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Breakaway brothers setting the pace to the north

The breakaway by Boris Herrmann (Malizia-Seaexplorer) and Charlie Dalin (MACIF Santé et Prévoyance) continues to grow as it has done since they managed to fight clear of the messy weather front which has been moving east across the Atlantic with the fleet. Their lead has grown significantly. The top duo now have more than 250 miles now ahead of Nico Lunven (Holcim PRB) who is slowed with no bowsprit after it broke again yesterday.

Boris Herrmann looking back on Malizia Seaexplorer
Race leader Boris Herrmann is warm and dry inside Malizia Seaexplorer
© Boris Herrmann/Team Malizia

Lunven is valiantly chasing the leaders on a northern route. Unable to use downwind sails with no ‘sprit the northerly option will give him upwind sailing whilst the rest of the chasing pack are now slanting much more to the south east led by the winner of the last New York Vendée – Les Sables d’Olonne. Although now separated laterally by very nearly 200 miles, the leading duo are very close in terms of distance to the finish line. 

Making hay while they can

Towards the end of a very tough day at high speeds and unruly seas which made it very hard to hang on inside his boat, the German leader reported last night, “We broke through the light wind zone, it was pretty tricky to get out of, and through the early part of last night we created quite a separation with Charlie but I was then really keen to just stay ahead of the front at all costs and go as fast as possible. The conditions are a bit more settled now but are very rough, so we deal with that, it is always the same. I am monitoring Charlie’s speeds. We are on different paths now, nothing we can do about it, but I am a little bit split about it, I would like to stay next to someone to have direct competition. But on the other hand I think we are doing a nice show, it makes the race interesting with two big options and I think the race is still on, anything can happen and it is super unclear what might come out of this. Mentally and physically I feel OK at a third of the race done. I hope to recover some more tonight, the action in these last days has been full on. Right now it is more about holding on than manoeuvres. So if I am lucky now I don’t need to change too often between the J2 and J3 I will just be letting the boat do its job.” 

Behind them they are still fighting to break through, Race Director Hubert Lemonnier summarises, “If things have now settled down well for Boris Herrmann and Charlie Dalin who literally took off, they remain more complicated for the others who still do not know in what is really going to happen for them. The system in front of them is horribly complicated to manage. Sometimes it moves, sometimes it doesn't move. In their area, there are always squalls and areas with little wind. It’s difficult to have any accurate understanding of what’s happening.” 


The chasing pack – the peloton – have been making better speeds and are in more settled breeze for the meantime. Britain’s Sam Goodchild (Vulnerable) said last night he was expecting to get clear in the night and is up to fifth this morning along with the Swiss racer Justine Mettraux (Teamwork-Team SNEF). She had an electrical blackout which caused her to lose miles as she repaired, as she reported last night, “I'm happy to have been able to get back into the match a little because yesterday I had a blackout and during that I lost a lot of ground on the group I was in as it took time to sort out my worries. It’s cool to have got the things sorted, to have the boat back at 100%. Now the conditions are pleasant, quite calm. It allows us to recover well. I needed it and it felt good. The front is back ahead of us. We hope to be able to get around it tonight by the south with the small group I am with. It is not easy. Each time you try to follow a route we never manage to maintain the routings. Keeping to the timing is much more complicated than on the files. And it is not simple, not easy to predict what happens next. We see that the race will last for another week” 

Pip Hare continues to hold a good eighth place whilst her British compatriot James Harayda (Gentoo Racing Team) has benefited from choosing to break from his pack and try a northerly option. That choice has him up to ninth on his 2007 Finot Conq design which was previously Stephane le Dirasion’s Time for Oceans and was launched as Alex Thomson’s Hugo Boss. 

Otherwise the main pack is quite compact considering the race is more than one third in. Clarisse Crémer is in the match on L’Occitaine en Provence, “I'm happy to be in this group it is a good boost to my confidence. The others around, apart from Medallia, are more recent boats or with foils from two generations later. That is stimulating. Now there are two big choices that will take place. The north route is much more difficult to achieve. The southern option is quite clear, the northern one is much less so. Behind us they will choose the northern route more easily and that recreate their match.”


Back in 24th place Hungary’s Szabolcs Weöres (New Europe) is fighting hard to beat the boats around him – not least close friend and rival Denis van Weynbergh (D’Ieteren Groupe). The two are neighbours on the pontoon in Les Sables d’Olonne where their boats are based and are a few miles apart on the Atlantic still. Szabi, who did not do the race out, is also being sure to accumulate miles towards qualification for his first Vendée Globe, but nothing is easy……
“I can confirm that the weather has been very strange. I was sailing on the A3 gennaker with full main. I saw big clouds coming and so I raced to furl the J3 gennaker but it was too late. The hook tangled and I could not get it down and then the cloud hit me with 45kts of wind. And so I had to get it below deck and it was a big mess but everything is fine on board and then I had seven knots of wind. The weather has been so hard to deal with. Either you don’t have wind to move forwards or you have too much. But we are having to be always 100% attentive to what is happening outside. I am still super motivated. But I deal with it, the goal it to finalise my Vendée Globe. All of this unstable weather reminds me to stay safe. I need about 1500 miles of this race to be sure. Otherwise the boat has improved so much, it is much more reliable now, I am more comfortable with the boat. But I am really enjoying this race it is a bit tricky but I enjoy it very much. 

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