Knox-Johnston’s Vendée View

29 January 2021

With the Vendée Globe 2020-21 underway, Clipper Race Founder and Chairman, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston is sharing his views on each day's racing and what lies ahead for the solo sailors which included Brit and Clipper Race Alumni, Alex Thomson until his race came to an end after suffering structural damage to his yacht. Alex was the youngest ever skipper to win the Clipper Race (a record he still holds) taking first place in the 1998-99 edition.

With The America's Cup now on, Sir Robin is also reporting on all the action from New Zealand.

Friday 29/01/21

There has never been anything like this finish. Eight boats finishing an 80 day solo, non-stop, race around the world in just over 24 hours. Who of us would have put a bet on that back in November?

Just think about it. In 1992 the target was for a voyage around the world inside 80 days, and many thought that a target too far. Well Bruno Peyron just achieved it in 1993, in a large trimaran and the next year we dropped it to just under 75 days. But these were large multihulls, not monohulls. OK, this Vendée fleet did not achieve their target of 70 days, but, as ever, the weather threw in interference. The passage through the South Atlantic on the way out became a nightmare of shifting weather systems, and it did the same on the way back. This inevitably slowed everyone down and the 70 day target slipped away.

Despite his damage, once redress was applied, Boris Herrmann moved into 5th place, (80 days, 14 hours 59 minutes and 45 seconds), just behind Jean Le Cam whose redress propelled him into 4th place with a time of 80 days, 13 hours 44 minutes and 55 seconds. I have no doubt that Jean Le Cam’s incredible rescue of fellow sailor Kevin Escoffier will bring him further deserved recognition. Just how close this race has been can be seen in how close Thomas Ruyant’s Linked Out came, 80 days, 15 hours, 22 minutes and 01 seconds, or just 22 minutes behind Boris Herrmann. Groupe-Apicil finished 7th with a time of 80 days, 21 hours, 58 minutes and 20 seconds, and Prysmian Groupe came in 8th in 80 days, 22 hours, 42 minutes and 20 seconds. Omia-Water Family should finish within the next hour.

I watched Boris Herrmann's video report. He obviously got badly caught by the fishing boat, ripping off his bowsprit, damaging his starboard masthead shroud, tearing his headsail which went into the water and damaging his starboard foil. He honestly stated that he was asleep, but he has a number of alarms which failed to alert him to the approach. His radar should have alerted him, and, as he rightly said, not all fishing boats have an AIS switched on and many do not keep a lookout. I was nearly run down by one, which, fortunately I saw, which sailed past me at about 3 yards distance with no one on the bridge or even on the deck. If I had not been keeping a lookout I would have been killed. So it is something we tell our watchkeepers when sailing anywhere, fishing boats might be operating, which is most of our coasts, keep alert and always use the eyeball Mark 1. The Southern Ocean maybe less dangerous than sailing into the Bay of Biscay!

After the collision, Boris was OK on port tack, except for his damaged starboard foil, but he carefully nursed his boat 85 miles to the finish line, and, because of his redress, his finish position is a very creditable 4th.

Pip Hare is across the equator and Miranda Merron is into the easterly trades on her way there.

So what have we learned from this 9th Vendee Globe race? Obviously, with 25 boats finished or still sailing having rounded Cape Horn out of the 33 starters, this is by far the best results ever. The designers, builders and sailors are getting things right. The fact that eight boats could finish within 24 hours speaks volumes about the reliability of the boats, their rigs, sails and electronics. It also says a great deal about the very high quality and standards of the sailors who undoubtedly pressed very hard. Yes there were failures, but from those failures lessons are learned which lead to improvements for all of us.

So thank you Vendée sailors and organisers, for a fantastic sporting event over the past 80 days.

This is my last blog on the Vendée. I can’t manage being up half the night watching the America’s Cup, which is excellently covered, and try and put a coherent blog together each morning!



Thursday 28/01/21

I do not remember another race of this length in distance and time, that has ever provided such a close finish with four boats finishing within 9 hours and three more to finish shortly. It was as exciting and dramatic as anything I have ever seen. The sailors, tired at the end of their marathon, probably the toughest sporting event you can ever ask of anyone, fought through right to the end. Huge respect and congratulations to them all.

The finishing times are:-

Charlie Dalin, Apivia. 80 days, 06 hrs, 15 mins, 47 secs
Louis Burton, Bureau Vallée. 80 days, 10 hrs, 25 mins, 12 secs
Thomas Ruyant, LinkedOut. 80 days, 15 hrs, 22 mins, 01 secs
Yannick Bestaven, Maître CoQ. 80 days, 13 hours, 59 mins, 46 seconds

But Charlie Dalin had the lead snatched from him. In the end it came down to the time Redress granted to boats that helped to rescue Kevin Escoffier. For those unfamiliar with the process, it is a standard means to compensate racing yachts for time lost by the need to divert to assist another seafarer in distress. It is the duty of every vessel to do this and in a race it is usual for the Race Director/Committee to select the most appropriate boats, which usually means the closest, and ask them to stop racing to assist. Race Committees through their juries, an International jury in this case, then have to decide as fairly as they can from information supplied by trackers and reports, exactly how much the rescuer was disadvantaged and calculate the compensation, called redress. Having had to calculate this on a number of occasions myself it is never easy, but the Vendée Globe Jury seemed to have got it as fair as possible.

So the actual racing finishing positions after redress allowances are:-

Yannick Bestaven, Maître CoQ. 80d, 03 hrs, 44 mins, 46 secs
Charlie Dalin, Apivia. 80 days, 06 hrs, 15 mins, 47 secs
Louis Burton, Bureau Vallée 2. 80 days, 10 hrs, 25 mins, 12 secs
Thomas Ruyant, LinkedOut. 80 days, 15 hrs, 22 mins, 01 secs

Last evening we watched Charlie Dalin gybe towards the finish. He has sailed an excellent race tactically and deserved his place as the Line Honours winner. Sad that he did not win overall, but people will remember his almost clinical performance. Louis Burton too, held the lead for a time and has sailed a great race. Boris Herrmann never had the lead in this race, but had always been close to the lead, indeed looked good to win after redress until a collision with a fishing boat last night damaged his boat and his chances of being the first non-Frenchman to ever win this race disappeared. Thomas Ruyant has always been amongst the leaders. Yannick Bestaven, who lead for a while almost lost the race off the Brazilian coast but pulled back to clinch a classic win in the end

Boris Herrmann is nursing his boat towards the line and should finish in about 3 hours. Rapidly approaching the finish line are Groupe Apicil 58 miles to go and Prysmian Group 63 miles ,so these three will be close. Jean Le Cam, the hero of the Kevin Escoffier rescue who will receive a huge reception by the enthusiastic citizens of Les Sables, is 193 miles to go but his a redress allowance of 16 hours and 15 minutes to apply to his finish time which could move him up the positions but not to the Podium.

