m sailing on my starboard foil but it is only at 50%.

It has been 35 days since I entered the Forties, so it’s wearing on you, but it’s okay, I’m starting to get a bit used to it. I must be about 24 hours from Cape Horn, and I don’t know where I’ll route but probably not shave close to it. I know the conditions will calm down afterwards so I can’t wait to get back to our dear Atlantic Ocean! And warm temperatures …

Right now it’s 8 ° C in the boat 5 ° C outside and everything is starting to get wet. I am looking forwards to drying everything. But I have never been very cold actually in the south, in any case, I have not suffered from it. I had some very cold weather clothes that I didn’t really use: the coldest I had was 5 ° C inside, and 3 ° C in the cockpit. I didn’t have snow or freezing temperatures. So I’m already going to complete Everest of the without really feeling the cold on the top of the world …

Yannick (Bestaven) will be first into the storm a bit and he has to get beaten up even more than me. But he is really strong. I’m happy to have managed to make the break from the hunters: 48 hours ago, I was am really struggling to stay in front of the front and in the end the hard work paid off as it never overtook me and I was able to gain the advantage. ”

Yannick Bestaven / Maitre CoQ IV ​ on this morning’s call

Yannick Bestaven / Maître CoQ IV Just after taking in a reef and reducing sail, Yannick Bestaven was able to answer our questions about his passage of Cape Horn which is forecast to be this Saturday afternoon. It is most likely he will pass the rock well offshore…..

“I’ve just put in the third reef and have the J3. The sea is beginning to get rough and I’ve had a few small nose dives. I need to slow down. I’m at the heart of it here! There’s no hurry: I’m only 180 miles from Cape Horn and I need to ease off a little. The wind should be back in a few more hours… I’ve been going very fast lately because I’ve seen that the faster you are, the less time you spend in the battle! And I don’t want to stay in it too long. I wanted to stay ahead of the front and only get caught in the storm for a few hours.

I am forced to pass quite far off Cape Horn because I think that the sea would not be manageable further north… The aim is to cross the front as quickly as possible, that is to say at 90°, then we’ll gat back to race mode. It’s good that the Race Direction put the Ice Exclusion Zone limit further south. We are still in a funnel! With the big seas and the currents around Cape Horn, it must be a real cauldron up there.
I’m disappointed because I do not get to see it on my first rounding of Cape Horn! Fortunately, Cali (Arnaud Boissières) has prepared some photos for me, but I’ll have to come back to see it… And right now, it’s raining, it’s Brittany at its worst! The sea water is 6°C: before going out to do any manoeuvres, you put on your layers, neoprene gloves, neoprene hat, foul weather gear… The weather is not very nice: I’m looking forward to the next few days to being north in milder latitudes.

I expect the passage at Cape Horn to be around 3pm-4pm (French time). Now the sea is really starting to build, and I did well to slow and reduce sail because I was going too fast. I did two or three broaches and the pilot just didn’t know where it was anymore! I have the foils completely out because they are still small compared to this years and if the wind gets up again and I go too fast, I’ll withdraw them in a little.

It’s not very comfortable, but especially when the boat slams to a stop, I get thrown about! I’m going to wait until it calms down before making a hot meal. At the moment, my living space is just my chair and my bunk. Like at the start, I’m going to do a wide arc, I’d have a hard time sailing inside the Falkland Islands and so will wait for things to ease to get my brain revv’d up a bit and think about the course to take after that.”