The Jackal vs. The Boss: photo finish, now tactics are everything

We are at the final showdown. With less than 400 miles to go in Les Sables d’Olonne (ETA estimated Thursday), Armel Le Cleac’h on Banque Populaire VIII and Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss are separated by 40 miles.

NOW IT’S JUST TACTICS
A whiff, after the 24,000 miles of sailing around the world. Never before has a Vendée Globe been seen in such a photo finish. Now they are both called upon to prove that they are great racers as well as sailors: they will have to keep their wits about them because tactics, at this point will be everything. Off the coast of Brest (Brittany), the two protagonists this morning were buoyed by a dropping sirocco of 10-12 knots, but as they approach the coast the wind is expected to turn northeast and both The Jackal Le Cleac’h that Boss Thomson should be able to change walls (and get on starboard tack) and start the final sprint. It will be a last stretch fraught with pitfalls with the islands of Groix, Belle-Île and Yeu interfering locally on wind, unpredictable currents and heavy “traffic” between cargo ships and fishing boats.

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THE FOIL VENDEE

Meanwhile, if we scroll through the rankings, we realize that, except for the retirements of Sebastien Josse and Morgan Lagravière (skippers of Edmond De Rothschild and Safran, respectively), it was the world tour of the new generation IMOCA 60s, those with foils. Behind Le Cleac’h and Thomson, in fact, follow Jeremie Beyou on Maitre Coq (at 781 miles) and Jean-Pierre Dick on St. Michel-Virbac (at 1790 miles). Fifth, and first of the “old” hulls, Yann Elies on Queguiner-Leucemie Espoir (at 1835 miles).

DO YOU BUY YOUR FERRARI TO GO 50 MPH?
All thanks to the boat? But not by a long shot: just go and see the exception, multimillionaire Pieter Heerema, aboard No Way Back, the boat that had been built in the Italian Persico Marine shipyards initially for Andrea Mura (the Sardinian had then had to sell it due to budget problems. A beautiful and super-competitive hull, according to all insiders and even competitors in the race (before the start, skippers envied Heerema): we told you about it here. But the medium is not enough. Heerema, his first ocean experience (he came from the RC44 world), is currently 8,246 miles from the finish line in the middle of the Pacific. Forgive the automotive comparison, but it’s like buying yourself a Ferrari and then going 50 mph on the highway. “The important thing for me will be to get there,” the Dutchman had declared before the start, all right, but seeing him so far behind makes your heart cry. We are sure that if Andrea Mura had been on board, the story would have gone very differently.

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