Over the past few weeks, life has not been easy for Sébastien Destremau. Since Friday he has been the only competitor still racing in the eighth Vendée Globe. After 118 days of racing, food is running low and Sébastien has had to ration his supplies. He was slowed in a number of calm zones. He had uncomfortable conditions slamming upwind or facing a very heavy swell. Now with less than a week to go to the finish, Sébastien Destremau is in a 35-knot SW’ly flow, which is pushing him along at high speeds. Very high speeds for his venerable old boat launched back in 1998.
The final part of the Vendée Globe has not always been the easiest this year. After the Southern Ocean storms and the upwind sailing off South America, the Equator is often seen as the mark indicating that the finish is within sight. However, in this edition of the non-stop solo round the world race, many skippers have had to take a very long way around the Azores high pushing back their finish as they clock up extra miles.
Others like Pieter Heerema last week have paused to wait for the Atlantic storms to go by, while others have been slowed to frustratingly low speeds in the Bay of Biscay where unusually light NE’ly winds have been common this winter. But for Sébastien Destremau, the situation is looking relatively positive for the final few days of racing.
Currently sailing in strong winds at the latitude of Vigo in downwind conditions, TechnoFirst-faceOcean is approaching her best performance of the round the world voyage. This morning sailing at over 13 knots, Destremau has finally been making very good speeds towards the finish. Late yesterday evening, the skipper adopted a more easterly course to head towards the Bay of Biscay after passsing to the west of Flores (Azores) yesterday afternoon.
Now to the North of the archipelago, there is still a heavy swell (5-7m). These conditions are expected to last throughout the day with the wind veering to the NW this evening. During the night Destremau will have to cross a transition zone with much lighter winds and a shift to the SE, but this is not expected to last long and by tomorrow afternoon, he should be back in Sw’ly winds.
It looks like downwind sailing in manageable winds until Thursday when TechnoFirst-faceOcean is truly on the final straight towards Les Sables d’Olonne. In lighter conditions, speeds may drop, but there is still some uncertainty about by how much. Current routing still indicates a finish on Friday for the final skipper in the 2016-2017 Vendée Globe.