Vendee Globe Finish.

I hope there is a reception for Sam and Isobelle if only to show solidarity to the skippers and for the Vendee Globe itself.
I'm sure there will be. The fan base has had that influence on coverage. They want to follow competitors even if they have retired. After all it is still a major achievement, just not the full VG unsupported circumnavigation. I don't know how many retirees have continued their circumnavigation in the past.
 
Vendee Globe - Manu Cousin press conference. Ari Huusela video.

First let's catch up with Ari Huusela, as his is the more complicated weather situation. He says he is fine and the boat is fine. The forecasts have been disappointing him. It's easy to forget that asides from three months around the World, several sailors also had long journeys to the start. In Ari's case he left Finland six months ago. That really puts three months in to perspective. Speed is slow and there is a wide windless area ahead but he says he will try to stay calm and focus on he sailing rather than the finish.


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As mentioned in an earlier post, the winds were teasing him and what you see above is moving away faster than he can sail. To understand his present course, let's apply the +72 hour wind forecast. As I said previously, if he stayed where he was, it looked like an opportunity would arrive in three days. However, there is a caveat! Although the winds are blowing Westwards now, an Eastwards vs Westwards split, a bit like a T junction, is also moving Westwards. Although he is slowly sailing North Eastwards, which may seem counter-intuitive, he is potentially reducing the time to intercept the winds and hopefully to engage them while they are still blowing Westwards. I hope that makes sense when looking at the map below.
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Things to look forward to (fingers crossed):
  • Ari getting out of the calms and in to the winds between Monday and Tuesday?
  • The arrival of Isabelle Joschke and Sam Davies on Tuesday?
  • Arrival of Alexia Barrier on Wednesday?
We can still watch out for news from Sebasien Destremau now and then. Once he is back at sea it will take him something like six weeks, unless he does some sightseeing on the way. I think we will preface posts about him with something like Sebastien Destremau Merci Circumnavigation

Rankings:
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Press Conference Starts at + 4m 5s
Highlights transcripted in VG article below. There is something about the way Manu describes the South Atlantic, being glad to get there, being glad to leave, then wanting to go back, that seems reminiscent of Antarctic explorers.


Manu Cousin ' I am so proud to be part of this family'​

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Source: News - Manu Cousin ' I am so proud to be part of this family' - Vendée Globe - En
 
Vendee Globe - Sunday position checks

Isabellee Joschke is now North of the Azores. Sam Davies is around 160 nm South of her. Alexia Barrier is currently less than two days behind Isabelle. It looks like Ari Huusela was either adrift or changed course following a forecast update. The good news is that he is West of that t junction, Eastwards/Westwards spilt in the winds I referred to yesterday. The +30 wind overlay shows potential contact with the Westward winds but obviously doesn't take in to account his own speed and direction. Monday should be interesting.
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Rankings:
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Any thoughts on whether Isabelle and Sam will meet up close to the finish line and sail in together or is it 'just get this thing over with' at this point?

If I was leading in this situation, as if I would even make it to the start line to begin the VG, my preference would be meet up and enjoy the reception(?) together but I can also understand why they would just want to get it over with.
 
Any thoughts on whether Isabelle and Sam will meet up close to the finish line and sail in together or is it 'just get this thing over with' at this point?

If I was leading in this situation, as if I would even make it to the start line to begin the VG, my preference would be meet up and enjoy the reception(?) together but I can also understand why they would just want to get it over with.
Sailing together in this context seems to have been within 100 to 250 nm. Close enough to be reachable in case of abandonment but far enough for relative freedom. It doesn't matter who arrives first or even if they arrive together but it may simplify logistics if they are a few hours apart. Isabelle was in race mode most recently before the keel failure. Sam had hoped to engage race mode in the Atlantic but conditions just weren't there to allow that.

This was a big blow for Isabelle for sure, to be so far up the rankings. She was almost certain to get a place in the top ten before the keel failure forced her in to safety mode. I get the impression though that she will put this behind her and build on the performance she realised and in the completion of the circumnavigation.

I think it has been tougher on Sam in that, like Alex Thomson she was so far ahead early on before being forced to retire from the race. Everyone recognised that continuing after repairs, outside of the competition, was a tough thing to do psychologically and she definitely has found that much harder than racing. While Alex has gone through the massive downer of being forced out of the race, he has had some recovery time and the team already started analysing the repaired boats characteristics for forthcoming modifications and preparation for 2024-5. Sam has the following to be happy about and take consolation from:
  • Performance in race mode as far as Cape of Good Hope.
  • Psychological strength and determination to continue solo circumnavigation.
  • More young lives saved through her fund raising circumnavigation.
  • Completion of the race by her partner Romain Attanasio.
  • Completion of her circumnavigation (pending but hopefully by Tuesday).
In spite of this it will take time to recover physically and psychologically but she needs to put aside the what ifs, as what is done is done. Look at what happened to Kevin. She has some fantastic colleagues in this small fraternity, whether they race against each other or not. I hope Sam seeks and gets the support she needs to put everything in perspective and start afresh.
 
