Vendee Globe Finish.

Alexia Barrier said she wanted to limit the number of tacks to limit the pain she is in. This is her second today. She has just over 9 kts in 2 m waves and has around 220 nm to go. She could arrive late Saturday night or early Sunday morning.
Once she crosses the virtual finish line, will she hand over the boat for someone else to park while she heads for hospital or will she consider it a matter of honour to park it herself?
 
Once she crosses the virtual finish line, will she hand over the boat for someone else to park while she heads for hospital or will she consider it a matter of honour to park it herself?
Teams normally take over and deal with the sails and the passage up the channel. She is unlikely to be jumping around as she possibly would want to and might struggle with two flares rather than one. Alexia wants to hold the bottle of champagne if she can. Andi Robertson said they could help with that, so it may be a joint effort, at least part of the time. Once the quayside questions are over, I expect she will get assistance ashore. The press conference can wait unless Alexia decides to get it out of the way on Sunday afternoon.
 
Vendee Globe - Latest ETAs

The VG site seems to be struggling this morning. It's not usually sluggish, even on a Saturday.
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No significant change in winds expected for the last 24 hours and 140 nm of Alexia's voyage. She has 9.6 kts in 14+ kts of wind and 4 m waves. Ari has a more direct route to Biscay now. I wonder if he should be going further North before the high pressure comes in again from the South? He has 11 kts in 14+ kt winds with 3 m waves and 1000 nm to go.
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I would have put two lines from the rankings here but the page wasn't loading up this morning.
 
Vendee Globe - Alexia Barrier updates, protocol, medical etc

There are three articles from VG. From these we now have some clarification of what to expect. It is usual that after crossing the line the team takes over and officials check the engine and safety equipment seals. At some point, I presume on the boat, Alexia will have breakfast of pizza and champagne. This is a great idea in case lifting the champagne at the reception is too much.

I don't expect her to hold two flares but lets wait and see. On berthing up at the quayside, she has to disembark. Alexia was offered a wheelchair but says she can walk. She says she might use a stick. The press conference they refer to is the one that results in the "first words" articles rather than the full press conference, which I expect will be pending X-Ray and treatment. We have all week as Ari isn't due to arrive until Saturday or Sunday. After this press huddle she will go directly for assessment.

The link to source is in the titles this time.

1. Alexia Barrier, Champagne and Pizza for Breakfast on Arrival

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2. Doctor, Doctor (Is someone a UFO fan?)

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3. Alexia Barrier On Final Approach, Ari Huusela At The Azores

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Alexia displays her tattoo or one of them. Perhaps this is to show where the injury is. My display isn't that great. Is that bruising on the lower back, right hand side?

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From what Ari was saying it sounds like he is going to make use of the light conditions to replay his adventure in his mind and maybe release emotions so that he can let go of them and enjoy the last miles.
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Hopefully we will pick this up again in the morning.
 
Vendee Globe - Here comes Alexia for a breakfast finish.

Alexia has slowed from 11 to 8 kts, with 40 nm to go which suggests that she could cross the finish line around 0730 UTC / GMT. Winds are 18 kts ENE and waves are 3 m.

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Lets zoom in without the wind overlay.
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Now lets have a look at the traffic. Alexia's yacht does not show up here as it's out of terrestrial range. Some of the plots are old but the majority are fishing vessels using satellite AIS.
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Vendee Globe - Alexia Barrier finishes 24th at 0623 GMT - VG article and first words

Well done Alexia. :thumright: She managed to beat the ETA, access the channel and give her proper press conference. Maybe some adrenaline helped her through that, the exceitement of finishing the race.

'Fighting Spirit' Alexia Barrier Finishes 24th in the Vendée Globe on TSE - 4myplanet​

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News - 'Fighting Spirit' Alexia Barrier Finishes 24th in the Vendée Globe on TSE - 4myplanet - Vendée Globe - En

First words of Alexia Barrier (TSE 4 MyPlanet) "Nothing Is Impossible"​

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What a fantastic attitude.
 
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Vendee Globe

It was great that Alexia was able to walk with a stick to the VG HQ. I had speculated that she might have breakfast aboard before going for assessment and treatment but she was mobile enough and coping with the pain to be able to have breakfast at the VG HQ then do the press conference proper. There is a longer video in French which includes the press conference but I expect an English version sometime this afternoon.

