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Thread: 2020-2021 Vendee Globe PD Coverage Central

  1. #71
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    The Christmas Truce Comes To An Abrupt End

    On the Vendée Globe front line the Christmas truce is over. Days of light winds and mild temperatures have been summarily replaced by 30-35 knot winds. Deep reefed sails are the order of the day. It is cold, miserable and wet with freezing South Pacific water sluicing the decks. As the leading duo Yannick Bestaven (Maître CoQ IV) and Charlie Dalin (Apivia) pass Point Nemo today, the loneliest point on the Southern Ocean - the Furious Fifties offer a rude reminder why they are so called.



    TRACKER


    From Point Nemo it is nearly 2000 miles to Cape Horn where deliverance waits. This stage, to the Horn, is about remaining prudent, preparing perfectly for the Cape and knowing the timing of the weather transitions as accurately as possible.

    “There is so much contrast with yesterday I almost cannot remember how it was, I cannot remember yesterday it seems.” Said seventh placed Boris Herrmann wistfully today. “Now we are back to a normal Southern Ocean ambience sailing at 17 knots in 30kts of breeze. We are dealing with a low pressure system and the contrast is just amazing.”

    On his 50th day at sea the German skipper, who stands a fighting chance of being the first ‘Cape Horner’ (he has been round three times) among a group of first timers at the Cape next weekend mused, “It takes a strong mind to take it all, you are always being thrown into new situations. Better not to think about it too much. Sometimes I think I think too much about the boat. If could let go a bit more I could sail a bit faster…. but looking up I am anxious all the time. In the bunk I am sleeping only 15 minutes. Maybe I should just let it go, and go faster.”





    He continues, “But I want to reach Cape Horn in one piece. I have a boat at 100% and very few of the others can say that. So let us get through the week without losing too many miles, but certainly without breaking anything.”

    Mike Golding, four times Vendée Globe racer, says this is one of the toughest parts of the course mentally, “But it is essential to keep doing what they have been doing, getting through each day, one day at a time, without pushing too hard, just staying in the rhythm and looking after the boat. The sense of anticipation grows and grows for those who have not been round the Horn before but there is so much can be gained and lost just after, it is important to be there in the best shape mentally and physically.”

    Golding adds, “In fact if there is a little more compression, as we might expect, then anyone in this main group can be on the podium in Les Sables d’Olonne. It is that open. Right now I am impressed by Boris and his approach and especially by Isabelle Joschke who has really come into her own. Like Boris she has a largely unbroken boat, she’s in the play. And don’t discount Jean Le Cam. He is ‘steady Eddie’, you never hear of his problems because whatever he deals with, he just gets on with..”









    Joschke in fifth is still struggling with the cold, which she does not like at all, and like Herrmann is taking time to re-adjust to the rude return to fast, wet and hard sailing, “Last night it was really slamming and crashing, I even got seasick again because I was not used to the movement again.” Heavily fatigued Joschke was trying to grab some rest before adding more sail area to her charge.

    Rest was high on the agenda too for Benjamin Dutreux. The tenth placed 30 year old Vendée skipper of OMIA-Water Family has climbed the mast of his IMOCA to release his J2 headsail which had split near the top. The climb was extremely tough, after he reported that he was’ thrown around like a rag doll being smashed between the sail and the mast’.

    “And now I have to repair the sail and a few other things, so it is not good for my morale, really.” Dutreux told the French Vendée Globe live show today, his face wracked with fatigue and stress.

    Leader Yannick Bestaven was not short of wind - were he in need of any more puff to blow out his 48 candles on his birthday. He had 40 knots of wind at times in front of the depression though with crossed seas which made progress less than comfortable. But the Vendée Globe leader for 12 days has opened more than 50 miles on second placed Charlie Dalin over the last 24 hours. Maître Coq’s lead is now 133 miles over APIVIA which has been closer to the centre of the depression. Thomas Ruyant is third on LinkedOut, now 150 miles behind Dalin and 31 miles behind Damien Seguin (Groupe Apicil) who has consistently been the quickest of the top 10 today.







    Message from Miranda Merron (Campagne de France).

    "Yesterday I discovered with some amazement that I have passed the half way point in the race. I didn't know where the half way point was, and I don't have the computer-calculated information that is on the website (no internet access here), but I assumed it was somewhere still far ahead. It is just wonderful to be sailing towards home, loved ones and friends at last, rather than away from them. We (the boat and I) are still in the Indian Ocean, and it hasn't finished with us yet. I am sailing on an unfavourable gybe to the northeast to get out of the way of the worst of a low pressure system. The sea is disorganised and the boat is slewing sideways down waves. There is still a very long way to go!

    It seems like a long time ago since the start of the Indian Ocean and the first proper heavy weather. There have been other windy and rough periods since, but none were as quite as frightening as the first one which was a very convincing display of the superiority of mother nature, and conversely how small, inconsequential and vulnerable we are, especially in places like this. There have been light airs from time to time too, useful for inspecting and fixing things. There are always things to do. It hasn't been as foggy and grey as last time. Other than ending up less than 2 miles from Alexia in light airs before one of our windy episodes, I haven't seen another vessel since somewhere near Tristan da Cunha. The bird life is impressive, and I wish I hadn't forgotten my bird book. It is always uplifting to have an albatross, or indeed any bird, follow the boat."








    At just under 2000 miles to Cape Horn, the leaders of the Vendée Globe have a long, tough week of work ahead to reach the big left turn, the release out of the Pacific back into the home ocean. There is some relief that speeds are quick again as their position on the depression finally yields reaching conditions, cold SW’lies for the chasing peloton, NW’ly for Yannick Bestaven (Maître CoQ IV) and Charlie Dalin (Apivia).

    And while there were predictions that Bestaven might run away from his pursuers, Dalin is less than 90 miles – or about six hours – behind.
    The pack is still tightly grouped but Damien Seguin (Groupe Apicil) is up to fourth and Isabelle Joschke (MACSF) fifth, Seguin is fastest of the top 10 this morning. Although it is cold and wet skippers’ energy reserves are restored for the meantime after the lighter wind period over Christmas.
    This depression should roll away by Tuesday when there might be a little period of respite before the long assault on the eastern Pacific when conditions look challenging for the latter part of the week. It still looks like Saturday 2nd January for the leading duo at the Cape. And with the new systems coming in from behind there should be more compression among the top ten or 12 boats, maybe even a chance for Cremer, Tripon and Attanasio to close in to the pack a little more.

    All the way back to Cape Leeuwin (or more for Sébastien Destremau, who is still on a course towards Tasmania), the fleet also seems to be compressing under the influence of the southern depressions. Finland’s Ari Huusela (STARK) should thus cross the longitude of Leeuwin today 200 miles behind Alexia Barrier (TSE-4myplanet) who passed Leeuwin at 23:48 am UTC Sunday night having had some repairs to make over the weekend last before tackling the end of the Indian Ocean that Manuel Cousin (Groupe Sétin) and Kojiro Shiraishi (DMG MORI Global One) should emerge out of late today.

    Already in the Pacific: Jérémie Beyou (Charal) and Stéphane Le Diraison (Time for Oceans) have the start of a nasty low coming down from Tasmania. On the contrary, in front of this front, Pip Hare (Medallia) and Arnaud Boissières (La Mie Câline-Artisans Artipôle) have caught close to Alan Roura (La Fabrique) who has his keel problems three days ago.

    And so it looks like the waters of the south of South Americaa will be scattered with Vendée Globe racers in an unprecedented climb back up the Atlantic.
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    Storm's A Brewin!






