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Thread: The Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables d’Olonne Is On

  1. #1
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    The Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables d’Olonne Is On

    RACE PREVIEW - THE ACTION BEGINS FOR THE IMOCA CLASS WITH THE UNIQUE CHALLENGE OF THE VENDÉE-ARCTIQUE-LES SABLES D’OLONNE RACE





    After the unprecedented interruption of the IMOCA racing season because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the action on the water is finally about to start with the innovative new ‘Arctique’ race. (Start 4th of July, 3.30pm CET)

    The Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables d’Olonne race, with a unique course, a modified race organisation to meet the requirements of public safety and a new bespoke communications plan, has been devised to make up for the loss of The Transat CIC Race and the New York-Vendée-Les Sables d’Olonne race.

    The 3,566-mile “warm-up” for this year’s Vendée Globe solo round-the-world race, starts on Saturday afternoon from outside Les Sables and will feature 20 skippers from five nations, among them four female skippers.

    The IMOCA Class regards this brand new race as an important step towards not just preparation and qualification for the Vendée Globe for the skippers, but helping their commercial partners get ready for the Vendée Globe later this year.

    IMOCA describes the Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables d’Olonne race as “a powerful symbol to boost the confidence of the 125 partners committing to the Vendée Globe.” The race will also provide an opportunity to implement all of the on-board systems and processes that will be in place during the Vendée Globe.

    The race features almost all the Vendée Globe top guns with the notable exception of Britain’s Alex Thomson on board Hugo Boss who has decided not to take part and focus instead on his own build-up strategy to his fifth entry in the world’s greatest solo ocean race.

    The race will provide the opportunity for five skippers to formally complete their qualification for the Vendée Globe – Clément Giraud (Vers Un Monde Sans Sida), Isabelle Joschke (MACSF), Kojiro Shiraishi (DMG MORI GLOBAL ONE), Sébastien Simon (Arkéa Paprec) and Armel Tripon (L’Occitaine En Provence).




    © Pierre BOURAS
    Because of the Covid-19 pandemic there will be no race village at Les Sables d’Olonne. Instead skippers – sailing solo – will arrive at the start area outside the town by 13.00 hours local time on Saturday, ready to take the start at 15.30. They will use the same start zone that will be used for the Vendée Globe on November 8th. The race is expected to take 10-12 days, with the first finishers due on July 14th.

    Most of the skippers will be intent on just trying to complete the course and make sure their boat does so in one piece. The course takes them north to a virtual waypoint – the ‘IOC-UNESCO’ Waypoint, named in honor of the IMOCA Class 'science and ocean' partner – about 200 miles southwest of the southwest tip of Iceland, before then turning south to the ‘Gallimard Editions’ Waypoint off the Azores and from there to the finish at Les Sables d’Olonne.

    This race will take the IMOCA fleet farther north than ever before. The skippers are likely to face tough conditions in the opening phase, including strong headwinds in big seas off Rockall in an area where there are also plenty of commercial fishing boats.

    While the first half looks pretty tough – and is dominated by the effects of a classic North Atlantic low pressure system – the second half could be dominated by light winds. The race director may yet move the Gallimard Waypoint if there is a danger that the fleet will become trapped in light airs around the Azores.

    At the front of the fleet this will be an exciting opportunity to see how the new foilers perform going upwind with the latest boats expected to produce consistently faster boatspeed on this point of sail than before. The top performers are likely to include Jérémie Beyou on Charal, Charlie Dalin on Apivia, Thomas Ruyant on LinkedOut, Kevin Escoffier on PRB and Boris Herrmann on SeaExplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco.




    ©GauthierLebec/Charal
    Armchair racers will be able to follow the action on the official tracker which will be updated every 30 minutes, all day and all night. At the start, the position updates will be posted every five minutes. There will also be coverage on French, German and Italian television.

    The Official Timekeeper for the Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables d’Olonne race is watchmaker Ulysse Nardin which is also the official timekeeper for the Vendée Globe. The first skipper to reach the turning mark south of Iceland will receive a timepiece from Ulysse Nardin, as will the winner at the finish.








    Several of the skippers will be using the race to help study the health of the Atlantic Ocean. Six of them will deploy weather buoys during the race which will gather meteorological and oceanographic data and two boats – that of Fabrice Amadeo (Newrest-Art & Fenêtres) and Boris Herrmann – will carry on-board sensors measuring ocean salinity, CO2 levels, temperature and micro-plastics in the water. Boris will also deploy an Argo Profiling Float which will measure salinity and temperature.






    Yves Auvinet President of the Council of the Vendée Department, said the Vendée is underlining its status as the centre for sailing in France with its hosting of this new race.

    “The primary partner of the Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables d’Olonne race, the Vendée department is asserting itself more than ever as THE department for sailing,” he said.

    “Indeed, with its 255 kilometres of coastline, the Vendée is naturally geared towards the sea, which forms an integral part of its identity and promotes the intrinsic values of the people of the Vendée: namely the zest for a collective adventure and a passion for setting oneself new targets. As a result, we are delighted that the Vendée is playing host to this race organised by the IMOCA Class,” he added.

    The town of Les Sables d’Olonne is also delighted to be hosting this race which is now a vital part of the build-up to the Vendée Globe from Les Sables in November.

    “Celebrated as the start venue for the Vendée Globe, Les Sables d’Olonne has also been the finish venue for the summer’s final preparatory race since 2016.

    “As soon as the COVID-19 crisis made the race start in New York impossible, the town of Les Sables d’Olonne immediately agreed to pull out all the stops to host all the sailors at the start of this race with its new formula.

    In this way, the 4 July kick-off will serve as the ideal dress rehearsal on the same start zone as the Vendée Globe this coming November,” the town said in an official statement.

    Ed Gorman
    Last edited by Photoboy; 07-10-2020 at 01:40 PM.
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    The Fleet Departs Les Sables d’Olonne




    The start of the Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables d’Olonne Race saw a fleet of 20 IMOCAs foiling away from the start box outside Les Sables d’Olonne after the most unusual build-up in racing history.

    There was no dock-out surrounded by thousands of fans and only a small spectator fleet as the IMOCA class got down to business for the first time this year with its unique “warm-up” race for the 2020 Vendée Globe solo round-the-world race in November.

    All the skippers had come into the start area off Les Sables D’Olonne from their respective ports and then answered the gun at 15.30 local time with a fresh, 15-17-knot southwesterly breeze blowing in off a grey Biscay with occasional breaking waves.







