The Atlantic ascent has opened up two possibilities for the leading group of the Vendée Globe fleet: Higher upwind sailing with boat speeds of twelve to 15 knots, as Charlie Dalin does on "Apivia". Or sail deep and a little faster, which Louis Burton ("Bureau Vallée 2") and Thomas Ruyant ("LinkedOut") have chosen. The course difference is about ten degrees. Boris Herrmann has positioned himself in between, with a current penchant for the duo Burton and Ruyant. The lateral distance between Dalin in the east and Burton in the west is about 200 nautical miles.
Tracking and positions towards the end of the 73rd day at sea (January 20, 7 a.m. German time). You can clearly see the Azores high, which lies like a small wall in front of the leading boats …
Frontrunner Dalin said in the morning: "Within 48 hours we should be over the ridge around which we are traveling. And then we will get on the express train of the Atlantic depressions. It can be assumed, however, that we will slow down this afternoon and below tonight The influence of the high pressure area was advised. I chose the inside lane of the curve, but there is a good chance that I will end up at about the same point as Louis Burton."
"Apivia" skipper Charlie Dalin had already announced his claim to victory before the start of the race. Can he defend his leadership?
Louis Burton with a wink: What role will the "Bureau Vallée 2" skipper play in the battle for the podium?
The actual result of this remote duel remains open until the end of the week. Currently, the trade winds are initially becoming more demanding for the boats in front because their fluctuations become greater under the increasing influence of the Azores high. In these conditions, "Seaexplorer - Yacht Club de Monaco" skipper Boris Herrmann, bow to bow, is fighting for third place with Thomas Ruyant. Their duel is reflected in something about Dalin and Burton: Herrmann last sailed with about 19 knots deep and fast. The 39-year-old from Hamburg was able to make up ground again overnight with some of the fastest speeds and after the Doldrums stumble he returned convincingly in the fight for the podium places. Thomas Ruyant, who defended third place in the classification on Wednesday morning, sailed about 50 nautical miles east of him at 15 to 17 knots speed.
Somewhat lame, but definitely one of the greatest fighters in the group of leading skippers who are now fighting for victory and the podium: Thomas Ruyant
The discrepancy between the positions in the tracking and in the classification, which the day before caused some excitement and incomprehension even with Boris Herrmann, has now been compensated by the race committee with a theoretical waypoint at 37 degrees north and 25 degrees west, as well as the placements appear more realistic again in the rankings. Herrmann was visibly well fourth in the race on Tuesday, but was only sixth in the interim classification. The difference was due to the fact that the race committee had operated with a movable waypoint for the best position determination of the boats during the Atlantic descent after the start, but initially did not do this on the way back in the current final. As a result, the current positions of the boats in the ranking were always determined in direct comparison with their shortest course to the finish. This very "straight" and theoretical calculation method without additionally inserted imaginary waypoints even contained abbreviations over land. Race director Jacques Caraës had stated, among other things: "We did not expect that there would be such a close final with so many boats." The organizers have now solved the problem.
Experts are expecting a gripping final thriller over the last days of the race, which, according to current calculations, could end on January 27th or 28th in the start and destination port of Les Sables-d'Olonne. When calculating the chances for the boats in front, the time credits that three skippers have in their pockets since their involvement in the rescue mission for Kevin Escoffier in the South Atlantic at the beginning of December are now increasingly being taken into account. What these hours will actually be worth in the final bill can only be determined exactly after the finish. As a reminder: Jean Le Cam had received a credit of 16 hours and 15 minutes at the time. Yannick Bestaven has ten hours and 15 minutes of credit. Boris Herrmann is allowed to deduct six hours from his total sailing time.
It is already certain that the last skipper of the race - the Finn Ari Huuselauf "Stark" - will pass Cape Horn before the winner is at the finish. This will be the case for the first time since the premiere in 1989/1990. Conversely, the ninth edition is much slower than usual for the leading boats, but faster for the pursuers.
Still has to sail around 1200 nautical miles to Cape Horn: Ari Huuselas "Stark" from Finland
At the beginning of the 73rd day at sea on Tuesday afternoon, Boris Herrmann wrote about the roller coaster ride of his feelings at this long Atlantic finale:
Every day is different. The contrasts are often great. But the transitions are gradual and are often barely noticeable.
Then I realize: Oh, wow, now I have the wind that I dreamed of so desperately yesterday. And now I'm in the thick of it. The full trade winds. Two days ago they seemed too far away to be imagined. The equator seemed so far from Cape Horn. The Hoorn seemed endlessly far away from the St. Helena high.
My next wish and dream is the Azores high. Give me some peace and quiet sailing!
Almost every day there is cause for massive stress. Something makes it extreme. Extreme light winds, extreme moguls. Maybe your nerves will get thinner over the long term?
The truth is: the stakes keep getting higher and higher. To experience rupture now would feel so much more tragic to me than any time before. With every day that brings us closer to our goal, the positive excitement and this latent paranoid fear merge into a new mix, throughout the day into a rodeo of emotions.
Last night it was almost all over. I had water in the engine compartment. The filter from the watermaker has leaked. Half the night I struggled with the chaos. Now everything is fine again. The new watermaker is running because the old one has been destroyed by the water. That could easily have been the end of the show.
Looking up the mainsail for my repairs doesn't help either. Neither does the brutal falling into one or the other oddly shaped wave. Even the strong increase and decrease of the wind does not help.
Sleep! I will sleep now. It's good to find this moment of letting go.
My mind is very actively sensing the boat. I try to relieve the stress that I put on the machine myself. Should I opt for less foil rake? Another course? The J3? A second reef? The view of the average wind peaks invites you to speed. The picture becomes blurred and the mind no longer gives clear instructions.
And then a fresh eye in the afternoon. Then it will hopefully only be about 19 hours before the wind subsides again and we can sail elegantly across the sea.
Then there's that strong voice that says, "Now push. You can't sleep."
Sometimes you can even find a faster mode that makes life on board more livable. That means J2. How often have I changed now: six times, seven times? The wind sits right in between. The average seems pretty similar in reality. And when the wind picks up again, we accelerate better with the little J3. I'll leave her up for the next two hours and then we'll see …
I feel the limit of lack of sleep. In the back of my mind is this strange feeling like I'm crying. That is always the sign: sleep now!
Thanks for your support!
This impressive video by Isabelle Joschke from the Pacific, which was only published yesterday, shows how sailing on the Imoca yachts must feel at high speeds. After leaving the Brazilian port of Salvador de Bahi, the German-French will probably reach Salvador de Bahi next weekend with the keel still free-swimming.