At sea (AFP)
For his first round-the-world trip, Charlie Dalin brilliantly leads the Vendée Globe fleet and sails alone on Friday in the area known to be violent in the Roaring 40ths when his direct pursuer Thomas Rettant had to saw off the damaged part of his boat.
Dalin, a 36-year-old sailor at the helm of a very latest generation sailboat (Apivia) which can almost fly thanks to two foils (lateral appendages), has finally finished with the particularly slow descent of the Atlantic.
On the night of Thursday to Friday, he was the first to enter the 40th south, an area between the 40th and 50th (howling 50th) parallels south.
Racing in this area is known as the ultimate maritime feat due to breaking waves or high winds and where the temperature drops drastically.
Two sailors, the Briton Nigel Burgess (1992) and the Canadian Gerry Roufs (1997), have paid for it with their lives.
In 1989, Philippe Poupon's monohull had fallen on its side, the victim of a breaking wave.
He had been saved by Loïck Peyron who had helped him straighten his ketch.
Dalin is heading towards one of the must-see points of the Vendée Globe, the Cape of Good Hope.
It should reach the southern tip of Africa on Monday, three days more than what Alex Thomson put in the last edition in 2016 (17 days and 23 hours).
But he could soon see Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée 2) arrive, who, at the helm of the first generation boat + steering wheel + which won the last Vendée Globe under the leadership of Armel Le Cléac'h, took an option of shorter route.
- 'On all fours' -
"It's been gone since last night (Thursday). I hope that the days to come will pay off and that the places (for me, editor's note) will go up, to bring me into the Indian in a good position", indicated Friday Burton, currently eighth in the standings.
"We left for thirty days at very high speed, we will have to succeed in resting, which is not easy; we will move on all fours, with unwanted brakes that are not obvious and water permanently on the boat. For those who play at the front, it is already the beginning of the fight, a real psychological fight during the coming month, up to Cape Horn ", warned Burton, seventh of the Vendée Globe 2016/2017.
Ranked second, Thomas Rettant (LinkedOut), is him in the wake of Dalin but he has let the miles slip between him and the leader in recent hours.
After noting Wednesday that his port foil was really cracked, he had to cut a part of the appendix.
"I just cut my pretty foil", said Rettant in a video where we see him, harnessed, cut the upper part of the appendix using a saw.
"I had to get out of the boat to operate. I still had to hang over the foil: I pulled out about two meters," continued the Northerner.
Another big favorite in the race also handicapped by a structural problem, Welshman Alex Thomson has reinforced the repairs he has made in recent days.
The former leader fell to 11th place, 645 nm (1,195 km) behind Dalin but appeared to be back in the race on Friday night.
On the nineteenth day of racing, there was only one retirement, that of Nicolas Troussel (Corum L'Epargne) after a dismasting on November 16 off Cape Verde.
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