    Under leaden skies, this gave the skippers a close reach on starboard tack to the Pasteur Institute turning mark, eight nautical miles south of the line. Leaving that to starboard, they then turned their bows north-northwest as they began their long voyage towards Iceland, somewhere this class has never been before.

    Twenty-one boats had initially been entered for the race but Alain Roura on La Fabrique has remained ashore to be on hand when his wife gives birth. Another notable absentee is Britain’s Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss who elected not to take part in this 3,600-mile course, which takes the fleet to the Azores after a turning mark off Iceland and then back to Les Sables.

    The IMOCA fleet certainly lived up to its name for cutting edge design and speed as the monohulls headed away from the line, accompanied by media boats on the water and helicopters in the air above them, with boatspeeds in the late teens and up to 20 knots at times.

    The big surprise early on was Armel Tripon at the helm of the brand new Sam Manuard-designed L’Occitane en Provence which was built last year by Black Pepper Yachts in Nantes and is using this race to formally qualify for the Vendée Globe. She looked fast and sleek at the head of the field, in her all-black livery and gold lettering, under one reef and a staysail.

    Hot on her heels was one of the favourites for the Vendée Globe, Jérémie Beyou on Charal, flying a bigger headsail and one reef. Also in the leading group was Apivia skippered by Charlie Dalin and Kevin Escoffier on board PRB, two hugely talented skippers who will be taking on the Vendée Globe for the first time.








    Elsewhere in the top half of the fleet were Sébastien Simon on Arkéa Paprec, Boris Herrmann of Germany aboard SeaExplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco and Britain’s Sam Davies on Initiatives-Coeur.

    The official ranking at the Pasteur Institute Buoy placed Tripon just ahead of Beyou with Thomas Ruyant on LinkedOut in third place, Dalin fourth and Escoffier fifth.

    Five skippers are using this race to formally qualify for the Vendée Globe. In addition to Tripon, they include Isabelle Joschke on MACSF, Kojiro Shiraishi on DMG Mori Global One, Simon on Arkéa Paprec and Clément Giraud on Vers Un Monde Sans Sida.





    TRACKER


    Ahead of the fleet lies an interesting and challenging voyage to the IOC UNESCO Waypoint that is located about 125 nautical miles southwest of the southwestern tip of Iceland. The boats will continue in this southwesterly airflow as they head past Brest and across the mouth of the English Channel with the wind increasing in strength. It is then forecast to drop off into the mid-teens from the north-northwest which will be hard on the wind.

    This is a complex and busy stretch of water with plenty of commercial shipping and fishing boats for the skippers to keep an eye out for, meaning that there will be precious little sleep for any of them in the early stages of this race.

    Two-and-a-half hours into the race Beyou’s Charal was leading, making 17 knots upwind, with Dalin’s Apivia second about half a mile behind, then Tripon (1.1), Simon (1.2) Ruyant (1.8), Escoffier (1.9), Herrmann (3.0) and Joschke (3.5). The backmarkers at that stage were Britain’s Miranda Merron on Campagne de France and Giraud.







    https://www.imoca.org/en/news/news/t...endee-arctique
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    July 6th Update: Carnage Tally Grows



    On July 6th 2020 at 07:00 (TU) skipper Kojiro Shiraishi onboard “DMG MORI Global One” had a problem with his main sail’s hook system.

    Kojiro is now sailing under 2 reefs with 15 knots of North West wind and but cannot hoist the mainsail higher than the second reef.

    With wind dropping within the next hours, this problem will make the boat slower than usual.

    The shore team is proposing different solutions to try to fix this problem. Kojiro is waiting better weather conditions to try to repair the hook system.

    More information to come



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





    At 6pm this evening, Damien Seguin, skipper of the 60’ Groupe APICIL monohull warned his shore team that he was heading back to Brittany. Leaving his 14th position in the Vendée -Arctique - Les Sables d'Olonne and 11.5 knots of average speed behind.

    The cause is known to be the breakage of the alternator support, which is no longer attached to the engine, preventing the batteries from being fully recharged. Damien believes that he cannot fix this technical problem during the race. Currently at 50% battery charge, APICIL Group cannot rely on just its hydrogenerators alone, which are less efficient upwind. As a reminder, a lack of energy on board would limit the possibility of retrieving the essential weather information for the race – a crucial element considering the difficult navigation conditions to come. The triple Paralympic medallist chose to return to Brittany for security reasons. Damien is currently sailing back with 2 reefs in the mainsail and the J3 in place, in 25 knots of westerly wind. His team is preparing to welcome him to shore in the early hours of the morning.

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




    After the damage caused to the starboard foil at the start of the race yesterday, Sébastien Simon sailed back to his home port at Port-La-Forêt around 3 am this morning.

    The skipper was greeted by Vincent Riou and his team who were able to make the first observations. The damage caused by the foil breakage on the hull and the desire not to waste time to start the repairs prompted Sébastien to take the decision to abandon the Vendée Arctique Les Sables d'Olonne race.

    A few words from Sébastien Simon upon his arrival in Port-La-Forêt:

    "I am abandoning the Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables d'Olonne. The hull has been damaged during the foil breakage and a small water inlet has formed. For us to continue this race, it would entail around 15 days of reparations as we don't want to rush the repairs. I therefore prefer to make this decision even if it is with a lot of regret. What makes me happy is to race, it's more than just being on the water."

    "The important thing now, is to bring together all the actors who participated in the design and construction of this foil to understand what happened. A 3rd foil is under construction and the one on the port side of the boat is reversible. We will make every effort to ensure that this does not happen again on these next foils."







    Back to the damage and the departure

    “For around 3 hours we were heading upwind on a port tack, sailing at almost 17 knots. There was a little bit of sea. The J3 was in place and 1 reef in the mainsail. I just happened to head inside for a bite to eat, when I heard a huge crack. The boat went down, the foil had just broken."

    "I had a pretty average start but I soon realized that the boat had great upwind potential. I moved up directly into the lead group. I was going pretty fast at that point. I had a good start to the race, I was in 4th place and I had PRB behind me which was a great reference. I’m frustrated because I didn’t intend to push the boat's limits."

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




    Day 3 Monday 6.7. After the storm is before the storm.