Communications have enabled us to follow these sailors around the world, and watch their final efforts. It has provided an enthralling spectacle with changes of lead, drama, and sheer gutsy sailing. Compare that with 52 years ago, when there were no satellites and we were dependant on unreliable radios to report our positions. Bernard Moitessier had retired for his own reasons, 3 weeks behind me at Cape Horn but we did not know that at the time. It was rather assumed that I had sunk as no one had heard anything of me for 4 1/2 months owing to no working radio. So for the organisers the competition was between two multihulls, one sailed by Nigel Tetley and the other by Donald Crowhurst. But Crowhurst had not sailed around the world. He hung around the South Atlantic sending false messages which came out eventually. (See the film “The Mercy”). And then I managed to get a message through to a merchant ship off the Azores by signal lamp to say I was coming and still afloat and sailing Dramatic, yes, it caused chaos to the organisers predictions, but there was no very tight close finish like we have just seen. In fact it took me 17 days to cover those last 1,100 miles from the Azores to the finish!

What a race this has been. The winner is now declared but let us not forget those still out there still racing and making their way to the finish line. Some will not finish for a month and never had a chance of a podium position, but in this very tough Vendée Globe race, everyone who finishes is a winner.

Wednesday 27/01/21

Watching Charlie Dalin gybing close to the Spanish coast would suggest his plan is to stay south until he could gybe for the finish line, but on port tack so he can use his undamaged foil for best speed. This timing was vital as the forecast shows much calmer weather further east towards Bilbao. He has made his move and is heading now for the finish line, 175 miles ahead, making 20 knots. He should take Line Honours this evening

But will he win? Yannick Bestaven is 246 miles from the finish in second place.

Boris Herrmann is only 257 miles from the finish line and he has six hours of redress. His current speed is 18 knots. Linked Out is 339 miles from the line, making nearly 19 knots, and Louis Burton in Maître CoQ is 368 miles to go making 19 knots with redress to come.

Just a reminder of the redress that will be applied for assisting with the rescue of Kevin Escoffier, which will be deducted from the finishing times:-

Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monico - Boris Herrmann - 6 hours redress

Maître CoQ - Yannick Bestaven - 10 hours 15 minutes redress

Yes We Cam, Jean Le Cam - 16 hours 15 minutes redress

So both Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monico and Maître CoQ could steal the win, but it is going to be very close. As the boats get closer to the finish, the position reports are made more frequently, so if you want to watch how this finish unfolds visit It’s going to be an exciting evening and amazingly tight, down to minutes, for the climax to some 27,000 miles of solo non stop sailing. We have never seen anything this close before.

Pip Hare is now in 19th place, continuing her passage north to the Equator and Miranda Merron, in 22nd, looks as if she is free of the high pressure and has found the trade winds sooner than most of the rest of the fleet.

In the America's Cup, American Magic is back on the water and sailing. The other teams assisted to get their competitor back. The patch on the hull shows a rather nice sporting touch as they have put the New Zealand, Italian and British flags on it.

It is with great regret that I learned of the loss of Bob Fisher. Bob brought to yachting journalism not just a command of the language, but a very deep knowledge of the sport. He was a World Champion in two dinghy classes and crewed on Lady Helmsman when she won the Little America's Cup.

He never lost his love of our sport. His knowledge of the history of the America's Cup was a universally accepted reliable source.

From a personal perspective, when we teamed up for the two handed Round Britain Race in his 45 footer Barracuda, not only did we beat every boat under 65 feet, we had a fantastic and enjoyable time doing it. I will always remember before we left Barra in that race, going to have breakfast before we set off around the north of Scotland, and Bob asked the waiter for a bottle of claret to drink with our full English breakfast. The waiter seemed somewhat taken aback by the request, to which Bob demanded, in his well known stentorian voice “Don’t you normally serve claret for breakfast here then?”

Dear Bob. A great friend, a great character, and a great loss.

Tuesday 26/01/21

No one has rounded Cape Finisterre and entered the Bay of Biscay yet, for the last sprint to the finish at Les Sables. With less than 500 miles to go, there are still some tactics to play out. Charlie Dalin still holds the lead, 68 miles closer to the finish than Louis Burton in Bureau Vallée, who is showing only 6 miles in front of Boris Herrmann’s Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco. They have WSW winds currently 14-16 knots. Linked Out and Maître CoQ are showing 300 miles to the leader but that is misleading as they a some 200 miles further north and almost at the point they could lay their course directly to the finish line when they gybe as their wind is from the SW 16 knots. This race is going down to the wire and the good citizens of Les Sables, who always turn out to give a great welcome to the finishers, are not going to have time for more than a snack to eat between the first arrivals.

Pip Hare is averaging 12 knots up the coast of Brazil and Miranda Merron is extricating herself slowly from the South Atlantic High.

Monday 25/01/21

The tactics of the leading group over the past 24 hours have been fascinating. By midday yesterday Bureau Vallée had taken the lead whilst Apivia continued on an easterly course, the only boat amongst the leaders to have continued its easterly course at that time, all the rest having gybed north, but last night Apivia gybed to the north as well.

Was he in time? The answer is there this morning, as Charlie Dalin is back in the lead by 32 miles from Bureau Vallée and 69 from Boris Herrmann’s Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco, both of whom have since gybed back onto an easterly course. Bureau Vallée and Apivia are currently closing on each other, both experiencing SW’ly winds of 18-19 knots. I expect Boris Herrmann to gybe north again shortly.

The distances back from the leader are misleading though as it's the angle and distance to Cape Finisterre that matter now and how they plan their gybes downwind. It's still very close, closer than it appears.

