Sonntag, 24.01.2021 03:01 Uhr

A place where the closest people are the astronauts

Verantwortlicher Autor: Jochen Raffelberg Les Sables d'Olonne (France), 06.01.2021, 13:33 Uhr
Presse-Ressort von: Jochen Raffelberg Bericht 2648x gelesen

Les Sables d'Olonne (France) [ENA] The only one in over a month he met was a fishing boat at the beginning of the Indian Ocean. And when he spoke to the Cape Horn lighthouse keeper he was overjoyed. In between, solo skipper Charlie Dalin radioed, he forgot about life before the Southern Ocean. “The land no longer existed. You are in an endless world of water. It is unique in the world to be in a place where the closest people are the astronauts.”

The second placed French VendeeGlobe sailor told his home team about the jumble of feelings to be in the middle of nowhere, far from any civilization. After leaving the inhospitable Southern Pacific and entering his Atlantic home straight he described the stark contrast like when he spoke with the lighthouse keeper, seeing a British RAF plane flying over him, or watching the maritime traffic reappearing. The 36-year old sailor from Port-La-Forêt likened his experience to the post-apocalyptic action film Waterworld. “I feel like I'm coming back from a water world where the land was a fantasy. I come back from another planet. I've been through things that I wouldn't have experienced anywhere else, obviously that will have an influence on me."

On days 59 and 60 of their epic journey around the globe and after passing the hostile southern tip of South America, the third cape to circumnavigate in the race, the weather had eased allowing the leading flotilla to port and starboard of the Falkland Islands to rest a little and re-energize. According to a race bulletin they were climbing north up the South Atlantic in “beautiful sunshine, in a moderate breeze.” But Thomas Ruyant Wednesday morning, in third place in a more westerly position, was the clear winner, the release said, in terms of miles as the skipper of LinkedOut was quicker while Yannick Bestaven (Maître Coq IV) and Charlie Dalin (Apivia) had been struggling in lighter airs.

At the same time as Bestaven was lapping up the sunshine, enjoying the benefits of leading the fleet into escalating temperatures, 750 nautical miles behind Germany’s Boris Herrmann was wrestling with some of the toughest moments of his race on SeaExplorer - Yacht Club de Monaco. At some 150 miles from his fourth racing rounding of the Cape, Herrmann tore the leech of his mainsail and so had to sail all the way past the horn only under his J3 small headsail, dropping to be 10th at the Cape, the passage of which, he reported later, he hardly noticed in the 40-45 knots winds. Exhausted after the marathon repair, Herrmann reported late yesterday the he was happy to have got around the Horn but he had hardly noticed it.

“I was just fully focused on repairing my mainsail. South of Cape Horn at 140 miles…I knew there was quite a bit of wind coming, 45-50 and I was going down through the sequence J3 and two reefs and was about to take the third reef and the leech of the sail caught the shrouds,” he radioed according to race organizers. Luckily he had been able to repair it. “It was complicated…I had to dry and clean two layers…in 45 knots of wind, it was pretty hairy on deck… And now it is finally great to be in the Atlantic, sunshine, lighter winds and blue skies. And I have a mainsail up and that is just great.” Franco-German Isabelle Joschke passed Cape Horn 90 minutes after colleague Herrmann, who had ferried climate activist Greta Thunberg to New York.

While VendeeGlobe’s top group was 6,000 miles (11,000 km) from home last placed Sebastien Destremau (Merci) had more than double as many miles ahead of him to finish the race. His present position was given as between the Antarctic Zone and Australia; he trailed the leader by 7,000 miles, and his distance to the second last competitor Ari Huusela, a Finnair pilot, exceeded 1,500 miles. Samantha Davies in her yacht Initiatives-Coeur was sailing close by but out of competition since she retired 05 December.

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