    The ocean is very very blue right now. Cold and clear air. Warmth in the shelter of the cockpit. The sun makes it all easier out here. Today for me: Drying the skin and clothes after yesterday’s wind battle. Quite a bit of tension on the nerves when the boat slams hard and it gusts above 30. In a race around the world it’s quite likely to never be in 3rd reef, to never go upwind against such nasty stuff. I took it slow. Slowed down. Sat there next to the pilot and as soon as the boat wanted to start foiling I would head her more into the wind to slow down to prevent the nasty crashes into waves.

    I still feel a bit of the tension. It just slowly gets out of the body. Usually it’s accompanied with a bit of a blue note and feeling alone. Today that’s better than usual. It’s more impatience. Wanting to be fast and quick back home with my new baby. Mentally this feels easier then usual - more like a coastal training. The next waypoint already in 3 days. That’s mentally very achievable. I will just be fully in the rhythm and arrived here on board on the high seas by then.



    The tack today took a really long time. Starting with lots of routings to decide the best moment, all the stacking, after that tuning into the new mode and finally cleaning up the messy ropes in the cockpit.

    Now nothing is left. Then to sleep and catch up to the full energy level and sharpness. I would say I am at 60% now. Every activity takes a bit longer. The brain is slower. But I would not manage to lay down during the day. Don’t know why ... so many details to be looked after. Although I really didn’t sleep much at all yet. And when I slept - never got woken up by the alarm. Always before. Often only 10 mns. Checking the ais, the radar, the speed of the others... unfortunately I lost the leading pack on ais. Fortunately I am out of the coastal stuff ... and on the real ocean.

    Earlier This morning I tacked very near the Irish coast. Wouldn’t have minded to scout out one of these little bays, anchor and hike to the next distillery. It’s such a nice sensation to sail on flat water after a day of hard pounding !
    The ocean is still pretty wavy right here. It prevents the boat from picking up more speed.

    But she is at peace now. A small humming at the foil. A gentle roll with the swell. Just a few hours till we approach another low with strong winds starting at midnight again but only lasting till 5 in the morning. The rest after that is 2 more tacks and light to medium upwind fetching. Looking forward to tomorrow morning after the storm. Hoping to gain some miles back on the front. But not inclined to risk anything. We still need this boat! Once we are through the next 2 nights we are somewhat in what I would call the north. Above the track of the typical lows. Very short nights. Cold. I am looking forward to that. I will speak to the gods of the north in my dream.


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



    TRACKER




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  4. #4
    Those foils are fast until they collide with something.

    Not convinced that the risks outweigh the benefits.

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    Charal Takes Charge On Day 3

    IMOCA Open 60 – Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables – Day 3


    TRACKER


    In fresh winds around 25kn West of Ireland, the fleet is heading North this morning with Thomas Ruyant FRA on his Open 60 LinkedOut increasing the advantage continuously. He was 16nm ahead of Jérémy Beyou FRA (Charal) at the last checkpoint. One mile farther behind followed Charlie Dalin FRA (APIVIA) on rank 3. Boris Herrmann GER (SeaExplorer) moved up on the 4th position with a 53nm deficit.

    The best woman Isabelle Joschke FRA/GER (MACSF) is on the 6th place leading Samantha Davies GBR (Initiatives Coeur) and Clarisse Cremer FRA (Banque Populaire) on the ranks 7 and 8 by a small margin. After Sébastien Simon FRA and Damien Séguin FRA, it was Armel Tripon FRA (Loccitane) yesterday who was forced to abandon the race with structural damages.

    Apparently, the repairs after a collision with flotsam done in a hurry before the start were not sustainable enough.




    ****************
    Approaching the end of their third day at sea, the leaders in the Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables d’Olonne Race are heading northwest in strong-northeasterly winds, about 550 nautical miles southeast of the IOC UNESCO Waypoint.

    After leading the race almost continually from the start, Thomas Ruyant on LinkedOut has now been overtaken by fellow Frenchman Jérémie Beyou on Charal. The change in order at the head of affairs came this morning as the boats were sailing to the west of a centre of low pressure at a position about 225 miles west of Donegal.




    Beyou had chosen a course slightly further west than Ruyant (+2.3) and this gave him a faster reaching angle and both he and Charlie Dalin on Apivia (+3.4) – who is close to him on the water – were benefitting. Beyou is on course to reach the turning mark south west of Iceland at around midday on Thursday, but first he and his rivals will have to cross an area of light winds which could re-shuffle the order once again.

    Race director Jacques Caraës says it remains an open contest at the head of the fleet. “The wind is only going to ease off and be relatively erratic,” he said this morning. “We are starting to see the strategies taking shape, particularly Thomas Ruyant’s strategy, which is more off to the east…but this IOC-UNESCO buoy is still a long way off and anything can still happen.”

    The other big change up front is that Kevin Escoffier has lost quite a bit of ground after suffering a tear in his mainsail on board PRB. Escoffier who is aiming for his first Vendée Globe start in November on Vincent Riou’s now much-modified old boat, had dropped to 6th place in the ranking, around 40 miles behind Beyou.

    Just ahead of Escoffier, Boris Herrmann on Seaexplorer-YC de Monaco remains locked in a tight scrap with Isabelle Joschke on board MACSF who are holding fourth and fifth places respectively, with Herrmann around 34 miles off the leading pace. In his reports from on board Herrmann has made it clear that he has been holding back a bit in the tough upwind battles to protect his boat from conditions that he says are unlikely to be encountered in the Vendée Globe itself. He has also found it hard to settle in and get sleep on a course that has given the sailors little respite from the start.

    Elsewhere in the fleet, Clarisse Crémer is continuing to sail an impressive race as the leading non-foiler on Banque Populaire X. She was lying in eighth place, 62 miles behind Beyou and with Maxime Sorel, the next best non-foiling entry, about 20 miles behind her in 10th position on V&B Mayenne. The backmarker is Manuel Cousin whose Groupe SÉTIN was 260 miles behind Beyou at a position about 170 miles west-southwest of the Fastnet Rock.

    The catalogue of damage in the fleet continues to mount with three retirements out of the 20 starters. Following in the wake of Sébastien Simon (broken foil), is Damien Seguin (broken alternator mounting) and now Armel Tripon on board L’Occitane en Provence who is currently on his way back home. Tripon’s boat suffered structural damage in a collision three weeks ago and it is thought a weakness in the section of hull affected by that earlier impact has now been exposed by the upwind conditions in this race. Although disappointed to be retiring from a race that he was using to qualify for the Vendée Globe, Tripon was in an upbeat mood as he headed back to Brittany to get the problem sorted out. Under the rules he will still be able to qualify for the Vendée Globe because he can sail a replacement 2,000-mile course so long as he completes it by September 15th. So his team will be up against the clock.

