Weekly update – Vendée Globe


Wednesday 6th January 2021. The first Vendée Globe update in 2021 mirrored the event there were so many stories to tell. Rounding Cape Horn, navigating southern seas for some, start of the long climb up the Atlantic for others – all were on the agenda for the meeting organised by the Yacht Club de Monaco.


No let-up

Rounding Cape Horn is by no means the end of the story and tension is mounting. Twelve boats have now left the legendary rock in their wake, including Boris Herrmann (Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco) who crossed the Drake Passage Tuesday 5th January at 03.27 in 10th position.

It’s the fifth time, but first solo, for the German sailor, an experience described as a “magical” moment by the skipper who was ‘live’ at the meeting via Zoom. The 39-year-old also recounted his travails with the tear in his mainsail as he approached the Chilean coast. “It was complicated as it was structural, I had to dry and clean two layers in a 45-knot wind but finished the repair in Atlantic sunshine”.  With the Pacific behind him, the skipper is attacking the last phase of the race: “It’s great to be in the Atlantic, with the sun, lighter winds and blue skies. I have a fully hoisted mainsail and everything’s just great.”

There’s still everything to play for on this 58th day of racing.  Led by Yannick Bestaven (Maître CoQ IV), the group in pursuit are narrowing the gap, trying to stay close to the leader who has a 10 hour 15 minute time award, as does Jean Le Cam (Yes We Cam) and Boris Herrmann (Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco), the former 16 hours 15 minutes and Boris 6 hours, for diverting to go to the rescue of Kevin Escoffier (PRB). “Today, I’m in hunter mode. We need to wait another couple of days to see what happens, but I think I will pick up speed soon. I’m aiming to cross the equator in ten or eleven days’ time,” explained Boris.

There is no rest for skippers post-Cape Horn as they are having to negotiate a high pressure system off Argentina, enough to ramp-up suspense in a fleet where everyone will pull out all the stops to succeed.


From virtual to reality

The hugely popular Virtual Regatta took centre stage again with the intervention by Philippe Guigné, president and founder of the online game. Conceived during the Route du Rhum in 2006, the concept has attracted more than a million players. “It has to be as real as possible. There’s a depth to the game, but it remains accessible. We have big names in sailing playing, champions like Loïc Peyron who is very skilful, and at the other end novices living in landlocked Cantal who are also playing. Everyone can enjoy it,” said the developer from La Rochelle.

At the Yacht Club de Monaco it has been enthusiastically embraced by more than 150 members, including a team of young sailors in the Sports Section’s Competition Division and a second made up of the crew on Tuiga who take turns as if they were on watch on a boat.

While the Offshore races are full-on, the Inshore format is equally testing. “You can learn a lot with the inshore format. The tactical aspect is very present and nearly all the sailors who are very good at Virtual Regatta Inshore are generally top-level racers in real life”.

The programme is often used at the YCM who has organised numerous Virtual Regatta events, such as the E-Sailing Autumn Championship on J/70s last November. The idea is to complement e-learning classes to improve skills, particularly among the younger sailors.

The next Vendée Globe will be on Wednesday 13th January at 5.00pm in the Meeting Room at the YCM.