    In the strong, following W’ly wind and with the leading duo electing to stay north slightly – around 50 deg– the top of the fleet have compacted slightly more. Charlie Dalin (Apivia) – who slowed yesterday to consolidate his foil box repairs yesterday – has caught back some 40 miles on Yannick Bestaven (Maître CoQ IV) and Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) has returned more than 120 miles on Bestaven to be 202 nautical miles behind Bestaven.

    As Cape Horn beckons this weekend it is as well Race Direction has opened the race area more by moving the ice barrier south in this area as there will be significant race traffic!

    Fortunately for this lead group they will be into a new NW’ly flow today from a system which will take them east to exit the Pacific. Overnight Bestaven was not particularly fast and Damien Seguin (APICIL Group) is now close to Ruyant.




    Those who had to gybe north to avoid the AEZ did not make as much, Maxime Sorel (V and B-Mayenne) and Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée 2), but from Giancarlo Pedote (Prysmian Group) up the second group are only one short day’s racing behind the top duo. And with the new depression arriving from behind the trio Attanasio, Cremer and Burton should catch up more.

    Passed under New Zealand at 56 ° South there is the trio of the young Swiss Alan Roura (La Fabrique) now close to Arnaud Boissières (La Mie Câline-Artisans Artipôle) and Pip Hare (Medallia) racing along the AEZ. On the southern edge of a high pressure area, they can all lengthen their stride in a moderate NW’ly flow.

    Good news from Stéphane Le Diraison (Time for Oceans) who had planned to sail to Macquarie Island to sort his mainsail track problems. He finally found a solution with the support of his shore team. He is back in race mode chasing the quick Jérémie Beyou (Charal) who emerged from the Tasmanian depression very well and can now press fast down from the AEZ. Alexia Barrier (TSE-4myplanet) has also picked up her pace after a fright when her backstay (which supports the mast from the back) block exploded! She was able to repair before passing Cape Leeuwin where Finnish racer Ari Huusela (STARK) also crossed last night.












    Right now the initiative is with the hunters and many have the chance to make miles and de-stabilise the status quo. The weather situation around the Falklands islands does not look very stable at all for the early New Year and so there could yet be come very close finishes in Les Sables d’Olonne.

    Charlie Dalin, APIVIA, this morning..."When you look at the globe and we look towards the Pacific side you only see blue. So Point Nemo the most isolated place on Earth feels like it looks. Here we realize the size of this Pacific Ocean! It is something to be here in this lonely corner. Currently I am 261 miles from Nemo point but I was even closer a few hours ago at the time of my gybe. But I hope that NASA are not planning to drop a satellite here to dispose of it. It would be a pity to be knocked out by space debris here!

    I had a little setback: I had a problem with my foil bearing which I had I repaired. I spent a little time fixing it up a bit more. I slowed down a bit before resuming my speed. And I have less than 24 hours left on starboard tack, which is pretty good news because I will be able to aim for Cape Horn on the other tack. In addition, the wind was easing a bit from behind. The situation is under control now.

    Right now, we have more like 25-30 knots of westerly wind and I'm currently in a lighter phase of 25 knots. There is still a good wind. However, the seas are big, the heaviest I have seen since the start. It's a beautiful Southern Ocean seaway like you see in the books. My port tack was difficult. I had a few broaches and got hit by breaking waves! It was very windy and it was pretty rough. I was never shaken up like this before in other lows. The sea was much bigger than usual. Fortunately, things eased a little later: now, I'm on starboard tack, heading for the AEZ. But the sea is going to get bigger as I move south.

    I should be caught up by a front coming from the West: it should reach me tomorrow on December 30 and potentially carry me to Cape Horn in medium northwest. Night is falling (5.30am French time), and there is a beautiful light with squalls and heavy seas: it's super beautiful! And then, at night, it is not completely dark: there is a moon even if we cannot see it too much, given the cloud cover. It's nice for setting the sails and maneuvering: I don't need a head torch.”





    TRACKER


    A nasty low pressure system is converging with the Vendée Globe leader Yannick Bestaven (Maître CoQ IV) and could require him to slow significantly to avoid winds in excess of 40kts and big seas.

    But Bestaven is under pressure from behind too as the peloton of nine are compressing, closing mileage and pushing hard. Damien Seguin, multiple Paralympic champion is sailing immaculately and is up to third, increasingly taking the race to Dalin who is now less than 70 miles ahead. The chasing group have closed more than 150 miles in recent days. Leader Bestaven is expected at Cape Horn on Saturday.

    It would be a dream
    Seguin is up to third on his Groupe Apicil, the best position yet for the Paralympic champion sailor who has never considered that having no left hand has ever compromised his ability to be competitive in any racing fleet. His accurate, precise routing, gybing down the Antarctic Exclusion barrier has placed him inside Thomas Ruyant, nearly nine miles ahead of the solo skipper of LinkedOut. And in terms of direct distance on the water Seguin is less than 40 miles from Charlie Dalin (Apivia).

    His years of Paralympic medal winning rigour and discipline are complemented by an excellent all round ability. At 12 he was fascinated by meteorology. He has been top level competitive in the short, sharp inshore sprints of the Diam24 Tour Voile, long distance in the Class 40 and in the Figaro class.
    He modified and prepped his Finot Conq design in Jean Le Cam’s boatyard, advised and mentored by Le Cam himself. Incidentally his seat on his IMOCA – retrieved from a dusty corner at Le Cam’s – is off the 2008 Vendée Globe winning Foncia.




    A tired, but extremely focused Seguin said today. “Here I am, dreaming of being in the top 5 at Cape Horn! That would be crazy! But it’s what I'm really going to try to do. I still need about seven days to get there. It will be by Sunday or Monday I think. But this last week before Cape Horn is going to be tough. The models all see different things. We'll see...I am managing to rest but it's not always easy to eat. I've been eating a lot of cold food lately, but I have just had a hot meal. The last few days in the light wind zone have been complicated. It was very unstable, and I found it particularly difficult to rest. I came out of it exhausted. And after that I attacked the transition, and I had to do it quickly. The boat was pounding against the sea a lot! It was really difficult. I can’t say for now whether it’s been the most difficult part of this Vendée Globe. The Indian was also difficult because I had a lot of technical problems. But here, it’s more the sailing conditions that have been complex.”

    Seguin suggests, “People have been saying that the foilers are going to accelerate, and it might well be on this climb up the Atlantic. We'll see... In any case, at Cape Horn it won't be over. We know that this particular ascent has often been full of surprises. But for the moment, I'm focusing on this mythical Cape!"

    Young shared dreams
    One thing the second and third placed skippers, Dalin and Seguin, share in common is that their youthful dreams of racing the world’s oceans. Their young minds were seeded when they were very little, each seeing the stars of the solo and short handed racing and their fantastic machines up close and personal – a few years apart - in the respective backyards of their childhood.

    For Dalin, 35, that was hanging round the Transat Jacques Vabre docks after school in his native Le Havre. Seguin, 41, grew up in Guadeloupe where he saw his heroes of the time winning the Route du Rhum solo Transatlantic race.

    Seguin told the Vendée Globe website before the start, “When we moved to Guadeloupe we went to the finish of the Route du Rhum in 1990. I didn't know anything about it but everyone was talking about it. It was a revelation. I remember these giant boats, the great sailors who were being asked for autographs. Florence Arthaud, Mike Birch, Alain Gautier, Laurent Bourgnon they were like rock stars. I wanted to do that very same thing, to follow in their wake. My initial project was to do the Route du Rhum. In 1998, I had a difficult choice to make: either I embarked on a Mini project or I started an Olympic programme. Pushed a bit by the National Sailing School I chose the second option, as I knew it was going to be good structure and foundations to get move into ocean racing. Then after four Olympics, it was the right time to change direction first in the Figaro, then into IMOCA."

