Christmas tales from the Vendee Globe sailors

Charlie Dalin (APIVIA) goes on the record as the Christmas Number 1 on the Vendée Globe rankings after being granted a narrow lead today while nearest rival Yannick Bestaven climbs north on Maître CoQ IV in search of a fast sleigh ride east.

Just how long Dalin stays at the top of the standings is today’s big festive quiz question, but most weather strategy specialists agree that the APIVIA skipper’s lead will be short-lived and Bestaven is likely to back in business as pacemaker early in the final week of 2020.

The skipper from La Rochelle is over 100 miles north-east of Dalin and this morning was beating into a NE’ly wind.

“This could be a turning point: Thomas (Ruyant) is already quite far back. As for Charlie (Dalin), there's very little separation for the moment but that doesn't mean anything today: we have to wait three days,” suggested Bestaven this morning, “Right now I am looking to climb into the low-pressure system and then I should have more downwind conditions in a day if everything goes well for me. I am looking to get to the north quickly to catch the shift. Just now I'm not really sailing on the best course; I hope it won't take too long to be heading towards Cape Horn or even a little further south. I will have to manage a fairly strong low and a front (before Cape Horn) I'm still thinking about how I'm going to position myself in it.”

Once again Bestaven, who led for ten days, confirms that his VPLP-Verdier design, which was launched for the last race as Safran, is at close to 100%.

“The boat is behaving well: it is in perfect condition after my little repairs out over the last few days and the little bits maintenance work. That means I can plan the best strategy: I've run my routing in all directions and I haven't seen a better route other than this one! For me, continuing to head east was too risky with the high pressure chasing from behind… I wasn't in the best of shape but at some point, you have to make a choice: it should give me a good advantage despite the extra miles I have to cover. I also know that my boat works well in these conditions.”

Herrmann Has A First Taste Of The Podium

After sailing within sight of his friend Jean Le Cam – the two share a common interest in coffee and coffee machines – Boris Herrmann of Germany has pulled a handful of miles ahead of the veteran French skipper and now holds third place.

“It is a very nice Christmas present for me, and it gives me a little boost. For sure it may be temporary or it may not, that is not so much of a problem but right now I am proud to have been at least once on the podium after half way round the world,” said Herrmann today on the Christmas Vendée Globe LIVE show, “I enjoyed my Christmas, I had a flat sea with some gentle swell from the south and a nice breeze so I could barely foil at some moments. I had a beautiful time at midday, foiling for two hours in the sunshine, and I took my lunch outside in the lee of my roof and it was ideal conditions it could not have been better.”

Speaking to his friend Alex Thomson on the Live show today Herrmann admitted, “I miss my family a lot. And with the time difference it was not easy to connect with them at the right moment, not being totally asleep. So, I maybe did not quite have the Christmas cheer I could have the real Christmas feeling inside of me. I am sure it is nice to be home with the family but we miss you out here.”

The Grinch Who Stole Ruyant’s Christmas?

Thomas Ruyant has lost miles and places to the leaders and to those around him. The skipper of LinkedOut has dropped to seventh place more than 265 miles behind leader and long-time rival Dalin. He was too late and too far back to take Bestaven’s northerly option at the same time and has found himself between the two options fighting with the centre of the anticyclone averaging less than ten knots over the last 24 hours. He could not summon much Christmas cheer under the circumstances,

“I feel like I am a bit of the joke turkey right now. They are stretching away and I am stuck here. The question is if I can continue to the North to catch the downwind side of the low or if I continue upwind. This is quite a particular Christmas morning, I find it difficult to get by. It is not easy mentally. I am very clear about my situation here. Yannick and Charlie will have a good cushion of an advance at Cape Horn. I'm in the situation nobody wants to be in. It's far from simple but I am fighting. This will give an advantage of 400 to 500 miles to the first boats. It's a long road and I won't give up, I will stay 100% until the end. The current situation is really not the best present I wanted. I am a little fed up. Yes, there will be better days to come. I know that. I’m going to concentrate on my course and look less at the rankings, to go as fast as I can as fast as I can even though there is a lot of starboard tack and that is not my “good” tack.”

She’s behind you!

Britain’s Pip Hare continues to push Medallia super hard in 17th place, looking to outrun a big low-pressure system which is chasing the group of five she is in, now just 35 miles behind Les Sables d’Olonne’s Arnaud Boissières who leads this posse. Having been blessed with fantastic reaching conditions, Hare was briefly reunited on the show with her parents in Suffolk, England.

“Pip’s story right now is one of the best lockdown remedies in England right now. We are so proud of her,” said Mary Hare, her mother, on the live broadcast. 

The skipper of Medallia recalled, “Today has been one of the best days on the water since the start of the race and I am sneaking up behind Cali (Arnaud Boissières, La Mie Caline- Artisans Artipôle). Don’t tell him I am sneaking up on him.

“The wind has got up in the last hours and I have 30 knots and the biggest gust is 38 knots and it will be like that all night. We have a monster big front coming up behind us and so for the next 36 hours my focus is on just trying to drive Medallia as hard to the East as I can.”

Jeanneau JY55
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