Day 18: The shape of things to come
BT TEAM ELLEN
"I like where I am right now, but I won't say more on the matter", said a cheerful Sébastien Josse this morning during the official Vendée Globe radio chat. Just a little further east than Loïck Peyron, BT's skipper commented: "10 miles of lateral gap is really not a lot, so I wouldn't make a big deal out of it, but let's just say that this position suits me well."
It's a blatant fact, after the drag race South, the tactical battle is now on and strategies will be filed under "classified info, do not disclose". Ultimately, the leading pack is now fighting over the conquest of the Southern Ocean entrance, and negotiating the Saint Helena High Pressure System is a compulsory passage, not an end in itself. "We're heading South for the moment, and of course we'll have to go around the high, where everyone will want to get as close as possible to its centre in order to shorten the route… But some of us might end up burning their wings!"
The Icarus reference at least indicates that Sébastien is perfectly aware of the risks at stake, and it would be quite surprising to see him indulge in an extreme option, considering the enviable position he is in at this crucial stage in the race. Rested despite the harsh sea conditions encountered during the past two days, Sébastien has managed to get closer and closer to the leader, keeping his boat speed up in a hostile configuration. "The seas were chaotic, it was hard to be inside and thrown around randomly. Today, it's very different, fortunately, a much smoother ride. And it should be like that for at least an extra couple of days."
News from the fleet
Having reached Recife and assessed the damage to his rigging, Jérémie Beyou had no other choice but to throw in the towel this morning. He officially notified the Race Committee of his withdrawal. "The sea really did its work on the rigging, which had already been damaged. It would seem impossible to see her sailing again quickly and safely. The hardest part was when I discovered the damage three days ago: being forced to retire in a contest where I was doing well breaks my heart."