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Waiting for Charlie

Runaway race leader, Charlie Dalin, skipper of MACIF Santé Prévoyance will soon be closer to the Les Sables d’Olonne finish line than second place Jérémie Beyou (Charal) is to him. Victor elect Dalin should cross the finish line between 0100hrs local time and 0500hrs. The podium battle continues with Boris Herrmann (Malizia SeaExplorer) in second, making 22-23 knots at the latitude of the southern tip of Ireland while third and fourth Jérémie Beyou (CHARAL) and Thomas Ruyant (VULNERABLE) in the South are still close, Beyou have a small boatspeed advantage upwind.

Charlie Dalin (MACIF Santé Prévoyance) file vers la victoire.
Charlie Dalin (MACIF Santé Prévoyance) file vers la victoire.
© Ronan Gladu - Disobey

For Dalin it will be his first solo Transat win. He won the 2021 Transat Jacques Vabre westwards with Yann Eliès. He will surely soon add the New York Vendée title to his long list of successes, legend will soon recall how he and Herrmann – the two most regular race leaders to that point – were the only two skipper to break through and away from the low pressure trough to build their big leads. 

 “The breezes are easing but he will keep some wind during the coming hours,” explains Claire Renou from the race direction. Behind, Boris Herrman looks set for a good second place, his finish expected between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m local time. It looks this morning as if the third and fourth placed skippers will be closer behind the German skipper, some time during Sunday night or Monday morning. 

Their conditions have slightly improved, even if Sam Davies (Initiatives Cœur, 8th) wrote yesterday that “everything slams and shudders”.

Particularly encouraged to be in this posse is Sébastien Simon (Groupe Dubreuil, 5th ) who has had a string of bad luck of  different magnitudes pretty much since he had to retire into Cape Town on the last Vendée Globe after damage to his foil well saw a significant water ingress. His challenge with Iker Martinez on the Transat Jacques Vabre was compromised by sail damage and taking the radical northern route and then on the Rétour a La Base he had to pitstop in the Azores only to be dismasted not far from the finish line. “It’s been a long time since I had this opportunity,” he declared yesterday. The rest is upwind with difficult seas at Cape Finisterre  before being released in the Bay of Biscay. 

Behind, dealing with this “hellish anticyclone”....'it's like eating porridge every day for every meal'

From the 11th to the 24th rank, the bulk of the fleet continue to advance and line up around the anticyclone. This battle requires patience as the huge area of ​​light wind slows down their progress. “Our challenge is therefore to get around the Azores anticyclone which is quietly settling in the middle of our route,” smiles Nicolas Lunven (Holcim-PRB, 17th).

Conrad Colman talks of Groundhog Day from on board IMAGINE/MS AMLIN in 16th, but reveals his high work rate fighting for every fraction of a nautical mile, 

Speaking to Race HQ yesterday evening he said, “There are no great strategic options to be played in the next couple of days, I am continuing to work my way underneath the anticyclone, it has been upwind J2 13-16kts of wind for the last 36 hours it has dropped to nine knots and I am on Code Zero. I currently have three playmates on AIS and those are Violette (Dorange), Clarisse (Crémer) and Eric (Bellion) who is just to my north. And so I have gone to Figaro mode where I am tracking all these boats, the windshifts in terms of the headings of the boats around me. On Adrena I can track them with the number of boat lengths between us – like we have 1213 between me and Violette at the moment, 425 to Eric and so as these numbers go up and down it kind of determines how I am living on the boat. The numbers are coming down then that is motivating, and I get stuck in, or I see Violette getting away in her own private windshift there is not much I can do about it. So needless to say I am sitting next to the winch, I have my headphones on and podcasts and tunes on and I am winching away trimming for hours and hours on end, trying to maximise performance. And this is not the most exciting kind of sailing, it requires a lot of concentration, a lot of dedication but sailing upwind for three or four days under grey skies is kind of like eating porridge for breakfast, lunch and dinner – it is a bit ‘same shit different day’ kind of thing. Conditions have been pretty good for sleeping however, I have caught up on some proper sleep. The front half of this race was really, really hard because of the accumulated fatigue that I had from this winter, spring and from the delivery and the quick turnaround. So that took its toll and so I have been able to find my head and screw it back on. Physically it has been good too, I have done some stretching, some Yoga, I even brought my little back roller too to ease out the kinks. Psychologically it has been challenging because every time I take a routing I do that multiple times a day, it is not shifting. On Day 1 you run the routing and it is five days from now, on Day 2 it is still five days from now, Day 3, five days….and that is hard. I feel a little bit it is Groundhog Day.

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