Day 79: Beyou due, Thomson talks of 2020 vision
Jérémie Beyou is expected to cross the finish line of the Vendée Globe solo round the world race this evening to take third place after spending three days slowed by extremely light winds, arriving in Les Sables d'Olonne from the north west. His progress over recent days, within 250 miles of the finish, also ranks as the slowest finish for many editions. The Maître CoQ skipper was due on the finish line around 1900-2000hrs UTC this evening after just over 78 days of racing.
Speaking to Race HQ in Les Sables d'Olonne, Beyou said this morning: "Yesterday there was no wind at all. You start imagining all sorts of things. Even if you have a lead of a thousand miles over those chasing you, you start to think you could lose your place. The tiredness, the fact that this is so close to the finish, means you go through all sorts of things, which are unpleasant. I was really pleased to pick up the wind again this morning. A Navy plane just flew over and said hello. I can feel that we're close to the finish. Getting back to land is a bit worrying. I have never completed a Vendée Globe… I'll take each thing as it comes. I'll try to enjoy myself with those that turn up and tell them my story, tell them how I feel. I wasn't able to share my adventure much during the race because of my communication problems, so this is going to be an opportunity to do that."
After one of the slowest finishes in the history of the Vendée Globe, one of the closest ever finishes between three boats is anticipated. The three way fight for fourth to sixth, between Jean-Pierre Dick, Yann Eliès and Jean Le Cam sees Dick 55 miles ahead of Eliès. But because there is a high pressure ridge which is forecast to give light winds for their finish on Wednesday, routing models still suggest there might be as little as two hours between the first and third on this ‘private Vendée Globe'.
Two days after finishing second in the Vendée Globe, British skipper Alex Thomson is recovering well in the start and finish host town of Les Sables d'Olonne on the west coast of France. He has been enjoying family time, taking every chance to spend some hours with his young son and daughter in between resting and completing a whirlwind schedule of media interviews. When he joined Vendée LIVE in French and English today, he enthralled a ‘standing room only' packed house comprising local ‘Sablais', French and international Vendée Globe fans, with his ready wit, his frank and full answers and his undimmed passion for the legendary solo non stop race around the world. Thomson confirmed today that he intends to do the race again in 2020, looking to add a win to his third and second places but only if he can put together a fully competitive program. On a lighter note Thomson told how, the morning after finishing his gruelling 74 day race, he took his kids to the swimming pool of his hotel to be greeted in the water by his rival, race winner Armel Le Cléac'h who he had been racing head to head with him for 90 per cent of the 27,000 mile course. Before he moves forward with the next phase of his racing career, Thomson will take a holiday….sailing in the Caribbean.
The Hugo Boss skipper laughed: “My wife has booked our dream sailing holiday together in the Caribbean. She has promised we have double beds, flushing toilet and fridge, freezer and lots of beer and rum. We are off to do that.” Having now had a little time to discuss future Vendée Globe plans with his wife Kate and his core team, he is keen to complete the story with a win: “Third last time, second this time. It is obvious what we need to do. What I need to do is to have a competitive campaign to do it again and the level of commitment from my family, from my team, from my team's families. It means we need the right funding, but the most important thing is the people and the very next thing is the funding.” Reviewing the emotional videos of his finish and return into the famous Les Sables d'Olonne channel, Thomson explained: “For me in the race I always feel it is very important not to think about the finish until it happens. Anything can happen right up until the finish line. Mike Golding lost his keel 50 miles from the finish. Even when I am 20 miles away, I am still not really telling myself I am about to finish. All the emotion, all the work you have put in, all the stress, it is not really over until that line. And then it just feels like the responsibility is lifted off your shoulders. I am not even sure you are really aware of the responsibility. Having to sleep with one eye open, you are constantly thinking of what can happen next."
Of his ‘decompression', his recovery since finishing he said: "It takes a few months to recover. I will be a few months in the gym. My gluteus maximus has turned to a gluteus minimus. I have got no quadriceps muscles any more. I am in pain walking around. Physically it is going to be lot of work. I am sleeping quite well. I normally sleep for only one or two hours for quite a long period after the race. I feel pretty exhausted. I really felt like the tank was empty this time. I actually have put weight on my stomach. My weight will have dropped though because you lose big muscles like your quads and your glutes, my legs are terrible, there is nothing there. One of the problems I did not tell people about is where the jib sheets come down through a block on the deck, the pulley where the rope does a 110 degree turn, stopped working about six weeks ago. And so I was dragging the ropes through the sheave. And I actually feel like my shoulder has moved forward in the socket."
