• The Podium Completed




    Yannick Bestaven, the 48 year old French skipper of Maître Coq IV, is the overall winner of the ninth edition of the Vendée Globe. Although he actually took the gun for third place off Les Sables d’Olonne, France at 03hrs 19mins 46 secs early this Thursday morning, because he carried a time compensation of 10 hours and 15 minutes, awarded by an international jury for his role in the search and rescue of fellow competitor Kevin Escoffier, Bestaven takes victory 2hrs 31mins 01secs ahead of Charlie Dalin and 6hrs 40mins 26secs of Louis Burton who both finished ahead of him and take second and third respectively.

    The skipper of Maître CoQ IV was one of the two skippers who led the fleet for the longest time: 26 days, or 32% of the time an excellent result for the skipper who grew up in Arcachon and has Yves Parlier as his mentor.

    Bestaven finished in Biscay drizzle on a two metre swell in 20 knots of westerly wind before being warmly welcomed back to Les Sables d’Olonne’s channel where well wishers lined their balconies and streets to acclaim the new winner of the Vendée Globe.




    ‘My main quality? "Stubbornness". My main flaw “Stubbornness”. "I also am very resilient " admitted Bestaven before the start.

    Although he was not tipped among the fancied, possible winners of the race, Bestaven revealed himself as an outstanding performer on his first time in the southern oceans where he was at his best in the Indian Ocean, passing Australia’s Cape Leeuwin in third place and then in the Pacific, emerging first at Cape Horn with a 15 hour lead.

    After then building the biggest margin of the race, 440 hard earned miles thanks to a smart climb up the South Atlantic, Bestaven must have thought his chances of winning this Vendée Globe were over, when during three frustrating days all but becalmed south of Rio, he saw his margin evaporate like snow in the hot Brazilian sun.

    But the skipper from La Rochelle on the west coast of France, an engineer as well as professional skipper, proved his race winning credentials as he fought back into contention by the Azores. His final, key move proved to be choosing to head north on the Bay of Biscay which allowed him to arrive on the heels of a low pressure system and accelerate faster on a long, direct track into Les Sables d’Olonne over the last 24 hours, chasing Dalin and Burton across the line to hold his time to win outright.

    Over an ocean racing career spanning nearly 20 year Bestaven has tasted success in the Mini class – winning the Mini Transat in 2001 – and then in Class 40 where he twice won the Transat Jacques Vabre. But, after he was one of the first to be forced out of the epic 2008 Vendée Globe when he was dismasted on the Bay of Biscay less than 24 hours into the race, he has taken his time to return to the Vendée Globe with a well appointed programme which saw him put together a small, hand picked team of specialists from all fields including the America’s Cup. He is also a successful entrepreneur who owns and runs Watt & Sea, a company which develops hydrogenerators fitted to most of the competing IMOCAs.

    Although, in the 2015 VPLP-Verdier designed Maitre Coq IV which was built as Safran, his boat is not one of the latest generation foilers, he was able to maintain high average speeds in the south and remained competitive in more moderate conditions.

    The ninth edition of the race saw a record entry of 33 skippers and has been marked by complicated weather patterns for both the descent down and the ascent back up the South Atlantic, including regrouping of the leading pack in persistent period of light winds early in the Pacific, and again off Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

    Difficult, short, crossed sea conditions in the Indian Ocean meant the newest, most powerful latest generation foilers could not sail to their full speed potential. And two of them, Thomas Ruyant’s LinkedOut and Charlie Dalin’s Apivia both suffered different damage to their foil systems which compromised their speed potential on starboard tack.

    The most dramatic moments of the race came on the 22nd day of racing, November 30th when PRB, the IMOCA of third placed Kevin Escoffier broke up suddenly 640 miles SW of Cape Town.

    Escoffier was forced to abandon into his liferaft in minutes. Four skippers were requested to reroute help locate and rescue Escoffier. Although 61 year old veteran Jean Le Cam was first on the scene and got close to Escoffier it was 11 ½ hours later when Le Cam was finally able to rescue the stricken skipper from his liferaft.

