The amazing Vendee Globe 2016/2017 is approaching fast to the finish line in Les Sables d’Olonne… One week, more or less…, to go towards an almost probable new race record established by a new race winner… Yes, but who will be?: the french Jackal Armel Le Cleac’h or the british ironman Alex Thomson? FRA vs GBR… funny but hard to call with a no established North Atlantic weather window… Armel held a 99nm lead at the 12:00 CET (January 10) sked.
Ian Walker, a double Olympic medallist and Volvo Ocean Race winner, is one of the really well respected professional sailors worldwide. He gave his commentary at the Vendee Globe Live Show yesterday:
“With the pair apparently breaking free of the grasp of the Doldrums today, Ian Walker, who was recently made an MBE for services to sailing, said what happens in the coming few hours could prove critical in the sprint to the finish in Les Sables d’Olonne, France. “Alex has had a great few days, there’s no denying that,” Walker told the Vendée Globe Live show today. “He’s had a much better passage through the Doldrums and if he can stay within 100 miles of Armel then he’s within half a day’s sailing, and there’s still a long way to go. The next six or twelve hours is quite important because if Alex isn’t quite out of the Doldrums and Armel is able to double his lead, and it was just a stretching of the elastic that we’ve just seen, then that won’t be good news for Alex. But while Alex will make a few losses now I don’t think he should haemorrhage too many miles before they’re back on an even keel.”
While admitting Le Cléac’h is the favourite to win, Walker said there were plenty of variables which could effect the overall outcome of this eighth edition of the Vendée Globe. The double Olympic silver medallist added: “What we don’t know is what state both their boats are in – do they have all their sails still available, what damage do they have? It looks like Alex will be on starboard tack for most of the trip home and we saw earlier in the race he had excellent boat speed against the other competitors, but we don’t know how much Armel has been holding back. What we do know is that we’ve got a fantastic race on our hands.” For his part Thomson appeared upbeat today after latching on to an unforeseen but welcome breeze. “There’s been some wind that wasn’t expected and I’m currently going quite fast although I’m on port tack,” he reported. “Hopefully this breeze will last for a while but there’s definitely going to be a slow down before we get the north-easterly breeze after the Doldrums. It’s not all plain sailing at the moment.”