Vendee Globe - around the world in less than 80 days
Still some way out, not surprisingly the forecast for the Vendee Globe finish keeps changing with the evolution of the Azores High ahead of the leaders, but one thing seems certain, barring multiple failures in all of the first four boats, the record for the non-stop singlehanded round the world race will not only be broken, but is likely for the first time to be below 80 days.
On Monday it looked like a 26 January arrival for the first boat or a 77-day finish, but on Tuesday the long range forecast and routing suggested it might be 27 or 28 January.
“I still say 26 January, but it is not possible for anyone to know the weather this far out,” said Denis Horeau, the Vendée Globe Race Director. “ 26 January 26 would be 77 days and that would be significant for two reasons, first of all because of Jules Verne (author of the famous French adventure book Around the World in 80 Days) and because that was what the fastest multihulls were doing just 19 years ago.
“Then, it is incredible because of the previous 84-day record by Michel Desjoyeaux (2008-09). But we have to be careful there because in fact it was 84 days - it was 84 less 40 hours in port [Desjoyeaux returned to port to make repairs after the start]. But 77 days would be remarkable.”
There are four boats likely to break Desjoyeaux's 84 day time and all may even be able to claim that they went around the world alone in 80 days – although Alex Thomson and Hugo Boss would need a fast finish.
“There are four boats and the big difference has been the fleet has been very compact,” Horeau said. “Previously the adventurers were satisfied to make it around the world, now everyone is sailing very fast. Nobody seems to be hurt, fragile or plagued by problems and big dangers on board. It’s even different to the last edition because we had slow boats and people were sick.”
The last skipper in 2008-9 finished more than 42 days after Desjoyeaux. In 2004-05 the gap was 38 days; in 2000-01, 64 days; in 1996-97, 34 days; in 1992-93, 43; and in 1989-90, 53 days. This time Alessandro Di Benedetto on Team Plastique should finish within 20 days of the winner.
There are places the race could have been faster – not least in the first two weeks, when they did not break the record to the Equator, the only major stage not rewritten by this race [Jean Le Cam’s 10 days 11 hours and 28 minutes record to the Equator from the 2004-05 race still stands). But Horeau does not the think the positioning of the ice gates has slowed them down this time.
“In 2008 we kept them up in the Pacific (because of icebergs) and this time we did it in the Indian Ocean,” Horeau said.