During the 2016-2017 edition, the Vendée Globe fleet had better weather conditions to leave the Bay of Biscay and reach Ecuador in 9 days and 7 hours, setting an intermediate record at this point on the route achieved by the British Alex Thomson with the Hugo Boss. In fact, they invested 23 hours between Le Sables d´Olonne and Cape Finisterre, 4 days to the Canary Islands, 6 days to Cape Verde and 9 days to Fernando de Noronha.
When the fleet of this ninth edition has passed near the Azores islands during the fourth day of competition, in 2016-2017 the IMOCAs would do so on the second day of the regatta; which means that they were two days faster, and those who now in 2020-2021 are fighting for a first place in Le Sables d’Olonne and breaking the current record of 74 days and 3 hours does not have it easy.
Days before the start of the solo world tour, many statements circulated about reducing the 74 days. The most scandalous, as always to warm up and create pressure against his rivals, was Alex Thomson who claimed that it could be done in 67 days. One week less is many days to spare, especially when they have only covered 5% of the 24,296 total miles.
Veteran Mike Golding – who has participated in four editions of the Vendée Globe – knows Thomson very well: “It will work for him or he will be catastrophically wrong. We all know that is what Alex is, an all or nothing guy. There is nothing wrong with that, we know that he is a player and that people will be watching his progression because of the 20,000 miles that he says he has trained in no time have been against his rivals. Somehow he has moved away from the core of IMOCA’s activity and totally focused on the Vendée Globe … talk of laying all his eggs in one basket, well that’s what he’s done. “
After leaving the Azores islands astern, the IMOCAs have to cross another low pressure, this time the tropical storm “Theta” that is moving east towards the Madeira Islands, and may also affect the Canary Islands archipelago.
At the forefront of the troop of loners marches the “Hugo Boss” skippered by the British Alex Thomson, who in the last hours has opened a gap of 34.4 miles on his most direct pursuers: “Yes We Cam!” by Jean Le Cam and the “LinkeOut” by Thomas Ruyant.
The leading boats were accelerating towards more wind, “Right now I have good conditions, 20-25 knots, and I am with a curl in A major and code zero”, commented Nicolas Troussel this morning by phone, in fifth position with the « CORUM L’Épargne ». “I’m not going to delay lowering the sail.”
The next step for the fleet will be to reach the trade winds at the height of the Cape Verde islands and then face the crossing of the Equator towards the southern hemisphere, which is about 2,000 miles away and will take about six days of navigation.
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