    And Dalin recalled pre-start, “And at home on Le Havre every two years I would find myself always in among the Transat Jacques Vabre boats, dreaming. I went to admire the racing machines at the start, then I followed the race through the radio, the newspapers. And of course through sailing magazines. That’s how I discovered the Mini Transat in Voiles & Voiliers. I spent hours looking at the smallest details in the photos. I remember a double page spread from Seb Magnen's boat which won the Mini twice in a row. I don't know how many hours I looked at this picture imagining myself in its place.”

    A common stepping stone.
    The more modestly priced, but highly competitive Class 40 has proven a stepping stone on the pathway to the IMOCA and to this Vendée Globe. Six years ago in Guadeloupe the Route du Rhum Class 40 was won the Spanish sailor Alex Pella but the class was populated by many of today’s Vendée Globe racers notably Stéphane Le Diraison who finished fourth, Miranda Merron was sixth, Yannick Bestaven, seventh, Damien Seguin eighth, Fabrice Amedeo ninth, Giancarlo Pedote was 10th. Also racing were Maxime Sorel, Alan Roura, Arnaud Boissières and Nicolas Troussel
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    The Vendee Participants Say Goodbye to 2020




    After more than one month in the Southern Ocean, now at under 800 miles to Cape Horn for Charlie Dalin (Apivia) who is 133 miles behind leader Yannick Bestaven (Maître Coq), it is increasingly likely that the leading pair will round Cape Horn, the mythical rock within hours of each other between Saturday night and Sunday.

    Equal credit is due to both Vendée Globe skippers who have pressed hard and fast over the last 24 hours to stay ahead of a fast-moving low pressure system. While their nearest rivals – a chasing pack of nine – are now on the other side of the depression and so the pair are banking some big gains as they continue to profit from the fast ride towards Cape Horn.




    Both Dalin and Bestaven have been on the edge for some hours, averaging over 20 knots at times and made 24 hour runs close to 500 miles. Behind them the pack have been engulfed by the centre of the low or a cell of high pressure which has left them with much lighter winds.

    It would be a dream situation for the duo for the first days of 2021 were it not that they will have a very tough rounding of the Cape - the first for both of them - with winds of 40-45kts and seas expected to be up to seven metres.



    TRACKER

    And in this case the best form of defence is attack. Going fast with the system opens more options for both as they monitor the evolution and the passage of the low pressure system arriving from the north west, set to brush the west coast of Chile and impact on the leaders just at Cape Horn. With torrential rain squalls expected and big seas there is unlikely to be any time or opportunities for the first time Cape Horners to enjoy the moment.

    "I have been surfing at 30 knots," said Dalin today, sporting a black eye after slamming his head into the companionway when his IMOCA ploughed into a wave and slowed suddenly. He is 150 miles to the north of Bestaven, “We have had to push not to get caught up It would be good to be have just the one tack pass Cape Horn as the routing suggests and I think I am due to go past at night, but hopefully I do not have to slow down too much because the winds forecast around the Horn are due to be really strong. We will have to see when the timings are a bit clearer. I would love to see the famous rock but am certainly not going to do a detour to catch a glimpse if I can’t see it!”










    Dalin, speaking on the French show today added, “I am trying to not go too fast, but yesterday I had to speed it up, it was important because Thomas, Damien and everyone have been caught up by a front and I am chasing on one so needed to keep up the pace and put my foot down on the pedal to keep ahead. The front should not catch me up if all goes to plan; the lighter breeze is behind me, but thankfully my foiling IMOCA allows me to go fast in certain conditions. You tend to nosedive a bit because you have the swell from behind. By having been able to keep ahead of the font I have managed to stay with a more north, north-westerly and stronger breeze than Thomas (Ruyant) for example).”

    Damien Seguin is back up to third on Groupe Apicil now over 85 miles ahead of Ruyant who has continued to stay north. The LinkedOut skipper has been enjoying good conditions to accelerate on the edge of the large secondary depression which will soon overtake him and leave him scrapping with the second group.

    From third placed Seguin to Italian Giancarlo Pedote in 11th the New Year will hardly be noticed, no champagne and streamers are likely. Trapped in a bubble of light unstable airs everyone tries to find the best way out and to set up for their next system: Bemjamin Dutreux, Boris Herrmann, Jean Le Cam, Isabelle Joschke and Max Sorel gybing close to the ice barrier; Burton and Pedote routing..



    An evening almost like any other

    If New Year’s Eve is marked then it will be notionally. A welcome special dinner, perhaps a small sip of wine and WhatsApp with home or with friends to mark the transition to 2021.

    “ New Year is like any other day when you are on the race.” Remarked 2016-2017 race winner Armel Le Cléac’h on the French Live show today.

    Observing the times and speeds relative to his 74 days record on the last edition he noted








    “ The weather has been quite unusual on this edition, particularly when you analyse the key passages, and you look at the time it has taken compared to the last edition. They are more like those of the 2004 or 2008 race for example. But the objective is not to break a record, although everyone discusses on the pontoons it before the start. It is above all a race and we have here a beautiful one that is full of suspense because we have nearly ten boats who are going to be racing side by side up the Atlantic.”

    He concluded, “Despite it being tough, hard, long and cold, you can see that the sailors are really enjoying being at sea. It is the first time I have followed it so closely from shore.”

    And on the day Britain moves out of Europe Pip Hare overhauled her French rival Arnaud Bossières to lie in 16th place, just 46 miles behind Switzerland’s Alan Roura (La Fabrique) who raced Hare’s IMOCA on the last race but has upgraded to a foil assisted IMOCA for his second Vendée Globe.
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    Cape Horn Beckons

    This first day of 2021, the numbers tell the story. At just over 600 miles to Cap Horn this morning the two leaders Yannick Bestaven (Maître Coq IV) and Charlie Dalin (Apivia) have just completed 24 hour runs of 452 and 417 nautical miles respectively. Only third placed Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) has come close with 375 miles. All of the chasing group have made less than 300 after their tussle with lighter winds yesterday. That means Bestaven and Dalin have the biggest lead over third since the start.




    TRACKER

    Dogged, determined Dalin is very much in touch and has never conceded a mile lightly to his rival and on the early morning ranking Apivia is quicker than Maître Coq IV. The duo have managed to stay in the powerful N to NW’ly flow but the chasing peloton did not. And it must have been frustrating to have been stuck in a relatively windless bubble when to the north and east it is blowing over 30 knots. And with the wind having moved from NW to S to SW swells will be big and confused in places for this group.

    The leaders are in on the front of a Southern Ocean depression which approaches the Chilean coast, ready to hit the mountains of Tierra del Fuego. Only Yannick Bestaven and Dalin are be able to take advantage of it on its eastern side. They will see more than 40 knots but at 120 ° to the wind, they will rein in their IMOCAs to account for the mountainous boat breaking seas which are likely on the approach to Cape Horn.

    Routings suggest Dalin will line up behind Bestaven on the approach to Cape Horn on Saturday evening (European time) and be only a few hours apart at the Cape. Meantim Thomas Ruyant in third is jousting with the centre of the low and will have to dive SE in an easing, dropping breeze which will shift all the way to the S.

    He should cross comfortably in front of Damien Seguin (APICIL Group) who has done well to gain nearly a hundred miles over Boris Herrmann, Benjamin Dutreux, Jean Le Cam and Isabelle Joschke. As the climb away from the Antarctic Exclusion Zone they will accelerated on the western side of the system. But Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée 2) and Giancarlo Pedote (Prysmian Group) are doing well in the north, already behind the system and able to go fast.

