Dalin’s Vendee Lead ‘Melts Like Snow’ as Amedeo Retires


Paris, Dec 11 (AFP/APP): French skipper Charlie Dalin saw his lead in the Vendee Globe “melt like snow” while the solo non-stop round-the-world race lost its sixth boat with the retirement of Fabrice Amedeo on Friday.

Dalin, who has been leading the race since November 23, came through a tempest in the southern Indian Ocean on Tuesday night but since Thursday has struggled with his speed, causing his lead to shrink and the rumours over the well-being of his boat Apivia to grow. From sailing at 16 knots on Thursday he was struggling at six knots on Friday (1100 GMT). By 1700 GMT, however, he was back up to 15 knots but his lead over second placed Thomas Ruyant in LinkedOut has shrunk to just 98 nautical miles.

Yannick Bestaven, running third in Maitre Coq IV, who was 250nm off the lead on Thursday, is now just 112nm behind Dalin.

“The conditions are good but things are not going fast,” Dalin said in a video sent Friday morning. “There is an area of light wind to cross, my lead is melting like snow in the sun. Others are at 20 knots, due east, I am losing miles at high speed, I am fighting to get out of this area as quickly as possible.”

This slowness may be partly because Dalin has repositioned himself further to the south as he sails around 630 nautical miles west of the longitude of Australia’s Cape Leeuwin which he is expected to cross on Sunday.

Race rumours

Race followers have been wondering, however, if the light winds are purely to blame for the 35-year-old’s slow progress or whether there is something amiss with Apivia. “The leaders do tend to keep quiet about any issues they might have, to not give away anything to those chasing that might give them a chance to use it against them,” Vendee veteran Jean Pierre Dick told race organisers Friday. “That has often been the strategy of past leaders such as Francois Gabart, Armel Le Cleach or Michel Desjoyeux.”

His closest pursuer Ruyant, however, has not been able to take full advantage of the situation because of his truncated port foil. “Now I’m sailing on my truncated foil and these are the kind of conditions where I really miss it,” he said on Friday. “But hey, it’s like that and it’s going to be like that until the end of the race. “I’m not complaining but I’m losing about 20 percent of the boat’s potential on this starboard tack.”

Sailing ‘blind’

One man whose race has ended is Amedeo on Newrest – Art & Fenetres, the sixth to retire of the 33 who started the race at Les Sables d’Olonnes on November 8. The 42-year-old, who was in 21st position, was forced out after losing his second on-board computer which cut off his information feed on the weather. His other computer had been out of service for several days as he sailed through the Roaring 40s.

“My boat is fine, but since yesterday I have literally been blind,” Amedeo said in a statement. “Due to a new computer problem, I can no longer download the weather files, calculate the optimal course, the fastest possible route and importantly the safest possible. Amedeo said he had considered continuing in “the old-fashioned way”, trying to round the Southern Ocean while “at the mercy of the elements” for a whole month to reach Cape Horn.

“My priority has always been to be able to sail both safely and according to the principles of maintaining both control of the safety of myself and of that of the boat. “I have therefore decided to stop my Vendee Globe race in Cape Town.” Amedeo had a difficult start to the race, having to do a rapid u-turn back to port after the start before setting off a second time two days later on November 10.

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