    The international jury announced their time compensations on December 16th at six hours for Germany’s Boris Herrmann, 10hrs and 15 mins for Bestaven and 16hrs and 15 mins for Le Cam. Little then did race watchers realise that this redress would ultimately decide the final winner after the closest, most competitive race finish in history, the first three skippers crossing the line in less than eight hours.

    Germany’s Boris Herrman was in contention for a podium position until he struck a fishing boat at 90 miles from the finish line. He is bringing his Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco to the finish at reduced speed.



    Podium of the ninth Vendée Globe

    1 - Maître CoQ IV (Yannick Bestaven), finished 28/01/2021 03:19:46 UTC, elapsed time 80d 13h 59min 46s. Time compensation : -10h 15min 00s, Offical corrected time : 80dj 03h 44min 46s.
    Average speed on the theoretical course: 24 365.74 nm / 12.60 kts.
    Miles sailed: 28 583.80 nm at an average of 14.78 nds

    2 – APIVIA (Charlie Dalin) finished 27/01/2021 19:35:47 UTC. elapsed time 80d 06h 15min 47s
    no time compensation. Time difference to first 02h 31min 01s
    Average speed on the theoretical course: 24 365.74 nm / 12.65 nds
    Miles sailed: 29 135.01 nm at an average of 15.13 nds

    3 - Bureau Vallée 2 (Louis Burton) finished 27/01/2021 23:45:12 UTC elapsed time 80d10h 25min 12s, no compensation. Time difference to first 06h 40min 26s, time difference to APIVIA 04h 09min 25s
    Average speed on the theoretical course: 24 365.74 nm / 12.62 nds
    Miles sailed: 28 649.99 nms at an average of 14.84 nds

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    Louis Burton, the popular hard driving 35 years old French skipper of Bureau Vallée 2 crossed the finish line of the Vendée Globe in second position, emerging from the inky darkness on his yellow hulled IMOCA to break the line at 23.45hrs 12mins on Wednesday 27th January, 04h 09min 25s after Charlie Dalin in what is the proving to be race’s closest and most hotly contested finish ever.

    Burton’s elapsed time for the course is 80d 10h 25min 12s. But, like first placed Dalin the skipper from Saint Malo must wait until rival Yannick Bestaven crosses the finish to discover his final position as the skipper of Maître Coq IV has 10 hours and 15 minutes of time allowance for helping in the search and rescue of Kevin Escoffier.

    Burton’s success is a triumph over adversity and technical issues as well as a reflection of his ability to drive himself and his IMOCA close to the limits.

    Racing the IMOCA 60 which won the last Vendée Globe in a record time of 74 days 3hrs in the hands of Armel Le Cléac’h, Burton has cemented his reputation as a skipper to watch for the future. He pressed hard and fast in South Indian Ocean, often working further south than his rivals for longer and usually reaped a reward.




    But his attack took its toll at times and he was forced to repair on two key occasions, once just before the Kerguelens with autopilot and sail problems in the Indian Ocean, and at the remote Macquarie Island half way between New Zealand and the Antarctic.

    After climbing the mast three times while drifting in the protective lee of the remote island, Burton returned to race mode with his boat at 100% but in 11th with a deficit of 938 miles on the then leader Bestaven and around 500 miles on the main peloton. By Cape Horn he was sixth and had reduced his deficit to 640 miles to Bestaven and by Salvador de Bahia he was second again, 20 miles from the lead.

    Burton improves on his seventh place in the last Vendée Globe with a remarkable performance considering that he runs a lean, efficient operation from his home town of Saint Malo with a small team, eschewing the training ‘poles’ and the circuit races, in favour of training on his own. Like Bestaven, he was not picked by any of the pre-race tipsters as a potential podium finisher.

    He has had the passionate backing of French office suppliers Bureau Vallée for ten years. One of their best decisions was securing the 2016-17 winning boat before it had crossed the finish line, to which they have made few upgrades beyond some new sails and electronics.