But this is Apivia’s favoured tack as he heads north as his starboard foil is undamaged. When he has to tack, his speed will not be quite so good on account of his damaged port foil. The race really is between these three now as Linked Out in fourth place is 156 miles behind and Maître CoQ in fifth is 232 miles behind. Unless any of the leading boats have problems, with less than 1,000 miles to the finish, those percentages of extra speed required are too large.

There is currently a wind reversal off Cape Finisterre and a calm patch between the South and West South Westerlies the whole leading fleet have now, but this will start to fade tonight. It’s still all to go for amongst these three, but Charlie Dalin is going to be on starboard tack along the Spanish coast which will disadvantage him again in the final leg.

Groupe Apicil is 297 miles, Prysmian Groupe 374 and Yes we Can 556 from the lead. Even with redress they won’t make the podium.

Pip Hare is making her way up the Brazilian coast towards the Equator and Miranda Merron has light WNW’ly winds which as slowed her on the same latitude as Uruguay.

Great comment from Ben Ainslie last evening after I congratulated him on his fifth win out of five and into the semi finals, in what was the most exciting America’s Cup race for a long time. “Great race for the sport that one”, he said. With the lead changing nine times in six legs - and how!

Sunday 24/01/21

The battle at the front of the Vendée fleet gets more and more interesting. Louis Burton in Bureau Vallée, who had closed to within 4 miles of Charlie Darlin’s Apivia, took the choice on Friday to gybe and head north for a while. That appears to have paid off as he is steadily closing back in on the lead, just 15 miles separating their distances from the next waypoint. Closing up too is Boris Herrmann now only 48 miles behind, and he has 6 hours of redress to apply to his finishing time. Charlie Dalin’s Apivia is making 2 knots less speed than the other two at the moment. We all just wish that Alex Thomson’s Hugo Boss had been amongst this group.

So, it is not just the excitement of a very close and still unpredictable finish over the next 2-3 days, for me is the fact that in the Clipper Race Office sweepstake, (Proceeds to UNICEF) I was given, by a very dodgy selection system I thought at the time, Boris Herrmann!

Thomas Ruyant’s LinkedOut is just 89 miles from the leader, Yannick Bestaven in Maître CoQ 218 miles, Giancarlo Pedote in Prysmian Group 265, Damien Seguin in Groupe Apicil, 278, back to Jean Le Cam at 592.

The three leading boats are on a course for Northern Spain, but the next 5 boats have gybed north. The weather has not finished playing with these sailors, who must be very tired now, not just from sailing these 60 footers at speeds up to 20 knots, but the intensity of the competition. This finish is going to be a classic.

A high pressure ridge is forecast to develop to their NE and then move into the Bay of Biscay on Monday brining Easterly winds along the North Spanish coast before turning southerly on Tuesday so it is still very tactical.

Pip Hare continues her progress north with easterly winds. 1,000 miles astern Miranda Merron is heading north, but into calmer conditions in westerly winds, the South Atlantic High system between them. The two tail enders will round Cape Horn to-day, a great relief to the Race Organisers. Sam Davis is back into the Atlantic.

Saturday 23/01/21

If anyone thought the racing between these foiling monohulls in The America's Cup would be boring, today showed how wrong they were. It was the most exciting race we have seen yet. There were nine lead changes between Luna Rossa and Ineos Team UK, which kept everyone on the edge of their seats. It was an epic race. In the end Ineos won by 33 seconds, but most of that lead came in the last few metres of the race. So team Ineos go through to the semifinals with a record of five wins from five races. It's been a brilliant showing by the British team and a complete reversal of their performance before Christmas.

With between four and five days to the finish of the Vendée Globe in Les Sables, as so often it is the movement of the Azores High Pressure system, currently centred over Madeira, which will have the final say in this incredibly close Vendée Globe race.

Apivia and Bureau Vallée were neck and neck out in front last night, but Bureau Vallée has now headed more north and slowed at the moment although she has stronger SW’ly winds whereas the others still have southerlies. He has obviously decided that the winds will be stronger further north, unless he has developed a problem. There are five boats close behind, within 230 miles of the lead which have also to get north out of the southerly winds. There won’t be much sleep amongst that leading group.

With boats finishing so close to each other, the redress granted by the International Jury for time lost by competitors who assisted with the rescue of Kevin Escoffier, takes on huge importance. In fact it could be decisive. It is a straight blast for the finish line for the two leaders who were not involved in that rescue so did not receive redress. But three of the leading group do have redress. This is time that will be deducted from their finishing times, and, with the boats so close, could change final positions.

Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco, Boris Herrmann - 6 hours redress

Maître CoQ, Yannick Bestaven - 10 hours, 15 minutes redress

Yes We Cam, Jean Le Cam - 16 hours, 15 minutes redress

Boris Herrmann is only 88 miles behind the lead and has covered 72 miles in the last 4 hours. If he can maintain the same speed as the two leading boats, he will win but it is incredibly close. The gap for Yannick Bestaven is 167 miles and Jean Le Cam is 402 miles back in 8th place. In theory, once redress is applied any of these three could still win.

Pip Hare has found the easterlies at last, whilst Miranda was getting a pummeling but the wind has now eased as they approach Cape Horn

The Maxi Trimaran Edmond de Rothschild, which was a holding a lead of 860 miles on the target for the Jules Verne trophy, has sustained irreparable damage to her starboard float rudder stock and has had to retire. A bitter disappointment to the crew.

Friday 22/01/21

We may be looking at one of the great classic yacht race finishes as the Vendée Globe competitors pass 26,000 miles of hard racing with just 2,000 miles to the finish mark. Louis Burton’s Bureau Vallée is now shown 29 miles further from the next waypoint than Charlie Dalin’s Apivia. The gap between them has closed, but she is north of Apivia, getting stronger winds and sailing 3-4 knots faster at the moment. Both report southerly winds as they work around the western side of the High Pressure system, but Bureau Vallée has 4 knots more wind. They are both aiming for a narrow corridor of SW winds between two high pressure systems. If they can squeeze through that it will be down to boat speed to the finish.

They cannot afford to make an error though as the 6th boat in the fleet, Maître CoQ, which lead for so long, is only 120 miles away although the weather ahead of this group is not looking so helpful as for the two front boats.

