Vendée Globe: the tile for Thomson, the beautiful for Dalin

Thunderclap on the night of Saturday, November 21 at two in the morning and three minutes to be precise. A laconic WhatsApp announces that Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) then in the lead, has just discovered during a routine inspection at the front of his boat, that a longitudinal beam and structural partitions are split like ash logs trimmed for the chimney. The black hull of his boat is however stuffed with fiber optics and sensors supposed to alarm him in the event of excessive loads. The one who many rightly saw as the potential winner, did he attack too much in the tropical storm when his opponents calmed down and lost ground as they headed west?

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Thomson is built like a third line of rugby, works his look, carefully trims his beard for a few days, is more connected than ever and remains an outstanding communicator. He broadcast the damage on video, revealing the carbon structure for a moment classified as a “defense secret”, and which recalls an inverted church frame. Then convened a site meeting by videoconference with architects, engineers and his technical team, temporarily put the flashing light towards Brazil. Listening to him in his den, tablet taped to his forearm, describing his impressive tools – carbon plasters, glues and resins – we imagine that he has robbed the shelf of a DIY store. He gives himself a few hours of sleep, then repairs and goes back to the mine… greeted on social networks by the whole landerneau from Gabart to Peyron. Although dropped by the duo Thomas Rettant (LinkedOut), Charlie Dalin (Apivia) who race to perfection “glued tight” just in front of the legendary Jean Le Cam (Yes We Cam) and the impeccable Kevin Escoffier (PRB), especially not bury the Welsh. Four years ago, he was more than 750 miles (1,400 km) behind Armel Le Cléac’h at Cape Horn… then returned to his basques.

Read also Week 1: Theta slams! Week 2: cross the Pot like a flower

The bookmakers and followers of all stripes announced before the start that the Vendée Globe record would necessarily be shattered. For the moment, it is badly crossed out. Sailors who have counted on seventy days of refueling, will have to be careful not to snack too much between meals. Asked by Release, The title holder Cléac’h, who is currently building a new giant trimaran, is not saying the opposite, and is waiting to see. The Saint Helena anticyclone, first cousin of that of the Azores, creates miseries for the fleet which crawls at the speed of snails. Basically, it blocks the lows that are supposed to take competitors east across the Indian Ocean into the famous roaring forties. Charlie Dalin, the sharpest sailor in the fleet since the misfortunes of Jérémie Beyou (Charal), knits brilliantly in erratic winds, packs himself up (308 miles ahead of Rettant on Saturday morning and 361 on Le Cam), and finally joined this Friday morning the “southern highway” bordered by the Zone d ‘ exclusion of ice (ZEA, which should not be crossed because it is too risky because of icebergs). At the last check-in on Friday noon, it was spinning at over 20 knots, but 18,633 miles (34,500 km) from Les Sables. It is said that this year 2020 is definitely rotten, even in weather …

Portraits Alexia Barrier, for the love of nature. Thomas Rouillard, values ​​in the wind. Clarisse Crémer, here she is, here she is

Among the eight skippers with a new sailboat specially designed for this ninth Vendée Globe, Le Havrais is the only one not to suffer damage to its flying saucer. Also author of a dazzling first quarter of the race on almost the same boat, Thomas Rettant noticed that his port foil was crumbling. Harnessed and hanged on the side of the hull, he amputates two meters of the enormous mustache with a saw to prevent it from jeopardizing his boat and mast when the strong winds finally arrive.

Read also What happened to the seven Vendée Globe winners?

Isabelle Joschke (MACSF), in the midst of the peloton, saw the rear balcony of his boat torn off by a pulley having made itself beautiful. This “closure” is not just psychological. It is just essential for safety in bad weather. The sailor who takes part in her first round the world is asking herself existential questions. “It’s pretty hard to be alone on your boat. When we encounter a problem, we are in constant interaction with the technical team on land to provide news. There is still a permanent link that even made me wonder: when does it end? When will I be able to be alone on my boat? It’s pretty weird, it’s not the loneliness I expected. I live it well, but I think that I will also live a moment of complete solitude, but it has not happened yet! ”

In front of the computer or the TV, we know almost everything about the daily life of the 32 sailors still in the race, a record in nine editions. Vertigo and jitters guaranteed at 30 meters above the water with Romain Attanasio (Pure Best Western) or Arnaud Boissières (La mie Câline-Artisans Artipôle), images of drones worthy of a teaser on Netflix, Hello mom bobo, selfies in body, oil bath after a keel cylinder leak for Sébastien Destremau (Thank you), disco atmosphere with Yannick Bestaven (Master Rooster) ou Alexia Barrier (TSE 4 My Planet) celebrating her 41st birthday, as radiant as a first communicant.

This weekend, the leading group will have to put on a little wool and will be able to see the wonderful gliders that are the albatrosses celebrated by Baudelaire, then attack the long and formidable tunnel of the South Seas when the last ones will collect the flying fish on the bridge. lost in the south-easterly trade wind.

Number of the week: 1

Of the eight boats specially built for this edition, only one (Apivia) has not yet experienced serious damage after completing 24% of the route.

The sentence of the week

“Suddenly, big clouds got in my way. I had the impression of being in a room plunged in the dark, looking without finding the door to go to wee without waking anyone! ” Clement Giraud (Bed Company-Jiliti) in the Doldrums.

Photo of the week

Kevin Escoffier: “Selfie, red period”.

Kevin Escoffier: Selfie, red period.

Didier Ravon

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