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Vendée Globe Day 11 morning update: Last hours in the Northern Hemisphere for HUGO BOSS

by Vendée Globe 18 Nov 09:28 GMT 18 November 2020
Alex Thomson set for the Vendée Globe © Alex Thomson Racing

At a little less than 100 nautical miles to the Equator at 0500hrs TU this morning Alex Thomson is into the SE'ly trade winds with his lead cut to just under 70 nautical miles. After a patchy evening and night with speeds up and down the British skipper has seen his boat speed rise on Hugo Boss to 14kts again with his course more headed, making a more SW'ly course than due south.

His closest rival, Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) was still slower on this morning's 0500hrs position report suggesting that Thomson's lead stretch once more.

Meantime the seemingly omnipresent Jean Le Cam (Yes We Cam) - who, since 2004 until last edition held the record to the Equator, is third and 110 nautical miles behind the black boat Hugo Boss.

Le Cam will have been saddened by the retirement of Nicolas Troussel from the race course as they were Finisterian friends who raced the Transat Jacques Vabre together last year while Troussel waited for his new IMOCA CORUM L'Épargne to be finished. Racing in the colours of CORUM L'Epargne, the budget from the French asset and savings management brand paid for new sails for Le Cam's 2007 Farr design. Three times winner of La Solitaire du Figaro between 1994-1999, Le Cam is engaged in a close Doldrums fight with Charlie Dalin - five times on the Solitaire podium - who has the much more modern Verdier designed APIVIA 17 miles to the west of Le Cam.

"I had a squall at the start of the night, saw some lightning, but I continues to go fast, I still have about 20 knots of easterly wind," Dalin told the 5 o'clock radio call. "I look at infrared images to distinguish cloud masses, squalls; it allows us to detect their area and intensity, but not really to find the right route. We will see if it continues like this until I am out, but I am still 150 miles from the equator and anything can happen."

Saint Malo's Louis Burton is having an excellent race so far on Bureau Vallée 2, lying sixth just ahead of Sam Davies (Initiatives-Cœur) and Boris Herrmann (Seaexpolorer-Yacht Club de Monaco). Burton is armed with the boat which won the last Vendée Globe and holds the race record but he preferred to prepare in isolation, not competing in any of the IMOCA Globe Series races, nor joining the elite training group at Port-la-Fôret. But, along with Yannick Bestaven, 10th on Maitre CôQ IV 49 miles behind, this group of four were expected to have a close race within the race.

"A world away in the Bay of Biscay where after restarting yesterday evening Jérémie Beyou has just spent second 'first night' on the course, he is heading into a front. "I'm tiptoeing with things, I went a little south to avoid getting too much wind on this front. It's very weird, I'm used to having competitors around me and now you can't call this being in a race. But I want to do it right. I was buoyed by the enthusiasm, encouragement and messages from all the people who supported me. Now, I have to go on my way alone. It is also an introspective course for me. And I have to do it for me."

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