Please select your home edition
Edition
CoastWaterSports 2014

8th Vendée Globe - Day 64: Beyou capitalises on leaders' woes

by Andi Robertson on 8 Jan 8 January 2017

While all eyes are on the Vendée Globe's leading pair Armel Le Cléac'h and Alex Thomson as their epic tussle heads into its 64th day, third-placed Jérémie Beyou has been quietly sneaking up on them. In three days French skipper Beyou has reduced the gap between his raceboat Maître CoQ and the two favourites from 1,000 nautical miles to less than 700nm.

Beyou has been able to shave more than 300nm off after le Cléac'h and Thomson were snared by the Doldrums, an ever-changing band of low pressure close to the Equator that is notorious for its unpredictability. With Le Cléac'h's Banque Populaire and Thomson's Hugo Boss sufficiently trapped inside the system the Doldrums ballooned to around 350nm wide from north to south, spelling several days of misery for the leaders with boat speeds down to as low as two knots. The growth of the Doldrums is thanks to a big low pressure system forming some 1,500nm to the north of Le Cléac'h and Thomson, west of the Canary Islands. And while they have been powerless to escape the clutches of the Doldrums, Beyou had been more than happy to capitalise on the misfortunes of his rivals by charging north through the South Atlantic trade winds at a constant 15 knots.

According to four-time Vendée Globe competitor Mike Golding, there's a chance for Beyou to reduce the deficit even further in the coming days. Golding, the first sailor ever to finish three editions of the race, said an uncertain forecast for the North Atlantic could also benefit Jean-Pierre Dick, Jean Le Cam and Yann Eliès in fourth, fifth and sixth, around 500 miles behind Beyou. "Normally as you get out of the Doldrums you get into a steady and building north-easterly flow but that's been disrupted by a depression to the north," the British sailor told the Vendée Live show today. "The band of light winds that the Doldrums generally represents is much wider and less distinct than normal and that's bad news for Armel. Potentially Jérémie could close the gap up. Even the guys behind – Jean Pierre, Jean and Yann - have an opportunity, because the weather forecast for the North Atlantic is so disturbed and unpredictable."

Although currently trailing Le Cléac'h by 143nm, the advantage is with Thomson as the pair prepare to pick their way through the complicated weather thrown at them by the North Atlantic. "It's certainly a stressful time for Armel and Alex, but probably more so for Armel," he added. "He's been in the lead so long but he's watched that very substantial lead evaporate to almost nothing. Now with a weather forecast like this ahead of them he's going to be in a very difficult situation. The course ahead looks blotchy – there are pockets of wind and pockets of no wind. What's more it's going to be all on starboard, the tack where Alex can use his foil, and we know that his boat is quick in the nominal, low speed foiling conditions. The ball is very much in Alex's court – he's behind and can watch what happens to Armel. Armel has his work cut out but he's done a fantastic job hanging on to the lead this far and I don't expect him to give it up easily. It makes for a very interesting last 10 days for the frontrunners."

Eighth-placed Spirit of Hungary skipper Nandor Fa was today within 200 miles of Cape Horn. It will be the fifth time the sailor, now 63, will have passed the famous landmark having first rounded it on a small cruising boat in 1987, then again in the 1990 BOC Challenge, the 1992 Vendée Globe, and the 2014 Barcelona World Race. Speaking to Vendée Globe HQ in Paris from his position 200 miles west of Cape Horn, Fa said his fifth rounding would be a 'special moment', spoiled only by the fact that he would not get to see the milestone in daylight. "I will see the lights from the lighthouse at the Horn but I won't see the island itself and that makes me a little bit upset," he said. "I was dreaming about a daylight rounding in nice sunshine, and having a feast, but I'm afraid that won't happen now. This is the fifth time I've been here and maybe the last time. I will say hello and goodbye to the Horn, and drink some champagne. It will be a special feeling – it is already."

Tune into the Vendee Live show at 1200 UTC tomorrow at www.vendeeglobe.org/en where Will Carson will be joined by double Olympic silver medallist and Volvo Ocean Race reigning champion Ian Walker.

Nandor Fa (Spirit of Hungary): "A couple of minutes ago I was just under 200 miles from Cape Horn. It's raining and it's cloudy, the same as yesterday. The squalls are running – it's special weather because we're close to the new centre of the low pressure system. The wind is stronger than forecast, I have about 27 knots of wind from the north north-west. Sometimes I run out of energy because there are too many jobs and I'm not a youngster any more, but at the moment I feel good. I've been jogging and doing gymnastics inside the boat to keep myself fit. It's difficult because I have to wear five layers of clothes and every moment is difficult. Despite all the clothes I'm quite cold. But I feel really good, I'm still motivated. During the trip in the south I felt like it would never end, that I would never reach the Horn. I was really tired, mentally. But now I'm here and I'm ok."