Pip Hare is struggling in light headwinds, but getting closer to a more favourable slant and Miranda Merron has head winds further south. Charal, 500 miles ahead of Pip is in the easterlies now and showing 16 knots of boat speed. Just two boats remain to round Cape Horn, experiencing some strong winds at the moment which will ease later to-day. Sam Davis is just ahead of them although out of the race.

Edmond de Rothschild had a day’s run of 738 miles, which puts her nearly 900 miles ahead of target. She has dropped back from the depression she was riding yesterday which gives a good indication of just how fast these depressions roll eastwards.

Early tomorrow morning UK time will see another interruption to my normal sleep pattern as the next in the America’s Cup Round Robin series take place in Auckland between Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli and Ineos Team UK.

Thursday 21/01/21

The positions of the boats relative to the next waypoint, can give a very misleading impression as to which boat has the advantage in an ocean race and this Vendée is no different. Bureau Vallée is shown in 6th place but it is north and west of the rest of the leading group as they negotiate a high pressure system and will be hoping to pick up the south westerly winds first. Apivia is still nearest the waypoint and is not yet as affected by the lighter winds as Bureau Vallée so is currently moving faster. In theory, as the high pressure eases eastwards Bureau Vallée should get the benefit of better winds first but these high pressure systems are unpredictable. This Vendee is keeping the excitement going right to the finish.

Looking at the leading nine boats, separated by only 377 miles, the tail enders have ENE winds whereas Apivia now has ESE and easing. One would expect this gap between them to close a bit in the next day.

Pip Hare is suffering at the western edge of a ridge of high pressure which will move east later today, giving her wind, but from ahead. It looks as if she will suffer these conditions for at least the next two days making it a battle to get north to where the system will slowly bring the winds round from the east and she will be able to put on some speed towards the equator. But better to have headwinds than no wind. Miranda Merron, 1,200 miles behind Pip, is also having to work her way north. It's frustrating for both of them.

Maxi Edmond de Rothschild will enter the Indian Ocean today. She has lost a bit against her target, now 821 miles ahead of it. It is still riding above a depression which is bringing them strong winds and the crew are saying that they are trying to ease off the accelerator for the moment, although still showing 35 knots of boat speed and 725 miles in the last 24 hours.

Wednesday 20/01/21

The tactical battle between Charlie Dalin’s Apivia and Louis Burton’s Bureau Vallée will play out in the next day or so as they approach the east/west ridge of high pressure. The pressure is better to the west which is where Burton has gone, 200 miles further west in fact, which puts him at a greater distance from the next waypoint. This shows him more than 100 miles behind but this is misleading as he is further north and sailing faster. His day’s run is some 70 miles greater than Apivia. That high pressure could decide the race as it will move slightly east and then another system will appear around the Azores on Saturday before slipping NE towards Ireland.

The next nine boats, spread over 352 miles, are tending to follow Apivia. 7 miles separate Linked Out and Seaexplorer-Yacht Club De Monaco but the latter is slightly further west and north. Pip Hare and Miranda Merron have not changed their race positions since yesterday , but are showing respectable speed northwards.

With the absence of American Magic, the next America's Cup Round Robin has been reduced to two races, one on the 23rd and another the next day between Luna Rossa and Ineos Team UK.

Maxi Edmond de Rothschild continues her dash eastward with a day’s run of 819 miles. It is sitting on top of a depression and is 951 miles ahead of where Francis Joyon’s crew were 3 years ago.

Tuesday 19/01/21

Terry Hutchinson, the CEO of the American Magic syndicate, has announced that they will not be participating in the next Round Robin series for The America's Cup, as they cannot make their boat ready in time. But they plan to be back in action before the semi finals on the 29th January.

Meanwhile, in the Vendée Globe, Charlie Dalin’s Apivia has extended its lead to 96 miles over second placed Louis Burton with Bureau Vallée but this is largely down to slightly different tactics. Bureau Vallée has chosen a course further westward so this is taking him slightly more away from the finish line, but that difference of 10 degrees in the courses they are making, is currently giving him 3 knots more boat speed. The distance to the finish line is less significant than how these boats handle the weather over the next few days.

Looking ahead of the fleet there is a ridge of high pressure stretching east-west across the Atlantic which is developing into a more traditional Azores High which the fleet will have to negotiate and how the boats handle that will probably decide this very tight race.

Groupe-Apicil is 8 miles back from Bureau Vallée and Linked Out a further 5 miles astern and Maître CoQ another 30 miles back. Then one cable divides Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco and Prysmian Group 157 miles behind the leader in 6th and 7th places.

Two boats are left in the South Pacific so 23 have now rounded the Horn which must be a great relief to the race organisers. Pip Hare has slowed, but is still lying 17th and Miranda Merron holds 22 place.

Maxi Edmond de Rothschild has turned almost east, south of the latitude of Cape Town has had a day’s run of 820 miles and currently showing nearly 36 knots. She is 740 miles ahead of the record and it seems incredible to appreciate that that is less than a days sailing for this machine.

Monday 18/01/21

In the America's Cup, the damage to the American Magic boat dominates the news and no doubt we will find out more in the next few days. There is large hole in the hull, just forward of the port foil, which was allowing water to enter the boat. That it sank to the point of being waterlogged is a worry as what is inside the boat are all the technical bits that make the boat fly on its foils.

They have four days to fix the problem or skip the next Round Robin. We will learn more in due course. I have sailed with Dean Barker once, and he is a pretty steady bloke, but you can hear Paul Goodison, the tactician, challenging the plan to tack and then bear away. But where Dean Barker was in the boat at the moment of decision may mean he could not see what Goodison was worrying about.

Last nightfall in the Vendée Globe, all the leading boats were suffering from light winds in the Doldrums. Bureau Vallée was the first to cross the Equator, but this morning Apivia is in the lead by 41 miles. Those two have stretched out a bit from the rest as they found the NE Trade winds first, but there are still only 225 miles separating No 1 from No 9. They were so close to each other that even a short puff of wind can make the difference.

