Vendée Globe: we would hate the South

Too much wind or too little. Clearly, the 28 sailors in this ninth Vendée Globe are hardly spoiled. The tauliers who know this corner of the Great South claim that they have never seen such a rotten sea. After fifty-four days of navigation, the boats tire and the sailors too. The first will have to face this weekend a very violent wind before crossing the Horn, and behind, there is only 215 miles (400 km) between the third and the tenth: unheard of in thirty years of Vendée Globe.

Normally in the Pacific at this time, the winds blow from the west, propelling the boats in a long and powerful swell. But this end of the year is definitely disturbed and Neptune is not very cooperative. Just after Christmas, Charlie Dalin (Apivia) and Yannick Bestaven (Master CoQ IV) swap the lead at each “mine” score, but also try to extricate themselves from an improbable high pressure bubble (high pressure zone) which pushes the depressions north.

They sail “upwind” (facing the wind) and “knit”, one edge to the place, one edge to reverse … In sailing, when you squeeze the wind, it is “twice the route, three times. time and four times the grumbling ”, professes a sailor’s saying more topical than ever. In addition, not only do we navigate “heeled” (leaning) to “plant stakes” (banging in the waves), but you have to “tackle”, or move from one side to the other, hundreds of kilos. (supplies, spare material, fittings…), an exhausting activity, not to say masochistic. A bit as if it was necessary to empty a cellar without light and inclined at 25 degrees while stepping over boxes and other piled up furniture.

Read alsoCape Horn, between myth and triviality

The impeccable Yannick Bestaven finally hits the downwinders on December 28, his 48th birthday. The speed of the wind (in knots) is equivalent to the number of its spark plugs (ie more than 90 km / h), and it has to run on a “battered” sea while squeezing the buttocks, in order to stay in front of the deepening depression. off the coast of Chile. Because if the front catches up with the boat, the latter is “eaten raw”, tossed by a sea transformed into a “shaker”. The wind will blow hard in Drake Strait, without a doubt, one of the most infamous corners of the planet, but Bestaven and Dalin are very likely to take the powder by turning left on Sunday after crossing the cape. Horn. They will have at least one month at sea. In the meantime, they will experience tough conditions: 45 knots of wind with gusts to 60 knots on Saturday and waves that could exceed 7 to 8 meters.

Read alsoVendée Globe: in the middle of nowhere, the “point Nemo”

Behind, the hunting party has never been so compact, and stands at a heavy day at sea – a straw after more than fifty days. Jean Le Cam (Yes We Cam), on the strength of his eight round-the-world tours, double like a flower in the wind Boris Herrmann (Sea Explorer Yacht Club de Monaco), who films it as in a Sunday regatta in the bay of Paimpol. The Cam is not even on the bridge but probably having a nap. The team even put in one of his last issue on “King John”, savior of Kevin Escoffier (PRB), in one of its last issue of the year, nicely titling “Le Cam, tête de vainceur”.

The boats are tiring and the race director Jacques Caraës noted in his notebook no less than 25 mast climbs. That’s a lot… Alan Roura (The fabric) still struggles with his keel oil and Benjamin Dutreux (Omia -Water Family) opens a sewing workshop to patch a headsail. As for Alexia Barrier (TSE – 4MyPlanet), she is in a period of luck and should ask her family to validate a lotto ticket, because following the rupture of a runner-up, now cables the mast, the latter made the rubber band but miraculously remained on the deck… Sébastien Destremau (Thank you) is on its way to Tasmania. He wants to find a shelter to repair alone and without assistance his boat in poor condition. In the meantime, he cuts the partitions to make parts …

Our file Vendée Globe, the Everest of sailing

“I’m a little out of step with the time zone reversal. I live as a wild animal, sleeping when I’m tired, eating anytime. I meet basic needs when they arise, day or night. It is rather the 1is January which interests me, because it is the birthday of my son Basile ”, tells, washed, Thomas Rouillard (LinkedOut), yet a tough guy. Damien Seguin (Apicil Group) He regularly snatches third place and has a sensational race aboard a thirteen-year-old boat without foils. The two-time Paralympic medalist doesn’t quite like it when people start to feel sorry for him and his lack of a left hand. Still, what a demonstration for his first solo round-the-world trip!

While on their “fighter planes” Armel Tripon (L’Occitane en Provence) and Jérémie Beyou (Charal) come back like bullets on the first half of the standings, Clarisse Cremer (Banque Populaire X) celebrates its 31 years. His relatives surprised him, depositing in his boat a copy of a major daily from the day of his birth, December 30, 1989. And what can we see on the cover? Philippe Poupon’s boat lying on its side before it was miraculously straightened by Loïck Peyron… It was during the first Vendée Globe off the Cape of Good Hope.

Read alsoVendée Globe, week 7: it’s the Christmas trail

Clarisse Cremer celebrated her 31st birthday aboard her boat on Wednesday. Personal photo

Number of the week: 67

The percentage of the total distance of the race already covered by Yannick Bestaven, in the lead at the time of the publication of these lines.

The sentence of the week :

“Some people recommend doing the round back in the South Seas! If only that was enough! Rounding your back means living like an animal in a burrow without knowing how long it will last … “ Maxime Sorel (V and B – Mayenne)

Photo of the week

British Pip HareBritain’s Pip Hare, far, far away from Brexit. Personal photo

Didier Ravon

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