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Vendée Globe day 51: Beyou approaches Cape Horn: "It's About Time"

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Vendée Globe Jeremie Beyou
Vendée Globe Jeremie Beyou

Holding a solid third place in the Vendée Globe, French skipper Jérémie Beyou should pass Cape Horn around midday Tuesday. After starting the last two editions of the Vendée Globe, in 2008 and 2012 and never making it to the Southern Ocean, it will be an important moment in the career of the 40 year old from Morlaix on Brittany's Finistère peninsula.

A complex South Atlantic
Alex Thomson has managed to pull back small miles on leader Le Cléac'h today, Monday, reducing his deficit to the skipper who has led the race since December 3rdto under 400 miles. Le Cléac'h faces another slowdown tonight with a high pressure ridge. The climb up the South Atlantic remains complex.
Behind Beyou, Jean Pierre Dick (St Michel-Virbac) has moved another 100 miles clear of the chasing duo Yann Eliès and Jean Le Cam who have continued to struggle with the centre of a low pressure system. Dick is making 22kts this afternoon on his foiling St Michel-Virbac while Eliès is making seven knots. Conrad Colman (Foresight Natural Energy) is racing north and east to avoid the worst of a big, stormy low which is spinning down from the north and west of him, but his timing and strategy should see him safe from the worst of a bad system which is predicted to hold more than 70kts. And behind the system, the group of six which had slowed to miss the storm, are now making faster progress again. Eric Bellion (Commeunseulhomme) said this morning: “I have had a gust of 37-38 knots and I'm making twenty knots. The idea was to follow the low and not to go too fast and hit the worst of it. I have three reefs in the main. We went from total calm to a storm. I had my coffee with Alan a couple hours ago. It suddenly changed. Everything went flying in the boat. The wind is whistling around. I slept for eight hours during the night. It was a bit like a pit stop before as I checked everything on the boat. It's always a bit frustrating when you have thousands of miles left to sail to see your speed down to five knots.”

Beyou approaches Cape Horn
Lying third he is, once again, more than 750 miles behind the fast moving Brit, Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss and some 1100 miles behind the race leader Le Cléac'h. Beyou grew up on the Bay of Morlaix with Le Cléac'h and when they were young, Beyou took the young Armel out on his father's Quarter Tonner. Armed with the Le Cléac'h's former Banque Populaire, which finished second in the last race, Beyou has found himself at times frustrated by satellite comms problems – he cannot access high resolution weather information – he has struggled with his mast track and his mainsail hook. But he has battled on resolutely, latterly sailing fast on the approach to his first solo Cape Horn. His watchword has always been to sail within his limits to reach the Horn.

Beyou also retired from the first Barcelona World Race in 2007-8 after being dismasted with Sidney Gavignet in the Indian Ocean. After each disappointment, Beyou has come back stronger and fought harder for his Vendée Globe. In 2008-9 he had to retire into Recife after only 16 days of racing when two spreader roots failed and his rigging was damaged. His second Vendée Globe, the first in the colours of Maître CoQ ended with keel ram damage after just over one week of racing. “They say real champions are those who can fight back,” said Beyou at the time. He bounced back and claimed a third Solitaire du Figaro title in the interim and prepared his Vendée Globe programme immaculately, not least winning the Transat New York Vendée and taking second in the 2014 Route du Rhum. “I have set out around the world in the Vendée Globe, the Barcelona World Race and the Jules Verne Trophy, but have never made it around the Horn. So it's about time!” Beyou said today.
“The seas are very rough, so it will be a relief to get around. Especially after all the previous failed attempts. It's time also to see something different as down here it isn't that nice. After that maybe we will be back into real racing mode and I'll be able to see where I am in comparison to the two ahead of me. It's a new race that starts. I'm going to have to work hard in these final weeks…” He added: “The Pacific was a bit long with conditions that were not that easy. So I'm pleased to be arriving at Cape Horn and getting out of this zone. I crossed through a front during the night with quite a lot of wind. I should be downwind until Cape Horn and afterwards too I hope as the wind is set to strengthen at the longitude of the cape. So I'll have gybes to do and it's going to be fairly technical. We're going to have to be careful to avoid doing anything silly with these winds.”