Day 78: Slow home run for Beyou
Two consecutive attempts at the Vendée Globe lasted no more than 17 days for Jérémie Beyou but the highly talented French skipper should finally complete the famous solo round the world race Monday afternoon, or evening, and secure third place.
After being forced out by rig damage to his Delta Dore on Day 17 in November 2008 and then by keel damage to his previous Maître CoQ on the ninth day of the 2012-13 race, greater and greater levels of patience are bit one more virtue that Beyou has had to add to his list of competitive attributes. He has been snared by extremely light winds over the last few days, his progress towards the finishing line in Les Sables d'Olonne has been extremely slow. At times today and last night he has been making just 1 knot. Add the fact that the contrary, E'ly wind direction means Beyou is not only glacially slow but had to route north east before making a final long tack down the Breton coast, ironically passing through the home, local waters where he has spent so many training and racing hours. The finish line can now no longer come quick enough for the soloist who started out as one of the favorites to win. During this Sunday afternoon over a four hour period Beyou made just 2.9NMs
The quiet, still weather and pleasant winter sunshine has brought out huge Sunday crowds to the race village pontoons at Port Olona, Les Sables d'Olonne to view the boats of the first two skippers. Thousands of visitors have made an odyssey to see the IMOCAs Banque Populaire VIII and Hugo Boss.
While some 200 miles from the finish Beyou is struggling to find enough breeze to complete his race , some 250 miles north east of the Azores, the three cornered battle between Jean-Pierre Dick, Yann Eliès and Jean Le Cam has seen Dick step 25 miles clear today in 20-30kts S'ly breezes. Dick has the advantage of slightly more breeze and the potential to go faster with his foil assisted St Michel-Virbac. Their race within a race which Eliès describes as their own Vendée Globe is already the first time that three skippers have been so closely matched so close to the finish. They will have to transition across a ridge of light winds before they finish on Wednesday, but the weather models suggest there might only be four hours separating fourth from sixth. Dick is looking to finish the Vendée Globe for the third time, at best equalling his fourth place in the 2012-13 edition. Le Cam finished sixth last time and his best remains second in 2004-5, while this would rank as Eliès first Vendée Globe finish. Speaking to Les Sables d'Olonne today on Vendée LIVE, Elies - who will also route through the waters where five of the six top skippers call home - said:
"Things are going a bit better now. Jean has calmed down a bit to my SE. He had been worrying me over the past few hours. We're moving along nicely now towards the finish, unlike my friend Beyou. For us it's a pleasure and we're all happy. Things are going to be quite rough until the Bay of Biscay. Then we'll be upwind. The routing takes us towards Belle-Ile and Groix and then we change tack. I'll be passing in front of my house and will say hi before heading back down to the finish line. I hope the visibility will be good and we'll be able to remember all the marks, the buoys…"
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EXTRACTS FROM TODAY'S RADIO SESSIONS
Jean Le Cam, Finistère Mer Vent: "We have picked up some wind recently, and we're beginning to move again. Last night was a bit tricky, but the seas are calm and the weather is fine. There are lots of boats around here. I can see boats in a radius of a hundred miles. There are three at the moment and I have seen some container vessels. They look like an island on the horizon as they are so big. The Vendée Globe for us is a story of four boats, so if I finish sixth, for me it's like finishing 3rd in our own little Vendée Globe. We are not in the same weather system as the others, so we have nothing in common with them."
Fabrice Amedeo, Newrest-Matmut: "I'm approaching the center of the high and going around it. In the light airs, I'll change tack and then head north. So there are going to be a few tricky hours, but the scenario ahead looks clear. The American and European forecasts agree. I'll be stopped tomorrow morning, but that is common in this part of the Atlantic. There is a front off Brazil which will take us to another high and I'll get away from that on Friday to pick up the trade winds and head home."
Sébastien Destremau (TechnoFirst - faceOcean): "It is hard. But it is not a picnic race. This is the Vendée Globe. It is Day 77 or 78. I really don't know and I don't care. It is daybreak on the Pacific and the boat will sail at 12kts all the way. I have very good conditions to go to Cape Horn apparently with some breeze coming in later in the week. I am approaching Cape Horn and starting to appreciate the magnitude of what this is. And then we will see from there. I am only six days away. I am behind Pieter, yes I am trying to catch him up. I am a bit behind but who cares? My plan was to finish on 14th February after 100 days. I had food for an extra week. But I saved two weekly bags on the way down the Atlantic and so now I have food to March the fifth. I plan to arrive on February 26th at 1302hrs exactly, with a week of food to spare!"
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Sébastien Destremau (TechnoFirst - faceOcean)
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