Fabrice Amedeo, Newrest-Matmut: "We have a high blocking our route. The Antarctic exclusion zone is preventing us from going further south, so we have to go through the high. This morning, I was down to 1.5 knots for several hours. There's not much else to do but to wait for the wind. I have some films and books, but I'm not doing anything, so I'm waiting for the slightest puff of air. You just have to be patient. When the wind gets up again, we'll be off."

Jean le Cam, Finistère Mer Vent: "Yesterday, Yann and I could see each other. Now he is twelve miles ahead. We should be making good headway north and the Doldrums will be more like we have come to expect than for the frontrunners. It wasn't easy crossing the ridge of high pressure. It took a lot of manoeuvres and I had to do a lot of stacking. In terms of food, you should take stuff you enjoy. Freeze dried food is for lazy gits. It's better to have 50kg of food and 90% of the time, you use it for stacking. You can save 30kg, but you eat junk all the time. On the pontoon at the start, Anne (his wife and assistant) suddenly realised we'd forgotten the butter!"

vendeeglobe.org/en

Related Articles

The World Sailing Show - April 2017
Going overboard – Conrad Colman's shocking secret Conrad Colman's blow by blow account of his experiences in the Vendée Globe touched thousands as he recorded the highs and the lows of his trip. But what he didn't tell the world during his 110 day race was that he had come perilously close to dying. Posted on 27 Mar
The 2016-2017 Vendée Globe
A hugely popular event and media success The results of the 2016-2017 Vendée Globe show huge increases everywhere: many more people attending the event, unprecedented media coverage and feedback nd a record level of international coverage. Posted on 25 Mar
Sébastien Destremau takes 18th place
To bring the Vendée Globe to a close Sébastien Destremau (TechnoFirst–faceOcean) crossed the Vendée Globe finish line off Les Sables d'Olonne in eighteenth place at 00hrs 40min et 18 sec UTC on Saturday 11th March 2017 after 124 days, 12 hours, 38 minutes and 18 seconds of racing. Posted on 11 Mar
Pieter Heerema finishes 17th in the Vendée Globe
116 days for Dutch sailor on No Way Back Dutch skipper Pieter Heerema brought his No Way Back across the finish line of the Vendée Globe at 2126hrs UTC this evening (Thursday 2nd March) to finish in seventeenth place. Posted on 3 Mar
Conrad Colman finishes 16th in the Vendée Globe
New Zealand sailor overcomes the odds to finish under jury rig New Zealander Conrad Colman wrote a new chapter in the storied history of the Vendée Globe when he crossed the finish line of the eighth edition of the non stop solo round the world race under a makeshift jury rig. Posted on 24 Feb
Romain Attanasio finishes 15th in the Vendée Globe
109 days 22 hours and 4 minutes in his 1998 boat French skipper Romain Attanasio, sailing Famille Mary-Etamine du Lys, took 15th place in the Vendee Globe non stop solo race around the world this morning (Friday 24th February) when he crossed the finish line at 1006hrs UTC. Posted on 24 Feb
Six best solo sailors selected
For Vendée2020Vision While in Les Sables d'Olonne competitors continue to stream across the finish line of the Vendée Globe after three and a half months at sea, in Southampton work continues to train up British sailing talent to compete in the Vendée Globe. Posted on 23 Feb
Didac Costa finishes 14th in the Vendée Globe
The cream of Catalonia arrives in Les Sables d'Olonne Spanish solo ocean racer Didac Costa crossed the finish line of the Vendée Globe non stop solo round the world race at 0752hrs UTC this Thursday morning. Posted on 23 Feb
Rich Wilson 13th in the Vendée Globe
American skipper arrives in Les Sables d'Olonne American skipper Rich Wilson crossed the finish line of the Vendée Globe solo round the world race off Les Sables d'Olonne on the west coast of France this afternoon (Tuesday 21/02) at 1250hrs UTC. Posted on 21 Feb
Alan Roura 12th in the Vendée Globe
23 year old Swiss sailor arrives in Les Sables d'Olonne The 23 year old Swiss sailor who is the youngest of the 29 solo skippers who left Les Sables d'Olonne on November 6th, Alan Roura, crossed the finish line of the Vendée Globe this Monday morning at 0812hrs UTC to take 12th place. Posted on 20 Feb