Vendée Globe Day 5: Brothers in Arms

by Vendée Globe 12 Nov 19:02 UTC 11 November 2020 Jérémie Beyou (Charal) heads back to Les Sables d’Olonne in the Vendée Globe © Gauthier Lebec / Charal Sailing Team

Passing the Azores, some 100 miles to the east of São Miguel island, Britain’s Alex Thomson leads the Vendée Globe fleet this afternoon on Hugo Boss. He moved south away from his closest rivals on the water early this morning, choosing a time when he thought they would be at their most tired, perhaps resting, to slide away.

Pacing himself against the newest generation of foilers like his HUGO BOSS, he is 13 miles up on Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) and Charlie Dalin (Apivia) as the lead group slide south on the western side of a low pressure system, described today as a ‘baby low’ when compared with tropical low Theta which lies in wait for them from tomorrow Friday.

Five days into the race and the head of the fleet comprises a slightly unexpected mix of the latest foilers intertwined with older generation non foiling boats, such as sailed by the wily 61 year old Jean Le Cam on his fifth Vendée Globe and lying second to Thomson who is also on his fifth race.

Thomson has been no stranger to adversity over his 16 years chasing his holy grail, victory in the Vendée Globe. And so his message of solidarity today for French title favourite Jérémie Beyou, who had to U turn back to Les Sables d’Olonne with rig and rudder damage yesterday, came from the heart.

Dealing with his shattered ambitions of winning, founded on a four year plan which included building a state of the art foiler Charal, launched one year ahead of the rest of the new boats, he spoke to the French media on a recording for the Vendée Globe LIVE show. Beyou’s pain was palpable today.

Beyou is expected to reach Les Sables d’Olonne on Saturday. His team will make an immediate evaluation of the repairs required and ensure they have the logistics in place.

Vendée Globe Position Report 17H00 UTC 12/11/2020 – photo © #VG2020

Repairing man and machine

Sébastien Destremau has survived the stormy hours on his IMOCA MERCI, which he struggled to have ready on time for last Sunday’s race start. Last night, exhausted from the first few days he fell asleep and spent several hours asleep inside the boat heading northwards. His day was then spent tinkering on the deck and climbing the mast to untangle twisted halyards. The list of minor technical issues grows as sailors check the condition of their boats. Maxime Sorel also climbed the mast to retrieve a halyard.

After jumping the start gun last Sunday by a matter of seconds, Louis Burton completed his five hours penalty last night, losing more than 70 miles in the process. In addition to that the skipper from Saint Malo has had to mop up litres of oil (coming from his keel cylinder) spilled inside his boat before grabbing the grinder to repair a small crack on his bulkhead.

All of the skippers have been making sure they are rested as tomorrow morning they will have to tackle the big tropical depression Theta which blocks their way.

Theta, the 29th tropical depression of the year

It is front of mind for all the sailors. It’s a big red ball sitting right in the middle of the map. The solo sailors will have to pass round it to the west. Those who come in too close could be severely punished, because this subtropical depression contains winds of 50 to 60 knots and waves of 6 meters. It’s name is Theta. And this is the 29th tropical depression of the year, a record in fact. Tropical and subtropical depressions are named after the letters of the alphabet, and with 21 letters from the Latin alphabet now passed, we switch to the Greek alphabet. Theta is the 8th.


Jérémie Beyou – Charal, “Everyone has their own goal. For four years my life has been focused on trying to win the Vendée Globe. I’ve been giving it my all.” Beyou said, “So when it suddenly comes to an end, it hits you hard. That’s why it took me so long before deciding to turn back. I could have taken the decision earlier, as dealing with the front meant there was collateral damage. It doesn’t feel good waking up to this.

“Earlier in the day before the wind got up, the attachment holding the headsail clew came away. That damaged the bulkhead and ripped through the deck. While I was inspecting that, I saw a hole in the rudder that was half up but I told the team that I could cope. I went through the front, tacked and then the runner exploded after losing the gear at the top of the mast a few hours before. The runner was the final straw, so I changed route and turned back.

“I haven’t seen what’s been going on around me for four years. My Dad was taken to hospital with a stroke a week before the start. I missed out on all that. So now, I’ll be bringing the boat home and dealing with that too.”

Jérémie Beyou (Charal) heads back to Les Sables d’Olonne in the Vendée Globe – photo © Gauthier Lebec / Charal Sailing Team

Alex Thomson, who as he noted today is ‘two from four’ for Vendée Globe starts and finishes, said, “It is terrible news, and nobody would wish that on anybody, Jérémie has worked harder than anybody probably. He has done an extra year with his boat. He has a great team, a great technical director, he has done it all and he amazed the world when he brought Charal out. He was the first one flying in the sky, so I am devastated for him. I know myself how hard it is to pick yourself up and particularly going back to Les Sables d’Olonne and racing all on your own. But I am sure he will make the right decision. It will probably be governed by the damage and how long it takes to fix it. I guess the worst thing to do would be to set off in the knowledge that you cant do a proper 100 per cent repair and then you are on your own in the Southern Ocean. I feel for him, I feel for his team, I feel for the sponsors. Unfortunately that is a thing that happens in this race. I am two out of four myself. I hate the feeling. I hate seeing it happen to someone else, particularly Jeremie.”

