“Oh shit, no, not Nicolas, not the mast”. Bertrand de Broc, who learns the news from us, is sorry for his colleague and opponent in many races Nicolas Troussel, whose mast collapsed in the early morning of Monday November 16, causing the first retirement of this ninth Vendée Globe .
“He was sailing well, on a very good boat. Unlike foils and other appendages under the hull, it wasn’t really that point (the mast, Editor’s note) that gave the guys concern. These masts are all identical, they are solid and tested ”, underlines the sailor who has written some of the most beautiful pages of the Vendée Globe. Including the famous episode called “stitches” in 1992, when he sewn up his tongue alone thanks to the remote advice of the race doctor.
“First or last to give up, it doesn’t change anything”
In 2016, Bertrand de Broc had an honor he would have gone well without: being the first to quit, thirteen days after the start. “Being the first or the last to give up, frankly that doesn’t change anything, you think about it at the time and after that it doesn’t matter anymore as you see the friends following in the galley. There, I think that Nicolas must above all think about putting the boat in safety and making decisions for the immediate future. So far in the Atlantic, it will not be easy to find a base ”, continues the sailor who foresees further abandonments.
Of course, the question of a new start for Jérémie Beyou, who returned to Les Sables d’Olonne to repair, will be decided this Monday, November 16 in the afternoon. “Even if he leaves again, the race is over for him, now the others will accelerate and we will see breakage in the South after the Cape of Good Hope, continues Bertrand de Broc. The foilers will have to pull on the machine to get ahead and they will be crosswind with heavy seas ”.
“Weather like a good sister”
So far this ninth edition of the Vendée Globe has been rather calm. Contrary to the oracles of many observers who predicted breakage very quickly after the start, in particular on the latest generation foilers.
King Jean himself, the earthy Jean Le Cam, who led the race for a long time, had announced trouble to his fellow foilers much earlier “In 2016, we did not have to drop out in the first week and the weather was pretty good”, he had declared.
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“Jean is not wrong, and I think that the weather conditions in 2020 are not that much more violent than those in 2016. There was a real low pressure, it is true, but the boats were upwind (wind from face), complete Bertrand de Broc. It’s hard for the sailors, who are tired, less for the boats, whose structures do not suffer too much in these conditions. In the South, it will be something else, even if the boats are more and more solid, contrary to what we hear everywhere ”.
Armel Le Cléac’h’s boat, winner of the last edition, was already equipped with foils and the eighth Vendée Globe had been most lenient, with 18 boats at the finish for 29 starters, for a return rate of 62 %. Much above the average observed during the first eight editions: 57%.
While we expect a high breakage rate on the fastest boats in the race, they only represent a third of the fleet. The others are old boats, tried and tested, in the hands of sailors who have no other ambitions than to save their mounts to return safely.