Speaking to Rich Wilson, the skipper of Great American IV, Thomson paid tribute to the American's excellent energy generation systems, a combination of wind vane, hydrogenerator and solar panels which mean that he has barely used any diesel. "I used 200 liters of fuel," - said Thomson who fought energy generation issues almost all the way through his 2012-13 race, rebuilding hydrogenerators and struggling for long period with very limited energy, hence his choice to go ‘belt and braces' with diesel this time: "I had a tiny solar panel and my hydrogenerator was a back up. Mainly we were using diesel. But if we do another one I would to do it with using zero fuel. I love what you are doing and particularly what Conrad is doing. I think we should be going around the world without using any fossil fuels." And he expressed his belief that the Vendée Globe should remain open and inclusive: "I think one of the great things is the amazing characters. If it was not set up the way it is then we would not have a Rich Wilson, we would not have had an Enda, we would not have a Sébastien Destremau. I think if there were 30 of me and Armel it would be a bit boring. Nandor Fa is extraordinary. To have a man who designed his own boat, who built it himself and is in eighth place. I have a real soft spot for him."
The use of foiling appendages is in its infancy in the IMOCA 60 class which the Vendée Globe is raced in. Thomson want to see the class make the right decisions in the immediate future, to continue to develop fast, safe boats but considering costs and speeds relative to non-foiling boats: "We have just scratched the surface. The foils on our boat and those on Banque Populaire are slightly different. We were slightly better downwind but we were not so good in other areas. It was not a golden ticket. But we did go a very long way in a very short period of time. We have got longer. Our version 2 foils broke within three days and, yes, there will be a version 3 in due course. But we need to look at the data and see what we can do. There is an annual general meeting of the class in April. That will decide what the rule is. What is important is that we have a rule. It does not matter what it is. I think we need to be careful not to have a rule which makes what we do quite inefficient and very expensive. Like the America's Cup. When they designed the boats they did not want them to foil, but Team New Zealand found how to make them foil, but in a very inefficient and almost dangerous way. I think that is what we need to do with IMOCA. We need to think about the costs too. There are seven boats foiling and on average each boat building two sets of foils. These foils are costing three or four hundred thousand pounds a pair, plus the cases. We don't want the gap between the well-funded teams and the other teams to be too big. There is a lot of work to do. I sit on the executive committee of IMOCA, Armel Le Cléac'h is on the team, and Jéremie (Beyou)."
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EXTRACTS FROM TODAY'S RADIO SESSIONS
Conrad Colman (Foresight Natural Energy): "The temperature is certainly changing as I head northwards, not so surprisingly becoming hot and steamy as I approach the Brazilian coast in summer time. There were about 24 hours when I was comfortable in base layers and shorts but now the meter is set to full boil and I'm melting. The Vendee Globe is unique in many respects, but this wild swings in temperature are certainly part of the charm. My companions have changed too. Gone is the constant surveillance from the albatrosses and the stormy petrels. I had dolphins around me again the other night, I have seen my first flying fish and I was visited by a huge rain forest moth who had clearly taken a wrong turn at an intersection somewhere!"
Eric Bellion (CommeUnSeulHomme): "The past ten days haven't been easy, with calms or squalls. It was horrible last night with the wind going from 0 to 24 knots… The boat was knocked down, while I was at the nav desk, and it went on like that throughout the night. I feel nostalgic looking back at the lows in the Southern Ocean. At least with them, you knew what to expect. When your speed drops to zero knots and you still have 6000 miles to sail, you feel that it is a really long way and that time has slowed right down. There are very difficult moments like last night but then when you get moving again, it's fantastic."
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Live with Rich Wilson - Great American IV
Vendée Live of the 23rd of January with Alex Thomson - Hugo Boss
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HOW TO FOLLOW THE RACE
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