After more than 25,000 miles of racing this Vendée Globe hangs in the balance. Who will win? At the head of the fleet now Charlie Dalin (Apivia) has been in first place 178 times since November 8th when the race started, Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée 2) has been in first twice, and one of those times was on start day after he jumped the start gun!
Dalin is racing harder on the wind, on a tighter angle as his port side foil is compromised but trying to be closer to the Azores, to the east, when he hooks into the low pressure which will accelerate him to the finish. Burton has the bow of Bureau Vallée down, powering on a more westerly slant at 17kts trying to go faster to reach the low earlier but more to the west. This climb up the NE’ly trades blowing at 16-18kts will take another three days.
Bureau Vallée 2 has smaller foils and is the defending Vendée Globe champion the winner of the Vendée Globe 2017 in the hands of Armel Le Cléac’h. Even if its general condition will be a bit degraded Burton can still operate at close to 100 per cent potential as he takes his option to the west. The leading duo have a lateral separation of 200 miles and it will grow today.
Behind them there is a certain symmetry, Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) has a truncated port foil he cannot use whilst Germany’s Boris Herrmann (Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco) should be close to full power and may take more of the lower, faster road as Burton is doing, or something in between the two options.
As for the ‘chasers’ they are now all out of the doldrums on Tuesday morning, with the exception of Benjamin Dutreux (OMIA-Water Family) who was still struggling under a cloudy mess. Maxime Sorel (V and B-Mayenne), he crossed the Equator at 2157hrsUTC last night in tenth after 71 days 08 hours 37 minutes. He was slowed down immediately as the doldrums are very close to the equator. Armel Tripon (L’Occitane en Provence) should reach the equator tonight. He is a day ahead of Clarisse Crémer (Banque Populaire X) who in turn is nearly 500 miles ahead of Romain Attanasio (Pure-Best Western). As for Isabelle Joschke (MACSF) out of the race is still progressing at reduced speed towards Salvador de Bahia in easterly trade winds and on calm seas. She is 800 miles from the port and the Franco-German skipper should reach there before this weekend. And 2,200 miles from the leader, Jérémie Beyou (Charal) is sailing steadily away from Arnaud Boissières (La Mie Câline-Artisans Artipôle) and Alan Roura (La Fabrique) the trio is sailing upwind in front of the permanent cold front.
Clément Giraud (Compagnie du Lit-Jiliti) seems happy even if he has lost some distance to the boats in front, he is off Patagonia “There are quite a few currents in the area! And then I saw my first boat since Rio de Janeiro (on the way down)! A big fishing boat that I contacted in English by VHF radio … It was on a kind of step where the seabed went from 800 meters to 200 meters! The continental shelf is quite extensive around here.”
And next weekend will be important for Alexia Barrier (TSE-4myplanet) who is still close to the retired Sam Davies (Heart Initiatives) and has this Finnish pilot Ari Huusela (STARK) 200 miles behind, these three solo sailors should be at Cape Horn at the weekend, or just after.