For more than a week now, Sébastien Josse has been philosophically negotiating the weather systems, patiently accepting that his two closest adversaries were going to be able to steal a march on him thanks to the more favourable conditions at the head of the race.
However, this 27th day at sea marks a change of fortune as the following numbers bear witness: at today’s 17:00 GMT ranking, Edmond de Rothschild was positioned 528.61 miles astern of the Thomson – Le Cléac’h duo, which is over 128 miles less than yesterday at the same time. The skipper of the Gitana Team has also been the fastest of the Vendée Globe from 14:00 GMT yesterday until the same time today, having covered some 478.5 miles at an average speed of 20 knots.
The other good news on this Friday 2 December came from the skies, with a ‘visit’ from a helicopter from the French Navy as the latest of the Gitana fleet was making headway 160 nautical miles to the North-East of the Kerguelen Islands; Sébastien’s first visual contact for some weeks.
Taking what you can
Called up during the Vendée Live this Friday lunchtime, the solo sailor got a chance to discuss the first third of his race with the day’s guest, Mark Turner, CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race (a crewed round the world race with stopovers): “Naturally, it’s good to make up ground on your rivals, but on a personal level the ranking doesn’t really have a great deal of impact today.
The primary aim is to make best use of the weather phenomena as they present themselves, to trim the boat well and to exit the Southern Ocean with a boat that is 100% operational to tackle the climb up the Atlantic using her full potential… The descent of the Atlantic was harsh due to the rhythm rather than the ride. With this latest generation of boats, if you’re not making 20 knots you feel like you’re not making headway! In terms of discomfort, it works out alright in the end as I think you get used to anything. You’re almost able to enjoy yourself at times. That said, we may be deaf by the time we get to the finish…”
The two men know each other very well as they have a shared history in the Vendée Globe. Indeed, in 2008 Mark Turner headed up the company Offshore Challenges, which was managing Sébastien’s sports project at the time.
A unique encounter offshore of the TAAF (French Southern and Antarctic Lands)
On Wednesday evening, on the TF1 TV channel in France, the general public discovered the exceptional images filmed a few hours earlier by the French Navy and a film crew from Nefertiti Productions, who were aboard the frigate FS Nivose and specially dispatched to the middle of the Indian Ocean to capture these unique moments. The two leaders were logically the first to benefit from this incredible device. However, last night, it was the turn of Sébastien Josse, third and back to within 550 miles of the Thomson – Le Cléac’h duo, to have the frigate’s helicopter, a Panther, fly over the boat. It was a rare moment and one that was much appreciated by Sébastien Josse after twenty-seven days at sea in solitude.
“At daybreak this morning, I had the helicopter from the French Navy just 50 metres astern of me! It was rather nice as there’s not a lot of entertainment in the vicinity,” joked the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild. “They stayed with me for around forty minutes or so and we talked about the race and the upcoming strategy… It really was a great moment. I admire the quality of the guy piloting the helicopter as he was able to do exactly what he wanted with it.”
This operation is a major first in the history of the Vendée Globe and it took many months of organisation as well as the mutual support for the project of the French Navy, TF1 and the Vendée Globe. However, the results speak for themselves. These images are truly fascinating given the remote, hostile filming location as well as the fact that they lift the veil on one of the most mysterious elements of offshore racing: the reality of sailing singlehanded in the middle of the Indian Ocean. In that regard, they’re naturally a great success in terms of communication, but it goes far deeper than that as they expand the imagination of hundreds of thousands of people who get a real kick out of following this solo, non-stop, unassisted round the world race on a daily basis.
The Indian bares its teeth
“Everyone plays their race according to the weather situation they have. Right now, I’m just waiting. I missed a beat with the slight damage I suffered and now I’m waiting for things to stall up ahead and then make my comeback… You can’t make up 500 miles just like that by pushing the limits and taking excessive risks solely in a bid to get back in contact. That philosophy doesn’t work on a round the world! Already, we have to focus on getting as far as Cape Horn, getting into a good rhythm and seeing if there are any weather windows on the horizon,” admitted the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild, who we have no doubt will snap up any opportunities that come the way of the latest of the Gitanas.
Ranking on 2 December at 17:00 GMT
1. Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) 14,430.2 miles from the finish
2. Armel Le Cleac’h (Banque Populaire VIII) 18.48 miles behind the leader
3. Sébastien Josse (Edmond de Rothschild) 528.61 miles behind the leader
4. Paul Meilhat (SMA) 1,157.46 miles behind the leader
5. Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ) 1,165.83 miles behind the leader
6. Yann Eliès (Quéguiner Leucémie Espoir) 1,903.64 miles behind the leader
7. Jean-Pierre Dick (St Michel – Virbac) 1,753.4 miles behind the leader