• 7 Days To Destiny

    The race at the front of the Vendée Globe is electrifying. None of the eight previous editions has ever witnessed a race finish as open and intense. Right now the leading skippers are trying to get their heads around a do-or-die sprint to the finish line in Les Sables d’Olonne which has now less than one week to run.

    Even the most informed of France’s pre-race race prognosticators did not project a podium finish for the maverick 35 year old from Saint Malo Louis Burton, but most avid race watchers now see the skipper of Bureau Vallée as having a small lead as he is furthest north and faster than his nearest rivals.

    Even if the rankings have him fourth this evening – as he is to the west of his rivals - it looks like he may be first to round the Azores high pressure and connect with the low pressure express train to the finish line.

    “He can be into the southwesterly winds first and benefit from a lane through the high pressure corridor with a more constant wind flow and then with a more sustained better angle than his pursuers.” Suggested Sébastien Josse the weather consultant for the Vendée Globe. “The others will be more downwind, forcing them to manoeuvre more. Louis could stay in the same flow as far as Les Sables d'Olonne and be in several hours ahead at the finish."

    But the leader on the rankings Charlie Dalin says the two will re-connect, “We will meet again under the Azores and we will have to do a series of gybes and sail changes, there is still a lot of work to do before the finish!"

    As the tension builds and time counts down to the finish, the skippers are feeling the pressure like never before. Thomas Ruyant continues to be quick but the skipper who originates from Dunkirk, Normandy was clearly frustrated that with no port foil he will be compromised during the final sprint and may lose out.

    “I knew the Atlantic climb was going to be complicated with a lot of starboard tack,” he told the radio session this morning. "With a compromised boat it is difficult and frustrating not to compete with those around me on equal terms. But here I am I take my troubles patiently and hold on to a competitive spirit. In a few days, the downwind conditions will allow me to stabilize things a bit. There might be less of a performance gap so I'll do everything to keep in touch. "

    Germany’s Boris Herrmann (Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco) has progressively recovered miles since his passage across the Doldrums and is back pacing the leaders mile for mile, quickest on all of today’s measures and looking like he has the potential to finish across the line in a podium position.

    © Boris Herrmann / Imoca
    “It is pretty bouncy in the trade winds. Boris is looking forwards to getting into the high pressure system and getting into the lighter regime to really make sure he in the best shape for the finish sprint. He is intent in really looking after himself these next couple of days. He is very even headed and in a good place in his head. The breeze is dropping sooner than expected and you can see Louis is into light winds already.” Commented Herrmann’s usual co-skipper Will Harris.

    Predictions have the leaders arriving into Les Sables on the 27th January with as many as six boats arriving on the same day

    Pip Hare writes this morning, "After the events of yesterday I know I am special. I have had what I believe to be a unique Vendee Globe experience. I have been stung on the back by a Portuguese Man O War Jelly Fish. And yes, I know strictly they are not jelly fish but what ever they are, the little blighters are evil.

    I have always embraced that 'next level' concept of a challenge but I am not sure this is the direction I had in mind.

    It was as I sailed out from the last big depression that all these jellies got washed on board. There was a huge volume of water coming over the boat as I slammed off waves and although I didnt' see them at the time I noticed a whole heap of the bright blue blobs on the deck in the days afterwards. At the same time I ended up with a burn on the back of my neck. I thought it was strange as it came up suddenly and my dry top had not been irritating me but I assumed it was a reaction to the rubber neck seal and the fact I had not washed my hair for weeks so I put some cream on it, washed my hair and thought nothing more.

    Yesterday after a wonderfully productive day of onboard DIY in the sun. I lay down on my stack of sails for a quick moment to take in the evening and when I got up I noticed my back was hurting. Assuming this to be sunburn I reached around my back to feel how hot it was and was met with a big bulging blister.

    I am have a very small shore team supporting me in this race but boy, are they amazing. It just so happens that Lou, who is manages the campaign shore side while I am galivanting on the oceans, is also a medic and has practiced in Australia where these sorts of things are common. I took a photo of the blister with some difficulty it being on my back, and sent it to her. We then exchanged messages for a while wondering what the hell could have caused the burn. All the while my back got redder and the blister grew. I, linking it to the blister on my neck was busy wondering what vitamin deficiency was bringing me out in skin lesions and she was rather randomly asking me if I had been stung by anything. To which I replied, 'What? there is nothing out here.'

    Slowly the penny dropped and there must have been a Portugese man o war on the sail back I had lain on. There are several of them all over the boat, in rope bags and tucked into corners that don't drain the water in my cockpit. Little did I know they were still venomous when they are dead. I took a selfie with one the other day! I now know that I must have had a wave with one of these in it wash over my head and that is how I got the burn on the back of the neck. This is some unique sort of luck.

    So now I have what is effectively a chemical burn which I am trying to treat with my hands behind my back and I need to keep reasonably dry and clean to avoid it getting infected. Just to add a little bit of extra complication to the rest of my race. I am laughing about it, despite the pain, as I think only I could have managed to come up with such a problem on top of sailing solo around the world. This was not one of the problems that I contingency planned for. Laughing is the right response, the only other option would be to curl up in a fetal position and hoping the wind eventually blows me back to LSD.

    This article was originally published in forum thread: 2020-2021 Vendee Globe PD Coverage Central started by Photoboy View original post