In the1978 Whitbread, there were three of us, Maxis in sight of each other, myself on Condor, Eric Tabarly on Pen Duick VI and Great Britain II. You could see the other boats get a small puff and pull ahead, and then we would get a puff and catch up. When we got into the NE trades, Tabarly went ahead as his boat was better to windward. Studying the weather, I turned NW, 120 degrees from the rhumb line for the finish, but so I could pick up the next Atlantic Depression. I had to wait two days before that wind arrived but in the meantime Tabarly was stuck in the Azores High Pressure calms. We beat Tabarly to the finish line by just 4 hours, but we were the first to finish that final leg of that Whitbread Race. That was all that mattered.

The same matters to these guys. They are so close that it is not safe to predict the final finishing positions. Ahead of them is a ridge of High Pressure, level with the Canary Islands which will extend to the Azores by Friday. They need to get north of that.

Pip Hare is making better progress this morning, almost level with the River Plate and Miranda Merron has rounded Cape Horn, but is currently almost stopped. The final two boats in the fleet have some 1,700 miles to go to the Horn.

Maxi Edmond de Rothschild continues to make very good progress, now almost at the Latitude of Cape Town, and more than 400 miles ahead of the target. It is showing 37 knots of boat speed, so all the fast boats are not confined to Auckland Harbour!

Sunday 17/01/21

The first Ameria's Cup race had to be re-started due to a massive change in the wind direction and Luna Rossa held the lead until halfway but then Ineos Team UK took over and finished 18 seconds ahead. An interesting factor is that Ineos have six grinders, to keep up the oil pressure to operate foils and sheets, whereas Luna Rossa have eight. This means that Ineos can have more people operating systems. Giles Scott called the tactics brilliantly, and Ineos had better boat speed as well. So Ineos has four wins from four races.

In the second race, American Magic was building a good lead and looking good against Luna Rossa, but was hit by a squall as she started to bear away after tacking around the final mark. Her leeward runner prevented the release of the main sheet leading to a spectacular capsize. All the crew were fine but the boat was leaking and looks badly damaged. Still the capsize did get the event onto the BBC News and they added that Britain's Sir Ben Ainslie team was apparently doing well! Don’t they have a telephone?

The leading boats in the Vendée Globe are back in the Northern Hemisphere and coming up to the Doldrums, usually lying between 1 and 8 degrees on north latitude and which extend in a narrowing cone from the African coast. So the rule is that the further west you go the narrower this patch of squalls and humid calms should be, but it moves around a lot. But the further west you go, the further you sail from the shortest distance to the finish line in France. It’s a calculation every sailor has to make.

Bureau Vallée briefly took the lead during the night, but by this morning Apivia was back ahead by 6 miles. The top six boats are within an 100 miles bracket but already experiencing different winds. Bureau Vallée, the westernmost by a few miles, already has ENE winds whilst the others still have a lighter wind from ESE so the lead could change again shortly.

Pip Hare has yet to find the favourable winds in her 17th place and Miranda Merron is still in 23rd. Sebastien Destremau in Merci has retired at the back so the fleet is down to 25 boats.

Trimaran Maxi Edmond de Rothschild has slowed to about 20 knots as she approached the Latitude of Cape Frio. During the past 24 hours she has covered 680 miles.

Saturday 18/01/21

Light winds for the first America’s Cup Round Robin Race this morning. Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli proved more slippery than American Magic which did not finish the race in the 45 minute time limit. So one point to Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli. The second race was going to be the test for the new Ineos Team UK against American Magic. The winds were still fluky. The Americans mucked up their start but began to catch up at the top of the first leg when Ineos Team UK came off her foils. These boats seem to be able to foil from when the boats speed is around 18 knots in 7 knots of wind, but the smallest puff sets them off. It is all about staying on the foils. We have seen speed differences of more than 20 or more knots when one boat is in displacement mode and the other foiling. But Ineos Team UK proved far better now at getting unstuck than it was before Christmas and held on to take her third win. The strong relationship between Ben Ainslie and Giles Scott (Olympic Gold medal winner in the Finn Class 2016 Olympics) acting as tactician cannot be underestimated. You only have to listen to their conversations when racing to appreciate how valuable that partnership is to the British team. So, the scores now are Ineos Team UK three wins out of three races, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli one win out of two, and American Magic zero out of three.

Charlie Dalin continues to hold the lead in the Vendée but only by 16 miles from Louis Burton’s Bureau Vallée, with Boris Herrmann just 32 miles further back. Maître CoQ is in 6th place 135 miles off the lead and this leading group have now found the south of east winds and have speeded up as a result. Only 60 miles separate 7th, 8th and 9th placed Jean Le Cam, 266 miles back from Apivia. The weather will become calmer and more fluky as the boats get up to the Equator, providing yet another opportunity for a change in positions at the top.

Pip Hare has got a bit stuck and has only averaged 5 knots over the past 4 hours. The wind looks as if it will turn more favourable for her within the next 24 hours as a depression develops SE of the River Plate and she appears to be trying to get west of that. The rest of her group are further east and likely to get strong headwinds for a while.

Edmond de Rothschild has crossed the equator and is making 29 knots southwards in its efforts to gain the Jules Verne Trophy. She is back ahead of the record time and will be passing the Vendée leaders very shortly with a closing speed of 40+ knots.

Friday 15/01/21

There has been what might be described as a revolution in the America’s Cup trials. Ben and his team have waved a magic wand over their boat during the Christmas break. It is a totally a different machine.

Ben reported yesterday that they had modified their foils, the aero package of the hull, stepped a new mast, new rudder, new rudder elevator, new mainsail, new headsails, and made changes to some of their systems.

Did those changes work? The answer was quickly obvious on the race track. Ineos Team UK came out fast and fired up. They won both starts and then they used all their considerable skills to win their first race against American Magic by 1 minute and 20 seconds. A stunning performance and one that was not expected by most of the pundits. It brought grins of delight to all we Brits who got up to watch. But it got better when they beat Luna Rossa, thought, up to now, to be the fastest of the challengers, in their second race to-day by 28 seconds. Huge smiles in this part of the world!

These eliminations races have suddenly come to life and full marks to the commentators, including Shirley Robertson out on the water, who give us such knowledgeable insights.

Tomorrow lighter winds are forecast and this will be a further test of the changes made to Ineos as she was poor in lighter conditions before. Can’t wait!

