Vendée Globe updates
Dalin Leads. Thomson On Course Pacing Herrmann, Escoffier In Light Winds
Thomson explains repairs and is moving in course direction this evening
Beyou talks of his new race
Dalin, Ruyant in step on slalom south
On a sequence of gybes stepping downwind underneath the Saint Helena high pressure system in the South Atlantic Charlie Dalin (Apivia) became the new leader of the Vendée Globe this morning. He outmanoeuvred his close rival Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) and went on to build a 20 mile lead as they slalom towards an area of lighter and variable winds which bar the breakaway duo’s passage to the roaring forties which are still some 600 nautical miles to their south.
Charlie Dalin topped the standings on one position report earlier in the race, but he is one of ten different leaders since the solo non-stop race round the world started on Sunday 8th November.
As the duo lead at the latitude of Itajai, Brazil they have more than 250 miles in hand over third placed Jean Le Cam (Yes We Cam), although the wily, persistent veteran Le Cam is more than holding his own.
Dalin and Ruyant, who both originate from the north, from theChannel coast of France, may yet see two areas of high pressure join together to make the course south extremely tricky. As the top group try to find the best routing through a complex weather pattern, at 16-18kts boatspeed this afternoon, British skipper Alex Thomson remains purposely slowed in light winds, more than 350 miles north west of the leaders. He is 48 hours into dealing with a complicated series of repairs to the main central longitudinal support beam towards the bow of his HUGO BOSS.
The British racer sent a detailed video of the damage today, emphasising, “The problem is fairly significant The central longitudinal is broken in several places. The good news is we carry so much materials to fix this kind of thing, c plates, solid panels, and even girders, we have plenty of material to fix it and the other bit of good news is I am not in the Southern Ocean. I am in the middle of the Saint Helena High and so have good conditions to be able to do the job and the other good news is I feel super positive and happy to crack on to get this job done and get back in the race as soon as possible. So don’t feel sad. It could take another day or so to do the repair and the engineers and designers are absolutely confident the boat will be as strong if not stronger than before.”
From his position 120 miles off the African coast, Jérémie Beyou offered his British counterpart his support today. The French sailor should have been Thomson’s main rival on this race but while Thomson repairs, Beyou is chasing the fleet still 600 miles behind back marker Kojiro Shiraishi and 3000 miles behind Dalin. Their Vendée Globes are now massively different to what they hoped for.
Damage to his Charal means Beyou had to return to Les Sables d’Olonne and restart nine days after the original departure. So just as Thomson acknowledged yesterday repairing can be part and parcel of the Vendée Globe, so Beyou’s race to catch up has become a different Vendée Globe too, one of self discovery and a test of motivation.
“In terms of morale I have ups and downs” said Beyou this morning, “ Right now, I’m sad for Alex, because it’s a pain in the ass for him, it’s a pain to see him slow down. He’s got a big repair to do, it’s really not cool. I’ve been thinking about him all day. I support him, I hope he will fix it and get back in the fight soon. But when I see that I am 3000 miles behind the lead, that I am in the North Atlantic while they are at the bottom of the South Atlantic, it is not easy to live with. I take advantage of the fact that the boat is going well, and I’m making progress hour by hour.”
Thomson’s German friend and rival Boris Herrmann (Seaexplorer-Yacht Clube of Monaco) had looked set to be next in line to benefit from the HUGO BOSS sailor’s problem but Alex Thomson was moving in course direction on the 1700hrs UTC ranking this evening and making the same speed while sailing 37 miles to Herrmann’s leeward and similar speeds to fourth placed Kevin Escoffier who is 55 miles ahead on PRB.
Britain’s Sam Davies (Initiatives Coeur) is in tenth and pressing hard to stay with the newer, theoretically faster ARKEA PAPREC of Sébastien Simon. At the back of the second group of six boats, Davies might take an option to dive south early and potentially sail more miles but avoid the messy roadblock of light winds which are forecast to develop.
Her British compatriot Pip Hare, who is on her first Vendée Globe, brought Medallia across the Equator into the South Atlantic this afternoon after a challenging Doldrums passage. She is in 20th place in the 31 boat fleet, 11 miles up on Catalan rival Didac Costa – a former rival from Mini 650 days. The duo will be profiting from each other’s competitiveness, not least as the full time fireman from Barcelona had very sporadic contact with other skippers on his 2016-17 race because he had to restart four days late due to a ballast tank leak which flooded his alternator.
Maxim Sorel (V and B Mayenne): “I am on one long port tack sailing at 80 to 90 degrees from the wind with a steady breeze. We have been at this for a while, but approaching the St. Helena high, and so I need to check the weather files and see how I am going to get through. A few days ago I had 33 degrees in the doldrums and dealing with sudden squalls.
was told I would have the answers at the end of the Vendee Globe as to what I had come to find on it, so there is still a bit of time. I loved the first week of the race being close to everyone, all the manoeuvres and then we hit the trades and sped up which was great. Now things are different, they are a bit calmer. You must not forget it is an endurance race, a marathon. I am experiencing new things, feeling things for the first time. I have never spent more than 24 days at sea at any one time and so it is all new.This is a complete life change from having been an engineer!