First competitors in Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables d’Olonne are expected to cross the finish line midnight French time
The first competitors in the Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables d’Olonne are expected to cross the finish line at around midnight French time on 14 July through into 15 July. But in which order? Charlie Dalin has the advantage for now having led the way since rounding the Gallimard waypoint in first place.
However, there is precious little separating the top boats and the ‘final straight’ to Les Sables d’Olonne will be a tough one. At least four boats are in the running for a podium place.Charlie Dalin gained the upper hand this morning as he rounded the Gallimard waypoint, 18 minutes ahead of Jérémie Beyou and less than an hour ahead of Thomas Ruyant. The skipper of LinkedOut, credited with the greatest number of pole positions since the start of the race, is now in direct competition with Kevin Escoffier (PRB) in the hunt for the third step of the podium! "There is less separating the top 12 today than there was at the north-west tip of Brittany a few hours after the start!" notes Paul Meilhat, head of the IMOCA sports committee and leader of the IMOCA Globe Series championship. The ridge of high pressure traversed last night means that the match at the front has started over again. Six competitors are grouped within 20 miles and the top trio in this very first edition of the Vendée-Arctique-les Sables d’Olonne is certainly not set in stone. There are still 30 to 36 hours at sea to seal the deal or break up the latest fragile hierarchy. This is set to involve a 500-mile sprint downwind, which began ‘gently’ under spinnaker at a relatively slow pace (the first gybes of the race!) and will round off at an angle closer to the wind. The main objective of the day will consist of hunting down the north-westerly breeze lavished by a small front at just the right latitude without extending the route too much! Next up, it will be important to post some good speeds on port as the wind heads and builds. It’s stating the obvious, but the key will be to make fast headway in the right place.
Three places for four aces
"I don’t know how all this is going to play out" admitted Jérémie Beyou, contacted by telephone this morning, shortly after rounding the Gallimard waypoint. The course configuration for the Vendée- Arctique-Les Sables d’Olonne makes this event rather unusual and a far cry from the traditional transatlantic passages contested by these large monohulls. You can forget the usual format of the ‘rich getting richer at the front’. Instead, it’s all about ‘catching up from behind’. However, this recurring phenomenon (5 passages through a ridge of high pressure since 4 July) doesn’t seem to worry Charlie Dalin, who’s delighted to be leading the way in this section of the race. We can certainly count on the combativeness and mental strength of the former Figaro sailor to make every effort to contain any attacks by the black boat. "To beat Charlie, you need to be good, because he’s good. And you’ll doubtless need a bit of luck on your side too", continues Jérémie Beyou. On parallel courses some 1.5 miles apart, the two sailors are sailing a controlled race in one last gruelling duel to the finish that will only come to an end when they reach the Nouch Sud mark. However, putting body and soul into this singular battle has its risks. Indeed, it will be important not to leave their rivals to fend for themselves because they’re as close as they are dangerous: Thomas Ruyant and Kevin Escoffier are also at daggers drawn. To each sailor, their rival
Choosing your rival is sometimes about giving up on others! As such, it will also be worth keeping a close eye on Samantha Davies (5th at the latest ranking), who was the first to gybe this afternoon in search of a wind shift, tailed by Yannick Bestaven. Further back, Clarisse Crémer (Banque Populaire X) is sailing a stunning race with her boat kitted out with classic daggerboards. She is holding out on Fabrice Amedeo (Newrest – Art &Fenêtres) and Boris Herrmann (Seaexplorer - Yacht Club de Monaco). At 17:00 hours French time, twelve boats (from Charlie Dalin to Kojiro Shiraishi) had passed the Gallimard waypoint. Next on the list is Isabelle Joschke, who is making headway with her jury-rigged mainsail. There will be a quick succession of arrivals at the finish line from midnight/ one in the morning local time from the night of 14 through into 15 July. We’ll have to wait until the morning of 16 to witness the arrival of the last four boats in the fleet.
ETAs at Les Sables d’Olonne
The first six solo sailors (from Dalin to Bestaven): between 00:00 and 01:30 hours on the morning of 15 July. The five pursuers (from Amedeo to Sorel): between 06:00 and 07:30 hours on 15 July