    Other boats reporting on board issues include Kojiro Shiraishi’s DMG MORI Global One which has a mainsail hook problem which has prevented the Japanese sailor form raising his sail above a certain point, while the Italian sailor Giancarlo Pedote has electrical problems on board Prysmian Group.

    Ed Gorman


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




    Day 3 Monday 6.7. After the storm is before the storm.

    The ocean is very very blue right now. Cold and clear air. Warmth in the shelter of the cockpit. The sun makes it all easier out here. Today for me: Drying the skin and clothes after yesterday’s wind battle. Quite a bit of tension on the nerves when the boat slams hard and it gusts above 30. In a race around the world it’s quite likely to never be in 3rd reef, to never go upwind against such nasty stuff. I took it slow. Slowed down. Sat there next to the pilot and as soon as the boat wanted to start foiling I would head her more into the wind to slow down to prevent the nasty crashes into waves.

    I still feel a bit of the tension. It just slowly gets out of the body. Usually it’s accompanied with a bit of a blue note and feeling alone. Today that’s better than usual. It’s more impatience. Wanting to be fast and quick back home with my new baby. Mentally this feels easier then usual - more like a coastal training. The next waypoint already in 3 days. That’s mentally very achievable. I will just be fully in the rhythm and arrived here on board on the high seas by then.
    The tack today took a really long time. Starting with lots of routings to decide the best moment, all the stacking, after that tuning into the new mode and finally cleaning up the messy ropes in the cockpit.

    Now nothing is left. Then to sleep and catch up to the full energy level and sharpness. I would say I am at 60% now. Every activity takes a bit longer. The brain is slower. But I would not manage to lay down during the day. Don’t know why ... so many details to be looked after. Although I really didn’t sleep much at all yet. And when I slept - never got woken up by the alarm. Always before. Often only 10 mns. Checking the ais, the radar, the speed of the others... unfortunately I lost the leading pack on ais. Fortunately I am out of the coastal stuff ... and on the real ocean.

    Earlier This morning I tacked very near the Irish coast. Wouldn’t have minded to scout out one of these little bays, anchor and hike to the next distillery. It’s such a nice sensation to sail on flat water after a day of hard pounding !
    The ocean is still pretty wavy right here. It prevents the boat from picking up more speed.

    But she is at peace now. A small humming at the foil. A gentle roll with the swell. Just a few hours till we approach another low with strong winds starting at midnight again but only lasting till 5 in the morning. The rest after that is 2 more tacks and light to medium upwind fetching. Looking forward to tomorrow morning after the storm. Hoping to gain some miles back on the front. But not inclined to risk anything. We still need this boat! Once we are through the next 2 nights we are somewhat in what I would call the north. Above the track of the typical lows. Very short nights. Cold. I am looking forward to that. I will speak to the gods of the north in my dream.
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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    A good dose of light winds, a long lift, a change of leader and another epic battle within the match for 4th place… This fifth day of the Vendée – Arctique – Les Sables d’Olonne has reshuffled the cards once again. As per usual… or almost.

    Charlie Dalin (Apivia) and Jérémie Beyou (Charal) are continuing their ascent of the north face, foil against foil. After 98 hours of traversing the weather systems, 0.6 miles separates them tonight. They are now just 230 miles from the ICO-UNESCO waypoint positioned to the south-west of Iceland at 62°N 25°W. This morning, the skipper of Charal had the upper hand by just a handful of miles. Then the duo had to negotiate a ridge of high pressure, which saw Jérémie Beyou fall into a patch of calm airs, giving Charlie Dalin the opportunity to sidestep him and make good his escape.

    “To win races, said Jérémie Beyou at this Wednesday’s telephone link-up, you have to be good… and have a bit of luck on your side. I just missed out on the latter… It’s annoying. I was the first to tack, at the front of the pack, and I’m the one who’s done most of the legwork. There’s some logic in it though: when you’re leading, the others see your situation in slow-mo. They’re no idiots, they go round the outside”.

    Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut), the leader until Tuesday morning, before being penalised by his slightly extreme northerly option in the strong winds, has managed to slink back up into third position some 42 miles astern of the leaders at the 18:00 ranking.





    18 miles behind him, a four-way battle for fourth place is really where the action is. The 18:00 ranking painted a very different picture from this morning’s play: Kevin Escoffier (PRB) is 4th, further west than the Briton, Samantha Davies (Initiatives-Coeur) who is lying in 5th position. German skipper Boris Herrmann (Seaexplorer – Yacht Club de Monaco) is 6th and Isabelle Joschke (MACSF) 7th. What’s more, there is precious little separating them!

    TRAFFIC JAM AT THE MARK?
    The leaders, who were trotting along gently this morning, have gradually been lifted over the course of the afternoon, providing the perfect opportunity to give the foils on port tack a bit of exercise. Having had their speed curbed a little in the same ridge of high pressure, the chasing pack should also find a bit more air and with it the benefit of a more direct course. Calm conditions are the order of the day for everyone at the ICO-UNESCO waypoint, resulting in the top 14 boats squeezing back together on the leader board. The situation should also benefit the back runners, whose passage around the northern waypoint should – thanks to the magic of weather – be completed less than 24 hours after the leaders.

    COURSE REDUCTION
    Whilst the fleet is busy up north, Race Management for the Vendée – Arctique – Les Sables d’Olonne has repositioned the Gallimard mark, the second waypoint, which was initially set to the north of the Azores. Alas, a zone of high pressure is currently making itself at home over the archipelago and, to prevent the back runners becoming ensnared in the light airs, Jacques Caraës has opted to shorten the course and reposition the Gallimard mark very slightly below the latitude of Les Sables d’Olonne, around 400 miles from the coast of the Vendée department (read below).

    For nearly four days now, the IMOCA fleet has been working hard and dealing with a great many different situations and points of sail in a short space of time. In the process, it has spared no expense in terms of human effort or material constraint. The first finishers are due across the line overnight on Tuesday 14 July through into the morning of Wednesday 15 July. These 10 to 12 days at sea are just what was originally scheduled for the winner, so the programme remains virtually the same!