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Vendee Gobe - Alexia Barrier injury - In pain but seeing it through to the finish

Isabelle ETA Tuesday? Sam Davies Wednesday?

A few days ago (16th February) we had two videos from Alexia. It seemed that she had fallen and injured herself between the two videos. She explains her situation in this VG article:

Sore but determined Alexia Barrier struggling with back injury​

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News - Sore but determined Alexia Barrier struggling with back injury - Vendée Globe - En

Imagine a back injury while the boat is slamming. You can listen to Alexia's audio chat with Andi Robertson this afternoon here or the Sounds from the Ocean podcast which includes it (embedded link further down post).

Here is Alexia's video from Friday. I think you can tell she was in pain as she panned the camera. Sorry no decent translation for this one but hopefully you can get the idea. Having to listen to the same audio book over and over sounds tedious but it's a valid distraction technique.


Now lets find out how Ari Huusela has been getting on with his mission to escape the band of high pressure. He says he hopes to be clear of it in 24 hours. The video was posted around 6 hours ago, so around 1400, meaning he hopes to be clear by 1400 Monday. I think that coincides with our expectations too.

Again, you can listen to his audio chat with Andi Robertson this afternoon here or in the Sounds from the Ocean podcast which includes it (embedded link further down post)

Now here are the official highlights for Sunday. This includes Ari's video but also a virtual representation of the boat. I think we can expect more of this in 2024-5. They also show Manuel Cousin's celebratory mood after his arrival on Saturday. (ETA link which was missing from this post on Sunday)


Sunday's Sounds from the Ocean can be found on the audios page but here is an embedded link for convenience. As well as the interviews with Alexia and Ari it also includes a translated message from Isabelle Joschke. She says conditions have not been easy with strong North Westerly winds, rough seas, squalls and 6 m waves. She is resting for the final push. Isabelle communicates regularly with Sam who is going slower and has fewer sail options now. Andi says they don't need to be so close together as they approach the coast and he expects Isabelle to be about a day ahead of Sam at the finish.

Andi explains matters between audio clips which helps:

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Looking ahead to winds on Monday:
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Rankings:
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Vendee Globe - Latest ETA updates. Isabelle Joschke making 20 kts!

Here are the latest ETAs from VG. However I don't know how and when they made these estimates. Isabelle Joschke is riding the stormy winds and by the look of it using her foils to great effect. Even if she averages 17 kts, if conditions stay the same she could make 400 nm by 1100 on Tuesday morning. That would take her in to the bay of Biscay, where it looks like winds will weaken from the South.

Sam Davies has just over 10 kts in the lighter winds South of Isabelle. She doesn't have the sail options or the winds to keep up and will inevitably be slower.

Alexia has been averaging over 9 kts, not as fast as she is capable of but less harsh on the back injury. She is not in a hurry but will be looking forward to getting ashore and getting her back checked and some treatment.

Slow going for Ari huusela but relief is just a few hours away as the high pressure band moves Southwards, bringing welcome winds and in the right direction.

The first map is without wind overlays, to make it easier to see Isabelle and Sam's boats.
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Now with the wind overlay.
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Next finishes​

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Source: News - Next finishes - Vendée Globe - En
 
Vendee Globe - Ari Huusela escapes Doldrums.

Ari Huusela has over 9 kts now and a definite route Northwards to get in to the system that should help him Westwards. :thumright: Alexia Barrier has been averaging over 11 kts over the past 4 Hrs.

Sam Davies isn't so fast because asides from the limited sail choice and lack of wind instruments, she says her mast has a weakness and she is trying to protect it.* Contrary to what I wrongly assumed, she says she got over the matter of being out of the race some time ago and is quite happy right now, other than "delivery mode" dragging on a bit. She can't wait to get back out in her boat in race mode. This was from reading the article, your reading of it may differ. *In the video below she says she is trying to sail as fast as she can... Also the keel is straight down, which perhaps implies that the repair was a compromise?

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Rankings as of 2100:
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VG's summary article explains some of the mechanics behind Biscay storms:

Sting in the Tale?​


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Source: News - Sting in the Tale? - Vendée Globe - En

Today's highlights with Ari Huusela and Sam Davies:

Longer version of Ari's video:
 
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Vendee Globe - Latest estimates

Isabelle Joschke has slowed to 10.6 kts and has around 270 nm to the finish so it is looking like an early Wednesday finish for her. Sam Davies has picked up speed a bit, with a spot speed of 14.3 kts and perhaps 620 nm to go. A late Thursday finish seems likely. Ari Huusela is only making 8 kts because although he escaped the calms, he found himself in oppositional winds (the wrong side of the T junction). Yesterday Ari said his navigation software was predicting arrival on 5th March.

