Reconciliation at the head of the race
After setting sail from Les Sables d'Olonne on 6 November at 12:02 GMT, those competing in the Vendée Globe have entered their third week of racing this Sunday at noon. After a fortnight at sea, over 2,600 miles already separate leader Alex Thomson from the Spaniard Didac Costa, who is bringing up the rear, and the fleet is now split into four very distinct groups. On the racetrack, Edmond de Rothschild is still lying in 3rd place and at 17:00 GMT this Sunday he was 89 miles astern of Hugo Boss and just three miles shy of Banque Populaire VIII. This trio is leading the way down to the Cape of Good Hope, on a beam reach in a N'ly breeze of around thirty knots.
For the past 48 hours, it's been a case of gritting your teeth and slipping along as quickly as possible towards the South-East in a bid to stay ahead of a cold front rolling across from Brazil, which is propelling the leaders towards the first major cape of this round the world, that of Good Hope.
To keep up these high speeds and rack up the miles, total commitment is required of the sailors. And even though the temperatures are still high at 25°C, the decks of the monohulls are being swept by big waves and inside the carbon machines, the noise is still just as deafening. Added to that, the sea, which has become heavier over the past few hours, is making life aboard just that little more complicated. Most importantly, the lumpier sea state means that the foilers and the classic daggerboards are on an equal footing once more in terms of the speeds achieved.
24 hours of jockeying for position
In this way, observers who were hoping to see the solo 24hr speed record for 60-foot monohulls tumble this weekend are still waiting. Indeed, for now the 534.48 miles covered by François Gabart during the Vendée Globe 2012 has yet to be beaten. Briton Alex Thomson came very close yesterday morning, but impact with a UFO (Unidentified Floating Object) cut short his bid for the new record. In the collision, the leader damaged his starboard foil, which is the one currently in use since the solo sailors are sailing on port tack. The skipper explained over a video sent this afternoon that the appendage was seriously damaged and that he'll have to do without it for the rest of the race.
“This type of damage inevitably makes you mull things over and yesterday I raised the foils for a few hours when I learnt about Alex's news. However, once I'd taken stock I saw reason because objectively I was already a notch lower than Alex in the way I was driving the boat. As such, right now I'm sailing the boat to her true potential again,” explained Sébastien Josse this evening.
The numbers on Edmond de Rothschild
These first two weeks of racing are an opportunity to analyse the numbers from the 14:00 GMT ranking this 20 November. Since leaving Les Sables d'Olonne on 6 November 2016, the Mono60 Edmond de Rothschild has covered 4,953 miles along the great circle route (direct route) at an average speed of 14.7 knots so Sébastien Josse has covered 20% of the total distance. It's worth noting that over the ground, which means the actual distance over the water, the skipper of Gitana 16 has devoured 5,356.85 miles at an average speed of 15.9 knots. Finally, this morning the five-arrow sailor recorded his greatest distance covered over 24 hours after racking up 497.38 miles at an average speed of 20.7 knots.
At the start of the third week of racing, twenty-eight of the twenty-nine boats that made their way down the canal out of Les Sables d'Olonne are still racing. Indeed, yesterday evening, Bertrand de Broc announced his retirement from the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha, where he moored to inspect his damaged keel fairing. For his part, Tanguy de Lamotte, victim of damage to his masthead last Saturday, hasn't yet reported his retirement, though it's only a matter of days now. He's remaining in the race until he makes landfall, which will most likely be this coming weekend in Les Sables d'Olonne.
Ranking on 20 November at 17:00 GMT
- Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) 19,341.8 miles from the finish
- Armel Le Cleac'h (Banque Populaire VIII) 86.6 miles behind the leader
- Sébastien Josse (Edmond de Rothschild) 89.6 miles behind the leader
- Vincent Riou (PRB) 157.4 miles behind the leader
- Morgan Lagravière (Safran) 182.0 miles behind the leader
- Paul Meilhat (SMA) 222.6 miles behind the leader
- Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ) 313.1 miles behind the leader
- Yann Eliès (Quéguiner Leucémie Espoir) 703.6 miles behind the leader