Vendée Globe Day 5: Trades Drag Favours Foils?
Thursday, November 10, 2016 6:22 PM
Riou's PRB is configured with classic, straight daggerboards and the 2004-5 Vendée Globe winner has been quick – as well as smart - in the 10-12kts windspeeds through the Azores high. But he admitted he now expects the ‘foilers' – such as Banque Populaire VIII, Safran (Morgan Lagraviere) and Edmond de Rothschild (Sébastien Josse) – to be quicker in the fast trade winds descent south.
“In these conditions we can make the difference. In the coming days, it's going to be for the others (the foilers – editor's note). I think it's going to be like in this round the world race. Sometimes for us, sometimes for them. I was surprised to see Banque Populaire ahead of me this morning by about ten miles. I thought it was going to be hard catching him after the lead he had,” Riou said today.
After passing Madeira this morning the leading group are under gennakers, accelerating steadily towards the latitude of the Canary Islands which are 145 miles south of Banque Populaire this afternoon. Le Cléac'h had already gained six miles on PRB since lunchtime.
Alex Thomson worked hard last night to use the shifting breezes as best he could on Hugo Boss, stepping successively west and south on the changing winds. Today in his video report he confirmed that the gybe he made to the east after Cape Finisterre was a ‘huge mistake and I have been beating myself up about it since.' But now Thomson – in eighth at 65 miles behind the leader - is looking forward to getting into the stronger trade winds when Hugo Boss should be in its element. Already this afternoon he was tracked as quickest in the fleet. He reported: “The guys ahead have slightly different breeze, just following their track they had a little different breeze. It was quite patchy and I was quite happy to be in the south. I was happy. It can always be better. Now I am getting into the life on board routine, the work and sleep, it is never ending, I am starting to get into the swing of things. It is getting a bit warmer. I am looking forwards to the breeze building. It will be a drag race to the equator and so I am looking forwards to that and hopefully getting some miles back,”
As of 1140hrs this Thursday, the Vendée Globe fleet was back to a full complement of 29 solo skippers on the race course. Catalan Didac Costa re-crossed the start line formed by the famous Nouche buoy on One Planet One Ocean. He had to return to Les Sables d'Olonne within an hour of Sunday's start because of a flood inside his boat, which was formerly Ellen MacArthur's Kingfisher. With all of the electrics repaired, a new, bigger alternator fitted and his engine stripped and rebuilt, Costa was desperate to get going again. “I'm happy to re-start again, very much looking forward to it and I hope everything goes well. On Sunday, when I was returning to Les Sables with water inside the boat, I had no idea if even I would be able to start again, because I did not know what kind of damage the boat had. Being able to re-start after four days, after so much work, makes me happy. I am happy but also prudent on the other hand. I hope there will be no problems and I can sail well. The first few hours I will not think too much about the competition but about sailing and about if everything is in place. More than thinking of the race I will think about the boat. Then, step-by-step, I will try to get on top of things. There is plenty of wind until tomorrow morning, and then it will drop.”
Pieter Heerema (NED) No Way Back:
“I am in changeable winds and so I have been doing a lot of gybes, it is shifting through about 40 degrees that does not make life very easy. I am still suffering from the pain in my back, so physical work is difficult. Somewhere in the Bay of Biscay I overstretched my back, putting too much force on it and hurt it, so I am moving with difficulty through the boat. I am not really that happy. It did not go well in the Bay of Biscay I had expected the windshift in the west but the windshift happened in the east, I had invested a lot in the north and west. It did not happen and that left me behind at Finisterre and it is always hard to catch up. I caught a few. But I am very far east and maybe the Irishman is further east but we need to swing around this high before we get south."
Alex Thomson (GBR) Hugo Boss:
“It was a good night, not too hot, not too cold. We had some good breeze most of the time. I was pretty happy with it. We had a few gybes, it was not very windy 10-15kts, it was not too difficult. The guys ahead have slightly different breeze just following their track, they had a little different breeze. It was quite patchy and I was quite happy to be in the south. Jean Pierre Dick got a bit hurt in the north with less wind, I was happy. It can always be better. Now I am getting into the life on board routine, the work and sleep, it is never ending, I am starting to get into the swing of things. It is getting a bit warmer. I am looking forwards to the breeze building. It will be a drag race to the equator and so I am looking forwards to that and hopefully getting some miles back,”
“I have three different breakfasts. I have a fruit and nut granola, I have muesli and porridge. I keep the porridge for the colder climates. I had one on the first morning. It is quite simple. Freeze dried package, throw a bit of water in. It is quite pleasant and 1000 calories each. It is a good way to start the day.”
Conrad Colman (Foresight Natural Energy), (NZL/USA):
“The reason I am shaving Madeira is because the fleet has been struggling to get through a ridge of high pressure extending from the Azores islands towards Gibraltar. This weather phenomenon is clearly marked on the weather charts but also on the race tracker, as long parallel lines dissolve into confused spaghetti as boats hunt first right, then left to escape. Yesterday I broke south from my little group of playmates and later today will be my moment of truth as we'll see if the gamble was worth it.”
Jean-Pierre Dick, StMichel-Virbac:
“It's been tricky for the past 24 hours. Lots of clouds and squalls with the wind dropping off. It was a game of chance yesterday and I didn't come off too well. It's a difficult task settling into the pace. You do what you can between tiredness and keeping a clear head. You deal with things as best you can. Sometimes you get lucky doing manoeuvres. It's going to take me another few days to get to feel at one with the boat.”
Jérémie Beyou, Maître CoQ:
"We have accelerated a bit. It wasn't easy last night. Gitana got the better of us. We fell into some light airs, while he got pushed along. You can gybe at the same time as someone else and he overtakes you. I haven't had much luck or maybe I'm not sailing well. Maybe both... It's time for me to wake up.”