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Ovington 2021 - ILCA 3 - LEADERBOARD

Vendée Globe Day 72 morning update: Burton on the button, first out Doldrums

by Vendée Globe 18 Jan 06:58 GMT 18 January 2021
Bureau Vallée - Vendée Globe © Vincent Olivaud

It seems to be Louis Burton on Bureau Vallée who has finally escaped from the Doldrums first. He has been making a consistent 17kts early this morning in the 16-18kts NE'ly trade winds which seem to be well established. With the exception of Charlie Dalin who is 115 nautical miles to his SE, the pack is well dispersed and mostly still struggling with an ICTZ which is proving much more active and sticky than was expected.

At this stage northing - that is latitude the north - is everything and Burton has emerged to be at 6 degrees 30 North on Monday at 0400hrs UTC while the nominal rankings leader Charlie Dalin (Apivia) was still struggling in a fickle breeze at 5 degrees 50 North. Behind and to the east the main group is really struggling at between two and seven knots while Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) and Boris Herrmann (Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco) are further north than them and, closer to 34 degrees West which seems to be the best corridor, they should emerge later today.

Bear in mind in essence the Doldrums or ICTZ is really a transition zone which pretty much usually follows the same line of latitude west east at its northern and southerly limits.

In ninth Jean Le Cam (Yes We Cam!) is struggling at 34 degrees West but he follows the wake of Burton and could do well, while Benjamin Dutreux (OMIA-Water Family) has opted for the 32 degrees West, so south of the trio who are really struggling.

But the situation could totally change with sunrise in a few hours. It is easier to see the sky and the clouds - there has been hardly any moon - but the gusts and puffs become more visible even if it cloudy, oppressive and overcast. And the rain clouds are more obvious on the horizon.

This slow down for the leaders is good for the chasers. In tenth Maxime Sorel (V and B-Mayenne) is making more than sixteen knots he will have made more than 100 miles and should be back to within 100 or 150 miles of Le Cam, halving his deficit. He though has Armel Tripon (L'Occitane en Provence) rumbling north at nearly twenty knots, the Manuard design is coming back very strongly but probably not enough catch and make places unless the doldrums be particularly unfavorable to Sorel, but who knows?

Off the Brazilian coast it seems difficult for Pip Hare (Medallia) who is still on the "wrong side" of the semi permanent South Atlantic convergence zone cold front system and may find it hard as there are little high pressure cells forming which may in turn affect the trio which is chasing her, Le Diraison-Costa-Shiraishi.

And Sébastien Destremau (Merci) arrived safely at 0330hrs in the port of Christchurch NZ where he has moored, he was COVID tested before he can proceed with New Zealand immigration procedures.

Guest on today's Vendée Globe Live Simon Fisher, the Ocean Race winning navigator who is now with 11th Hour Racing and prepping for the 2021 IMOCA season notes, "Once the leaders have wriggled clear of the doldrums they have 4-5 days of reaching through the North Atlantic trade winds. Conditions look like they will have 15-18 knots of wind from just forward of the beam. it will be good for the boats with working foils still - and interesting to see how the ones without hang in there. The jet stream looks pressed well south at the moment which means the fleet will reach the north Atlantic procession of highs and lows around the the latitude of the Canary Islands. This Azores high looks like it will be squashed and elongated E-W meaning that it will allow a reasonably direct route with what amounts to a ridge crossing before getting into the more solid frontal conditions to the north. It looks like however the weather that is pressing the Azores high to the south and making ti less of a feature will also mean the fleet will have to negotiate some strong conditions in the form of a big winter low in the north Atlantic. It could be a fast and furious fight to the finish in 25-35 knots!

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