Only around 700 miles from Les Sables d’Olonne, nobody dares to predict the outcome of this final sprint. No Vendée Globe Challenge has ever ended in such an exciting final. The three leading skippers Vincent Riou, Jean le Cam and Mike Golding are now shifting to short-haul strategies after having sailed over 25,000 nautical miles. On tactics such as those used in triangular regattas.
The solo sailors on the yachts "PRB", "Bonduelle" and "Ecover" speculate on the slightest wind shift, position themselves between them and their opponents, watch out for things like lateral separation, attack levers and possibilities for defense, like a target cross, about 1000 miles ahead The three skippers, each of whom has long been regarded as a sailing superhuman, are obviously very exhausted of the closest - just as intensely matching - couple. In any case, the news from the boats shows that the nerves of the three top sailors are already more than naked.
On a triangular course, Vincent Riou ("PRB") would almost have been dethroned. Because the second placed Jean le Cam ("Bonduelle") is in luv astern and can sail higher in a wind that Vincent Riou has not reached. On a brief cross, Riou could only look powerless over his shoulder, knowing that he would not be able to turn around in order to consolidate his dwindling lead on the way to le Cam. The problem: You don't sail a triangle that is about seconds and boat lengths. Vincent Riou is still around 30 nautical miles ahead - ridiculously little compared to what lies behind him. But still far enough to orientate himself according to the weather ahead of him, to hope for an escape to the front - if only because he knows that he has no other chance
Rious' s direct opponent Jean le Cam (whom admirers call "King Jean"; after all, he has won the notorious Figaro race three times, as only Michel Desjoyeaux and Philippe Poupon apart from him) was able to turn the tables on psycho: Le Cam, who had previously been angry The fact that he was “only” second simply shifted the anger to his colleague Riou: He's sure to be very annoyed that he might soon be overtaken. Speaking of being angry. Despite all the uncertainty about the situation, it seems certain that Mike Golding can no longer win with "Ecover". The upwind properties of his new Owen / Clarke design, which he himself praised, no longer allow him to simply "overtake" his opponent on the right due to the short distance to the target. Golding knows that.
Also that his next opponent ("VMI") is sailing around 1000 miles astern and is actually not a threat. So nothing would be more understandable than if Golding (who is also very irritated to judge by the news from "Ecover") now simply dared an extreme blow. In any case, the massive, unpredictable high pressure area over Europe opens up a chance for him to do so.
The news from the head of the field, however, has a similar scope to that of Cape Horn. Because Karen Leibovici left the Southern Ocean today with Jean Luc Van Den Heede's "red cigar", the legendary Yawl "Benefic" - as the last of the Vendée Globe fleet.
This repeats an apparently mandatory scenario of this global adventure: as early as 1996, the red Yawl (which was then called "Whirlpool", was skipped by Catherine Chabaud and had a power failure) rounded the Cape during the days when the winner Christophe Auguin with "Geodis" (the current "UUDS", who left a few weeks ago) arrived in Les Sables d'Olonne. One rule of the Vendée Globe seems to be: Without the "red cigar" it is just as unreal as the former OSTAR (from Plymouth / England to Newport / USA) without Blondie Hasler's former "Jester".