    Further behind Clarisse Crémer, Armel Tripon and Romain Attanasio came back very strongly in this south-westerly breeze of 25 to 35 knots which should carry them all the way to Cape Horn!

    The rest of the fleet stretches from the middle of the Pacific (Alan Roura) to the heart of the Indian (Sébastien Destremau) and all have moderate to strong breezes, bringing in 2021 in the Southern Oceans.




    *********************************


    For his fifth Vendée Globe and before rounding Cape Horn for the seventh time, Jean Le Cam is keeping in good spirits despite the unusual conditions there have been in the Pacific. The skipper of Yes We Cam! should be should reach Cape Horn in a similar time to that of his first one which he did (in the lead) during the 2004 solo round the world race (56 days 17 hours and 13 seconds).

    "It's clear that we are making progress! Benjamin (Dutreux) is two miles away. And me, I have shifted a little bit to the North: if you want to sleep well, it is better to have at least a one 100 miles distance between us. I am able to be on a course that suits me well because the wind is going to turn a little to the right.

    Each passage of Cape Horn is special, but this time there will be wind! And that's not great. Especially for those who will get have to keep up ahead, as we will have less wind. And then, it will come in from behind! You do not want to hang around there.

    The Pacific Ocean’s state depends on the weather systems it is subjected to, but this time, we can say that the first part was calm but that it has been really very agitated afterwards. The situations were brutal with these big changes; lots of wind, then swinging from the South and then the North! It is moving around, and it is a bit annoying... Now, for example, there is no big Pacific swell.

    Twleve hours ago, we were in total calm... Now there's a residual swell, but it's virtually nothing. The situation is not unusual. While it's 4.30 am UTC, it will get dark here soon, so it's still the 31st of December... Well, I think so! Because it changes every day... Cape Horn is in about four days. If there's a storm we will take it slow.

    Happy New Year!”
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    No Yannick Depression: Bestaven 1st To Pass Cape Horn



    Yannick Bestaven, 48 year old French skipper of Maître CoQ IV, the leader of the Vendée Globe passed Cape Horn this Saturday afternoon 2nd January at 1342hrs UTC , passing out of the Pacific Ocean back into the Atlantic with a lead estimated to be over 160 nautical miles over second placed Charlie Dalin (Apivia).

    Bestaven has led the race since Christmas Day. In muscular conditions – winds of more than 30kts and big seas – the skipper from La Rochelle has kept up an impressive speed for his first ever rounding of Cape Horn. He passed safely some 85 miles off the rock with an elapsed time since leaving Les Sables d'Olonne of 55 day and 22 minutes




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  6. #76
    That must be a HUGE relief!

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    After The Cape: Competition Does Not Subside

    Dalin Ready To Take the Fight To Bestaven....Next Two Boats Monday Morning, Seguin or Ruyant?
    Extreme deliverance for Bestaven, Dalin celebrates by adding more sail




    Charlie Dalin (Apivia) became the second Vendée Globe skipper to round Cape Horn at 0439hrs early this Sunday morning, the 36 year old French skipper who originates from Le Havre, passing much closer than leader Yannick Bestaven (Maître Coq IV) did some 14 hours and 56 minutes earlier.

    Fighting his way north in 30-35 knot winds on his Verdier designed IMOCA Dalin was just six miles offshore of Cape Horn, passing during the hours of darkness.


    https://www.vendeeglobe.org/en/tracking-map



    But the first timer in the ‘big south’ – as yesterday was Bestaven - completed his initiation as a Cape Horner by calling the keeper of the lonely lighthouse at the end of the world and passing on his thanks and his regards, while quietly savouring the intense relief, the satisfying moments of deliverance into the ‘home’ Atlantic Ocean.

    Dalin sounded a tiny note of regret. That he had led at two of the race’s three Great Capes and not the third is contrary to his methodical, empirical mathematician’s mind - his ideal of completing the set.

    But if anything it will add fuel to Dalin’s desire to get back on terms with Bestaven during what promises the climb back up the Atlantic that looks set to be every bit as complicated – big picture strategy and small time tactics – as was the descent out of the Saint Helena high into the Roaring Forties five long weeks ago.

    “It’s just bliss. A great moment. I am also happy to no longer have the big seas that have been with us us for several days ” said Dalin who described himself as a ‘perfectionist and an optimalist, someone who will always do the best I can with what I have’ before he started his first ever round the world race back in Les Sables d’Olonne. Dalin has had to deal with a compromised port foil bearing which caused him to cede the lead to Bestaven back on December 16th, though he did have the lead again momentarily on Christmas Day.





    Bestaven, who is pushing for a more easterly route to the east side of a building high pressure, was almost gushing as he relived his relief during the hours since Cape Horn,
    “In my life as a sailor, that was the biggest storm I have ever seen. Mad seas, such as I have never seen so big, and gusts of 60 knots. It’s a huge relief now because it’s been so hard ”.

    Bestaven looked drained said on the French Live today. “When I got into the calm I was totally knocked for six, I was really exhausted.”

    Dalin, also speaking on the Live today smiled broadly, “I celebrated by putting up more sail (laughs). I passed close to the islands, the rocks no doubt, it was the first land I had seen since the islands of Trinidad. I had forgotten that it existed after so many days. The continental shelf was parallel to the swell and the wind, so I didn't notice any difference in the sea state. On the other hand, I had to get offshore a bit so that I did not end up in the windshadow.”

    Talking of the change of regime, Dalin, “ Jean Luc Bernot always tells us that we have to change our mode after Cape Horn, I'm going to do that. It's a good thing to be back in the Atlantic. I'm happy to have finished with the Pacific. It's a new phase of the race. I've been working for a few days now on the strategy for the climb back up, there are quite a few things to going on.”

    A complicated South Atlantic….Again!

    Now the strategy for the climb back to the Equator is all about looking long term. The initial strategies seem to see Bestaven going east to get round the east of the anticyclone and Dalin trying to work west to get through the initial light phase earlier. Dalin – looking like he will pass inside Staten Island through the Le Maire Straits - will gain initially but the real outcome would not be seen for more than ten days when they finally get back to the trade winds of the Saint Helena anticyclone.

    Sébastien Josse, weather consultant to the Vendée Globe explains, “We see this high pressure going east and so for Maître Coq he has to stay to the right, to the east of the high pressure but it is moving quite fast but he can end up parked in this area of light winds. He has to manage the high pressure but to stay to the east and in ten days it is about catching the trade winds of Saint Helena. So it is a hard job to make a strategy for the long term.”

    He adds, “ There is a lot of work right now ahead of them, one high pressure, one low pressure and a high pressure to get to the Trade Winds and beyond that to the Doldrums. So the next 14 days will be hard, intense work for the two leaders.”








    The mountain ranges in southern Chile rise to more than 3,000 meters and the islands of Patagonia have peaks of nearly 1000 metres. In the W’ly wind there can be very many areas of light winds especially closer to the land. And even though weather modelling has improved a lot here, the reality on the water is often different from the models. And as Dalin notes today, they are out of big ocean mode and back into regatta mode, from maintaining high, safe average to fine tuning, sleeping less and trimming more, looking for every marginal gain.

    A high pressure system is developing now from the coast of South America, north of the Falkland Islands. It will then gradually extend to the AEZ forcing the second group to cross it or make a big detour to the east, but with no real certainty of finding any extra wind.

    Christian Dumard, the weather specialist who works in tandem with Josse, confirms, “There are two possible options, to the follow the direct, shortest route north and try to push through the high before it expands too much, or to go east in search of more wind which is the better long term option.”

