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Vendée Globe Day 13: Thomson feels no pressure

by Vendée Globe 20 Nov 18:58 GMT 20 November 2020

The top trio are each trying to plot their best route down the South Atlantic to catch a fast moving low pressure system and the strong, favourable winds which would catapult them eastwards into the Southern Ocean. While the weather situation for them is very enticing right now, offering a fast slide down the face of a cold front, at the bottom of the ride there is a potentially lethal transition zone which might evolve into a period of very light winds.

Should today's weather modelling work out as predicted, according to the Vendée Globe's weather expert Christian Dumard, the three leaders would gain such an advantage that they might be as much as two days ahead of fourth place and the chasing group by the time they pass the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope.

Asked on this afternoon's LIVE show Thomson said, "I am trying to find my way to the Southern Ocean, I am not really being affected by what they are doing. I am clear what we have to do over the next couple of days, I am positioned well so I don't feel too much pressure. I don't feel under pressure."

He responded to suppositions that life in the tropics, living and working inside his boat all the time as opposed to on deck, might be hotter and more tiring, "In terms of the heat I would say it is cooler in here than it is outside. Much the same as the others I am probably drinking four litres of electrolyte a day. It was a struggle to stay hydrated but over the last day or so it is becoming better. I am trying to sleep as much as possible, I am still in debt for sure, so wherever I feel the urge, whenever I can I get my head down and get to sleep. Eating is a constant process for me. I am constantly going to the cupboard and grabbing a snack or a meal."

Asked about the small miles Thomson has lost in recent days, the naval architect from VPLP who co-designed HUGO BOSS with significant input from Alex Thomson Racing's own design team, Quentin Lucet suggested, "I think Alex has been sleeping a bit more recently and just not feel the need to push too hard for the moment. Maybe he is more in a controlling aspect on his followers. And maybe in terms of design there might be some slight performance differences due to the real wind they have just now. For now we have no alarm saying Alex has any issues. Probably he just does not see a real need to be accelerating just now." Double Vendée Globe winner Michel Desjoyeaux on the French show confirmed that he is a big fan of Thomson's option to the west, 115 miles closer to the Brazilian shore than Ruyant.

"For sure the changes near the lead are due to a combination of the packages the various leaders have. Foils, sails and hull shape. Also there is a difference to what we see here on land as per the forecasts and what the sailor might actually get on the ocean. I think the further West you go the better the angle you will have to then come back and catch up. And so for me the two behind Alex really need to put their foot down to try and catch him now because the passage towards the Cape of Good Hope is going to give Alex quite a lead. If you look at the projected routing it is now that they need to make the most ground up because after the lead will extend a lot."

Indeed as the angles have opened to broader reaching ones HUGO BOSS has been quicker than Apivia and LinkedOut; Thomson averaging more than 23 kts. Once again there are some anomalies on the official rankings because the positions are taken from a moving, rather than fixed waypoint. The late afternoon rankings maybe show Ruyant as leader but Thomson continues to be about 40 miles further south.

The breakaway trio are now more than 160 miles clear of fourth placed Jean Le Cam, who has the fast moving Saint Malo skipper Louis Burton on Bureau Vallée approaching in his wake. Burton is racing the IMOCA 60 which holds the current 74 days 3 hours solo round the world record and moved up to fifth today holding definite designs on fourth.

The comeback kids

Also coming back fast after their own particular technical problems since the start are Sébastien Simon on ARKÉA-Paprec who, in tenth, is chasing Briton Sam Davies hard at 27 miles behind. The 2018 La Solitaire champion, one of four skippers in the race who live in Les Sables d'Olonne, has been consistently fast over the last couple of days since he had to climb the mast of his Juan K design.

Japanese skipper Kojiro Shiraishi is back in the race with an operational mainsail on DMH MORI. Four days of repairs to a tear at the top of his sail and batten repairs are completed, even if the Asian skipper must sail with one reef from now on. He was sailing directly west this afternoon away from the Cape Verde islands which might have provided additional refuge had he needed it.

Fabrice Amedeo (Newrest Amedeo) has nearly completed his comeback after a three day pitstop back in Les Sables d'Olonne to repair a hairline crack at the top if his mast.

Quotes:

Sébastien Simon, ARKÉA PAPREC:

"I've had a pretty good 24 hours, I'm not far from the group with Maître CoQ, Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco, and Initiatives-Cœur. It's good, it's going to challenge me a bit. I'm happy. What's hard to manage are the boat's sudden flights, but that's what allows me to go fast because the boat is very powerful. It can take off very quickly - sometimes it rests still on the water's surface depending on the sea and wind conditions, other times it flies off, and if it flies quite high you really have to cling on when it falls back down, and that's what requires energy. Otherwise it's going pretty well. I managed to sleep last night because I've been working a lot on trimming over the last 48 hours.

