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Simon Koster: The foilers have taken their foot off the gas...


During this quiet period for Class40 a number of teams are taking the time to look over their boats, make repairs and make improvements for the season ahead. Banque du Léman, winner of the Normandy Channel Race is one of those teams using time wisely. #159 is in La Trinité-Sur-Mer undergoing her winter refit.

During this busy period Simon Koster kindly gave us a few minutes of his time to talk to us at The Race Around about the last week of the Vendée Globe!

Foilers playing safe?

“I have the impression that since the abandonments of Initiatives Coeur (Sam Davies), PRB (Kevin Escoffier) Arkea-Paprec (Seb Simon), Hugo Boss (Alex Thomson) and the damage to the foil of Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOUT ) that those others with foils have taken their foot off the gas. The speeds are not so high anymore. Apart from Armel Tripon (L’Occitane en Provence) and Isabelle Joschke (MACSF), who are going faster than the others, the others have slowed down.

All the other foilers have gone into "we are saving the boats and trying to get to the other side of Cape Horn with a whole boat, and we'll see afterwards" mode. Suddenly, the boats with traditional daggerboards are once again back in the game, whether it is Damien Seguin (APICIL), Benjamin Dutreux (OMIA-Water Family) or Jean Le Cam (Yes We Cam!).”

Joschke and Tripon must be happy!

“In this part of the race, I'm pretty happy that Isabelle Joschke has been able to catch up with the main peloton (she is 9th this Thursday 11 December, note). This is great because she was far behind in the Atlantic and now, she is hunting those ahead of her. Thomas Ruyant doesn't seem to be suffering too much from the damage to his foil. He is closing the gap to Charlie Dalin (Apivia) (he is at +134 nm this Friday, December 12).

It's pretty cool to see Armel Tripon going so well, particularly with a boat designed by Samuel Manuard, (the same architect as Banque du Léman). He's clearly the fastest in recent days. It seems to work well even though it had some technical issues at first. Considering the preparation time, he has had, the capacity of the boat and the man, he deserves to be in front, but he is getting there little by little.

The wrong wagon for Roura and Le Diraison

Behind the chasing pack it is a bit complicated for the group of Alan Roura (La Fabrique) and Stéphane Le Diraison (Time for Oceans). They were unlucky on on the weather and are relegated in the ranking and by the front pack. They weren't quick enough to catch the new system taken by Armel and they're now stuck. For Alan, it was because he had to do his keel repair at the wrong time, high pressure surrounded him and that was it, suddenly you’re stuck!

It’s also been interesting to watch Clarisse Crémer (Banque Populaire). She just managed to escape with Romain Attanasio into better weather. She doesn't attack as hard as she could and is quite conservative. She takes care of herself to be sure not to burn herself or take risks. She is new to IMOCA, new to this very extreme type of solo racing, her approach is sensible.

Sail configurations hard to find

The images of the South are impressive. The large surfing waves, the bleakness of the clouds and the emotions felt by the skippers. The phenomena they go through are also impressive. When we see Alan in 40 knots of breeze one way and just a few minutes later 40 knots 180 ° in the other direction. I don't even dare to imagine the sea state… They complain all the time about the fact that they have trouble finding the right sail configuration to be fast, without taking any risk since they go between 15-20 at 30-40 knots quickly. It sounds like a bit of a mess ...

Image 1 - Photo Credit: Anne Beaugé / Roesti Sailing Team

Image 2 - Photo Credit: Pierre Bouras / L’Occitane en Provence

Image 3 - Photo Credit: Apivia Voile

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