    Thomas Ruyant (Linked Out) and Damien Seguin (Groupe Apicil) are neck-and-neck in their race to be third at Cape Horn, Seguin a matter of five or six miles closer to the rock. With 195 nautical miles to go the pair should round in quick succession Monday morning, and might consider a late breakfast back in the Atlantic…..


    *************************






    Charlie Dalin, Apivia speaks of his Cape Horn rounding; " The passage of Cape Horn went well at around 4 am and about 6 miles offshore, it was still dark but it was not pitch black so I could see it so the half-light, the shadow of the rock, I could see the lights of the lighthouse, it was a rather cool moment for my first rounding of the Horn, with quite a lot of sea, a clear sky strewn with squalls, a beautiful moon. I called the lighthouse keeper so we could exchange a few words even if I didn't always understand what he was saying, it was nice.

    I celebrated by putting up more sail (laughs). I passed close to the islands, the rocks no doubt, it was the first land I had seen since the islands of Trinidad. I had forgotten that it existed after so many days. The continental shelf was parallel to the swell and the wind, so I didn't notice any difference in the sea state. On the other hand, I had to deviate a little bit from my route to avoid being fooled by the madman. (do sailors go mad or get fooled by a madman at the Horn?)




    Jean Yves Bernot always tells us that we have to change our mode after Cape Horn, I'm going to do that. It's a good thing to be back in the Atlantic. I'm happy to have finished with the Pacific. It's a new phase of the race. I've been working for a few days now on the strategy for the climb back up, there are quite a few things to going on. When you pass Cape Horn, you also take shorter naps. I have had a few less than usual. I have just received the weather files before the call, but I had not planned to go through the passage of the Le Maire straits

    Before gybing, I'll go do a quick check of the boat. It looks good, I was careful with the boat's acceleration in the last lot of big wind. I've been really careful, so I am not too worried about the state of the boat.

    It's gradually slowing down, the sun is coming up, I still have 25-30 knots, the sea has flattened out. The difference is really that we no longer have the big sea that there has been for the past few days, we had 7 metres of waves, it was starting to get big.

    I'm happy to have passed, to have made it. It was the third cape, I passed the first two in the lead, but fate would have it otherwise for the third. There is still a long way to go, still 7000 miles to go, and there are a lot of options at play.

    ****************************


    Message from Campagne de France.

    Yesterday, I made use of the light airs to go out to the end of the bowsprit (harnessed to the boat, of course) to tighten the leech and foot lines in the gennaker, which can only be done when the sail is unfurled. When I had nearly finished, but not quite, the autopilot decided to go on strike. I found myself with teh sail filling from the wrong side and me on the wrong side of it. Luckily there was hardly any wind. More fright than anything else. There's always a surprise when you least expect it...

    Perfect downwind conditions in 20 knots, proper Pacific swell. But all good things come to an end. There is a nasty low on its way from the north in the next few days, and I have no idea how I'm going to tackle it if it stays on track. Definitely not a good idea to get caught in big wind, and especially in big seas without an escape route, potentially blocked by the forbidden ice zone. If nothing changes, options are to slow down or go on a major detour, or perhaps miraculously it will change its course.


    *******************************



    Pip Hare this morning, "I am sitting here trying to think calm thoughts but struggling to choke down my huge frustration and disappointment at the moment.

    The light is just fading on another day of trying to get my emergency wind wand to work and despite several moments when I thought I had cracked it I still do not have any wind data on Medallia. As soon as it was light this morning I went out on deck and removed the wand to bring it down below and check all the connections. after some investigation I discovered a plug where corrosion on one of the terminals was growing and it looked like it was reaching across to another terminal and shorting the unit out. I was so happy to find this, did a bit of air punching and then removed the plugs and hard wired the connections together using crimp connectors and then securing the whole thing with a lot of tape.

    I reinstalled the unit and tuned it and it worked all day. I gybed and set it up on the other side still working but in the last hour the data has once again dropped out and I have not been able to find the fault. The wand is back down below with me now and I will have to start the whole fault finding process again.




    Meanwhile the latest weather system is almost upon us. I have been really happy with my course, put in a gybe at just the right moment and managed to stay ahead of Alan in La Fabrique all through the night. But now I have to back off. I have no idea what the wind strength is. From the waves I can see it is building, the barometer has been falling hard all day and is now on the rise again, and the forecast was for the wind to build to 32 knots in the next six hours so I think I is possible we will see 35 knots or even 40- through the night.

    Right now it is Medallia conditions I think about 26-28 knots of wind, and I should be flying, doing 18-20 knots of boat speed but I am not and it is killing me. As it is getting dark and I am tired and I know the wind is going to build quickly I have decided to reduce sail early and to sit this opportunity out, maybe by the morning I can get the wand working again, but even if not I can rest through the dark hours tonight and will be fit and ready to react quickly for sail changes tomorrow. I just can't afford to set the boat up to go fast and then fall asleep and wake up in 35 knots of wind. So we are going slowly but safely. I have never sailed Medallia like this. It feels so wrong, it's not relaxing at all and I am miserable at the thought of all of those miles that I am losing against everyone on the course. I know this is the right decision for this moment but it hurts like hell.
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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    A Flurry of Cape Horn Passages



    Rested and fully energised in beautiful sunshine, climbing north up the South Atlantic, the mercury rising and sailing in a moderate breeze, Vendée Globe leader Yannick Bestaven’s strategic choices may prove better than his off quay rendition of a Jonny Hallyday classic, but with a margin of over 170 miles – and at times peaking at over 20 knots earlier today, the 48 year old skipper of Maître Coq IV had every reason to be in full voice in a video he sent today.







    The weather modelling is quite unreliable where the race leaders are – as they proved on the descent of the Atlantic some five weeks ago – but there seems to be a chance that Bestaven might be able to wriggle out of a high pressure system and escape from his pursuers on a small depression which would sling shot him north. The next 48 hours will be key.


    At the same time as Bestaven was lapping up the sunshine, enjoying the benefits of leading the fleet into escalating temperatures, 750 nautical miles behind Germany’s Boris Herrmann was wrestling with some of the toughest moments of his race on SeaExplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco. At some 150 miles from his fourth racing rounding of the Cape, Herrmann tore the leech of his mainsail and so had to sail all the way past the horn only under his J3 – small headsail, dropping to be 10th at the Cape, the passage of which, he reported later, he hardly noticed in the 40-45 knots winds.

    Exhausted after the marathon repair, Herrmann reported late this afternoon, “I am happy to have got around the Horn but I hardly noticed it. I was just fully focused on repairing my mainsail. South of Cape Horn at 140 miles something like that I knew there was quite a bit of wind coming, 45-50 and I was going down through the sequence J3 and two reefs and was about to take the third reef and the leech of the sail caught the shrouds.”


    He explained, “ Luckily I was able to repair it. And that makes me really happy. It was complicated because it was structural, I had to dry and clean two layers up there in 45 knots of wind, it was pretty hairy on deck and I suppose it was well intentioned, but I finished today in the sunshine in the Atlantic. And now it is finally great to be in the Atlantic, sunshine, lighter winds and blue skies. And I have a mainsail up and that is just great.”




    From early this morning there was an unprecedented number of boats passing Cape Horn in short order. Four solo skippers passed Cape Horn in a period of less than four hours. Between 0240hrs UTC on Monday morning when Damien Seguin (Group APICIL) rounded and 0401hrs Tuesday morning when Isabelle Joschke (MACSF) rounded in 11th. eight IMOCA skippers rounded the famous Cape Horn and passed back into the Atlantic after over one month in the Southern Oceans.




