Vendée Globe: who is on course to cross the Horn?

What a contrast this week between the fourteen sailors who finally crossed Cape Horn after more than 18,000 miles (33,000 km), and the fourteen others battered by a cyclothymic Pacific and who decided to get out of their clutches. After sixty days of solitude, half of the fleet now in the Atlantic seems to be rediscovering life.

Uncompromising, the leader Yannick Bestaven (Master Rooster IV) passes the longitude of the famous Cape Horn on Saturday January 2 in the middle of the afternoon. Navigating far south to avoid waves of several floors, he has no time to see it, but films himself, uttering a howl of joy. We feel that this is not cinema. Red puffer jacket, Santa Claus beard, wild eyes, he looks like a frozen football fan celebrating the victory of his team! As for Charlie Dalin (Apivia) and Thomas Rettant (LinkedOut) on his heels, this is his first Horn. And obviously, the “hard cape” symbolizes deliverance. Bestaven clearly didn’t wake up: “In my life as a sailor, this is the biggest storm I have ever suffered. Crazy seas, gusts of 60 knots (force 11 to 12). I had never seen so big. It is a huge relief, because it was very hard. Finding myself calm once I passed the tip of South America stunned me after a month of living KO standing under the incessant uppercuts of the Great South. I did not think that we could go so far into the human body to overcome physically and morally all the stress, the cold, the humidity, the loneliness. There were some magical moments and some terrible ones, like when the boat went to bed completely and left in the heap, in the middle of the night. I was on the bridge wondering what I was doing there. Stubbornness and resilience have helped me through all of these times. ”

Read also Cape Horn, between myth and triviality

Thomas Rouillard, also seems to come down from a ring: “I have the incredible feeling of coming back to reality. I had forgotten what a flat sea was! I live again! It’s a crazy thing, the transition is so brutal. I see Patagonia and the boat glides painlessly. The South Seas have not been very nice. The moments of pleasure and contemplation were rare… ” Fourth thief to become a cap-hornier, Damien Seguin (Apicil Group) makes people cry in thatched cottages. He himself must have cried all the tears in his body before uncorking a little girl with champagne and then watering the boat and the ocean in order to thank Neptune, God of the sea, for having let her pass. Not only is he behind the three leaders on a thirteen-year-old boat, without foils, and that he has “Naked” last winter with the complicity of Jean Le Cam to make him undergo a hell of a slimming cure, but holds his small revenge. A few years ago, because of his handicap (he was born without a left hand), he was refused to take the start of the Solitaire du Figaro, a four-stage race and almost obligatory passage before the Vendée Globe, having revealed Le Cam, Poupon, Desjoyeaux, Le Cléac’h, Eliès, Beyou… The double Paralympic champion then soberly commented: “You will see me again because I am not the type to let go… ” We saw. In the landerneau of sailing, one is hardly surprised by the performance. Under the spell, Roxana Maracineanu, Minister of Sports, congratulated him on social networks. In these dark times, a little joy doesn’t hurt. To believe that it is obligatory, because not a sailor escapes the selfie with slate in front of the stone.

When the new Cape Horners can “piss in the wind” and find traces of civilization and a semblance of terrestrial scents after a month of sea desert, the pursuers are tasting and are on the verge of depression. “I am inconsolable, I am going through a real ordeal. So far, all the tiles I have known were a bit of a spoiler for my life, but they didn’t question the race as such. There I switched to another dimension. At the moment, I am in disappointment. I need to mourn my race ”, admits Isabelle Joschke (MACSF) victim of a broken keel cylinder. It is a bit as if we could no longer pass the fifth on the highway. Once the Horn has passed, the Franco-German sailor regains color.

Find our file Vendée Globe, the Everest of sailing

“I thought it was the end, says Maxime Sorel (B and B Mayenne) another revelation of the race, before the passage of Cape Horn. When the mast was in the water it could break at any time and you can’t right the boat in ten seconds. I had all of my matossage (material stored in the sides to increase the power of the boat) upside down following this bulk and the stall of my autopilot. There was a raging sea and over 45 knots. I quickly rolled my jib up front and the lifeline was tight like a guitar string from the pressure. A candlestick gave way and my sails, rolled up in their bags and held by straps, fell into the water. Fortunately, they were hooked to the lifeline… ” Clement Giraud (Jiliti Bed Company) swims in full happiness. It makes you wonder if he does not take a Lexomil or a “firecracker” morning and evening: “My senses are sharp. For example, I have a closet on a rail that slides for stuffing. And two days ago, I slide it and there I smell a hot smell coming from the oil of the ball bearings. That’s crazy ! I feel everything, my senses are developed. We are really on the lookout. With each wave, the muscles tighten. We feel everything. We become one with the boat. I’m starting to understand it. I feel it, I speak to him. I talk to him, I spray him, I clean him, I take care of him, I scratch his back. “

The contrast with Stéphane Le Diraison (Time For Oceans) is striking: “My down is soaked. I unplug my brain. I don’t ask a question, especially not the one: “Why inflict such a punishment!” I hide all forms of thought outside the maneuver, I have a mission, I don’t think, I am no longer hungry, I manage the parameters as information. “ At 3,000 miles (5,500 km) from the first, things will be better in a few days when he and his thirteen “colleagues” will have found milder skies.

Finally, this Friday, the amazing English Pip Hare (Medallia) has managed to change its rudder, which, on the high seas and alone, is a true miracle. “Every part of my body hurts. I have bloodied knuckles on each finger, bruises all over my legs and discovered muscles I didn’t know existed, but yes the new rudder is in place and my boat is purring at fifteen knots! I can’t believe I did this. Now, can I get a pass to exit the South Seas? ” The Englishwoman is expected to cross Cape Dur early next week on her 22-year-old vintage sailboat.

Number of the week: 30

The number of days it took Armel Tripon (Occitane in Provence) between Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn, which is the best time of this edition for the moment.

The sentence of the week

“It’s Nazaré [une plage au Portugal où les vagues sont les plus hautes du monde ndlr] continuously this morning, I thought I was in towed surfing. It’s huge, I think there were eight meters, sometimes ten meters of wave, they were mountains of water. It’s only albatrosses that seemingly laughs at.» Yannick Bestaven at the passage du Horn.

Photo of the week

Charlie Dalin, at the top of his mast, January 5.

Charlie Dalin: self-portrait at the top of his mast, January 5.

Didier Ravon

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