Bestaven extends Vendee Globe lead with Cape Horn in sight

Paris (AFP) –


Yannick Bestaven powered his Maitre Coq yacht over 452 nautical miles (837km) in 24 hours as the Vendee Globe leader neared Cape Horn and a welcome return to the Atlantic Ocean.

After 53 days at sea, the Frenchman admitted he couldn't wait to leave the rough swells of the southern oceans behind him, confident that his vessel was in top shape for the final push of the epic solo around-the-world ocean race.

"Fifty-three days at sea puts a bit of a strain on you physically and mentally," Bestaven said. "I've never spent this much time at sea: it's starting to be a lot of days, even if I don't see the days go by.

"For sure I can't wait to get out of here to have a little more calm and balance. We have to take into account that we have had some unusually bad weather in the Southern Oceans and it took us a long time to cross them.

"It's time for it to stop and go back to more temperate latitudes: dry out the boat and myself to have some energy to attack the last stretch in good shape."

Bestaven added that it was "nice to be covering the miles", but said he would be eyeing a further cushion over the chasing pack ahead of the slower climb back north up the Atlantic.

Bestaven is due to pass Cape Horn this weekend, chased by Charlie Dalin, who himself covered 417 nautical miles over the last 24 hours in his Apivia yacht.

Unlike the chasing peloton, the leading pair has managed to stay in the powerful north/northwesterly flow towards the Cape, the southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago of southern Chile which marks where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet.

Leading race standings as of 0400 GMT, January 1

1. Yannick Bestaven (FRA/Maitre Coq IV) 7,664.4 nautical miles from finish, 2. Charlie Dalin (FRA/Apivia) at 141.5nm, 3. Thomas Ruyant (FRA/LinkedOut) 401.8, 4. Damien Seguin (FRA/Groupe Apicil) 497.4, 5. Boris Herrmann (GER/Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco) 595.7, 6. Benjamin Dutreux (FRA/OMIA-Water Family) 606.9, 7. Jean Le Cam (FRA/Yes we Cam!) 609.5, 8. Isabelle Joschke (GER/MACSF) 616.0, 9. Maxime Sorel (FRA/V And B Mayenne) 652.6, 10. Louis Burton (FRA/Bureau Vallee 2) 691.8