    RANKING ON WEDNESDAY 8 JULY (18:00 FRENCH TIME)
    17 SKIPPERS ON THE RACETRACK
    1 – Charlie Dalin (Apivia) 1,752.3 miles from the finish
    2 – Jérémie Beyou (Charal) 0.6 miles behind the leader
    3 – Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) 42.4 miles behind the leader
    4- Kevin Escoffier (PRB) 60.5 miles behind the leader
    5 - Sam Davies (Initiatives Cœur) 60.7 miles behind the leader
    6 – Boris Herrmann (Seaexplorer – Yacht Club de Monaco) 63.8 miles behind the leader
    7 - Isabelle Joschke (MACSF) 67.9 miles behind the leader
    8 – Yannick Bestaven (Maître-CoQ IV) 71.6 miles behind the leader
    9 - Clarisse Crémer (Banque Populaire X) 85.5 miles behind the leader
    10 - Maxime Sorel (V and B – Mayenne) 102.8 miles behind the leader

    retirements: Armel Tripon (L’Occitane en Provence), Damien Seguin (Groupe APICIL), Sébastien Simon (ARKÉA PAPREC)

    QUOTES FROM THE BOATS
    Jacques Caraës, Race Director for the Vendée -Arctique -Les Sables d’Olonne
    “By repositioning the Gallimard mark, Race Management and the weather cell are simply trying to refine the ETAs (estimated time of arrival). A high pressure system is settling in over the Azores, which the back runners might well have become ensnared in if the initial positioning had been retained. Positioning the mark at 46°20N – 015°W enables us to pretty much stick to the initial format of around 12 days. It is likely there will be a bunching up of the fleet with around thirty hours separating the first and last boats. The skippers in the Class IMOCA have really had their work cut out in the first part of the race. When you sail a course from north to south, you know that you’re going to pass through various weather systems rather than accompanying them: low pressure systems, ridges of high pressure, sustained or light winds, all of which enable you to play around with strategies and work on points of sail. This is evidenced by the fact that the IMOCAs with classic (straight) daggerboards are still in the match and it’s very difficult to predict who will make the podium!”

    Jérémie Beyou (Charal)
    “There’s still all to play for, but Charlie is in front nonetheless. I’m not really looking too much at what’s going on around me though. I’m focusing on trying to get my bearings and get a feel for being aboard, but I’m still looking at the ranking. I’d managed to make a bit of a clean break, but I don’t have that anymore. It’s a bit disappointing. I’m going to continue doing as I see fit”.

    Fabrice Amedeo (Newrest - Art & Fenêtres)
    “We have flat seas and it’s very pleasant. It’s very cold though. It’s hard to imagine that it’s summertime in France. Here, the ambiance is two fleece layers and a hat. The oceanographic sensor is working well. It’s not always easy to change the microplastic filters when there’s a lot of breeze and heavy seas, but I’m trying to find the right moment each day according to the weather”.

    Samantha Davies (Initiatives-Cœur)
    “10 degrees this morning under my cuddy. I’ve got out the clothes I haven’t worn since the Southern Ocean during my previous round the worlds! I haven’t yet resorted to “THE Arctic socks”, as I only have one pair and I really want to make the most of them once I’ve passed 60 degrees North! It was a calmer night in terms of the conditions and motion of the boat, but the shifty wind called for me to work on my trimming and sail choices, so it was impossible to get in any long naps. Fortunately, I have managed to link together a series of siestas (in my bunk, which was moving around a lot less than on previous nights) between the trimming”.
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    TRACKER

    Thomas Ruyant regained the lead of the Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables d’Olonne Race at exactly the right moment today as he became the first skipper to round the turning mark off the southwest corner of Iceland.

    Ruyant on board LinkedOut had been in third position behind Charlie Dalin on Apivia and Jérémie Beyou on Charal as the leading trio approached the IOC-UNESCO Waypoint southwest of Iceland in very light and fickle winds.

    But staying to the left of the pair ahead of him, he tacked inside them in the final approach to the mark and rounded the virtual corner on this unique racetrack just a mile ahead of Dalin, with Beyou three-and-a-half miles back in third position.







    Ruyant dominated the early stages of this mainly upwind course before dropping to third place during the traverse of the depression west of Scotland. Towards the end of his fifth day at sea, he is now heading south into a building westerly airstream that is rolling off the top of a high pressure system located about 550 miles due south of LinkedOut’s bow.

    The 39-year-old Frenchman based in Lorient has achieved more than just bragging rights because he is also awarded a timepiece from Official Race Timekeeper Ulysse Nardin for being first at the mark. The question now is will he pocket a second one for first at the finish off Les Sables d’Olonne in a week’s time?

    Ruyant has been relishing the chance to race his new LinkedOut foiler in this most unusual of IMOCA seasons and he’s been feeling the change in temperatures too.

    “It’s fresh this morning,” he said several hours before the mark rounding. “Since last night it feels really much colder. I’ve put all my gear on and I’ve got my hat on.” Ruyant worked his boat hard during the fast run north before the wind eased getting close to the mark."

    “I found a good mode with the boat last night,” he explained. “It’s a point of sail where she’s moving fast and then I spent a lot of time trimming her. I still managed to find some time to take a nap in 30-minute shifts and then I was getting back to the adjustments as the wind wasn’t completely stable in direction. I tried to take care of the settings and the trim of my boat all night long.”

    On Wednesday race director Jacques Caraës decided to move the Gallimard Waypoint, that marks the southern extremity of the course, much further north to a position about 400 miles off the Atlantic coast just below the latitude of Les Sables d’Olonne.






    This shortens the course from a theoretical distance of 3,566 nautical miles to 2,807 miles, but it means the backmarkers in the fleet are now unlikely to become ensnared in a large area of high pressure spreading north from the Azores.

    Ruyant had been wondering whether it was time to shorten the course and had been looking at his supplies of food on board LinkedOut and thinking about rationing. “I was starting to look at my stock as it would have been quite long,”he said. “I think this reduction in course is a good decision by the race management. It’s shortening it a bit but we’ve still made it to our Icelandic waypoint so it’s already huge and successful.

