For my non-sailing oppos, an update on the Vendee Globe. This is the around the world, nonstop, solo race in 60 foot monohull sailboats. My 2 favorites, Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) and Sam Davies (Initiatives-Coeur), are already retired. But, there are some excellent sailors left. Actually, they're all top level, cream of the solo crop.
Of the 33 starting boats, 27 remain in the race as of today, day 44. They are now in the Southern Ocean where most of the carnage usually takes place. The next 2 weeks will be interesting. The 3 leading boats are way out front but 2 of them have damage. The English version of the website is https://www.vendeeglobe.org/en and has almost all of the content from the French side. Other sailors and boats of special note:
- Damien Sequin (Groupe APICIL), on a non-foiling boat is 7th. He only has one hand...
- Jean Le Cam (Yes we Cam!) is a wily old veteran. He is close on to the leading foilers in his non-foiler. He is also the man who rescued Kevin Escoffier (PRB) whose boat sank. He'll be given the time for the rescue but it doesn't look like he'll need it.
- Isabel Joschke (MACSF) is the leading woman in 8th place. She might make the podium.
- Boris Hermann's (Seaexplorer - *) videos on YT and his site are in English most of the time.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEscMHGDq7Dq1kSXn4tSjeg and https://www.borisherrmannracing.com/
- Jereme Beyou (Charal) had to return to port for repairs right after the start. He's worked his way back to 21st!
There is a tracker for this race and it is updated about every half hour from the boats via satellite. https://tracking2020.vendeeglobe.org/en/ Here are some things to know about this tracker to improve your viewing pleasure. The boats are so far apart now that the default view is max zoomed out. Put your cursor near the boats and zoom in by rolling your mouse wheel up. Then you can click on any part of the map and move it around. The Exclusion Zone at the bottom of the map is for safety. This is the projected northern limit of Southern icebergs. (Yea, tell that to the inhabitants of S. Georgia Is. off Argentina and their big berg interloper.)
On the right side, in the white margin, are some icons. Toggle them; see what you like.
- Of most interest to me is the wind. It is the 3 squiggly lines 4th from the bottom. The white streaks show where the wind is going and the background color indicates speed. Couple things of interest here:
- All of the boats are designed to be most efficient traveling downwind. They like the wind just a bit to either side of astern all the way to just abaft of the beam (side). This is why there are a lot of zigs and zags.
- Zoom back out a bit and notice all the little cyclonic areas around the world. These are hurricane (typhoon, cyclone) seeds. These cyclones happen a lot in Low pressure areas but so very rarely become named storms.
- The bow (like bow and arrow) is 6th down. This displays a red line that is the optimal route for the boats to take for shortest, legal route.
- The grid, 3rd from bottom displays the Latitude and Longitude. Since distance between Lat lines is constant (think tomato slices vs Lat's orange slices) Each degree of lattitude, the horizantal lines, is ~69 nautical miles. Down in their area, Longitude is about 42 naut. miles between degrees. (At the equator, it is 60 miles.) Gives some scale to the map.
When you put your cursor on a specific boat, a popup of 3 boxes appears. To me the most important piece of information is in the lower left box. Under the "Sur 4h" column is the number of miles covered over the last 4 hours. Now, I come here several times a day so for most of you the "Sur 24h" may be more useful. The number in red is the average speed for the past period of time. A boat may be behind but may have a better average and is actually catching up. Matching the wind display and boat angle to it can tell us how well the boat is being sailed. A real drop in speed over time may mean that they broke or are taking a long nap, wind speeds being equal...
The wind patterns change constantly and always toward the East down there. These guys are in the guts of this race now so they are living with wild waves and screaming winds. In the last race, Alex made up an 800 mile deficit to Le'Clerch with only 1 working foil. Mike Golding's keel fell off his boat 50 miles from the finish a few years back and he still made it in 3rd. Once they get past the Southern Ocean, there is the drag race up to France in much easier conditions (usually) but by then the boats and crew are very tired and worn.
TL;DR Some folks are sailing boats in bad conditions over a long distance. They are having fun and we can watch them do it.