On route to the boat yard V1D2 in Normandy where his new Class40 is taking shape (Lombard plan) Aurélien Ducroz (Crosscall) took time the time to speak with Manu Versace and share his analysis of the Vendée Globe as part of our series ‘Through the eyes of Class40'.
After the passage of Tropical Depression Theta, the whole fleet are now making headway south and towards a somewhat lenient Doldrums.
Two significant events took the attention of Aurélien during this second week of racing: the abandonment of Nicolas Troussel (Corum) who dismasted and the perhaps unexpected return of race favourite Jérémie Beyou (Charal) who having fixed the damage onboard his IMOCA60 has his eyes fixed firmly on the overall race record following a return to Les Sables d’Olonne.
Finally the trade winds:
"After a difficult first week, those leading the fleet have finally found the trade winds allowing for a somewhat quieter start to the second week. Competitors have managed to recharge their personal batteries, get some sleep, eat well and inspect/repair any damage seen. We’re finally seeing the speed promised by the new generation of foiling boats with averages of over 20 knots, it must be crazy onboard. Those leading are beginning to emerge from the Doldrums, they’ve been relatively kind this year.
Jean Le Cam (Yes We Cam!) And Benjamin Dutreux (Omia - Water Family) both made great starts to the race. The foilers went for faster routes to the west but ultimately their shorter route provided a perfect entry to the race, even if it wasn’t clear from the various weather files. They did phenomenally well and I’m particularly happy for Benjamin, his whole project has been a struggle, but he’s proving his worth, it’s great to see!
The favourites remain the favourites:
Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) has been true to himself. He didn’t question himself or his boat, he went straight for the fastest route. There is always a risk but this is his way of sailing, he backs himself, he backs his boat, he judged it well! I’ve also followed others I previously labelled as favourites. Thomas (LinkedOut) and Charlie (Apivia), they too are doing themselves proud. Others have of course had less luck, I’m particularly thinking about Jérémie Beyou, Armel Tripon (L'Occitane en Provence) and Nicolas Troussel (Corum). That said, and with only one official retirement it shows that progress has been made on the reliability of the boats competing.
I was really happy to see Jérémie restarting, of course his race is now not the same and the goals within the team have changed but it’s great to see him where he should be, back on the water. The situation was far from simple, he was the first to launch his new generation boat, he is the one that has sailed the most miles, four transatlantic passages with no issues. It’s brutal to see such a well-presented campaign returning to Les Sables d’Olonne after just four days. Congratulations to the team for pulling off the repair! It’s different for Nicolas Troussel, his race is over, it’s desperately sad but we don’t know the full story yet, perhaps the team don’t either. The boat was launched late, perhaps it is not surprising to see reliability issues.
Races within races
Throughout this Vendée Globe races are being created within races. It’s great to watch the older generation of foilers. They are not overly far behind. Sam Davies is sailing really well, she isn’t far behind, it’s great to see her race unfold, she’ll be pleased to be alongside Kévin Escoffier (PRB) and Boris Herrmann (SeaExplorer – YCM). The same can be said for those with more traditional set ups - daggerboards. Damien Seguin (APICIL Group), Roman Attanasio (Pure-Best Western) and Maxime Sorel (V&B) are very closely matched.
After the doldrums the splits are likely to narrow slightly, after that there will be some strategic choices to make. Competitors will want to take the straightest road. The game will restart but perhaps the rich will get richer…
Picture 1: Aurélien Ducroz
Picture 2: Hugo Boss sailing © Alex Thomson Racing