    “It’s the first time we’ve been up here with our boats for a course of between 10 and 12 days,”he added, “so it’s a good start to the Vendée Globe (season) in very varied conditions, so it’s a great race. It’s a race with a good course, different conditions, lots of strategic choices and trajectories. I wasn’t always very inspired, even if I was convinced of my choices at the time but that’s the game of the race.”

    Behind the leaders the fleet is bunched in tight groups and concertinaing with a second echelon led by Samantha Davies on Initiatives-Coeur in fourth place about 14 behind Ruyant. She has Boris Herrmann on SeaExplorer-YC de Monaco close behind her just 16.7 back in fifth place who is followed a mile further back by Kévin Escoffier on PRB.










    The third group on the water is the pairing of Isabelle Joschke on MACSF in 7th place (+22.6) and Yannick Bestaven in Maître CoQ IV (+26.1).

    Then comes a fourth bunch led by Clarisse Crémer on Banque Populaire, still the top non-foiler in the ranking, who is 57 miles off the lead in ninth place. She has Fabrice Amadeo on Newrest-Art et Fenêtres (+70) astern of her in tenth position with Kojiro Shiraishi on DMG Mori Global One a few miles to windward in eleventh, a further six miles back.

    At the rear of the fleet, Britain’s Miranda Merron on Campagne de France in 15th place (+249), leads Manuel Cousin on Groupe SÉTIN by just three miles, while Clément Giraud on Vers Un Monde Sans Sida is in last place, another 18 miles behind Cousin and 270 miles off the leading pace.

    Herrmann, meanwhile, has now deployed his Argo float which will measure temperature, salinity and pressure data of the top 2,000 metres of water in this area of the ocean for the next four-five years. The float will automatically send its data back to scientists and has been donated by Argo-France Program in partnership with UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and the Joint Centre for Oceanographic and Marine Meteorological Observing Programme Support.

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    Starting Anew With A Clean Slate




    This evening, all the competitors in the Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables d’Olonne have rounded the virtual IOC-UNESCO mark, Clément Giraud (Vers un monde sans Sida) bringing up the rear more than a day behind the leaders.
    The instability of the breeze over the past 24 hours has favoured the bunching up of the head of the fleet and ridden roughshod over the hierarchy. En route for the ‘Gallimard’ mark, a ridge of high pressure and a low pressure system will provide the main obstacles. In the next 48 hours, no one can realistically lay claim to the top spot in the long term…


    This Friday 10th July, after a night in overdrive to get the boats making headway in a very fickle wind, there are numerous grey areas colouring the ranking. As grey as the sky and sea, which are enveloping part of the fleet of solo sailors on this sixth day of racing. The first chasing pack has managed to catch up with yesterday’s escapees Ruyant/Dalin/Beyou and a line of six boats are now leading the chase down to the next waypoint of Gallimard, located some 750 miles ahead of the front runners, offshore of the Bay of Biscay.









    Crazy times up front
    Along this new start line, which extends out from east to west for around sixty miles, everyone seems to have positioned their pawns to tackle the obstacles looming over the horizon for the end of this week, namely the negotiation of a wide ridge of high pressure and then a low pressure system.


    Between Charlie Dalin (Apivia), the furthest west, and Kevin Escoffier (PRB) in the far east, Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut), Jérémie Beyou (Charal), Samantha Davies (Initiatives- Cœur) and Boris Herrmann (Seaexplorer - YC de Monaco), the new champion of the leader board, everyone has chosen their routes.


    There’s a bit of physical as well as nervous fatigue in the ranks as the slightest gain is constantly called into question, according to the weather phenomena lining up along the solo sailors’ route and the countless technical glitches. On this subject, Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) spent the whole night battling against the unknown (net? plastic?) to try to find an explanation for his sudden speed deficit. Two steps backwards and a good siesta subdued the mysterious stalling, which had been causing him some grief. Having perked up, the sailor seemed to be back on track this afternoon and ready to vie for his crown again. On a reach in a medium wind and smooth seas, his blue boat looked to be enjoying slipping along at 18 knots. It’ll be important to make the most of this fleeting yet intoxicating ride because the first wave of competitors will soon stumble into a massive ridge of high pressure, which is creating holes in the breeze across virtually the entire width of the Atlantic. As a result, the front runners will slow again this evening with some further surprises in store on the cartography.








    Valuable new data
    Beyond the racing that is delighting spectators, the protagonists in the Vendée Arctique-Les Sables d’Olonne all echo the sentiment that the event is a very useful exercise going forward. The first part of the race may not have been entirely pleasurable for the sailors, but it has provided them with an unexpected opportunity to beef up their preparations for the Vendée Globe. Every manœuvre, every tack, every adjustment, every glitch, every hour of life aboard in solo format serves as additional data, which will guide them on their voyage around the world. Whether they’re at the front of the pack or the back, the sailors are delighted about that. From Isabelle Joschke (MACSF), 7th, who admits that she’s giving her all to be in on the action, to Manu Cousin (Groupe SETIN), 15th, who celebrated his 53rdbirthday this lunchtime at 62 degrees north, the reasoning is the same: the experience gleaned from this race takes precedence.
    QUOTE FROM THE BOATS

    Isabelle Joschke (MACSF)
    “The upcoming battle and the chance to catch up with the lead boats is fabulous. To be in the match, have boats close by and be able to compare performances reminds me a bit of the Solitaire du Figaro! On top of being motivating, it’s also enabling me to discover and learn a great deal in terms of speed, trimming and handling the boat.


    I’m giving it all I’ve got but the objective is to rack up experience. The sailing conditions are great because the seas are flat, yet at the same time the wind is very shifty. There are gusts that drop in on us and as the air is very dense (due to the low temperatures), the boat immediately heels over. There are also big light patches and the boat comes to a standstill. That requires you to be on top of the trimming, up on deck, and it requires a lot of energy. Other than that, I’m doing good, better than yesterday because after the IOC-UNESCO waypoint, I noticed that I was very tired from the start of my race. I needed to sleep and recover. It’s a bit of a transition phase in the race. Generally, I need four days to really get into my stride. As such, I got a fair amount of sleep this morning and I think I’ve recovered well. I’m on form again now and that will be crucial for tackling the transition at the end of the day, which will be important. The boat’s going well. There are some small issues, but for now it’s manageable. Let’s hope it all holds out till the end!”