    TRACKER


    RANKING

    At 0016hrs UTC last night it was the first Horn rounding in the career of Maxime Sorel (V and B Mayenne), 3hrs and 58 minutes after Jean Le Cam whose seventh time it was. Italy’s Giancarlo Pedote (Prysmian Group) rounded 55 minutes later at 0112hrs to become the first non-French skipper in ninth.

    At 0227hrs UTC Boris Herrmann of Germany fighting his problems made his fourth racing passage of his career rounding in tenth position on Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco, 1hr and 15 minutes after Pedote.

    Then at 0401hrs Isabelle Joschke crossed Cape Horn for the first time in her ocean racing career. Racing MACSF she was just 1hr and 34 mins behind Herrmann.

    Next to pass, and certain of mean, nasty Cape Horn conditions will be Clarisse Crèmer (Banque Populaire X) this evening followed by Armel Tripon (L’Occitaine en Provence).






    Second placed Charlie Dalin (Apivia) took time to reflect on the two different worlds, after his first time in the Southern Ocean, “The big South is a special place. It's hostile, there is always sea, wind, more wind than you think. The wind is heavy, powerful because it is cold. It was a great experience: the permanent change of time and the tiredness, the depressions which follow one another, it is a jumble of feelings to be in the middle of nowhere, far from any civilization. I spoke to a fishing boat at the beginning of the Indian ocean, it was the only one that I met in the whole South.

    For 30 days, I saw no sign of human life. We forget our life before the south, just as we forget the life before the pandemic. I forgot about life before the Southern Ocean. The other boats no longer existed, the land no longer existed. You are in an endless world of water. It is unique in the world to be in a place where the closest people are the astronauts. Right now the contrast is stark like when I spoke with the lighthouse keeper at the Horn, I saw a British RAF plane that flew over me, and now the maritime traffic reappears. It is reminiscent of the movie Waterworld. I feel like I'm coming back from a water world where the land was a fantasy. I come back from another planet. I've been through things that I wouldn't have experienced anywhere else, obviously that will have an influence on me."




    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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    despondent correspondent Photoboy's Avatar
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    Hare Today: Cape Passage Gone Tomorrow




    Tough week to the Horn for Pip, 25 year dream realised for Cape Horner Tripon, Seguin second
    18 miles between Suguin 2nd and Ruyant 4th

    With 1300 miles to sail to Cape Horn this next week will be the toughest of British skipper Pip Hare’s Vendée Globe. With her autopilot system compromised due to the lack of true wind direction and strength data input, Hare is having to constantly adjust her course manually using the pilot’s remote keypad which means she is on high alert all the time, leaving her little time to sleep and eat.

    But the 46 year old from Poole in England remains totally resolute, determined to look after her 20 year old IMOCA Medallia in order that the evergreen raceboat which is on its fifth round the world racing circumnavigation in turn looks after her.
    Racing behind a South Pacific low pressure system in 35-45 knots of wind and big, crossed seas Hare is focused on pinprick of light at the end of the long tunnel to her first Cape Horn rounding. Forecasts suggest that there will be no let up in the strong winds between now and the remote cape.
    “It is hard for me just now because the course is very downwind, and so I can’t just put the pilot on and have a snooze. If I surf down a big wave or the wind changes direction then there is a crash gybe. And so I have the autopilot control always attached to me, no matter what I do. I am so sensitive to everything. We are going OK. The down side right now is that I don’t sleep. I have done ten minutes here and there, dozes but I am hoping in six hours it will die down a bit, I will gybe and return back up a bit, then get south again on a more stable angle and I will get a snooze. We are doing alright. I just have to keep doing what I am doing.” Said Hare today.
    Her race – and her colourful and factual communication of it – has won her legions of fans and followers of all ages and all around the globe, increasingly in France.
    “The thing is that I have so many friends who are not sailing and people following us who are not into sailing who have no understanding of what I am doing out here, it is good to be able to share the experience.” Said Hare today before doing her first Live show in French.






    The passage of Cape Horn this morning at 0801hrs UTC was the realisation of a 25 year dream for Armel Tripon on L’Occitaine en Provence. In 13th place he was the first skipper so far on this race to be able to pass so close – a matter of three miles off – that he was able to clearly see the iconic outline of the rock on his misty horizon.

    After Romain Attanasio later this evening or early tomorrow, Hare could be next to Cape Horn but has the fast moving Jérémie Beyou on the foiling Charal – who had to restart 9 days after the start - around 400 miles behind. Beyou was less than happy with the Pacific conditions, again. In 2016 he was subjected to a big Pacific storm along with Yann Eliès, Jean Le Cam and Jean-Pierre Dick.

    "I don't know who invented the name Pacific, because I've never seen it peaceful in three circumnavigations of the world..." grimaced Beyou today from 18th position.




    And for the skippers on the climb up the Atlantic, they are savouring their re-entry from the vast, windswept plains of solitary greyness, returning to the technicolour world and sights and smells of land and humanity. Benjamin Dutreux was thrilled to be overflown by a plane returning to RAF Mount Pleasant in the Falkland Islands. Sixth placed Dutreux had just climbed his mast to get his J2 operational again. Meantime in 10th Maxime Sorel was close enough to the Falklands that he could smell the land. “It is just great to be here.” He remarked. “That said while I am enjoying the relative peace and quiet of these sailing conditions. I'm scratching my head quite a bit I have just drawn down the weather files and the routing offers me three different options.”

    The ascent of the Atlantic is complicated at least to the latitude of Rio. Increasingly it seems this is an edition of the Vendée Globe which has offered very, very few fast and easy miles.

    Maître Coq IV skipper Yannick Bestaven is the only competitor to have broken out of the high pressure system to get into new East-South-East flow of wind which will soon be reinforced by his hooking into a low pressure system.

    Bestaven has increased his lead to 245 nautical miles) while behind him the going has been slow and very slow. Near the centre of the high Charlie Dalin in second was doing just 2.5kts and was being caught by Damien Seguin who overtook Thomas Ruyant for third place, even if Ruyant and Seguin are 225 miles apart on opposite sides of the anticyclone. But in terms of distance to the next waypoint there are now just 35 miles between second placed Dalin and fourth placed Ruyant.







    ******************



    Miranda Merron, Campagne de France, "Yesterday before nightfall, the B&G autopilot, which has been almost faultless for weeks, started misbehaving in wind mode, pushing the helm hard over each way four times every time the boat slowed a bit in the waves in 25+ knots. It was highly unnerving, not to mention dangerous as the boat slewed perilously close to crash gybing one way and wiping out the other.

    I tried compass mode which worked for a while until it too started doing the same thing, but only 2 helm hard over rather than 4. I didn't dare switch to the NKE as the compass heading it displayed bore no reality to either magnetic or true, and I wasn't quite sure what it would do. It was too rough to use in wind mode as there is a loose connection or something somewhere aloft.
    In amongst all this, I had to gybe, which involves furling the headsail, going dead downwind and unfurling again on the new side to take the pressure off the mainsail and gybe it and the runners without wiping out. I only had time to move half the interior as the wind was shifting. It was pretty full-on trying to keep the boat in a straight line dead downwind as the autopilot didn't take kindly to the lower speed and was steering all over the place. Luckily the wind had dropped for a few minutes, only to kick in at 30 knots straight afterwards. Naturally it was the middle of the night, but it's never quite dark here. Having not slept, I had a siesta on the floor of the boat with it slewing wildly from time to time. Philippe Roger tried to help out before dawn, to no avail. At daybreak, I contacted B&G and NKE for the respective issues, and touch wood, both pilots are working.
    Thank you to David at NKE for the quick fix of the compass heading bug, and to Felix and the team at B&G for their trouble-shooting.
    Easy conditions now, and just trying ot work out how to tackle the nasty low that on its way in a couple of days. The only thing I'm sure about is having plenty of runway, a long way from the forbidden ice zone.

