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Vendée Globe, Day 83: Duelling Duos

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Vendée Globe - IMOCA La Mie Câline - skipper Arnaud Boissières
Vendée Globe - IMOCA La Mie Câline - skipper Arnaud Boissières

After 82 days of racing there are two intense duels still playing out in the Vendée Globe non stop solo round the world race. Racing in sight of each other today, at the latitude of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Didac Costa (One Planet One Ocean) and Romain Attanasio (La Famille Mary-Etamine du Lys) spoke to each other by VHF and have been no more than three miles apart as they climb the Atlantic.


Attanasio reported: “It's funny because in the previous rankings, Didac (Costa) was ahead. This morning, I went outside to take some photos and he was there. I called him on the VHF and we chatted. I have been chasing him for three weeks. It's a bit annoying having another boat alongside, as it's hard to get the right trajectory. I wanted to bear away slightly, but he was there downwind of me. On the other hand it's nice to be near someone. The last boat I saw was CommeUnSeulHomme. Now we have Rich Wilson in our sights.”

And at the latitude of Sao Paolo, Brazil the head to head scrap over 11th and 12th places sees Arnaud Boissières (La Mie Câline) some 20 miles ahead of Fabrice Amedeo (Newrest-Matmut). Boissières from Les Sables d'Olonne is racing his third consecutive Vendée Globe but is well behind his personal record time of 2012-13 when he finished ninth in 91 days. In 2008-9 he went round in 105 days. Of the duel between the two 2007 Farr designs, Amedeo's, the former Paprec-Virbac 2, and Boissière's more recently Jean Le Cam's Synerciel, Amedeo said today: “This duel with Arnaud (Boissières) means I feel some pressure to keep pushing. I've also been able to discuss things with Arnaud by e-mail. I'd like to continue sailing in the IMOCA class and would like to do the 2020 Vendée Globe. So we' have been talking about that together and so gradually we have become friends. I have about twenty days of sailing left and hope to finish on 14th February.”

This weekend should see the final competitor Sébastien Destremau lock the doors on the exit door from Southern Ocean. He is due to round Cape Horn late Saturday or Sunday on his evergreen TechnoFirst faceOcean. In typically effusive mood today, Destremau laughed: “The Race Director Jacques Caraës told me to close the door behind me and lock up.” He added: “I don't have any regrets about stopping in Tasmania, even though I didn't find the problem and if it cost me a lot in terms of time and distance. In the first part of the race, I was worried about what was going to hold out, but in Tasmania I was reassured. There really wasn't that much wear. It was hard setting off again from Tasmania, but I don't regret that. When the boat was doing 25 knots early on, I thought about furling the gennaker, but now I get 45 knots and don't worry about it. It's crazy how you get used to it.”

Le Professeur 2.0

One big success on this eighth edition of the Vendée Globe solo round the world race has been the education programme disseminated by Rich Wilson, skipper of Great American IV. The former teacher who completed the 2008-9 race in 121 days is reaching between 750,000 and 1 million young students each week with his sitesALIVE education programme in 66 different countries. Young people from 46 nations are using the curriculum and have engaged with Wilson or his team of SitesALIVE experts and are receiving weekly email updates. One hundred thousand students in Taiwan are engaged, 250,000 through newspapers in the USA and 250,000 through a new news delivering application. All content is translated into French, Basic and Traditional Chinese. Asked today on Vendée LIVE! about his commitment to deliver his educational content from the race course, Wilson agreed: “It is hard for me. Sure it is. But that is the point of being out here. We know we are not going to be up at the front of the fleet, so that the reason I am out here. So far I have been very good at delivering on time, answering questions. I know we have 66 countries participating, that makes me so happy. I am going to start crying in a minute. It is very satisfying.”

Joining Wilson today on the Vendée LIVE! show, hosted from Les Sables d'Olonne, Lauren Zike who coordinates the program, explained: “I think that as this race wears on and the days stretch ahead of Rich, it is the education programme which will get Rich through the days, we continue to ask for question from all those kids who are following along, send us more questions and tell us what you are learning about. That really makes a huge impact for Rich. We have the patronage of the French Ministry of Education and all of our programme has been distributed throughout Franceand it has been wonderful to have the French website and so we are able to receive questions in French and respond to them. Rich even responded to one French girl who asked about his asthma, he posted a video for her replying in French. We have a great dialogue with the students.”

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