    Miranda Merron (Campagne de France)
    “Grey. Cold. Some really very unpleasant sailing conditions – for hours the wind has been completely fickle at between 12 and 20 knots with a 30-degree shift which wasn’t forecast. I still have some work to do on the pilots as I’m continuing to manually adjust my heading. And now the wind has completely died away, but the same cannot be said of the sea state! Conditions will improve, I hope! I haven’t lost hope that I’ll be able to sleep.”

    Manu Cousin (Groupe SÉTIN)
    “I treated myself to a fine present by hunting down the IOC-UNESCO waypoint! It’s incredible to be at 62 degrees north. I’d have never believed I’d be so far north, especially on my birthday. I’m happy but a bit tired, as the conditions are very fickle. There have been lots of manoeuvres. Last night for example, I didn’t get a lot of sleep. It’s a bit like the doldrums in the cold! Everything around me is grey with some cloudy spells. I was expecting to feel colder. It’s 6/8 degrees under the cuddy but we’re actually pretty well protected in our boats, the seas aren’t bad and I’m close-hauled.
    I’m a bit disappointed with the start to my race, as I took some time to get into the swing of it. That said, there are a lot of positives too: I’ve discovered some problems around the keel ram, which means we can resolve all that this summer. As far as the rest is concerned, the boat’s going really well technically. It’s been very worthwhile doing this race. I came in search of experience and I’m having fun, even if it took me a day or two to feel good.”



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



    TRACKER


    Approaching the end of the sixth day at sea in the Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables d’Olonne Race, it is all change at the top of the leaderboard with the German skipper Boris Herrmann now holding the initiative.
    The race is remarkably tight with the top-13 boats now spread over only 140 nautical miles of ocean, north-south – an unheard of state of affairs in the Vendée Globe.


    But this has been an unusual course for the IMOCA class with lots of upwind and light airs work and transition zones and right now Herrmann on Sea-Explorer-YC de Monaco has been the one to benefit.
    He was leading Jérémie Beyou in second place on Charal by just 1.7 nautical miles with Kevin Escoffier now up to third place on PRB (+3.2). Then it is Charlie Dalin in fourth place on Apivia (+7.0), just ahead of Sam Davies in fifth position on Initiatives-Coeur (+7.9). The leader at the IOC-UNESCO Waypoint, Thomas Ruyant on LinkedOut, is now in sixth place (+16.2).

    Herrmann had been in sixth place position himself at the mark, 18 miles behind the then leader Ruyant. It will be interesting to see if he can maintain his advantage because the lateral separation of the leading boats, west-east, could be more important than their north-south ranking.





    This morning there was 45 miles of ocean separating PRB, the most easterly boat of the leading bunch, from Apivia on the western edge. In the next few hours the southwest and westerly breeze is going to fall away and the leaders will be back in light airs before they start to come under the influence of the next depression which is sitting in the mid-north Atlantic to the southwest of them.


    Herrmann says he is still working out how to get the best out of Sea Explorer-YC de Monaco after her substantial upgrade during the winter season, which has included new foils and a new coachroof and electronics.
    “I still have to learn a lot about the combination of foil rake and keel cant,” he said from in board. “It’s really these two surfaces that the boat can fly on. Sometimes you need a bit more foil rake but also more keel cant which, initially, creates more drag. But then, as soon as the boat pops up a bit, then it reduces the drag dramatically from the hull and it pays off."


    The German skipper says the speed increase with the new foils can be very dramatic on certain points of sail. “I would say it is almost five knots in the most extreme case,”he explained. “It means flat water and 80 degrees to the wind and plenty of breeze – 18-20 knots. Then we are incredibly fast and much more than before.”He hasn’t had exactly those conditions since rounding the IOC-UNESCO Waypoint but the boat has certainly been flying as Herrmann has caught up his rivals in front.





    For Herrmann this has race has proved its worth as a replacement for The Transat CIC and the New York-Vendée-Les Sables transatlantic. “This has been a proper warm-up for the Vendée Globe – that is absolutely true,” he said. “We had more upwind conditions in the beginning of the race but since then we have manoeuvred a lot, we have sailed in close contact with the other boats and we have been in the cold. So there are some aspects that closely resemble the Vendée Globe.

    “I’m very glad that, as a team, were able to participate in this race,”he added. “It’s a good preparation I feel and I’m sorry for the teams that have had to abandone it.”
    In the early stages Herrmann was finding it more difficult than usual to settle in to the offshore routine, not least because his wife had just given birth to their first child, a baby daughter. He had two days at home with his family after the birth before it was time to get back to the boat and now he is looking forward to returning home again.


    “Now the race will last five more days so probably in a week I will be back home and I’m looking forward to that,” he said. In the meantime he and his wife are keeping in close touch on the satellite phone and using video conferencing too.
    Out on the race course the fleet is bunched up behind Sea-Explorer-YC de Monaco. This morning the backmarker, Clement Giraud on Vers Un Monde Sans Sida still had 80 miles to go to the IOC-UNESCO Waypoint.
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    Breaking Things Is Easy To Do



    Latest update from Boris Herrmann.

    At 07.25 utc Boris Herrmann on Seaexplorer - Yacht Club de Monaco had an issue onboard. The main headboard car broke and the main came down. Boris is fine and needs no assistance but he will be slower for the rest of the race. He has secured everything and at the moment is still sailing with the head sail and a much smaller main. He is trying to fix the issue with spares we have on board and he aims to continue the race but he will be much slower. The race management have been notified and are monitoring the situation.










    The terrific trio of Beyou/Ruyant/Dalin reformed in the early hours and is now leading the hunt for the Gallimard mark at full tilt. The race is very intense in every one of the groups, which have launched into a drag race for this final waypoint. That is with the exception of Isabelle Joschke whose boat was damaged this morning.

    At first light on this 7th day of racing, Jérémie Beyou (Charal), Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) and Charlie Dalin (Apivia) reformed their threesome and are now embroiled in a frenzied waltz, adjusting their steps to the rhythm of the weather systems. It is a well-oiled choreography involving the reduction of sail area, stacking and changes of tack, all carried out in just a matter of hours. At around midday, the trio had tacked after the passage of a small front and are now en route towards the Gallimard waypoint on a south-easterly heading, making an average of 15/20 knots. “It’s quick and we’ve been sailing cleanly since the start. It’s important not to make a mistake,” commented Jérémie briefly this afternoon, barely audible amidst the deafening din aboard the black boat.
    A long sprint for the Gallimard mark



    TRACKER















    The skipper of Charal was the first to push the helm at noon today and lead off on the long starboard tack spanning nearly 500 miles, where the intensity of the air seems very fickle. Just minutes after Charal’s change of heading, Apivia and LinkedOut followed suit, lining themselves up for the same goal: the win.
    At the start of the afternoon, PRB and Initiatives-Cœur mirrored this move. Then it was the turn of SeaExplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco and Maître CoQ IV. Today, with the exception of the four boats bringing up the rear, furthest out to the east, everyone is navigating the same system: passage of a front, change of tack and another stretch of reaching lifting them towards the final course mark in this Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables d’Olonne, which the front runners should round overnight on 12 through into 13 July.