Charlie Dalin – Apivia, “I’m glad I got off the ridge yesterday and I’m happy with my placement, not too north and not too south. At the moment we’re going around a small depression that is forming ahead of us, going around it from the north. There are four of us in this small group. There is a little more wind than what was forecast, it’s moving pretty fast here! On the horizon is Theta, the tropical depression which is very strong. It will be the last big obstacle to deal with before we get a taste of the trade winds.

Apivia / Charlie Dalin – photo © François Van Malleghem / IMOCA

“I was in the leading group yesterday evening and for part of the night. So much the better! It means things are going well for me. For the moment, I don’t have a lot of worries and I hope I won’t have any by saying so. I hope it lasts! I’m trying to find my rhythm between going fast and preserving the boat, space out the manoeuvres to avoid any risks. Since the beginning, we’ve been in pretty difficult conditions, we haven’t yet been able to really use the potential of the foilers. I hope that once Theta has passed, we’ll be able to take advantage of more favourable conditions to use the foils. I’m constantly restricting myself, braking in order to save my boat for later, but also to save myself up because the Vendée Globe is long! But I don’t have both feet on the brakes for too long. Concerning Jérémie Beyou’s damage, well I know all too well the commitment that our projects require – for the skipper, the team, the partners…It’s years of work, of deliberation, and it’s certainly something we wouldn’t wish on anyone. My stomach turned to knots when I heard the news. My heart goes out to Jérémie and his team.”

Ranking at 17H00 UTC:

Pos Sail No Skipper / Boat Name DTF (nm) DTL (nm)
1 FRA 01 Jean Le Cam / Yes we Cam ! 23439.3 0
2 GBR 99 Alex Thomson / HUGO BOSS 23448.5 9.2
3 FRA 09 Benjamin Dutreux / OMIA ‑ Water Family 23451.8 12.5
4 FRA 6 Nicolas Troussel / CORUM L’Épargne 23467.4 28.1
5 FRA 79 Charlie Dalin / APIVIA 23469.6 30.3
6 FRA 59 Thomas Ruyant / LinkedOut 23472.2 32.9
7 FRA 85 Kevin Escoffier / PRB 23472.3 33
8 FRA 109 Samantha Davies / Initiatives ‑ Coeur 23472.8 33.6
9 FRA 49 Romain Attanasio / Pure ‑ Best Western Hotels and Resorts 23476.7 37.5
10 FRA 53 Maxime Sorel / V And B Mayenne 23477.1 37.9
11 FRA 1000 Damien Seguin / Groupe APICIL 23485.4 46.1
12 FRA 30 Clarisse Cremer / Banque Populaire X 23488.8 49.5
13 FRA 4 Sébastien Simon / ARKEA PAPREC 23491.1 51.8
14 FRA 17 Yannick Bestaven / Maître Coq IV 23500.4 61.2
15 MON 10 Boris Herrmann / Seaexplorer ‑ Yacht Club De Monaco 23508.1 68.9
16 ITA 34 Giancarlo Pedote / Prysmian Group 23513.3 74.1
17 FRA 18 Louis Burton / Bureau Vallée 2 23529.5 90.3
18 SUI 7 Alan Roura / La Fabrique 23535 95.7
19 JPN 11 Kojiro Shiraishi / DMG MORI Global One 23567.7 128.4
20 FRA 92 Stéphane Le Diraison / Time For Oceans 23572.2 132.9
21 FRA 27 Isabelle Joschke / MACSF 23584.7 145.5
22 ESP 33 Didac Costa / One Planet One Ocean 23598.5 159.3
23 FRA 14 Arnaud Boissieres / La Mie Câline ‑ Artisans Artipôle 23600.2 160.9
24 FRA 71 Manuel Cousin / Groupe Sétin 23606 166.7
25 GBR 777 Pip Hare / Medallia 23611.2 172
26 FRA 50 Miranda Merron / Campagne de France 23611.6 172.3
27 FIN 222 Ari Huusela / Stark 23631.8 192.5
28 FRA 83 Clément Giraud / Compagnie du lit ‑ Jiliti 23646.6 207.3
29 FRA 72 Alexia Barrier / TSE ‑ 4myplanet 23676.3 237
30 FRA 02 Armel Tripon / L’Occitane en Provence 23684.4 245.1
31 FRA 69 Sébastien Destremau / Merci 23762.2 323
32 FRA 8 Jérémie Beyou / Charal 23974 534.7
33 FRA 56 Fabrice Amedeo / Newrest ‑ Art et Fenetres 23996.9 557.6

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