Dalin takes lead as Vendee Globe winds up for thrilling finish

Paris (AFP) –


The solo round-the-world Vendee Globe is heading for an exciting finish with new leader Charlie Dalin in Apivia just four nautical miles ahead of previous leader Yannick Bestaven on Tuesday with another six boats within 100nm.

Dalin overtook Bestaven, who had led in Maitre Coq IV for over a month and was over 400nm in front last week, on Monday evening but soon ran into the lack of wind that had becalmed his rival over the last four days.

Damien Seguin in Groupe Apicil and Thomas Ruyant's LinkedOut are just 19nm off the lead with Louis Burton (Bureau Vallee) another 6nm back.

They are followed by the German skipper Boris Herrmann, Benjamin Dutreux and the Italian Giancarlo Pedote who is only 95nm off the lead.

The leading group is heading north in the Atlantic, passing Rio de Janeiro in light winds that are limiting their progress.

Dalin, who last led briefly on Christmas Day, is further from the coast where there is more wind, about 100 miles to the east of Bestaven.

"This is a magical moment on this Vendee Globe for me," said Dalin on Tuesday morning after reclaiming the lead.

"If you had told me four days ago when I was 450 miles behind I would have taken the lead again I would not have believed you.

"I am happy to be back in business but it is still pretty unsettled, winds are varying in strength and direction."

"Nothing is settled. The wind is not well established in this area where I am and things will still happen until the winds come in more.

"Around midnight it will be clearer and we will really know this time tomorrow who has done best."

- 'Becalmed' -

For Bestaven, it has been a bitter blow to be so becalmed and lose the lead.

"It was expected," the 48-year-old told AFP.

"That's why I wasn't happy with the lead I had. I knew very well, given what was in store, that it was going to be complicated, that there were going to be big variables in front of us.

"Even if we are prepared for that, it's hard. It's hard to get so many miles ahead, hard on your nerves not to move forward, to be on the lookout for the slightest breeze to move the boat forward, because you cannot afford to rest.

"And it's hard because we have already had more than 60 days at sea."

Bestaven said that the winds would improve after Tuesday and that the race was still there to be won.

"We mustn't let ourselves be defeated, we must look ahead, there is still the Atlantic to cross before arriving at Les Sables (d'Olonne), so things will happen.

"It's the race, that's the game. We have to accept all situations."

Seguin, the first disabled sailor to take on the epic race, briefly took over second place before Bestaven overhauled him.

"It's a crazy thing," he said. "I haven't had a lot of wind but I managed to get out of this little hell off the coast of Brazil to climb up to second.

"It's a bonus, I'm enjoying it, it's the best."

Of the 33 boats that set off from Brittany on November 8, seven have retired. The winner is expected to cross the finish line at Les Sables d'Olonne in the next two weeks.

Leading race standings as of 1400 GMT, January 12

1. Charlie Dalin (FRA/Apivia) 4,611.8 nautical miles from finish, 2. Yannick Bestaven (FRA/Maitre Coq IV) at 4.3nm, 3. Damien Seguin (FRA/Groupe Apicil) 19.3, 4.Thomas Ruyant (FRA/LinkedOut) 19.5, 5. Louis Burton (FRA/Bureau Vallee 2) 25.7, 6. Boris Herrmann (GER/Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco) 55.6, 7. Benjamin Dutreux (FRA/OMIA-Water Family) 88.2, 8. Giancarlo Pedote (ITA/Prysmian Group) 95.8, 9. Jean Le Cam (FRA/Yes we Cam!) 127.0, 10. Maxime Sorel (FRA/V And B Mayenne) 349.7