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Vendée Globe: Day 40, leaders 450 miles SSE of South Island NZ

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Vendée Globe: Day 40, leaders 450 miles SSE of South Island NZ
Vendée Globe: Day 40, leaders 450 miles SSE of South Island NZ

Constrained by a high pressure to their north and only moderate winds, the Vendée Globe leaders are still losing miles to the peloton of skippers chasing 250 nautical miles behind. While Yannick Bestaven (Maitre Coq IV) remains just under 50 miles ahead of second positioned Charlie Dalin (APIVIA) Germany’s Boris Herrmann (SeaExplorer) has passed Jean Le Cam (Yes We Cam) to hold fourth place, his best position yet.

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In eighth Louis Burton's challenge, to stop in the lee of Macquarie Island and repair his mast track and other problems, has become greater as he has had no functioning autopilot for more than 24 hours and so has had to hand steer Bureau Vallée 2 all the time with no rest.

The 35 year old skipper from Saint Malo still had some 90 miles to sail to the remote island this afternoon. As he contemplates the supreme effort that will be required he was sent positive messages on the French Vendee Globe Live show by the godfather of his boat, Swiss-French Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean, who himself survived a horror crash, stepping from the fireball wreck of his car three weeks ago.

"Each morning I get up and check where he is and follow his race really closely and have been following all the issues he has had to deal with. If I can send you Louis a bit of my autopilot help it is going to you. I do not like electronics, and do not know how to manage that, I know you will repair though, and I hope you will find the electronics solutions you need and that you can climb back the fleet up like you did at the start of the race." Grosjean said today, adding “ I share something special with Kevin Escoffier in that we have both recently survived very difficult moments. I think everyone was amazed to see me come out of the flames of my burning car after 28 seconds. And so was everyone happy to hear that Jean Le Cam was able to rescue Kevin Escoffier in what was terrible conditions and that he is safe and sound.”

In 13th place Romain Attanasio had nine hours of hard work including some precision engineering to fix part of his mainsail track which had meant he could not drop his mainsail into a reef. 

Second Time Around
The second time on the Vendee Globe is not necessarily better than the first. Indeed great expectations and some deep disappoinrments have certainly hampered Alan Roura and Stephane Le Diraison during the first half of their respective races this time. The first time is always an adventure and the second inevitably is about a higher level of performance and competitiveness.

Le Diraison most of all is looking forwards to successfully passing Cape Leeuwin under Australia. he dismasted on the last edition and needed two weeks to limp under jury rig to Melbourne. Roura has upgraded his boat to a newer, faster Finot Conq design with foils. Both are now looking forwards to the second half of their races with a better sense of perspective and self-knowledge.

Alain Roura, the Swiss skipper who is the youngest in the fleet at 29 and who is on his second Vendee Globe is much more content in himself now that he is not mentally beating himself up all the time. He has softened a mindset which was measuring himself all the time against other boats, worrying all the time about how fast he should be going. Instead he is now entirely focused on his world inside the guardrails of La Fabrique, looking after his boat and enjoying making it go fast.

"The first time I was here was to realise an adventure, a dream and to take a lot of pleasures. And I think at the beginnning of this race I was just too much in racing mode, pushing the boat and too much focussed on beating the others. I forgot what the Vendee Globe is about and so I had changed a bit my mind, my way of sailing and now how I am going to do the second half of the race. And I think we never stop learning on the Vendèe Globe. That is a good point. I maybe was not me on the first half of the race and now I will try to be the Alan I know, the Alan that can sail fast and be totally crazy and not thinking about the others and just make my course because of the others. I want to do my course and sail well. That is the difference between the first and the second Vendèe Globe. I am learning what kind of sailor I am.

I am a competitor I am a racer but I am supposed to push as hard as I can for the conditions I have where I am and not think about the others. I am a sailor first and foremost, who needs to take care of himself and his boat. And I love to sail fast and take pleasure from that."

And Le Diraison, who is 16th, just over 400 miles behind behind 14th placed Roura, says the essence of the race is to treat each day as a personal challenge,

"It is very different. I thought it would be easier but in fact it is much harder." he said today of the comparision between his two races, " I was so desperate to manage this race and go very fast I ended up disappointed to lose the head of the race so soon thanks to problems on my boat and then because of the weather conditions. I had no wind in the South Atlantic and the beginning of the South Indian. It is definitely very different this time. But it will be new after Cape Leeuwin as last time I dismasted and had to stop into Melbourne. I am very excited to discover the second half of the race. On the first part I compared too much and so now I am looking forwards to the second half.
I am very happy to be here to reach to Les Sables d'Olonne and to give your best that is what is important of course. But it is about the personal challenge, every day to give your best every day."

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