Burton pressures Dalin in six-way sprint for Vendee finish

Paris (AFP) –


Five days before the expected finish of the solo round-the-world Vendee Globe, Louis Burton was gaining fast on leader Charlie Dalin on Friday at the head of the fleet which sees the first six boats separated by less than 150 nautical miles.

At 1700 GMT, Dalin's Apivia was just eight nautical miles ahead of Burton's Bureau Vallee 2.

Coming fast in their wake is the German skipper Boris Herrmann, looking to become the first ever non-French winner of the race which is now in its ninth edition, whose Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco is just 66nm behind Dalin.

Behind that trio, Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut), Damien Seguin (Apicil) and Yannick Bestaven (Maitre Coq) are all within 150nm of the front.

According to the organisers, the first five or six monohulls are expected to cross the finish line on Wednesday off Sables-d'Olonne in France whence they set off on November 8 and the next three the following day.

"We have never had an edition with so many boats so close," said race director Jacques Caraes. "That's why we have a special finish."

Herrmann (6hr) and Bestaven (10hr 15min) both have the added advantage of a bonus to be added at the end of the race for their part in the rescue of Kevin Escoffier in December.

"For the moment, I am just pressing my boat on at a sustained but normal pace, we will have to decide on the right time to start the sprint," Dalin said on Friday.

"I am neck and neck with Louis, there is Boris who is not far behind, the finish promises to be quite close.

"The outcome of the match between Louis and me is not yet very clear, we will have the answer in a few days. But I continue to adjust the boat as best I can to go as quickly as possible."

- 'Fantastic option' -

Burton is starting to see the benefits of taking a more westerly route than his rivals.

He negotiated the high pressure zone quickest and should continue to hold the advantage going into the weekend as he sails a faster and more direct route.

He has a narrow band of breeze to work but his position, some 70 miles north of the latitude of Dalin, and is in line to overhaul him when they meet near the Azores.

"I think Louis Burton has a fantastic option there to the north and he is managing to get to the other side of the ridge, well done to him," said Herrmann.

"Let's see how it pans out but it looks like we will have one and a half days of this light stuff and then Sunday we are into a low pressure train.

"There is still plenty of sea ahead of us. I can’t promise we stay on the podium... but we will do our best.

"There is an element of destiny about it. Everyone in this top group is just the same, looking to sail as best they can, and then it will be very close."

Leading race standings as of 1700 GMT, January 22

1. Charlie Dalin (FRA/Apivia) 1769.8 nautical miles from finish, 2. Louis Burton (FRA/Bureau Vallee 2) at 8.4nm, 3. Boris Herrmann (GER/Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco) 66.1, 4. Thomas Ruyant (FRA/LinkedOut) at 108.1, 5. Damien Seguin (FRA/Groupe Apicil) 126.3, 6. Yannick Bestaven (FRA/Maitre Coq IV) 148.1, 7. Giancarlo Pedote (ITA/Prysmian Group) 200.6, 8. Jean Le Cam (FRA/Yes we Cam!) 346.2, 9. Benjamin Dutreux (FRA/OMIA-Water Family) 422.1, 10. Maxime Sorel (FRA/V And B Mayenne) 635.9