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Vendée Globe day 22: Broken satellite system a blow for Beyou

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Jérémie Beyou
Jérémie Beyou

Broken satellite system a blow for Beyou

Vendée Globe title contender Jérémie Beyou has revealed he is racing 'blind' after the satellite system he uses to get weather information broke.

 

The fifth-placed French sailor was today powering east at more than 20 knots, riding on a fast-moving depression 500 nautical miles south of South Africa and 700nm behind the leading pair of Alex Thomson and Armel Le Cléac'h.

Without the capability to look at what weather systems lie down the track for his Maître CoQ IMOCA 60 yacht, Beyou said he was having to glean whatever he could from safety reports from the Vendée Globe Race Management.

But he is effectively just having to deal with whatever the wind gods throw at him while trying to stay in touch with fourth-placed Paul Meilhat, whose SMA is just two miles ahead.

Thankfully Beyou has plenty of experience of ocean racing without weather information – he is a three-time winner of the Solitaire du Figaro, a solo race where any weather info is banned.

“Right now I'm simply operating on a day to day basis,” the 40-year-old from Morbihan in Brittany said. “I can't really follow what's going on ahead as I'm still lacking weather information due to a broken fleet satellite.

I am getting some information in the safety reports sent out by Race Management and I'm able to download the odd weather file with the Sat C.

Essentially, it's difficult to form a real game plan for more than 24 or 36 hours down the track so I'm making headway by observing the conditions around me and correcting my course accordingly.

It's not great but it reminds of a Solitaire du Figaro, where you're not allowed weather information.

I'm spending a lot of time at the chart table but, needless to say, it's not super efficient because just recently I was expecting 20 knots and ended up in gusts of 30 knots. It's a handicap to say the least.”

The battle for first place took yet another twist today when Armel Le Cléac'h moved ahead of Alex Thomson for the second time in two days.

The pair have been split by just a handful of miles since passing the Cape of Good Hope in record time two days ago.

At the 1400 UTC position report the pair were neck and neck, but Le Cléac'h's Banque Populaire had the tiniest of advantages over Thomson's Hugo Boss.

Dutch skipper Pieter Heerema has broken from the large group of boats languishing in the mid South Atlantic in the clutches of the St Helena High.

The No Way Back skipper is aiming to skirt round the bottom of the high pressure, a move that has already rewarded him with better breeze but uncomfortable conditions for racing.

“I should be more or less into the high pressure, but the wind is surprisingly strong,” the 65-year-old reported today. “It's been around 18 knots and it just went up to 20 knots.

The waves are huge and I've been bashing into them for more than 24 hours. It's not pleasant, but I think in the long term it'll be better to go along the sides of the high instead of the middle of it.”

Initiatives Coeur skipper Tanguy De Lamotte, who turned back to Les Sables d'Olonne with mast damage 10 days into the race, is due to reach the Vendée Globe home port tomorrow, but not before he gets one last thrashing from the elements in his home waters of the Bay of Biscay.

“I'm leapfrogging off the waves in Biscay, while the others are making headway in the Southern Ocean,” he said.

We're heeled right over, slamming through the waves so I will be happy to get to my destination, even though I'll have to resign myself to officially retiring from the race just before my team climbs aboard. I'll be the first to make it back to Les Sables, but without going around the world alas.”