The curtain is falling on this 9e and a huge edition of the Vendée Globe won on Thursday 28 January by Yannick Bestaven in eighty days and three hours. The latter could have developed, according to Roland Jourdain, “An inferiority complex”, so much he had been “plucked” during all the preparatory races.
“He preferred to take a mental trainer rather than invest in an expensive and random transformation of the boat. His victory is the symbol of the budgetary arbitration rendered for the benefit of man. What if we slowed down our appetite for speed to focus on the simple factor of performance: that of humans? “, asks the man who has competed in three Vendée Globe and participated, among other things, in the preparation of Master CoQ IV, the Bestaven boat.
A slow edition
This edition has been slow: eighty days and six hours for Charlie Dalin (Apivia), first on the line in race time, but finally 2e after taking into account the time bonus granted to Bestaven for the rescue of Kevin Escoffier (PRB).
However, it was assumed from the start that it would be the fastest of all, knowing the new generation of foilers – boats equipped with foils, appendages allowing to reach dizzying speeds – designed for this edition (Charal, Apivia, Hugo Boss, LinkedOut, Arkea-Paprec, Corum and the last born, L’Occitane in Provence). That the record held by Armel Le Cléac’h, in 2016, would not hold (seventy-four days, three hours). That the seventy day bar would be lowered.
But the weather and sea conditions decided otherwise. Thomas Rouillard (LinkedOut), Thursday, shortly after his arrival: “There are few favorable conditions for harnessing the power of foilers. We imagined with Charlie [les deux se trouvaient alors en tête], that, as soon as the Indian Ocean entered, we would have such a lead and that the gaps would be such… But, each time, it came back from behind… ”
Both Dalin and Rettant imagined a sort of mano to mano that would have definitely relegated straight daggerboards to the soft underbelly of the standings. Thus sealing the fate of this 9e editing. A coherent scenario with regard to weather forecasts and analyzes of previous editions, which also presided over the creation of these new foilers (hull, disproportionate amplitude of the foils), with still imperfect flight.
No domination of the latest generation foilers
But that was without counting on an Indian Ocean, certainly still as little docile, but above all a Pacific more fierce than usual, and especially more brittle for new boats. Meaning that to navigate like a good sailor required to “ease off”, according to the automobile analogy frequently used by solo sailors. “In fact, the runway for these foilers was too short. In question, a weather “blocking” for these new boats ”, declares, maliciously, Roland Jourdain.
What confirms, with words hardened by disappointment, Thomas Rettant: “We didn’t have a swell conducive to speed, but a crossed, difficult, hard sea. ” And Charlie Dalin to add: “It was frustrating until the end not being able to use our machines and having lost a foil. On flat seas and with wind, it’s great. But we don’t go fast for free. So, yes, it was difficult in those short seas. A shock every ten seconds for days and days. It ends up hitting the system. But, yet, I will have enjoyed this trip. “
Dalin, Rouillard, just like Jérémie Beyou (Charal), Nicolas Troussel (Corum L’Epargne) and Sébastien Simon (Arkea–Paprec), or even Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss), yet supporters of scientific doubt, were convinced of the victory of a new generation foiler, this irresistible architectural breakthrough. And that this was going to take away the last resistances. Not necessarily that of Jean Le Cam (Yes We Cam !), who grumbled at the start, he who loves to play Cassandra: “We are not going to the South with a Formula 1 …”
The future podium could not therefore escape this advance of progress. In this regard, it is difficult to prove that the aforementioned “favorites” are wrong, since three foilers are on the podium (Master CoQ, Apivia, Office Vallée 2).
But, here precisely, it is the small gap (eighteen hours) between Charlie Dalin, credited with the best time (before compensation), and Damien Seguin (Apicil Group) on a 2008 drift boat (lightened and simplified boat with the help of Jean Le Cam’s teams), which questions. It is above all its tight budget (1 million euros, the sum given by Apicil) which will offend some teams with ten times that amount.
The emergence of new figures
Damien Seguin was the major revelation of this edition. Which will have had the merit of seeing the emergence of new profiles, far from the usual “pilots” promised to great acceleration.
Let us quote the British Pip Hare, bluffing on an old boat (Medallia), like the newcomers to the circuit: Maxime Sorel (V and B-Mayenne) and Benjamin Dutreux (Omia-Water Family).
This edition was that of the new characters of the Vendée Globe novel, made up of unexpected profiles, brilliant on the water, spontaneous and cheeky. And the confirmation of Louis Burton’s status as a “tourdumondist” (Valley Office 2), 3e classification and who, under the guise of an ideal son-in-law, possesses a rarely observed savagery.
The image of Le Cam demolished when Escoffier leaves the edge
The novel would be incomplete without its main character: Jean Le Cam. He ends his dazzling race at the end of physical and moral exhaustion. The town of Sables-d’Olonne (Vendée) made his toilet to receive him Thursday night.
We will long be haunted by the rescue of Kevin Escoffier (PRB) and this image of Le Cam demolished, when Escoffier leaves the edge to join the building of the Navy. Leaving him an orphan. The promised land was so far away, and paradise still inaccessible.
There is no cure for loneliness, the battered dog eyes of Jean Le Cam seemed to tell us. He has been at a counter for a week and hears himself say: ” It’s closed ! Come back tomorrow. “
The ticket office finally opened tonight. After crossing the finish line, Thursday evening, and finally classified 4e after taking into account his hourly bonus, he was expected ashore at 3-4 am. We know what he’ll ask first: where are my dogs? And a shot of red and a cigarette. Life in short.
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