Vendée Globe: Thomas Ruyant “A Game of Gybes”. Isa Joschke “in big rest mode”.

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Thomas Ruyant ‘A Game of Gybes.’

Thomas Ruyant / LinkedOut Third, in the big South where the weather forecasts are only reliable short term, Thomas Ruyant is happy to not be leading the way as he explains……

“I’ve just made myself a little risotto, with a little rice pudding for dessert. In terms of food, it’s not bad and I am happy because I’ve had prepared for 80 days of food.

It is going to be a game of gybes in the right ‘timing’ at the right moment, with just a small mouse hole to through, even if there’s little chance that we’ll actually go through with wind all the time, there’s going to be some moments where we just get stalled. We will have to pass the centre to get pressure again. For the moment, we have average West, West-North-West breeze and making progress in that, with some manoeuvres to try to gradually make gains in the East and South, to get closer to the ice zone and to be as far as possible from the centre. This anticyclone will keep us busy for a few days. I hope that Yannick (Bestaven) does not whisk off. I don’t think so, it will stop at some point. I don’t see the thing stretching out in front. Every time I run a weather model, things are different, I tune and adjust around three times a day, it’s not going to be easy, you have to be on top of it.

We still have 15 to 17 knots of wind and do about that in VMC (speed to goal). We can’t attack, we’re low on our angles, it’s pure VMG, which is not what our boats do best of what they are built for. We still have pressure for a little while, but the more we go forward, the less we will have.

The conditions are rather nice, the high pressure brings a big blue sky, 15 to 18 knots downwind. We’ve had worse conditions in the south. We’re not breaking any records, but it’s rather pleasant. The weather spoiled us in the Indian Ocean. It’s going to be long!

I took food for 80 days when before the start it was a bit of a guessing game. Alex Thomson said he had enough on board for 58 days. I don’t know how much Charlie (Dalin) took. I’m glad I don’t have to ration it. The bluff was fun, but you can see how hard it is to make weather predictions for a trip around the world. It’s not like statistics, it’s slow, there are regroupings, you make gains sometimes coming back and other times you extend from the lead. It’s hard on the nerves, that’s the way it is.

For the past three nights or so I have had good rest because the conditions allow for it and it feels good. It had really taken it out of me and cost me a lot in terms of lucidity and energy; I made some errors in course choices. Even if things could have gone well, I made some mistakes. I’m slowly catching up on Charlie and I’ve recovered well. I was pretty fried out.

How much confidence do I have in the weather we get? The forecasts remain fairly reliable, at two or three days. On out route to Cape Horn, forecasts are not that good so far ahead and we just do not know what to expect so can’t make a long-term plan.

 

I’m lucky at the moment to be a hunter, to be able to line up against the boats ahead in these not very easy to read conditions. It is not me who leads the way. I am on it and analysing at all times.”

Isa Joschke in ‘big rest mode’

Isabelle Joschke / MACSF

8th in the Vendée Globe on this Monday 21st December, Isabelle Joschke is savouring the pleasures of sunshine and restorative sleep having now left the Indian Ocean, which she says she will not miss.
“It’s going pretty well at the moment, I’m in ‘big rest’ mode. For the past few days, I’ve had some great nights. It’s sunny, the temperatures are nice, the early afternoon is very pleasant! I’m taking advantage of it, because at the end of the day, when it gets dark, it’s freezing cold, and the work on the deck is hard in the cold. I am taking advantage of these calmer moments, the sea has been easier for several days, and I am able to recharge my batteries.

When I left the Indian, I felt some tension in my back whereas I have very little since the beginning of the race. The cause was a lot of tiredness after a lot of manoeuvring and a lack of sleep. I feel like I’m completely recovered, muscularly and physically, it’s going really well. I eat a lot too, because I’m hungry, the cold makes me want to gobble up calories to keep warm. All of this means that I am slowly getting acclimatised after the hard times.

On the morale front, I’m doing well. I’m following my little train, I try to not slow down, there may be another race in the Atlantic, but I’m staying on the reserve in the South. At the slightest risk, there can be breakage, which is difficult to manage in these temperatures. The winds are unstable, which can give bad surprises like for Damien (Seguin). I’ve had some too. The trajectory I am following is good and it suits me.

We’ve all had a big scare… 20-knots of wind that rises to 40 knots, the boat is not ready… And that has consequences on a sail, a line, the strain on an outrigger… In these temperatures, it’s a real test. The wind is easing, I’m clearly going around the high by the South, in not too strong downwind conditions. And, slowly, the wind is going to back. In the days to come, we will switch to a crosswind, and a little upwind, which is not usual in the South Seas.

The weather forecast for the next ten days is rather mild, it won’t be easy tactically. It is not easy to choose the right course in the unstable wind conditions. It will be clement, and I realise that, I thought I would never get out of the Indian Ocean and now I think I have and quite honestly, I’m delighted.”