speed or safety, or foils or side drifts

Vigo (Pontevedra)



The roaring forty of the South Indian Ocean have put the brand new IMOCAs to the test with super hydrofoils. On paper, the skippers knew that the foils have a very specific range of use depending on the weather conditions, the state of the sea and the intensity of the wind. The last nights have allowed them to know the limits of these new appendages sailing in southern latitudes.

Today, at 6:00 p.m. (November 10, 2020), there are 32 days and 4 hours of the Vendée Globe regatta; with the leader of the fleet located in the parallel 41 ° South and 93 ° East. Four years ago, in the 2016-2017 edition, for the winner of the Armel Le Cléac´h regatta it was his 26th on board the «Banque Populaire VIII» and his 32nd would place him in the south of the island of Tasmania (Australia ), 2,300 miles further east than the current leader “Apivia.”

Six of the difference between these two boats is many days to be able to recover in the rest of the route to the participants of the Vendée Globe 2020-2021. It is true that there is a component that is beyond the control of the patterns, such as the weather conditions. But in relation to the evolution of the design of the IMOCA of today everything is due to the experience acquired and a range of uncertainty of which will be the ideal boat in all conditions during a round the world tour.

Charlie Dalin is doing a very cerebral regatta, each step he takes is a function of his abilities and the performance of the «Apivia» until he Suddenly the weather conditions exceed expectations: “Fate made me lose my” wind information “two hours before the storm started. I will never know what peak force I had to face and maybe it will be bad forever.” Only indicators to understand the harshness of the moment? The sensations, the infernal friction of the wind on the material, the force generated every time its IMOCA fell into the void in the bosom of the waves, those strong booms against the sea … “I was really on the edge. At one point, I didn’t know what to do to slow down ”.

So to the limit that he had to retract the foils and furl the headsails, curl the main one to try to decelerate the boat to the maximum; Come on, Dalin only needed to launch the cape anchor from the stern.

Among this leading group, which separates them 500 miles between the first and the tenth, seven of the IMOCAs use hydrofoils (two of them are boats modified to carry foils), while the trio formed by «OMIA – Water Family», « Yes We Cam! » and “Groupe Seguin” do not carry foils, in addition to being sailboats with a few years, two of the skippers participate for the first time in the Vendée Globe and sail with speeds between 17 and 15 knots while the “fliers” go to about 10 knots if they want their patterns that the boat does not break.

A reference in the evolution of the “foils” could be the installation that was carried out in the PRB, a boat launched in 2009, which sank a few days ago when it broke in half despite the fact that Escoffier had taken care to reinforce the boat by maximum. The combination of speed, wild bouncing, structure and safety did not turn out as expected. Charlie Dalin competes with a new IMOCA, but clearly he has already seen the wolf’s ears and in order to finish the race he is betting on safety.

As for the speed of the IMOCAs, days before the start of the regatta, it was discussed whether trips of more than 500 miles were exceeded and the probability that Alex Thomson’s 2016 24-hour record of 536 nautical miles would fall. To date, only four skippers have exceeded 500 miles 24 hours a day: Ruyant (515.3 nms), Sébastien Simon (508.9), Charlie Dalin (505.5) and Alex Thomson (501.8); all of them between November 20 and 21.

Kevin Escoffier has already set foot on land after disembarking from the French frigate Le Nivôse in the port of the island of Reunion. At 9:30 a.m. local time, 6:30 a.m. French, he disembarked from the military ship together with Captain Frédéric Barbe. Escoffier is very grateful for the attention received from the entire crew of the frigate:

“I’m still a little melancholic today on land. It doesn’t matter what time it is. It is a transition phase that is always difficult. I still have a disappointment: having given up the Vendée Globe, having lost a boat. I still have it in my head, of course, although I also benefited humanly from this maritime adventure. I enjoyed it with Jean Le Cam, it was a great story. Also with the Le Nivôse crew, it was a great story. But I’m still a bit divided, it’s still not easy. I will be happy to see my family again, but I am still saddened and disappointed that I had to leave the Vendée Globe. I worked very, very hard two years for that. I thank the French Navy, Jean Le Cam, for organizing the regatta. I also thank my technical team, the PRB team…. Without all that, it would have been a bit more difficult. I am not worthy of compassion at all. I ate well, I was able to get some sleep. I discovered a new profession as a sailor that I did not know! I try to take everything in a positive way. But again, it’s a strange and mixed feeling. I feel like it was a lot more complicated for my family than it was for me, so I can’t wait to find them. We must not forget…. We live our passion and impose certain events on those who love us that we would like to avoid! “

There are also other interesting stories in this Vendée Globe such as Bernard Stamm’s tribute to 46-year-old Englishwoman Pip Hare and her compatriot Alan Roura; for his efforts on the IMOCA Superbigou which he built on a tight budget for the 2000 edition, which sadly had to be withdrawn early in the race.

Stamm recalled today: “The ship was not built as expected. I was hoping to borrow some money to make the molds and then find a sponsor to show them the molds rather than a detailed schedule. I was forced to borrow all the money necessary to build the whole ship. Many friends and people from Lesconil and vacationers who were there came and helped me build this boat. The boat was finally finished a few months before the start of the Vendée Globe 2000. I spent a lot on the basic structure and it was well built. I didn’t have time to work on parts like the neck. So the mast came from Isabelle Autissier, the winch pedestal from Laurent Bourgnon, the clutches from Alain Gautier and that is how the boat was able to set sail in the Vendée Globe 2000. It was a fantastic human effort. I do not know how many miles he has traveled, but this is the fifth round the world boat. I’d say between 300 and 400,000 miles. I am proud to see it and to see what Pip is doing and what Alain did. They have managed to do something that I did not do and that is to go around the world in this boat. “

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