In the Vendée Globe, Charlie Dalin in Apivia is holding his leading place, just 22 miles ahead of Louis Burton in Bureau Vallée. But there are only 81 miles between the top 6 boats with poor Yannick Bestaven’s Maître CoQ in 6th place. His position further west, partly forced on him by condition a few days ago, has not paid off and he has been bleeding miles. Boris Herrmann in Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco has had the best days run of 373 miles which has propelled him into 3rd place 39 miles behind the leader . Then comes Linked Out, and Groupe-Apicil just 3 and 7 miles further back respectively. It's very tight up there at the head of the fleet and the squally conditions, which mean sudden changes of wind force and direction, make for tiring work. There are no real tactical moves available at the moment, it’s all about heading north and getting to more stable weather conditions.

Romain Attanasio, husband of Sam Davis, was thrown hard against a winch yesterday and has suspected fractured ribs. He has been prescribed pain killers and is continuing. He was lying 13th at the time, 1,000 miles ahead of Charal and 350 miles astern of Clarisse Cremer in Banque Populaire. He has my full sympathy. Just before the Velux Race in 2006 I slipped and cracked my coccyx. For the first month of the race this was a serious handicap as it meant I could not lift heavy weights, and sails on these Open 60’s are heavy weights. Considering my lifestyle, it is remarkable that this is the only time I have every fractured anything!

Pip Hare still holds 17th place and Miranda Merron 23rd. The leading lady is Clarisse Cremer in 12th place.

Edmund de Rothschild has suffered the frustrations that the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone, better known as the Doldrums to most, can bring. The wind has eased and their lead over their target to gain the Jules Verne Trophy has disappeared. They are faced with the squalls that are so familiar to those of us to sail up and down the Atlantic. The only good thing is that these squalls often bring sharp bursts of cooling rain, which is wonderfully refreshing in the heat. Olivier de Kersuason’s great remark in this area when we raced him for the trophy in 1994 was “All that is missing are the flies!”

Thursday 14/01/21

The leaders are experiencing some difficult weather. No, not high winds and heaving waves, but squalls that accelerate the wind and alter its direction as they pass. Its frustrating sailing as they have to stay alert for the squalls, which are hard to see at night and also take advantage of every wind change to keep pressing forward towards Recife, some 450 miles ahead, where the winds should become more stable.

Charlie Dalin in Apivia holds a 19 mile lead over Louis Burton in Bureau Vallée. Yannick Bestaven is 37 miles from the lead closely followed by Thomas Ruyant’s Linked Out at 44 miles and Damien Seguin’s Groupe-Apicil at 58 miles. All have been averaging between 10 and 14 knots for the past four hours in the right direction. Tail ender of the leading nine boats is Jean Le Cam, 183 miles behind. This group are showing ENE winds of between 12 and 15 knots. It's pretty tense out there with the boats so close. My infallible Clipper Race Deputy Race Director has estimated the winner will reach the finish line within two weeks!

Jérémie Beyou in Charal continues his progress through the fleet to 14th position. Japan’s Kijoro Shiraishi is the latest boat to round Cape Horn in 20th position. He is 400 miles astern of Pip Hare. Miranda Merron in 22nd place still has 1,200 miles to sail to reach the Cape. Sébastien Destremau, bringing up the end in 26th place, is about to pass south of New Zealand.

The Trimaran Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, 4 days 6 hours into her attempt to wrest the Jules Verne Trophy from Idec Sport’s current record set in 2017, has managed 785 miles in the last 24 hours, putting her some 145 miles ahead of the target and is about to cross the equator.

Just heard from Ben Ainslie, as tomorrow morning my sleep pattern will be disrupted by the first two races for the Prada Cup in Auckland, the start of the Challenger series to decide which one of the three challenging boats from Italy, the USA and the UK will finally go up against the holders, New Zealand. Ben Ainslie’s INEOS Team UK is racing twice tomorrow, once against each of the others, and it will be interesting to see how improved INEOS Team UK now is. She certainly looked a lot better earlier this week.

There is plenty of sailing excitement to keep us distracted from the spread of the virus at the moment.

Wednesday 13/01/21

What a competition! With approximately 4,600 miles to the finish just 127 miles separate 1st from 9th this morning on the 65th day in this most closely fought solo non stop around the world race ever. The winds have not yet steadied and are still a bit variable in strength and direction off the coast of Brazil. But this leading group are all reporting winds from the ENE which are expected to swing round to the east further north level with Recife, between 10 and 14 knots and their speeds are varying between 8 and 12 knots. Yannick Bestaven, furthest west of the group, has squeezed back into the lead with a two mile advantage on Charlie Dalin’s Apivia. Louis Burton in Bureau Vallée, who lost time repairing his mast track in the lee of Macquerie Island, has moved up into third place just pushing out Thomas Ruyant in Linked Out but he is only 24 miles from the top.

Charal in 16th place is about to overtake La Fabrique, with Pip Hare 87 miles further back. Pip is 2,171 miles behind Maître CoQ. They have fresh to strong SW winds at the moment on the back of a low pressure system and are making the most of them as it looks as if another high pressure will form near them by Thursday evening. Three more boats will round Cape Horn today and Miranda Merron, holding 22nd, has probably got four more days sailing before she gets there.

Alex Thomson has left Cape Town to sail his boat Hugo Boss home to Gosport. It must be so frustrating for him, knowing he should have been up there with the leading group, if not leading them, had he not suffered a broken rudder.

The 23 metre long trimaran Maxi Edmond de Rothschild had a bad day, covering only 627 miles in the last 24 hours, an average of 27 knots, but she is now showing 34 knots as she passes the Cape Verde Islands in some productive North East Trade winds.

Tuesday 12/01/21

It has taken Charlie Dalin in Apivia four days to close the 450 mile gap between himself and Yannick Bestaven’s Maître CoQ and he has now taken the lead of 18 miles. But his lead over Bestaven is already 26 miles as Thomas Ruyant in Linked Out has moved into second place. There is nothing more demoralising than knowing that you can do nothing about holding off your competitors, just over 100 miles further east but in different winds and these last four days must have been agonising for Bestaven.

