Vendée Globe: Chilled Ruyant Sets The Pace in The Fifties
Racing in 25 knots of wind at 53 degrees south, life is distinctly chilly for Thomas Ruyant and Yannick Bestaven, the top two Vendée Globe skippers who are less than ten miles apart. They both gybed early this morning and are heading fully east running parallel to the exclusion barrier, for the Pacific where they are hoping the sea state will be easier and more conducive to higher average speeds than the Indian Ocean has been.
Ruyant and Bestaven now have a gap of over 140 miles over longtime leader Charlie Dalin The skipper of APIVIA was slowed during the early hours of the morning.
And while the two leaders have made their final gybe east for a few days at least, some 350 miles behind the main peloton have had to make multiple gybes, each one requiring 30-40 minutes of intense physical effort, as the race leader explains,
“It's quite a manoeuvre. First, you deal with the stacking inside. We've been racing for more than a month so we have less bags, but it already takes a good 15 minutes to move the sails, the safety bags and food and stuff to the other side of the boat . Then I go back to my cockpit and prepare the various sheets and lines and so on to swap the headsail to the other side. I swap the ballast and slowly. In the process, I cleat the runner and lower the keel then I ease the headsail . I try to accelerate on a wave to get the mainsail over and then I get back on the run and off we go!"
And near the Antarctic Exclusion Zone you need to be accurate and not make mistakes.
Ruyant continues, “I have just gybed. At last. I have one reef as there is 25kts. It is not easy this Indian Ocean with the crossed, short seas, it is hard to find the right speed but on port gybe it is a bit easier, VMG downwind is not the conditions for the foilers, but it is certainly better than starboard.
There is nothing too much on the weather right now it is sailing a course east with the majority on port gybe, just a little gybe or two to stay to the south, but that’s it. It is a route fully east at the moment. There are little things to do, little transitions but it is all about going full speed east.
I have not had much info about Charlie but it is not good for him, but we were a god trio and he is not far behind, he can come back the differences are not so big, I am in front now but the course is very long and I am happy right now to be in the lead on my round the world race but Yannick goes very fast too, especially downwind VMG, he is a good race partner. I spoke on the VHF with him and it was cool to have him on the VHF in the 50s. This is the first time I have been down in the 50s in 2016 I was in the 40s on a more northerly route and had to stop into New Zealand, but it is cold. I I close the door when I am charging the motor and so that helps warm up my feet a bit. Last night I was cold when I was sleeping, and so when I am charging with the engine then I stay in the boat. But this is it in the Southern Ocean.
I miss a good salad, fresh fruit, vegetables, things like that. But I get my vitamins I eat well and lots. I’d like something fresh, but it is all good. I have food for 80 days so I am not rationing yet!”