    Miranda Merron / Campagne de France

    ***********************

    Here are the times at Cape Horn.

    Saturday 2 January 2021

    1- Maître CoQ IV (Yannick Bestaven) at 13h42 UTC after 55d 00h 22min

    Sunday 3 January 2021

    2- Apivia (Charlie Dalin) at 04h39 UTC after 55d 15h 19min

    14h 56min after the leader

    Monday 4 January 2021

    3- LinkedOut (Thomas Ruyant) at 00h40 UTC after 56d 11h 20min

    1d 10h 57min after the leader ; 20h 00min after Apivia

    4- Groupe APICIL (Damien Seguin) at 02h40 UTC after 56d 13h 20min

    1j 12h 58min after the leader ; 02h 00min after LinkedOut

    5 - OMIA - Water Family (Benjamin Dutreux) at 14h52 UTC after 57d 01h 32min

    2d 01h 10min after the leader ; 12h 12min after Groupe APICIL

    6 - Bureau Vallée 2 (Louis Burton) at 17h14 UTC after 57d 03h 54min

    2d 03h 31min after the leader ; 02h 21min after OMIA - Water Family

    7- Yes We Cam! (Jean Le Cam) at 20h18 UTC after 57d 06h 58min

    2s 06h 35min after the leader ; 03h 04min after Bureau Vallée 2

    Tuesday 5 January 2021

    8 - V And B-Mayenne (Maxime Sorel) at 00h16 UTC after 57d 10h 56min

    2d 10h 34min after the leader ; 03h 58min after Yes We Cam!

    9 - Prysmian Group (Giancarlo Pedote) at 01h12 UTC after 57d 11h 52min

    2d 11h 29min after the leader ; 55min after V and B - Mayenne

    10 - Seaexplorer - Yacht Club de Monaco (Boris Herrmann) at 02h27 UTC after 57d 13h 07min

    2d 12h 44min after the leader ; 01h 15min after Prysmian Group

    11 - MACSF (Isabelle Joschke) at 04h01 UTC after 57d 14h 41min

    2d 14h 18min after leader ; 01h 34min after Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco

    12 - Banque Populaire X (Clarisse Crémer) at 22h18 UTC after 58d 08h 58min

    3d 08h 36min after the leader ; 18h 17min after MACSF

    Wednesday 6 January 2021

    13 - L'Occitane en Provence (Armel Tripon) at 08h01 UTC after 58d 18h 41min

    3d 18h 18min after the leader ; 09h 42min after Banque Populaire X

    ***********************


    TRACKER


    Thomas Ruyant, in third place in his more westerly position, is the clear winner in terms of miles this morning as the skipper of LinkedOut is quicker while Yannick Bestaven (Maître CoQ IV) and Charlie Dalin (Apivia) have been struggling in lighter airs. But longtime leader Bestaven – who has been top of the rankings since Christmas Day – is on the verge of breaking into a new weather system to his NE which could give the ‘red rooster’ wings and allow him to escape the chasing group still more.




    The weather charts show Bestaven about 50-70 miles from the southerly rotation of the low which will send him on his way. About 200 miles from Bestaven, Charlie Dalin is still in gentle airs and took the chance in the calm conditions to climb to the top of Apivia's mast and repair a wind vane, a small win for the skipper of the yellow hulled IMOCA.

    And Thomas Ruyant had a smile on his face. "I'm a bit off piste but I'm pretty happy, it's not so bad." Confided the skipper from Dunkirk. Ruyant was making quick progress this morning, at nearly 18 knots, on port tack, so on the side of his good foil, but he is objective: "Even if I don't have much hope of catching up with Yannick. I can come back at Charlie. I'm trying to find a way and get closer to the first two."



    The Horn, deliverance!
    Clarisse Cremer passed Cape Horn last night at 2218hrs UTC. It is the first time for the 32 year old sailor who has only been in the IMOCA class since 2018 when she was selected to the Banque Popualaire team to be fast tracked to the Vendée Globe. The release at the Horn, moving into the Atlantic was a relief for Cremer who admitted yesterday that she was "fed up" with the erratic and wild conditions of the low pressure which she rode to the Horn. After more than a month in the big South it will be a relieved and happy Cremer on board Banque Populaire in 12th place this morning. Romain Attanasio, should pass the last cape tomorrow evening looks forward to his second rounding: "A calm sea changes everything. You sleep longer and easier, without anxiety. The Southern Ocean is hairy, we are happy to get out of it."

    Next to pass the Horn will be Armel Tripon on his black and yellow L’Occitaine this morning Wednesday. The skipper from Nantes is sailing a direct course and should pass the lighthouse quite close, ideal for a first time rounding as it is for Tripon.
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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    Not The Crack You Were Looking For





    Britain’s Pip Hare is looking for a benevolent small weather window in the depths of the South Pacific Ocean to allow her to replace the port rudder of her IMOCA Medallia after she discovered a crack in its stock (the shaft which locates into the hull of the boat).

    It is complicated operation which the 45 year old solo Vendée Globe skipper practised at the dock in Les Sables d’Olonne, France before the solo non stop race around the world started on November 8th 2020, but which will be made much more difficult in one of the most hostile and loneliest areas of the southern oceans.

    “The crack is in the stock between the deck and the hull, just underneath where the quadrant attaches and every time the pilot was going to move the rudder the crack was getting a little bit worse. I have no choice but to change the port rudder. If I continue sailing hard the stock will fail under load in a matter of hours.” Hare reported, “Naturally I am completely devastated about this failure and what it means to my race but the only thing to do right now is to put the racing on hold and focus on solving this problem to keep both me and Medallia safe.”





    In her message the 45 year old from Poole, Dorset, added :

    “I am devastated but I am also accepting. This has happened and it cannot be changed. The only action now is to deal with the problem in the best way possible and then move forwards from there. I am hugely proud of my performance to date. It has been a total joy to race this intensely for 59 days and it will be a total joy to get back into the race when I am finished. I had a few tears but not many because this problem is a big one and there is only one way to deal with it - which is a total focus of energy on solving it and staying safe. I will never forget the fact I was 15th for so long and when I get back to racing again, whenever that may be I will do my very best to claw my way back up the fleet again for now I have just hit pause.”

    Her team say that Hare is looking to a potential break in the weather during the small hours of tomorrow (Thursday) morning, when the operation might be possible.

    Medallia’s boat captain Joff Brown explains the procedure :

    “The problem really is in getting the old rudder off because it is buoyant and so sinking it to get it out it is not easy to get a lot of leverage from the bottom. But it is something we had practiced in Les Sables d’Olonne before the start and so I think that gives Pip a bit of confidence in what she has to do. But the problem is the sea state has to be reasonably flat because when the rudder is angled and heels then there is more strain on the bearings. At the dock this whole process might take an hour or so but in seas like this it can take much more. But Pip is very focused and determined. There is a small weather window around 0100hrs (UTC – when it is still daylight for Pip) but if not then it could be a couple of days waiting. She is resigned to the situation and I am sure will deal with it and get on with what she has to do.”