But this race is far from over and with so many boats close together it would be a brave person to predict who will stand on the podium at the finish. Only 110 miles separates Apivia from 6th placed Boris Herrman’s Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco and there are only 380 miles between the leader and the tenth placed boat. Why mention tenth place? Well because that gap is now less than the leader held four days ago. The high pressure system is expected to move further east later today, bringing some steadier north easterly winds to the leading group and this wind will follow the usual pattern at last and slowly swing round to the east. If they can hurry north they might get through the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone quite quickly as the main area of the calms are over to the east at the moment.

Pip Hare is round Cape Horn now in some benevolent weather and the forecast shows some strong southerly’s for the next few days which should rocket her group north. Pip, still in 17th place, is 60 miles astern of Charal. Miranda Merron, is still some 1,700 miles from Cape Horn holding 22nd place.

In its attempt on the Jules Verne record for the fastest non stop circumnavigation of the world, the Maxi Trimaran Edmund de Rothschild has averaged just over 32 knots since her departure from Ushant on Sunday morning and is now well past the Island of Madeira.

The news that a British lorry driver had his ham sandwich confiscated by the Dutch Customs, as there is now a ban on the bringing animal products into the EU from the UK, should worry we yachtsmen who enjoy our visits across the Channel. Will this apply to food carried on a British yacht? Is it just fresh food or does it apply to tinned and freeze dried food as well? What happens if you are coming from Northern Ireland? It’s still a part of the UK, but sort of in the EU. We could do with some clarification as to what these new EU rules imply. If we are not allowed British animal products aboard our yachts, then don’t stock up for a Channel Crossing. One can only hope that our officials don’t apply the same rules to EU yachts visiting the UK. Apart from the fact they spend their Euros, there is no need for us to be daft on both sides of the Channel.

Monday 11/01/21

The elastic has tightened in the front of the fleet as Maître CoQ tries to work through a patch of lighter winds with speed reduced to 6 knots. Apivia is now only 97 miles behind and making 16 knots. This situation is unlikely to last as Apivia will slow as she gets to the lighter winds.

So with 5,000 miles to the finish, the race is getting closer and it’s a question of who picks up the trade winds which are just to the north. Groupe-Apicil is making 12 knots, 204 miles from the lead with Linked Out just 10 miles further back which was making 15 knots. Just 500 miles separates the first ten boats and with calm winds now, at the Equator and very likely in the North Atlantic from the Azores High, this race is far from decided.

Four boats should round Cape Horn today including Pip Hare, still in 17th place, leaving nine boats yet to get there with Merci still 4,600 miles to the Cape bringing up the tail end. Miranda Merron has 1,900 miles to go to get round.

The giant Maxi trimaran Edmond de Rothschild with six crew lead by Co-Skippers Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier left the start line off Brest yesterday morning in its attempt to break the record for the fastest non stop circumnavigation. This is their second attempt this season as they had to pull out at the end of November when they struck something and damage a rudder and foil. To obtain the Jules Verne Trophy they must finish by 0200 on the 20th February.

Sunday 10/01/21

Isabelle Joschke has been forced to retire. The repairs to her keel rams, which control the angle of the keel either side of the centreline, failed. So MACSF, which had been sailing well amongst the leading group of 11 boats is out and waiting to see where to sail so that repairs can be made. It’s a sad end for Isabelle as she has been sailing well. You think that once you have rounded Cape Horn into the Atlantic that the weather is going to be more clement, but this area is famous for its nasty little depressions that come off the South American coast. That brings the number of retirements to seven, a far smaller proportion than on any previous race.

Charlie Dalin on Apivia has continued to close up on Maître CoQ, now some 190 miles behind and wrestling with a high pressure bubble. But Yannick Bestaven is in ESE winds of 11 knots whereas Dalin has SW winds of 9 knots. Groupe-Apicil and Linked Out are 267 and 278 miles behind the leader. Only 5 miles to the next waypoint separates Seaexplorer - Yacht Club de Monaco and Prysmian Group in 8th and 9th places, just over 500 miles behind but making the most of stronger SW winds to close the gap on the boats ahead.

Whilst the leaders work their way through a calmer patch, down near the Falklands there is a nasty low bringing N to NW winds, slowly moving eastwards and bringing good SW winds in its wake. This will benefit Pip Hare who should pass Cape Horn tomorrow just behind Charal which is still working its way through the fleet. She is currently 17th and Miranda Merron has moved up to 22nd with the loss of MACSF.

Saturday 09/01/21

The gap at the front has narrowed. Charlie Dalin’s Apivia is now 327 miles behind Maître CoQ after posting a 421 mile day's run in the last 24 hours. Maître CoQ only managed 202 miles and is currently reporting west-south-westerly winds of 9 knots whereas Apivia has west-north-westerlies at 15 knots. Maître CoQ is inshore of the following boats who have seen the high pressure system slowing the leader and it appears their winds are pushing them eastward which may benefit them for a while.

The whole leading group will face northerly winds as they get close to Cabo Frio where the normal weather circulation system is operating. It’s then a question of pushing north to take advantage of the wind slowly swinging round to the east for the reach up to the Equator. But first they have to get through the jumble of weather in front of them.

Pip Hare’s group have been slowed but a new system is on its way which will bring winds in excess of 30 knots to propel them towards Cape Horn later to-day. She is still 17th after losing time to replace her damaged rudder yesterday and Charal is breathing down her neck 50 miles astern. Miranda Merron is in 23rd place.

Friday 08/01/21

Pip Hare discovered a crack in the stock of one of her rudders. Fortunately she carried a spare rudder but replacing a rudder anywhere at sea is not easy and particularly so in the Southern Ocean. It is made more difficult as the rudders are lighter than water and don’t just drop out. She had practised this operation before the start though and it appears she used the technique first tried by Conrad Humphreys in the 2004 race of using his anchor chain to weigh the rudder down. Anyway she managed it, a very nice piece of seamanship, and she is now back in the race reporting a boat speed of a comfortable 15 knots although the operation cost her two places and she now lies 17th. Miranda Merron is still holding 23rd.

In the Atlantic, Maître CoQ has extended her lead to 435 miles, sailing in north easterly winds, whereas her two closest pursuers, Apivia and Linked Out are experiencing northerly winds. Geographically, Maître CoQ is now about 30 miles south of Punta Del Este in Uruguay.

Fourteen boats have now got passed Cape Horn, Romain Attanasio, 14th, is now clear, and the next tight group of four are still a 1,000 miles to go.