    If he has earned a reputation for his ability to push hard and fast for long periods there is a maverick side. He memorably jumped the start gun – for which he took a 5hr sin bin penalty - took an additional 1hr for failing to send a sealing image correctly, and strayed for 20 minutes into the Antarctic Exclusion Zone for which there was no penalty because he returned back to his entry point. But that should not mask the fact that he has sailed a smart strategic race.





    Louis Burton’s Race

    His technical problems started almost straight way, while still in the Bay of Biscay, with a leak at the keel ram and a cracked forward bulkhead. Louis carried out repairs before contending with Storm Theta, when he dived south close to the worst conditions with his foot on the gas.

    In 48 hours, Bureau Vallée 2 went from 14th to sixth place off the coast of Morocco. Despite his problems, Burton highlighted himself as a skipper to follow.

    He maintained sixth place at the equator, before routing well south around the St Helena high-pressure system. After passing the Cape of Good Hope in third place, and following the successive retirements of Kevin Escoffier, Sébastien Simon, Sam Davies and Fabrice Amedeo, Louis Burton moved up to second behind Charlie Dalin on 4th December.

    “I’ll be trying to get the maximum speed, telling myself that the others probably have their own problems. I’m going for it!,” he said on December 6, despite having suffered autopilot problems for two days. This in turn led to mainsail car problems, preventing the sail being hoisted above the second reef position and forcing Burton to hand steer for long hours.

    After his pitstop at Macquarie he subsequently proved unstoppable, gaining five places by Cape Horn, before moving up to third in what became a big restart for the leaders off Brazil. “I have never known this excitement and pleasure racing so close,” he reported. “I count the miles that separate me from Thomas Ruyant and Damien Seguin and examine their courses. It's exceptional.”

    He was then was first across the equator – the final big milestone – on January 16, ahead of Charlie Dalin and Boris Herrmann. A big gamble taking a wider course to get north faster during the climb back up the North Atlantic didn’t pay off in a big way, but Burton remained up with the leading group, pushing hard towards the finish.



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    Thomas Ruyant crossed the finish line off Les Sables d'Olonne in fourth place at Thursday January 28th at 04 hours 42 minutes and 01seconds UTC, after 80 days, 15 hours, 22 minutes and 01 seconds at sea.

    Ruyant finished his solo race around the world, without stopovers and without assistance, 11hours 37mins 15 seconds after Bestaven’s corrected time.

    The skipper of LinkedOut was widely tipped as a podium favourite – indeed as a possible winner – but after having to cut away his port foil after it was damaged on November 25th, just 17 days into his race when he was lying second, the 39 year old skipper from Dunkirk was never again able to realise the full potential of his smartly optimised, well proven latest generation Verdier design.

    After his damage Ruyant fought bravely and cleverly and was still always among the leading contenders after he learned how to make the best of his compromised performance. Only during the final, unprecedented five-way sprint to the line did he slide off the podium, relegated by Yannick Bestaven who finished behind him but carried 10hrs and 15mins of allocated time because of his role in the rescue of Kevin Escoffier.




    Ruyant proved himself on the 2016-17 race when he was making progress up the fleet before he struck an object in the water and had to nurse his boat 250 miles to New Zealand while it was threatening to break up.

    Backed by a group of businessmen and enterprises from his native Dunkirk and surroundings, Ruyant sailed in the colours of LinkedOut an inclusion initiative supporting getting individuals back into work in his home region in the north of France.

    Ruyant topped the leaderboard on 20 occasions during the race. His is an impressively consistent performance, especially given the loss of his port foil before passing the Cape of Good Hope.

    A late starter to offshore and ocean racing, he quickly created a reputation for himself with victories in the 2009 Mini Transat, before he moved to the Class 40, winning both the Normandy Channel Race and Route du Rhum in 2010.

    Ruyant’s boat was designed by Verdier’s group of collaborators originally for the Volvo Ocean Race but was adopted as a good allround option by Ruyant’s backers for a project managed by Ireland’s Marcus Hutchinson.