    In each of the groups which have formed over the course of the race, the battle is intense. “Everyone is flat out and pushing the boat hard, much more so than usual,” admitted Kevin Escoffier (PRB) this afternoon. “We’re really on the attack, resulting in some very interesting speed duels. However, it’s hard for us to compete with the Formula 1s out front. Their turbo drive works differently to ours.”Although… by late afternoon, the chasing pack to leeward of the leaders was posting much faster speeds!
    Isabelle Joschke deprived of her mainsail

    This morning, when Boris Herrmann’s mainsail headboard car gave up the ghost, he had to put his attacking instinct on hold. For several hours, SeaExplorer – Yacht Club de Monaco was making slow headway under reduced sail area. However, the German skipper has managed to reset his mainsail with two reefs and was back in the match by the end of the day.
    For Isabelle Joschke, the situation is more serious. “I’m still in the race and though I feel a massive sense of disappointment, I’m here for the experience,” she lamented, clearly emotional in a video sent out early this afternoon. This morning, at around 09:00 hours, the boom of MACSF broke in two for no apparent reason. For now, the mainsail has been dumped on the deck and the Franco-German sailor is making headway under small headsail. She’s going to have her work cut out disconnecting the boom from the mainsail. Next, “there’s a possibility of rehoisting it to the second reef without using the boom”, explains her team manager Alain Gautier. Isabelle Joschke has no intention of throwing in the towel: she has to finish the race to qualify for the Vendée Globe.
    23%

    Up till now, ‘Isa’ had been posting a dazzling performance aboard her foiling 2007 VPLP design and was a regular face in the top 6. In this demanding exercise to prepare for the Vendée Globe, the four female sailors making their way towards Les Sables d’Olonne are really making a splash. Indeed, they represent 23% of the fleet in this Vendée-Arctique and they’re sailing an absolute blinder. Starting with Samantha Davies (Initiatives-Cœur), whose wealth of experience and know-how in solo format on this type of boat is really being brought to the fore today, to the extent that she is able to cut it with the best of them. Meantime, Clarisse Crémer (Banque Populaire X) is enjoying an extraordinary baptism of fire and is really excelling herself. Finally, Miranda Merron is demonstrating great seamanship by managing to keep up with the pace aboard Campagne de France, one of the oldest monohulls in the fleet. In sport, it is rare to find athletes of both sexes competing on the same start line for the same ranking. However, this is the norm in offshore racing where women and men compete on a level playing field. The female promotion of the solo round the world race promises to be brilliant…
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    Apivia By A Nose




    Charlie Dalin at the helm of the white and yellow foiler, Apivia, was the first skipper to reach the Gallimard Waypoint this morning as he turned his bow eastwards for the final stretch of the Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables d’Olonne Race.

    The 36-year-old Frenchman based at Port-la-Fôret was making about seven knots of boatspeed in very light airs as the leaders continued to battle their way through the high pressure system centred to the west of them.

    Dalin had been fighting hard to keep Jérémie Beyou behind him on Charal and the margin at the mark was less than two miles. Behind Beyou, in turn, came Thomas Ruyant on LinkedOut, about three miles behind Dalin.


    TRACKER



    The three boats are so close that one mistake from any of the exhausted skippers will be enough to see the lead change hands again as they begin the 540-mile leg to the finish line off Les Sables d’Olonne. The further east they get, the further away from the centre of the high, the more breeze they will have from the north-northwest.

    The order at the Gallimard mark – a virtual turning point – reminds us that it has been these three skippers who have dominated the leading positions at key moments in this extraordinary race.

    One thousand miles further north at the IOC-UNESCO Waypoint – another imaginary lump of iron in the middle of the ocean – it was Ruyant who sneaked around in front with Dalin in second place and Beyou third, all within three miles.

    From now to the finish the cumulative exhaustion that these sailors have experienced could become the key determinant of who takes the honours. As the breeze strengthens, there will be more opportunities for sleep, but as the skippers close the French coast they will also have to deal with more commercial traffic and fishing boats, so it is not going to be easy.

    The stats tell an amazing story for a race that initially had looked more like a training run than a full-on battle for glory. The lead has changed hands over the last nearly nine days no less than 33 times as the fleet has crossed various weather systems heading north and then south.

    Since the start, meanwhile, Dalin had covered 2,707.5 miles by the Gallimard Waypoint, in eight days, 18 hours and four minutes at an average speed of 12.90 knots, just 0.10 knots faster than Beyou. It’s been that tight…

    Behind the leading trio the next couple of skippers are not completely out of this yet. Kévin Escoffier is fourth in PRB (+9.3) with Samantha Davies on Initiatives-Coeur fifth, another five miles back. Then there is a big gap to Yannick Bestaven on Maître CoQ IV in sixth place (+32.3) who is eleven miles ahead of Fabrice Amadeo on Newrest-Art et Fenêtres.

    Boris Herrmann, who had been leading the fleet in the earlier light wind phases, is now in eighth position on Seaexplorer-YC de Monaco, having slipped back after damaging the headboard car on his mainsail. Isabelle Joschke on MACSF who broke her boom, is now 115 miles off the leading pace in 13th position.

    Remarkably, the top-12 boats are spread out this morning over only 75 miles of ocean on a north-south axis. After Joschke, who is sailing with no one else around her, the final four boats are continuing south in a loose group with about 90 miles of lateral separation.

    They are led by Manuel Cousin on Groupe SÉTIN (+251) in 14th position, followed by Arnaud Boissières on La Mie Câline-Artisans Artipôle (+253), then Miranda Merron on Campagne de France (+284) and finally Clément Giraud on Vers Un Monde Sans Sida (+295).

    The estimated finish time for the first boat off Les Sables d’Olonne is around midnight on Tuesday.

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