Vendée Globe: on the way for the great adventure

“We are no longer even allowed to see the boats pass by! », Launches a faithful of Sables-d’Olonne, resigned. On the pontoon, where the 33 participants of the Vendée Globe have been lined up since October 17, only the technical teams are busy a few hours before the start, given this Sunday at 1:02 p.m. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we knew that this 9th edition of the Round the World solo and non-stop would not be like the others. The re-containment ended up sweeping away the gauges, however already reduced to a few thousand spectators. Access to the quays will be prohibited, the descent of the channel will be without the hundreds of thousands of usual spectators.

“It is this crowd that usually boosts us and shows us that we are heading towards something exceptional, believes Fabrice Amedeo (“ Newrest – Art & Fenêtre ”). That little lump in your stomach that you have when you leave the pontoon will be missing, but it also gives another dimension to the adventure. As if we were going to regain our freedom. And, then, this empty channel, in thirty years, we will show it again. “

These foils that give the impression of flying

This Saturday, while Fabrice Amedeo, tested negative like the entire fleet, finalized his wife’s Christmas present, Maxime Sorel (“V and B – Mayenne”) put some order in the messages he received . “Those of children who drew the dragon (Editor’s note: symbol of breath, the sailor supporting the association Vaincre la cysticiscidose), people disappointed not to be there. Thanks to all this, I realize that I’m going to do the whole world. It’s pretty crazy in this period… ”

“It’s a huge freedom to be able to leave, admits Yannick Bestaven (“ Maître Coq ”). We will be alone at sea for several weeks, in a limited space, but that has nothing to do with the confinement that the French are currently experiencing. Our confinement, we have chosen it and we have this precious right to move around and tour the planisphere. “

Alex Thomson will not have seen many people on the pontoons. Officially due to confinement that he wanted to be extremely strict, the Briton has been in hiding for three weeks and only organizes his meetings in video mode. No doubt logical in this period of pandemic, even if this 2020 edition is also that of all fantasies. The reason? The arrival of the foils – these funny appendages that allow boats to rise above the sea, giving the impression of flying – which has changed the lives of the Teams. In particular that of the six “new generation” foilers, likely to gain between 5 and 8 knots (9 to 15 hm / h) and thus panic the counters.

Alex Thomson, the ghost skipper

The principle of this new technology – already seen on America’s Cup boats and then on Maxi trimarans – is simple: the more the speed increases, the more the appendages push and take off. The revolution being recent, each has chosen an option in terms of layout of shape, thickness and drag … while also making a bet on sea conditions. “We grope, we search, admits Thomas Rettant (” LinkedOut ” ). But getting to fly monohulls, boats that weigh 8 tons, that carry lead, it’s completely crazy. The technological leap is huge compared to the 2016 edition. These are not boats that we designed, built and launched just before leaving. Every detail matters. “

During these four years of preparation, we watched, gauged, challenged. At the end of 2019, a training session in Port-La Forêt had caused quite a stir. “Apivia”, Charlie Dalin’s Imoca, just launched, was not yet equipped with AIS, the system which allows to know the heading and the speed in real time… and therefore to provide elements of comparison to competitors. Jérémie Beyou suddenly decided to block his.

Vendée Globe: on the way for the great adventure

In recent days, the mystery has revolved around the supply, the number of rations on board being supposed to provide an indication of the travel time estimated by the sailors. 80 days for Nicolas Troussel (“Corum”) and Thomas Rettant (“LinkedOut”), 75 for Armel Tripon (“l’Occitane”), 70 for Jérémie Beyou (“Charal”). Alex Thomson (“Hugo Boss”) – the phantom skipper who will pilot his monohull not on the deck but wedged in his cabin equipped with screens and various electronic controls – has announced that he has only planned 65 days of refueling. Bluff or indication of the potential of his boat? Answer in January.

VIDEO. Vendée Globe: how sailors organize their lives on board

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