Getting back on track
Last night, the Mono60 Edmond de Rothschild hit a UFO (Unidentified Floating Object) with its starboard rudder. With the impact, the appendage’s kick-up system was damaged. In this way, the solo sailor had to come to a stop for nearly four hours to effect repairs. Though the situation has since been resolved aboard the latest of the Gitana fleet, this sorry episode has cost precious miles in the rankings. Second yesterday, with a deficit of around a hundred miles in relation to the leader Alex Thomson, Sébastien Josse is 209 miles shy of the Briton this afternoon, with the now 2nd placed Armel Le Cléac’h equidistant between the two. However, the skipper of Gitana Team is well aware that there will be numerous opportunities to make up the miles still left to cover, particularly given the fact that ahead of the top trio the weather situation for the coming days certainly won’t lack spice.

“I feel like a guy who has just had a night he could have well done without! But hey, we’re firing on all cylinders again and that’s the main thing. Things could have been worse. I spare a thought for Vincent Riou, who wasn’t so fortunate and had to retire yesterday. His retirement comes as a hard blow. We’re going to miss him.” This introduction speaks volumes about the mindset of the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild, who saw his hard earned miles slip through his fingers last night in a matter of hours. 

Indeed, following the collision which impacted his starboard rudder, Sébastien Josse had to put his race hopes to one side last night, between 21:00 and 01:00 GMT in the morning so as to repair the damage caused by a UFO (Unidentified Floating Object). He gives us the low-down on the circumstances of this chance encounter: “I was pretty satisfied with my day and well into the rhythm for clawing back a few more miles from Alex (Thomson). There was around 25 to 30 knots of wind at 350° when I felt the starboard rudder get hit. I was making 25 knots so the impact was fairly hard. Given the sensation on impact, it wasn’t anything very big and it was pretty hard, like a block of wood. I’m not overly surprised. Two days ago, I saw a big tree trunk pass a few metres downwind of the boat… We know it happens. It’s something we’re familiar with but it’s still annoying to damage the boat in such circumstances,” Sébastien lamented, before describing in more detail the conditions in which he had to effect repairs: “The timing wasn’t ideal for this type of adventure. Fixing something at the boat’s stern, in a fairly exposed area, in the pitch black, with a 2m swell, 25 knots of breeze and rain… isn’t exactly fun! At times like that it’s even more important to be able to rely on a team like that of Gitana Team, which is super responsive and very involved.”

The breakage of the starboard foil on Hugo Boss last weekend and of course the retirements of Bertrand de Broc and Vincent Riou serve as a timely reminder that though collisions with UFOs are part of everyday life for a sailor, they are no less formidable for the gear and the machine alike, particularly when they’re flying along at pace. In fact, during the Vendée Live this lunchtime, the skipper of PRB was keen to point out that “UFOs remain an eternal problem for us sailors”.

Good Hope between 24 and 25 November

We said it in the introduction, Edmond de Rothschild has lost ground on its adversaries in the leading pack. For now, it’s still under the influence of the ‘Brazilian’ front, but the latter is set to stumble into the high pressure and shift southwards over the coming hours. It’s a trajectory that the top trio in the Vendée Globe will not be able to follow due to the ice gate (Antarctic Exclusion Zone), which is tightening up play. As such, they’ll have to negotiate a zone of transition in a ridge of high pressure, which is likely to be a tricky little section.

For Sébastien Josse, the rounding of the first cape in this round the world, the Cape of Good Hope, is scheduled overnight on Thursday and through into Friday. A new reference time between Les Sables d’Olonne and the tip of South Africa will logically be pocketed by the British leader, but the time recorded by the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild is likely to be equally remarkable and quicker than that set by Armel Le Cléac’h in 2012. Such figures clearly demonstrate the intensity of this 8th Vendée Globe.

Ranking on 23 November at 14:00 GMT

  1. Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) 17,947.2 miles from the finish
  2. Armel Le Cleac'h (Banque Populaire VIII) 110.0 miles behind the leader
  3. Sébastien Josse (Edmond de Rothschild) 209.4 miles behind the leader
  4. Morgan Lagravière (Safran) 397.9 miles behind the leader
  5. Paul Meilhat (SMA) 614.6 miles behind the leader
  6. Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ) 746.8 miles behind the leader
  7. Yann Eliès (Quéguiner Leucémie Espoir) 1,040.5 miles behind the leader
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