The next 24 hours will be the most challenging so far for Vendée Globe race leader Charlie Dalin (Apivia), especially through this evening and tonight as he will pass as close as he dare to the centre of a Southern Ocean low pressure system which is forecast to bring him gusts over 55kts and big seas. He told his team yesterday ‘this is the biggest, most powerful storm I have had through since the start’. So today will mostly be about pushing on and preparing himself and his Apivia
Meantime the problems seem to be mounting up for Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée 2) and Damien Seguin (Groupe Apicil) who both have remained slowed, losing hard earned places as they try to get back on terms, fighting technical problems with their pilots and in the case of Burton other problems he has not specified.
“Yesterday was a terrible day for me because I had many problems with my autopilot, so I decided to stop the boat many times to try to fix the problem so it really was not easy to do something on the boat because it was moving. In fact I decided to sleep because I was so tired. And so this morning I have fixed 50 per cent of the problem so we have to work again today to find a solution but I am still in the game and today is another day so I hope we will get there.” Said Seguin this morning on the 0400hrs UTC radio call. He explained, “During Sunday night the problems started just after a gybe. I could not leave the cockpit, the boat was doing all kinds of things. I worked at the whole thing all day and I got the emergency pilot working”.
And Louis Burton is clearly continuing to struggle on Bureau Vallée 2, seeming to be in difficulty with surprising course angles (North, East, South-East, North) at less than ten knots last night.
Meantime Dalin is setting himself up. “Charlie is trying to do everything to get through the northernmost part of the depression,” says Race Director Jacques Caraes. “But that for all that we say that it will not be easy at all even on this northern curve of the depression, he will still see gusts of over 55 knots and 5 metre waves during the night tonight, but Charlie is ready and confident in himself and his boat.”
The skipper of Apivia – who has four podiums in the Solitaire du Figaro and wins in the Transat AG2R (2012) and a Transat Jacques Vabre (2019) victory on his resume and he has proven already that he knows how to look after himself and his boat.
That said he seems prepared to push compared to his rivals. Since Monday Thomas Ruyant has routed further north and was slower overnight compared to Dalin, 13 to 17kts compared to 20 to 25 kts for Apivia. And so Ruyant should have easier conditions as indeed is the case for Jean Le Cam who is still very much in the game in fifth and who has always stayed north.