Now lets look at the official estimates:

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Rankings:
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Vendee Globe - VG expects Isabelle to arrive around midday Wednesday.

We have some clarification from the VG article further down this post about the finish for Isabelle and Sam.
There will be no finish line for them as they are outside of the race proper. However, you will be pleased to learn that they will receive a welcome as they sail up the channel and they will be given press conferences.
I suspected and hoped that this might be the case but it's great to have it confirmed. Excellent news. :thumright:

Alexia hopefully finishes on Sunday, so she still needs to clench her teeth and avoid jarring her injury as best she can. She did say recently that she would like to be able to lift the champagne depending on her injury. Andi said they could help her with it.

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Isabelle Joschke 13.4 kts ~130 nm?
Sam Davies 11.9 kts ~460 nm?
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Instead of pasting the whole rankings table, here are the entries for Alexia and Ari.
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Isabelle Joschke expected in Les Sables d'Olonne Around Midday Wednesday​

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News - Isabelle Joschke expected in Les Sables d'Olonne Around Midday Wednesday - Vendée Globe - En

Alain Gautier, Isabelle's Project Director, talks about her race so far. He won the 1992-3 Vendee Globe.

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Link to full article or you can listen to the podcast below. News - Alain Gautier:

Ari was fully kitted for rough weather on Tuesday. It makes a change from Doldrum like calms but he's not enjoying this so much.

The highlights include some of his video, so if you watch that skip to +42 s for Isabelle's video! I'm looking forward to her competing in 2024-5. You can see she is in her element.

Here is Andy Robertson's Voices from The Ocean podcast for Tuesday 23rd February. Play in the embedded player or use your own player with the mp3 file. He speaks with Alain Gautier and has a great chat with Ari Huusela. Lots of insights and background. Thanks to Andi for doing these podcasts.
https://www.vendeeglobe.org/data/medias/06/13/61321.mp3
 
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Vendee Globe - Live ascent of the channel Isabelle Joschke

Link to feed which should become live or you can play it from the start later. ETA live now. A reminder that there is no finish line for the retirees but they are being welcomed back and will have press conferences. Sam Davies is now in the Bay of Biscay and should finish tomorrow (Thursday).
 
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Vendee Globe - More light winds for Alexia and Ari

Sam Davies entered Biscay in time to avoid the high pressure that moved in behind her and which has slowed down Alexia Barrier. Not long in the winds, Ari Huusela now has a high pressure area in front of him. Both systems are due to move Eastwards. This will mean Alexia will be sailing upwind. The way this is developing Ari may choose to sail to the North of the Azores, downwind, before heading East. The expression "it's not all plain sailing" comes to mind.
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Isabelle Joschke (MACSF) has completed her round-the-world outside the race

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https://www.vendeeglobe.org/en/news/22321/isabelle-joschke-macsf-has-completed-her-round-the-world-outside-the-race
 
Vendee Globe - Isabelle Joschke press conference. Sam Davies approaches 200 nm radius.

As Sam Davies enters the 200 nm radius, her position plot will update every 30 minutes. Ahead lies a pesky band of light air. Her speed is 7.5 kts now but seems unlikely to improve much before midday Thursday. If things go as forecast it looks like arrival in the dark, perhaps after 2100 but possibly early Friday morning. The actual passage will most likely be done on Friday morning and if she has had some sleep aboard, the press conference on the Friday afternoon?

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Alexia Barrier has less than 600 nm to the finish. She has been averaging over 9 kts in 13 kt winds and 5m waves. It looks like her route may be closer to the coast to stay in the winds, sweeping around the Finisterre DST and in to the Bay on Thursday. I think the estimate had been for her to arrive on Sunday. Here is a translation from a Tweet from Alexia earlier in the afternoon.

"The North West arrived with a beautiful rainbow. A little brutal transition the wind went from 5 to 25 knots suddenly. I tell myself that it makes me move faster towards the finish. Ready to attack the continuation: the close! "

ETA - In her audio podcast with Andi, Alexia says she is still in some pain but manages it by taking her time. She will arrange her routing from Cape Finisterre to involve as few tacks as possible, maybe one to three, otherwise it would be too painful.

Ari Huusela was estimating arriving 5th March. He had a bad 24 hours from which he is still tired. He says it will take a couple of days to recover from that. There is a little slamming of the boat now but it is nothing like it was. Here is his video.


Just look at this map! Asides from the fact we are suddenly tracking only three boats, just look at those high pressure systems getting in the way again.
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It was great that Jean Le Cam was waiting to congratulate Isabelle Joschke. She has really impressed all with her first circumnavigation. Here is her press conference, which starts at +7m 40s ETA, at the end of the conference, Isabelle moves back in front of the camera to dance with Jean Le cam by the look of it.


The partial transcript is here: News - Isabelle Joschke

No Sounds from the Ocean on arrival days but the usual podcasts are here, including a very tired Ari Huusela and Isabelle Joschke. Audios - Vendée Globe - En
 
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