Close finish to Vendée Globe Race

Vendee Globe
Charlie Dalin’s race boat Apivia races after the start of the Vendee Globe.

At press time, 25 boats remain in the 2020 Vendée Globe with the leading racers less than 3,000 nm from the finish line at Les Sables d’Olonne, France in one of the closest races yet held in the event. On Nov. 8, 2020, 33 racers began the solo, nonstop, around-the-world race, considered by many to be the ultimate challenge in yacht racing.

In the lead, Cahrlie Dalin on Apivia has less than 2,000 miles to the finish line. Louis Burton on Bureau Vallee 2 and Boris Herrmann on Sea Explorer – Yacht Club de Monaco follow in second and third place, with Burton only 65 nm behind the leader.

Eight racers were forced to retire early, including three in the first month. Frenchman Kevin Escoffier had to retire on Dec. 1 when his boat PRB broke in half in heavy seas. Escoffier abandoned ship and was rescued by Jean le Cam aboard Yes we Cam! Le Cam was awarded 16 hours and 15 minutes of compensation for the time he spent rescuing Escoffier.

The final outcome of the race is far from certain, but the strongest contenders have been in the lead, or close to it, for much of the race. In early December, Charlie Dalin, aboard Apivia, led the pack around the Cape of Good Hope, followed by Thomas Ruyant on Linkedout 222 nm behind him, and Louis Burton on Bureau Vallée 2 at 259 nm further back.

At that time, several racers retired due to mechanical troubles and made for port in South Africa. On Dec. 3, south of the Cape of Good Hope, Yannick Bestaven, sailing Maitre Coq 1V, became one of the top five and began encroaching on Dalin’s lead. In the next two weeks, Bestaven closed the gap of more than 3,000 nm and took the lead from Ruyant on Dec. 16 as they passed south of Australia. Dalin meanwhile had fallen to third place.

On Jan. 10, as Dalin sailed north past Brazil and vied for the lead, he wrote on the racers blog that “it is good to finally express the potential of my boat” — the hope of any ocean racer.

Ben Clements

By Ocean Navigator