    Medallia had a new spare rudder built by Jason Carrington Boats just before the boat was delivered to Les Sables d’Olonne. According to Brown this a standard procedure which he has practiced pre-start by previous skippers Dee Caffari and Rich Wilson previously using a method devised by Conrad Humphreys in 2004-5 where 50-60kgs of anchor chain is lowered below the rudder to help drop it out.

    Medallia was lying in 15th in the Vendée Globe fleet and still making just under eight knots under reduced sail. Alan Roura who is 16th is around 20 miles behind.




    TRACKER



    Bestaven makes a break but will it be decisive?

    Escaping first out of a high pressure which had slowed the leading four boats, Yannick Bestaven the skipper of Maître Coq has gained over 200 miles on the solo skippers immediately behind him. The 48 year old from La Rochelle has the biggest lead of the race yet at 440 nautical miles, ahead of Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) who passed Charlie Dalin (Apivia) again today, the French duo match racing only 12 miles apart today some 400 miles SE of Mar del Plata, Argentina.





    Bestaven, freshly shaved and looking bright warned "It's great to have been able to pass the high-pressure zone, I was able to gain some miles and then make good speed, it hasn’t been bad at all. I am satisfied with that, but when I look at what is going to happen ahead of me... I feel like the bungee cord is going to snap back and those behind me will start closing the gap. I hope there will be enough wind, as I only have a few tens of miles of advantage left. But I can’t let it stress me, I’m going to have to keep a cool head because I am going to lose a lot of ground again.”
    He joked, “I don't know who has been in charge of the weather during this Vendée Globe, but I’m telling you, we need a new meteorologist! It looks like everything has been working against us being able to arrive quickly back in Les Sables d'Olonne! The situation is very complicated, there are some lows which will suck up all the wind. Forming a strategy is difficult, because different models are showing different things. I don't think that anyone really knows how it's going to play out, but we'll have to be on top of it. I'm going fast but I'm also resting a lot to make sure I have my eyes wide open during the difficult 24/48 hours ahead, and be able to make the most of the wind that there is. I’ll have to approach at low a speed in the north to pick up on new winds. It will be a bit "Figaro-esque” and I know I have experts behind me. It won’t be a walk in the park! I’m going to try to make some real headway towards the end goal.”

    Boris Herrmann (Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco)

    “I am sailing upwind at an open angle 70 deg TWA, I am trying to just foil sailing as high as possible and at the same time not over-stress my boat, it is a fine balance always. It is a strong angle for us, as 70 I can foil, at 60 I don’t. I have a little swell passing underneath me which helps but when it passes all on your stern then you are a bit slow. I average about 16 knots just now so I have passed a couple of competitors which is good. Maybe if the wind was ten degrees further left I could average 18 knots, so here we have the little detail of the little bits of luck that play such a big role. Everything is good on board, I had a good sleep last night, I have changed all my clothes which feels great I feel like a new person coming out of the dark, great tunnel. We have another low to deal with that and then after that I will open the bottle of Champagne I got from Jean Yves Chauve (VG doctor) which I said I would open at the Equator, at the Cape of Good Hope, and Cape Leeuwin and Cape Horn and I still have it, and I never opened it as there was always something going on, I never felt like it to be able to appreciate it, and so I will do that when the time is right.”






    Charlie Dalin (Apivia) - who took over second place this morning:

    "I'm upwind towards this little depression, it's going to be like this all day long. I should be able to tack in the evening to take a route a little bit more towards the east - north/east. Yesterday it was complicated with the centre of the anticyclone. If I headed more north, I would meet it earlier because it was more towards the west at that moment. If I headed more east, I would also meet it because it was shifting east so the timing was actually pretty lousy! No matter how much I tried to turn the problem around, I couldn't avoid it.

    Now I'm moving on to the next one, I've changed my tack somewhat. I now have a small patch of wind with the depression, I should have 30 knots, yesterday I had 35. On the other hand it feels a little tighter than yesterday. The sea isn't too rough, it's actually rather pleasant. After that I should encounter a new zone of light wind, but the routing changes completely each time there is a new weather file. But my route around the low doesn't change at least, so I know what to do for the next twelve hours, that's not bad at all! After that it's not simple, but there's no reason for it to be simple. The descent has not been simple, the south has not been simple... at least it has been consistent you can say!

    In the area of light wind, things will still happen... The race is far from over! So much the better for my position. In terms of how long still remains on the race, I wouldn’t be surprised if we arrive in February. Well, maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit... In any case, I don't think we'll beat the record for the Atlantic climb.

    Since yesterday, I have been side by side with Thomas, we have found each other again. We'll see what happens next. We’re in similar situations really because we're both on our damaged foil. After the tack we'll be on our working foil, if the angle opens a little bit we'll go a little faster.

    We've gained a few degrees in temperature, I've put away my big fleeces, gloves, and hat, it's all in the cupboard now! I've taken out my inter-season clothes, let’s just say. In a few days it will be very hot, even too hot. The next few days will be the most pleasant, neither too cold nor too hot. I am entering my second spring, soon the second summer, then the second autumn and the second winter of the year. We're experiencing it in an accelerated fashion!

    So it's better not to count on me to fish, I'm a very bad fisherman! And I don't even think I have a fishing line... I left with 76 days of food. I have quite a lot of leftovers. I have enough to last a week or 10 days more, without rationing. If it lasts a little longer I'll have to be a little careful. But that doesn't worry me, I still have a bit of stock."


    *************************


    Pip Hare has just reported that she has had to transition out of full race mode for the meantime as she has discovered a crack in her port rudder. This is her message this morning, "

    Yesterday lunchtime, while doing my routine checks onboard Medallia I discovered that my port rudder stock is cracked and so I have had to suspend racing.

    The crack is in the stock between the deck and the hull (Ed note...level, close to the lower bearing), just underneath where the quadrant attaches and every time the pilot was going to move the rudder the crack was getting a little bit worse. I have no choice but to change the port rudder. If I continue sailing hard the stock will fail under load in a matter of hours.

    Naturally I am completely devastated about this failure and what it means to my race but the only thing to do right now is to put the racing on hold and focus on solving this problem to keep both me and Medallia safe.

    I have been lucky. I noticed the failure while I was on a port tack, so the rudder was not the one under load which immediately allowed me to disconnect all of the steering linkage, but keep control of the boat with the stbd rudder. This has prevented any further damage to both the stock or the steering gear. I am also lucky that I spotted this damage as I was due to gybe back onto Stbd and sail hard in 30 knots of wind in the next three hours and it is certain that the rudder stock would have failed at that point, with the boat under full sail and fully loaded up. I have a spare rudder onboard and so we can fix this problem.

    I am now sailing very slowly East, with just my small jib up, making way but under minimal load. My main objective now is to find suitable conditions to make the switch. This is challenging in this location as the sea state needs to be relatively calm. Yesterday it looked like there might be a window later on today. That could still be a possibility as the wind strength will drop but we have no idea how quickly the sea state will calm down to make this possible. If this window is not suitable then I will need to sail Medallia to the north to try and get out of the main flow of wind. This could take a few days but we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

    Naturally I am devastated. But I am also accepting. This has happened and it cannot be changed. The only action now is to deal with the problem in the best way possible and then move forwards from there. I am hugely proud of my performance to date. It has been a total joy to race this intensely for 59 days and it will be a total joy to get back into the race when I am finished. I had a few tears but not many because this problem is a big one and there is only one way to deal with it - which is a total focus of energy on solving it and staying safe. I will never forget the fact I was 15th for so long and when I get back to racing again, whenever that may be I will do my very best to claw my way back up the fleet again for now I have just hit pause.

    We will keep you up to date if the weather is not good to change the rudder today. There is no cause for worry or concern, I am safe, I am positive and we have a plan.
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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