Storm warning on the Vendée Globe competitors. Theta, a subtropical storm, has been developing for a few days south of the Azores. This is already the third climatic turbulence suffered by the 33 sailors who set off from Sables-d’Olonne this Sunday.
“I’m afraid, what am I saying, I’m freaking out seriously, at the approach of the approaching depression and I have therefore been thinking for some time about the strategy to adopt,” thus told the navigator of “Banque Populaire X” Clarisse Cremer to early morning. I’m ready to go visit the Atlantic a little longer as long as Theta leaves me alone… ”
For the 32 sailors heading south, the choice was made between facing Theta, thus finding themselves in 6-meter hollows and a wind of 50 knots (90 km / hour), or bypassing it. In the lead in the early morning, the Welshman Alex Thompson (“Hugo Boss”) took the first option, before finally “gybing” (tacking downwind) in the middle of the afternoon to get away from the strongest. from the storm.
A tactic that paid off since he still kept the lead at 6 p.m. this Friday, just ahead of Jean Le Cam. Heroic for a few days on his 13-year-old sailboat (victorious in 2008 with Michel Desjoyaux), the skipper of “Yes We Cam! He also chose to enter the eye of the storm before turning like Thompson in the early evening.
“These storms are not particularly very numerous to come to the Azores, analyzes Jacques Caraës, the race director. The leaders, who went to meet him, are more impacted but go faster. The direct pursuers, who pass further west, preferred to play a more conservative card. As it is the start of the race, they did not want to risk breakage. “
This tactic, which concerns the first third of the competitors, can still pay off. “I came to the west because I want to have my destiny in hand,” says Kevin Escoffier (“PRB”), 5th in the provisional general at 6 pm. If you really wanted to be a sailor, you shouldn’t go for this kind of thing at all! “
“The high pressure will go up again and they will come back towards the trade winds”
For everyone, Théta should be a bad memory by Sunday morning: “The high pressure will go up and they will come back towards the trade winds,” continues Jacques Caraës. It’s not an easy start to the race. There are a lot of wing changes. Fatigue accumulates and apprehension can win over those new to the Vendée Globe. “
Jérémie Beyou (“Charal”), for his part, is far from these considerations. The 44-year-old sailor, favorite for the final victory, is heading for Les Sables-d’Olonne after hitting an ofni (unidentified floating object) and seriously damaging his starboard rudder (part of the rudder). He should arrive this Saturday and find an advantage in Theta. The storm will indeed direct a south-westerly wind over France, which will allow the mildness to remain relevant this weekend.
Article original de: www.leparisien.fr