    Only a couple of months after it was launched the boat took Ruyant and co-skipper Antoine Koch to fifth place in the 2019 Transat Jacques Vabre, which he followed with a podium position in last year’s Vendée Arctique Les Sables d’Olonne.



    Ruyant’s Race
    He pushed hard from the start, almost neck and neck with the leaders of the group that headed west to gain maximum advantage from the first weather front. Less than two weeks into the race he set the record daily run for this edition of the Vendée Globe, covering 515.3 miles in 24 hours at an average speed of 21.5 knots. At the same time he lost a major adversary when British skipper Alex Thomson slowed down to undertake structural repairs, in advance of his later retirement with rudder damage.


    Imagine Ruyant’s disappointment then, when a few days later while in second place, he heard a loud noise and discovered damage to the structure of his port foil.

    Fortunately this time it did not mark the end of his race, but he was forced to climb out onto the appendage to cut away the most badly damaged section using an electric saw. LinkedOut was therefore compromised on starboard tack for the remaining 19,000 miles of the race.


    However, the loss of this foil didn’t prevent Ruyant’s return to the top of the fleet. After diving south below Australia with the leading pack he took a narrow lead ahead of Charlie Dalin on December 15. Now at 53 degrees south, Ruyant held the lead for a day and a half before Bestaven gained a 10 mile advantage, while Dalin slipped 140 miles back.


    But just as he had fought back into contention, Ruyant’s advance was suddenly halted when his bow compartments filled with water. The only prudent option was to slow right down to take as much pressure as possible off the boat’s structure, while he pumped enough water out to assess the damage.



    This discovery was doubly troubling for Ruyant, given he was almost at the same point where he had struck the object four years earlier. But while the loss of miles to Dalin and Bestaven were to prove crucial, the cause was straightforward, a pair of deck hatches had not been closed properly against the fire-hose effect of the waves. By the time LinkedOut got back up to speed Ruyant had lost more than 100 miles on Bestaven.



    Nevertheless, he held onto third place at Cape Horn. Then, in a move that Vendée Globe veteran Mike Golding described as a potential game changer, Ruyant broke away from the other three leading boats, continuing west of the Falklands after passing between mainland Tierra del Fuego and Staten Island.



    However, it didn’t have a dramatic affect. LinkedOut gained useful distance on Charlie Dalin, but Bestaven continued to extend his lead and Damien Seguin moved up from fourth place to second.



    After the big restart in the semi-permanent cold front off Brazil’s Cabo Frio, Ruyant sailed a relatively conservative course, never far behind the leaders, waiting for another opportunity to break away from the peloton and regain the lead for the critical final approach to the finish. He was unable to impose himself and finished fourth across the line.





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    On a wet, windy, unpleasant Thursday night it was at 19:19:55hrs UTC that Jean Le Cam crossed the finish line of the ninth Vendée Globe to take fourth place overall. Although he actually passed the line eighth, with his time compensation of 16hrs and 15minutes he moves up to fourth, in fact missing the podium by just 3hrs 19 mins 43 seconds.

    Racing on his fifth Vendée Globe, 61 year old Le Cam is actually only 10hrs and 09s behind the winning time of Yannick Bestaven. He now displaces Boris Herrmann to fifth.

    Without doubt Le Cam is the popular hero of this Vendee Globe after rescuing Kevin Escoffier on 1st December when the PRB skipper was forced to take to his liferaft.




    After the line he said

    "This is a finish line like I've never passed in my life. You will see tomorrow why. I don't know how I got here, honestly I don't know. But it's done! This is a deliverance certainly. This Vendée Globe has been a sick thing. I did it but with everything that happened. Besides, apparently I'm 4th! It's been two days that I have been pushing just to not to miss the tide. This morning Anne (editor's note Anne Combier, team manager) told me that I could get still ahead of Boris Herrmann. I had never imagined that! I was happy to be have been ahead of Groupe APICIL, that was the challenge between boats with straight daggerboards. This challenge was very much the race. These foiling boats are a lot of puzzles for not much! Like computing software. But sailing is not an exact science! For me the single most important thing is that I gave the younger generations the idea that they could do the Vendée Globe with limited means. I have had testimonials from young people in this regard. I am happy because we have seen budgets going up and up and so this is a real victory. I went from here to here. But as I say if I say too much about it only makes me chuckle."