"I sleep in my bunk - it's a mattress on the floor with two pillows to support my head, it's pretty comfortable. But the last two days have been so hot! It was pretty suffocating in the boat, I was sweating profusely when I was recharging the engine. With the cockpit closed, the air doesn't get in, and the little air that does get in is a salty fog. But last night it was bearable. In the South Atlantic, there won't be record conditions. We have this high pressure zone to get around, that's why we are heading towards Brazil. Then we'll have a front to deal with, so it's going to be a pretty extreme southern route. I'm sure we'll reach the ice zone much earlier than the Cape of Good Hope. In any case, it won't be a very direct route. I'm enjoying being alone on the boat, I'm not really noticing the time going by, but I do like hearing news from on land, it calms me down a bit. I even allow myself the luxury every night to take a shower before going to bed, it makes me feel a little more human! I'm making the most of it now because I don't know if I'll have the opportunity to do it in the Deep South. I haven't yet found a solution for my weather vanes."

Didac Costa, ESP, One Planet-One Ocean:

"Slowly but surely I am getting closer to the Doldrums, and I'm just making a few small adjustments - the sea is much calmer with fewer waves, and above all there's much more heat. I've spent a few hours observing the weather, spent some time resting and a lot of time at the helm. There are a lot of flying fish jumping onto the deck. Some even flying just a few centimetres from my face! When I can, I try to save them and put them back into the sea."

Miranda Merron GBR Campagne de France:

"Campagne de France is a hundred miles west of the Island of Santo Antão (altitude 1979 m) in Cape Verde. The wind is easing and, as is often the case, is not like the forecast predicted. I'll probably have to change sails. The night is dark, with the moon providing just a little light at the beginning of the night. There are a lot of flying fish - one even grazed my hair, almost ruining my blow-dry! Next step is the Doldrums."

Rankings at 17H00 UTC:

PosSail NoSkipper / Yacht NameDTF (nm)DTL (nm)
1 GBR 99Alex Thomson / HUGO BOSS20523.70
2 FRA 59Thomas Ruyant / LinkedOut20536.612.9
3 FRA 79Charlie Dalin / APIVIA20574.250.5
4 FRA 01Jean Le Cam / Yes we Cam !20764.4240.7
5 FRA 18Louis Burton / Bureau Vallée 220776.6252.9
6 FRA 85Kevin Escoffier / PRB20785.6261.9
7 MON 10Boris Herrmann / Seaexplorer ‑ Yacht Club De Monaco20843.3319.6
8 FRA 17Yannick Bestaven / Maître Coq IV20870.7347
9 FRA 109Samantha Davies / Initiatives ‑ Coeur20878354.3
10 FRA 4Sébastien Simon / ARKEA PAPREC20904.4380.7
11 FRA 09Benjamin Dutreux / OMIA ‑ Water Family21020.2496.6
12 FRA 1000Damien Seguin / Groupe APICIL21065.1541.4
13 ITA 34Giancarlo Pedote / Prysmian Group21124.7601
14 FRA 53Maxime Sorel / V And B Mayenne21225.2701.5
15 FRA 27Isabelle Joschke / MACSF21316792.3
16 FRA 49Romain Attanasio / Pure ‑ Best Western Hotels and Resorts21366.9843.2
17 FRA 30Clarisse Cremer / Banque Populaire X21369.4845.7
18 SUI 7Alan Roura / La Fabrique21401.4877.7
19 FRA 92Stéphane Le Diraison / Time For Oceans21598.11074.4
20 ESP 33Didac Costa / One Planet One Ocean21874.51350.8
21 FRA 14Arnaud Boissieres / La Mie Câline ‑ Artisans Artipôle218771353.3
22 GBR 777Pip Hare / Medallia21903.61379.9
23 FRA 71Manuel Cousin / Groupe Sétin21967.71444
24 FRA 02Armel Tripon / L'Occitane en Provence22249.81726.1
25 FRA 50Miranda Merron / Campagne de France22307.71784
26 FIN 222Ari Huusela / Stark22322.11798.4
27 FRA 72Alexia Barrier / TSE ‑ 4myplanet22330.71807
28 FRA 69Sébastien Destremau / Merci22348.41824.7
29 FRA 83Clément Giraud / Compagnie du lit ‑ Jiliti22391.61867.9
30 FRA 56Fabrice Amedeo / Newrest ‑ Art et Fenetres22435.91912.2
31 JPN 11Kojiro Shiraishi / DMG MORI Global One224691945.3
32 FRA 8Jérémie Beyou / Charal23632.83109.1
RET FRA 6Nicolas Troussel / CORUM L'Épargne  

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