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Vendée Globe Crazy Close

Vendée Globe

Crazy Close

“It’s crazy.” Confirmed Thomas Ruyant from fourth placed LinkedOut this morning as Yannick Bestaven (Maître CoQ IV ) retakes the lead from Charlie Dalin (Apivia). Not only are there just 26 miles separating Ruyant in fourth from the leader again, but Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée 2) has squeezed into third, to complete his fairytale return to the podium after stopping to make repairs to his mast track at Macquarie Island and restarting with an 830 miles deficit on the lead.

And between Bestaven – who also carries his 10hrs 15mins time redress – and Jean Le Cam (Yes We Cam) in ninth there are 121 miles and Le Cam has 16hrs 15mins in credit. And in between the two is sixth placed Boris Herrmann (Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco) who is 63 miles behind Bestaven and has six hours of recompense.

Bestaven has picked up wind to the west of his rivals, closer to the Brasilian coast, and is heading NNE in the ENE’ly wind and the the skipper from La Rochelle is gradually reducing his separation from the chasing trio which are compacted into a postage stamp of about 20 miles by 20 miles.

“We are getting into a trade wind now but it is variable in force and direction, you have to be on it here to trim and adjust for the changes” said Ruyant this morning, “But the wind is building slowly and lifting us so we should get some higher speed foiling in due course.”

Into this mix it will be interesting to see how Ruyant fares with his truncated, drastically shortened port foil and if second placed Dalin can work at max power with his foil bearing repair on his port side too. Clearly the benefits to Louis Burton of fixing at Macquarie cannot be overstated as he has been quickest among the leaders, making 13-14kts of speed in winds just less than that, as has Ruyant. And with boats at 100 per cent – Boris Herrmann is very fast with his newer generation foils while in Giancarlo Pedote (Prysmian Groupe) has first generation ‘moustache’ foils but has consistently been quick in eighth.

Until now the non-foiling daggerboard boats have largely held their own. Damien Seguin (Groupe Apicil) in fifth, seventh is Benjamin Dutreux (OMIA – Water Family) and ninth Jean le Cam (Yes We Cam!) are all in the east looking to benefit from being on the inside of the curve of the high pressure and so be able to sail higher, more direct angles as the breeze lifts them more than their rivals to their west, also sailing less miles. But this period, into the trades, will be their acid test.

A gap has opened back to Maxime Sorel in tenth, now 170 miles behind Le Cam and then there are 416 miles – or a day – between him Armel Tripon on L’Occitaine en Provence. And so it is a big ask now for the skipper from Nantes on the scow bowed Sam Manuard design to make the podium. But given the way this race is running, is it?

In 13th Romain Attanasio is emerging from a nasty South American low pressure which has seen him upwind in 40 knots with squalls to 50 knots. Attanasio reports that he was thrown onto a winch in one knock down and has injured his ribs. “ But it hurts like hell when I take a deep breath. But the good thing is I am downwind now and it feels like the worst is over.”

Next in to Cape Horn will be Stéphane le Diraison (A Time for Oceans) who is just on 100 miles to the rock this morning, Spain’s Didac Costa is 160 miles early this morning and Japan’s Kojiro Shiraishi (DMG Mori 1) is just over 200 miles, making for an international day at the Cape today.

Costa will doubtless be delighted at his third racing Horn passage but for Le Diraison and Shiraishi who both had to retire from the 2016-2017 race with broken rigs, the third Cape will be a delight. Le Diraison recalled this morning his biggest storm of four days ago.

“The files told me that the swell was 7.5 meters but that means really waves of 10 meters. When I looked out my forwards looking window, I saw myself surfing down faces at 30 degrees I saw solid mountains of water rushing towards me. I ended up not looking at anything anymore!” And then yesterday the trio were trapped in a bubble of light airs. They will deserve their Cape Horn moment.

Thomas Ruyant ‘It’s Crazy’

In fourth position, and only 26.1 miles from the leader in the 5 o’clock rankings this morning, Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) is sticking to the right track, despite the absence of his port foil. Feeling strong and with a lucid mind, he talked about his route from him this morning:

“The same players shoot again!” It’s funny when you look at the map and see all these boats so close together after two months of racing. It’s quite incredible, it’s crazy: it seems no-one can really take off on this Vendée Globe! The weather situation means that we always get back together like this. It’s going to be a breathless finish all the way to the end, a lot of things are going to happen, we’re all going to arrive on the same day, or even within 48 hours.

The weather configuration is the reason for these regroupings, whether we have foils or not. Because even if we have the capacity to go fast, when we have calm conditions, everybody has to stop. There is not much to do. There are lots of different boats, with different speed capacities; some boats are at 100% of their potential, others less so. I have other foilers around me, which scares me a bit, because we are on starboard tack all the way to the Canaries. Starboard tack is not my favorite side (with the loss of the use of his port foil). I knew this would be the scenario for this climb up the Atlantic. But it’s going to hold and the game is very much still to play for all the way to the end.

There’s nothing that compensates for the loss of a foil. I’m going to do the best I can. I’m going to have to regulate my pace all the time, with sometimes more and sometimes less sail up, and find slightly different ways of doing things. But that won’t make up for the difference with a boat standing on its foil. I’m at 80 ° to the wind, and I’m at 15 knots instead of 20, but I’m holding on.

As far as the weather is concerned, it’s much better than yesterday, it’s stabilized at least. There are still a few variations in strength and direction, you have to be really on it to adjust your direction. We’re starting to get some wind, with a trade wind that is slowly picking up and will open up as we head north. There are going to be some nice high-speed reaching tacks for the foilers …

It’s hot, you can smell the Brazilian delicacies, I’m in my pants! Yesterday I stuck out my tongue. Luckily, the conditions allowed me to go on deck, so I went out to catch some of the fresh air. I’m not a fan of hot weather, but I’m okay at night. It’s been warming up for a week now, it’s good to feel the boat drying out. The corners in the cockpit are dry, and I don’t have that permanent dampness anymore. Lots of heat is not my thing, but it’s still good to feel the boat getting drier. ”

Miranda Merron….shifty, unsettled conditions on Campagne de France

Yesterday’s 25 – 40+ knots has been replaced by the ridge of high pressure, complete with mad wind going from 7 to 15 knots and shifting 30 to 40 degrees about every 7 minutes, which is keeping me occupied and preventing me from getting on with other jobs. Or sleeping. It is a bitterly cold night. Now there are 2 – 7 knots and no more stable. Every time I get going, I run straight back into no wind. Just west of this light patch lurks the next low pressure system, and depending on timing, it could be rather windy. It should propel us (Campagne de France + my storm buddy, Clément) a good way towards Cape Horn


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