    After his second place behind Vincent Riou in 2004-5 this is Le Cam’s second best result on the Vendée Globe and – ironically – improves on his sixth in the last edition on the same boat.

    It is a remarkable achievement, reflecting a very smooth and accomplished route all the way around the world on his 2007 Farr design which originally won the 2008 race in the hands of Michel Desjoyeaux.



    Le Cam’s race

    The skipper had already said his goodbyes to his family when he went down alone to the pontoon on the day of the start, as if he was in a hurry to set sail, after spending so many months preparing the boat in a shed in Port-la-Forêt. He believed in his boat in spite of the fact that she was built in 2007 and very few people chose her as one of their favourites for the race.

    And yet, on the day after the start, Yes We Cam! led the fleet. Jean would lead the race on nine occasions early in the race. Two competitors took therisk of entering the eye of the first big storm: Alex Thomson and Jean Le Cam. “Jean is getting close to me. He is incredible,” said the British sailor. The Breton found it all rather amusing. “There are people who think they can plan everything, come out with all sorts of ideas and talk rubbish... Saying things may make people laugh, but everyone falls silent, when you do things. The old man is ready to put up a fight.”

    Jean Le Cam’s voyage down the Atlantic was impressive, with the foilers apparently afraid of burning their wings if they got too close to danger. Ashore, he has always been popular in France, never one to pay attention to what is expected of him and ready to joke about what you are supposed to do to fit in with society. The French adore his spontaneity, while the ocean racing fraternity loves his trajectories. He has the image of a bragger or a wit, but those who follow such races closely know that he is always consistent in his sailing.

    His progress would however be halted on a night in November off the coast of South Africa. Kevin Escoffier abandoned his boat and jumped into his life-raft, with Jean twenty miles away. He changed course, spotted the skipper of PRB, before once again losing sight of him. When he found him again, he managed to bring him aboard his boat. “God, you’re aboard. That was close,” said Jean, who must have thought about his own rescue in 2009 when he was helped by Vincent Riou. After a scary night, everyone wanted to pay homage to Jean, including the French president.

    With Kevin at his side, they formed a comic duo, and appeared to be enjoying themselves during their week together. When it was time for Kevin to go aboard the Nivôse on a sunny Sunday morning, Jean was clearly moved. “Searching for someone, spending a week together and then finding myself alone again, is not that easy,” he admitted.

    He got back into the race and had to deal with warm fronts in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific, “where long surfing waves are just something you find in books.” He rounded Cape Horn (“it was not something to take for granted”) in 6m high waves and in 45-knots of wind. He would often find himself in a contest with other competitors, such as Damien Seguin, with whom he chatted, and Benjamin Dutreux, who “never eased off.” In early January, he said that it seemed that “there is no getting away from each other. Benjamin gets excited at times and gets ahead. Sometimes I call him up and tell him, what is this pact we have? It’s not working out. You are just doing what you want!” This was not Jean’s way of mocking, but rather his way of showing respect. He appreciated Benjamin’s achievement aboard a boat like his without foils.

    His climb back up the Atlantic may well serve as an example to sailors learning their skills. Jean clearly enjoyed himself aboard his ‘Hubert’, the nickname given to the boat in memory of his friend, Hubert Desjoyeaux who founded the CDK yard. On the way back home, Jean explained he was in a good position, as he was “one of the chasers behind the pathfinders out in front.” The skipper kept pushing relentlessly and would remain close to the frontrunners, thanks to his expert knowledge of his boat. Reliability appeared to be worth more than flying at any cost.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: 2020-2021 Vendee Globe PD Coverage Central started by Photoboy View original post