9th Vendée Globe

Sunday 15th November 2020 – It has been a difficult and eventful week for the 33 sailors competing in the 9th Vendée Globe. Jérémie Beyou (Charal), one of the favourites, was forced to turn back after just three days after damaging his boat, and has until Wednesday 18th November to get it fixed and restart. The Theta depression is now behind the other 32 who can breathe easier in the calmer conditions.

The fleet has split into two groups, with the last five struggling to get clear of light winds to the north, but having escaped Theta. Gaps are starting to widen: at 3.00pm Sébastien Destremau (merci, 31st position) was already more than 870 miles behind Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss).

This morning, Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) was in command again, followed by the doyen of the fleet, the highly experienced Jean Le Cam (Yes We Cam), who has amazed everyone since the start on his 2007 boat. Another surprise in the top three is new-boy Benjamin Dutreux (OMIA – Water Family), aged 30, who has had a great start to the race on his 13-year-old boat. A reminder that the 60-foot IMOCAs of Jean Le Cam and Benjamin Dutreux do not have foils, unlike the group of favourites and Boris Herrmann.


In the thick of it 

Barely five days after the start and the first challenge in the shape of tropical storm Theta took its toll on sailors at the start of the weekend. While Welshman Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) beat into the weather system, absorbing 60-knot gusts in the process, others decided to hold back and wait for it to pass. Preparation and anticipation were the key to negotiating this whim of the weather that gave those who encountered it no respite. “It’s difficult to sail in this sea,” reported Boris Herrmann (Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco), “it’s such short chop and stressful.”


Life is good for Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco

In the jargon they call it a “remontada”, and if that’s the term then it applies to the Monegasque boat skippered by Boris Herrmann. He had moved up from the 18th place he held on Wednesday evening into the top ten in 7th at the end of Saturday.

Sunday, at 9.00am (French time), the Monaco-flagged boat was in 11th place, 213 nautical miles behind leader Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) and morale on board is good. “It’s calm and pleasant, we are moving nicely at 10/11 knots. Last week was tough. Yesterday, I was able to tidy up on the boat, I even had a little aperitif in the evening and called some friends! An evening like yesterday, a night like that, make all the efforts of the week worth it. Life is good. I’ve stowed my oilskins at the back of the boat. I reckon I’m not going to need them this week. It’s not too hot, the temperature is perfect. This evening we’ll all catch a pretty steady trade wind, straight ahead. I can’t see there’ll be a manoeuvre to do. Just change from the big gennaker to the code zero. I’ll change sails as required every few hours during the day,” explained Boris during his radio session this Sunday morning.

Every day, the Vendée Globe shows another face. It would be unwise to forecast a ranking given the gaps are small between the majority of contestants and weather anomalies leading to varied strategies will continue to reshuffle the pack.


Trade winds in sight

The monohulls have set course for Cape Verde. The next challenge is the trade winds and the Intertropical Convergence Zone, otherwise known as the Doldrums. This 100km wide band that straddles the equator marks the meeting of air flows from the two hemispheres. Anything is possible in this zone, from being totally becalmed to stormy squalls. But when the trade winds make their entrance the foilers will come into their own and the pace will certainly pick up.


YCM keeps up with Vendée Globe

Boris Herrmann’s progress, strategies, weather phenomena from the previous days, forecasts for the coming week, etc. are all topics tackled every Wednesday at the Vendée Globe update organised by the Yacht Club de Monaco. Attended by experts like sailor and former Route de Rhum race director Gilles Chiorri and router-meteorologist Christian Dumard, it’s an opportunity also to advise YCM members and youngsters from the Sports Section who are among the almost 620,000 sailors playing the Virtual Regatta game, as their way to compete in this Vendée Globe.

Note also that the Yacht Club de Monaco has a contest in play for everyone on the theme “Who will win the Vendée Globe?”. Send your predictions in before 20th November 2020 using the form (www.ycm.org).

To follow the race: www.ycm.org or https://team-malizia.com