Gradually, Yannick Bestaven should sweat a lot, and that's not just because of the rising temperatures: his lead has melted from over 430 miles to just 66 this morning in four days. While yesterday he got stuck in a wind hole off the coast of Brazil, Charlie Dalin with his "Apivia" was often able to sail almost three times as fast as Bestaven in the best half-wind conditions.
Even though Dalin is sailing on port tack, the damaged foil side of his boat. So far he has never revealed whether the broken and poorly repaired sword case holds so well that he can at least partially use the foil. But it almost looks like that, because while Thomas Ruyant, also impaired on the bow by his broken, sawed-off foil, sails much more slowly, Dalin pulls him slowly but surely away. Presumably "Apivia" still foils quite well.
Status of the race at 9:00 a.m.
The question for the rest of the race is how well Bestaven can defend himself against Dalin's battered foiler on the wind. His boat should be much faster on paper, but almost the entire distance to the equator is sailed on the port bow. And: Bestaven is already sailing close to the wind in conditions that reach up to the equator, Dalin still has to come out of the edge of the high pressure, and according to weather models he could get stuck there in the slack zone of the rapidly expanding St. Helena high. Then "Maître Coq" could withdraw again. If Dalin just reaches the northeast winds in which Bestaven sails, he is in the same weather system, maybe the door will slam behind him and Thomas Ruyant and the other pursuers will get stuck there for the time being.
Boris Herrmann in an interview with NDR
Charlie Dalin still has to keep in mind that he not only has to beat Yannick Bestaven at the finish, but also with a lead of more than 10 hours and 15 minutes - Bestaven still receives a time credit of this amount for participating in the rescue mission for Kevin Escoffier.
Boris Herrmann is now in seventh place in the chasing group, after overtaking his long-term rival Jean Le Cam yesterday. "Seaexplorer" runs super good speed, for days consistently faster than this one, Giancarlo Pedote ("Prysmian Group") and Benjamin Deutreux ("OmiWater Family"). Finally, as announced before the Cape Horn Passage, Herrmann can really take advantage of his foils. At the 9 o'clock update he was traveling at almost 20 knots, around four knots faster than Benjamin Dutreux, who is only eleven miles ahead of him. "On paper, I have the fastest ship in the chase pack here. With a little luck with the weather, I can take the lead in this pack," said Herrmann yesterday. Catching up with Damien Seguin and Louis Burton is much more difficult.
The German was relieved that he was finally sailing in better conditions: "I dreamed of it: Heat. Medium downwind conditions. No stomping, hitting, screeching. No fear of breaking the boat or sail. No problem. Since the afternoon we have such conditions. This morning I was still riding at 27 knots, but now I have the conditions I have dreamed of. From here to the Azores is comfortable and doable. In 12 hours my clothing changed from two layers to T-shirt."
As Herrmann revealed on the Vendée Globe lunchtime program at the weekend, he is still speculating on fifth place. The enormously strong Louis Burton sails there, he is currently around 130 miles ahead. Feasible, but the next few days will be complicated: The field is driving in holey wind that blows in a changeable, narrow band off the coast of Brazil. If you miss the tape by even a few miles, you park. The pursuers see this, sail a little further west and march through. Tricky.
On the Vendée live broadcast yesterday, Jean-Piere Dick, who has already contested the race three times, said that at least the first five boats are still competing for victory, that the weather is so complicated. At the moment it looks like the winner will need at least until January 29th.