VIDEO In the middle of nowhere flying at 20 knots. The Vendée as you’ve never seen it


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For the first time in the history of the Vendée Globe (the non-stop solo round-the-world race aboard IMOCA 60 starting from Les Sables d’Olonne in Vendée, northern France), a video shows the two leaders of the race, Armel Le Cleac’h on Banque Populaire VIII and Alex Thomson aboard Hugo Boss, in the southern Indian Ocean off the Kerguelen Islands, one of the most remote places in the world (Africa is 2000 miles to the west, Australia 2000 miles to the east, Antarctica 1000 miles to the south).
While being filmed from above, at 20 knots of speed (the feat was made possible by the cooperation of the French Navy, which provided the frigate Nivose from which a helicopter with cameramen took off, the TF1 channel and the Vendée race directors), the two were also interviewed via VHF.


Le Cleac’h and Thomson are the two undisputed stars of the regatta so far. First he was ahead of the Englishman, who pushed like a madman all the way to the Cape of Good Hope, then (abetted by a broken starboard foil on Hugo Boss) in Indian the Frenchman closed in, overtook him and now leads by less than a mile.

A breath. It is a real duel, a match-race that has been going on for thousands of miles. In the video you can see how the two boats sail with different configurations. Thomson has two reefing hands on the mainsail, a staysail and the reacher on the bowsprit. Instead, Le Cleac’h has a hand with a fractional jib at the bow first and then an unfractionated one at the masthead.

schermata-2016-12-01-a-12-16-51Of the starboard foil on Hugo Boss there is no trace, while on Banque Populaire the appendage is clearly visible. So right now, it is as if Thomson is aboard a traditional IMOCA, slightly disadvantaged in terms of speed (this justifies the less “conservative” trim than the Frenchman). But the challenge is still long, very long. The other opponents seem to be hopeless: Sebastien Josse, third aboard Edmond de Rothschild, is a full 670 miles behind, as shown in the chart below. Recall that dropouts to date total four: Tanguy De Lamotte (Initiatives Coeur), Morgan Lagravière (Safran), Vincent Riou (PRB), Bertrand De Broc (MACSF).





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