Ari Huusela was averaging over 11 kts in the past 24 hours. At 13:30 GMT his spot speed was 10.4 kts in 16 kt winds and 3m waves. His distance from the finish was just under 840 nm and yet VG and Ari were estimating that he will arrive next Saturday. [Now revised to Friday 1500 UTC]

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Lets look at the forecast winds.

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As we progress through to Wednesday you can see that there are dilemmas and short lived opportunities. One of Ari's routing options was he said to sail far North, towards England. The following images are just one model output of several he has access to. Which will be correct? In any case, his plan is safety first so he will take his time. It is just as well that he is so patient.
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Here is the latest ranking table.
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Here is a recap of Alexia's finish:
 
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Vendee Globe - Alexia Barrier press conference video in French

In the absence of an English version so far, I'll put his here for now. You can try the auto translate on You Tube or watch the video as is and refer to the transcript posted further up.

Press conference starts at +1:58:50
Actually it starts at +2:01:25. Alexia arrives promptly but is kept waiting, then there is a chair swap so she can sit higher up and maybe more comfortable.

 
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I agree with his statement "I feel alone", it must feel weird to be the last boat out there so close but yet so far away from the finish.
 
I agree with his statement "I feel alone", it must feel weird to be the last boat out there so close but yet so far away from the finish.
The last miles can either come quickly or they can drag out. Anticipation vs frustration. At least he has things to do on the boat and of course there are still contacts via satellite and Whatsapp. I get the impression that the Azores was more than a strategic sail past but also some source of comfort ie land and humanity. If so he isn't the only one in this edition to feel that. There is no other competitor out there to study for verification of GRIB files he refers to, so that may affect his certainty of conditions and routing. There is nobody within easy sailing distance either - by which I mean other IMOCA yachts. Other boats is another matter. The following is from Vessel Finder. Ari's boat not shown but almost all of these vessels are enabled with GMDSS.

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He would have felt that isolation even more had he been stuck in the Doldrums longer. The duration is telling.
Many would struggle with 80 days, never mind 110 or more. When he returns to shore there will be a welcome but then social distancing. That is a strange situation to return to. I think he has been quite candid in that there are no technical or physical health issues and he has plenty of food. The mental game is hard though.
 
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Vendee Globe - Little wind for Ari Huusela. Forecast error. GRIB files. Radar reflectors and transponders.

As he expected Ari is in a high pressure area with very light winds. Here he has to use every trick he can to capture the slightest puff of wind that might help carry him gradually Eastwards. However it is dark and those winds are so light that perhaps it's as well to wait until morning. For now perhaps he can get some much needed rest, leaving his Radar and AIS on watch.

How good a sleep can you get though, knowing that there are boats out there with their AIS turned off? At least on the bridge of a ship there is usually a regular watch kept. At least there should be. What about those fishing boats? Sleepy after a busy night, heavy meal? Siesta? This isn't the North Sea after all...
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Terrestrial AIS records show Ari's boat "Stark" off of West Africa. That was a long time ago, so I can't easily show his position with respect to other traffic but the satellite AIS will be visible to other vessels. As well as a radar, IMOCA yachts carry a radar reflector and a radar transponder (explanatory videos below) to increase their visibility to other vessels. These are mounted at least 5m above the water line. For those interested, all manner of safety stipulations and mandatory equipment are listed in the class rules.

Back to the weather. There is a forecast anomaly for 0900 Tuesday which is absolute nonsense. Ignore it. Perhaps they will spot it in the morning.
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I'm not going to paste a load of maps here as the situation is a bit patchy and subject to revision. Ideally we would look at several weather models but this is what we have for now. There are a lot of opportunities to be in weak or oppositional winds over coming days. That's frustrating. Maybe there is an opportunity around midday. The winds won't be strong but may allow some progress to be made.

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If anyone is interested in these GRIB files and would like to have a look at them, you can get both open GRIB files and software to read them with from OpenGribs - Home OpenGribs - Gribs

Manoeuvring in fickle winds in a busy part of the sea requires care and communication with other boats. Using the engine is not an option unless in an emergency and that would mean forfeiting the race.

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The following videos do not describe the exact equipment used on IMOCA yachts but are intended to give an idea of the general principles.


 
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