Hard to say what will happen with the weather over the next 24 hours as the race site gives one picture, based, I think, on the reports from the boats, and Windy is showing a different picture. As I said before, there is a lack of a decent meteorological data base for this area but if Windy is right, the wind is due to go round to the south later to-day which will benefit the whole fleet back in the Atlantic. There is some way to go to pick up the “normal” wind circulation, but the boats will want to get over to the east a bit more as they head north to make the most of that. But not too far to the east though as the South Atlantic High Pressure lurks mid ocean, about the Latitude of Rio de Janeiro.


Thursday 07/01/20

Maître CoQ continues its excellent progress and has put more than 400 miles between itself and the pursuers with a day's run of 353 miles aided by easterly winds of 17 knots.

The weather systems in the area are still confusing. Only two miles separate Apivia, Groupe-Apicil and Linked Out but their wind is north easterly. This is forcing them west of north for the moment. But they are likely to get a complete wind shift later today caused by a low pressure system off the Argentine coast which will make their inside route profitable for a while.

The next seven boats, spread over 300 miles have northerly winds and as a group decided that east offers them better chances as they race to get north of an area of high pressure with its promises of easterly winds. Getting north is richer for them as well. The South Atlantic High System is in about 25 degrees south Latitude, some 800 miles north of the Maître CoQ, but with another low pressure system in the way. Only when that is reached do the winds look like they will become predictable again.

Romain Antanasio in 14th place is rounding the Horn now, some 1,200 miles ahead of Pip Hare, in 15th place, who is having autopilot problems. Miranda Merron has still 3,000 miles to go to the Cape.

Chatting to Conrad Humphreys yesterday, we agreed that this race is different. The speeds may not have been as great, mainly due to the messy weather situation in the South Atlantic on the way out and now on the return, but by this time in past races about half the fleet would have retired for one reason or another whereas there are still 27 boats racing at the moment out of the 33 starters. That is pretty good.

Wednesday 06/01/20

Is Maître CoQ going to pull off a jump forward? He has SSE winds at 8 knots at the moment whereas his two pursuers, Apivia and Linked Out, 210 and 300 miles further back respectively and have north westerly winds of the same speed.

This would tend to indicate that Maître CoQ has got north of the small high pressure system off Argentina, whilst the others are still to its south. So Maître CoQ has better options for the moment, the others are forced more to the north east. But another meteorological puzzle awaits just to the north of Uruguay, with a small low disrupting the normal weather systems for this area. This might provide the opportunity for a sling-shot north, but currently into another area of light winds as the South Atlantic High begins to have influence. But if he can get there first the others will still have to go through it as well.

In circumstances like this, as so often in ocean racing, the fastest route is not necessarily a straight line. Choosing the most favourable wind systems is what matters. To win, these skippers have to be good at meteorology.

Damien Seguin in Groupe-Apicil has had a day’s run of 393 miles which puts him 300 miles behind the leader in 4th place, but just half a mile further back than Linked Out, both making 12.5 knots VMG. Groupe-Apicil is making 16 knots with westerly winds. Clarisse Cremer in Banque Populaire is round the Horn about now, and the next two will round later to-day or early tomorrow. Then there is a gap of 1,100 miles to Pip Hare in 15th place. 1,700 miles further back is Miranda Merron still in 23rd place. Samantha Davis has now passed south of New Zealand.

Tuesday 5/01/21

They went past thick and fast yesterday and this morning. By this morning the 11 leading boats had all passed Cape Horn and were starting their final 7,000 mile leg back to Les Sables. The shortest gap was between Prysmiam Group and Seaexplorer - Yacht Club de Monaco in 9th and 10th positions, a mere 55 minutes. It is a phenomenal situation to find this leading group so close after some 20,000 miles of racing.

Maître CoQ has increased her lead over Apivia to 235 miles as both boats have set courses which will put them to the west of the High Pressure system off Argentina. They are counting on that system moving eastwards as predicted. But this is only one of the systems in their path, another lies in wait further north. The problem with forecasts in this area is that the data base is not as good as elsewhere so the forecast models are not so reliable. The old sailing ship route was to head further east to skirt the South Atlantic High and keep the wind astern, but the mix of weather forecasts at the moment would mean a huge detour to achieve this and the leading two boats have gone for the almost direct route. LinkedOut has gone to the west of the Falkland Islands and could benefit from the stronger winds there. The current system means headwinds for a bit, but then it could just pay off.

Isabelle Joschke, who was lying 5th, has had a bad few days and is now 11th. Her autopilot will no longer work in wind mode, she tore her Gennaker and then the hydraulics controlling her keel ram adjustment failed. Fortunately she can lock the keel. On my 60, I had a system of heavy plastic half tubes which I could fit over the rams between the keel and the side of the keel box which could be held in place with masking tape. Although we tested the system, fortunately I never had to use it in anger. The next boat to round will be Banque Populaire, sailed by Clarisse Cremer, which is 200 miles behind Isabelle making 15 knots. She will round this evening. Pip Hare is in 15th place, 1,500 miles behind Clarisse and Miranda Merron is a further 1,700 miles astern.

Someone asked me what Cape Horn is like. I think one of the best descriptions comes from the British Admiralty Pilot for South America.

The numerous islands fringing the western coast of the mainland, between Magellan’s Strait and the Penas Gulf form the Patagonian archipelagos; these, like the southern and western parts of the Archipelago de Tierra del Fuego are about as inhospitable as anywhere on the globe. The land is mountainous, presenting an alternation of impenetrable forest, bare rick, and deep bogs, and is cut up by deep channels into peninsulas and islands, as yet very imperfectly known. Drenching rains, varied by snow and sleet, prevail throughout the year, whilst furious westerly gales succeed each other with rapidity. The scenery is magnificently stern, but seldom seen to advantage, the clouds and mists usually screening the higher peaks and snow fields.

Having cruised around the area with Skip Novak, and soloed from the east along the Beagle Channel to Ushuaia and back, I can vouch for this! Rounding Cape Horn is a trophy for all sailors, but there is huge relief when it has been left to the west.

Monday 4/01/21

Yannick Bestaven and Charlie Dalin are now heading into the South Atlantic, 147 miles apart. Thomas Ruyant has passed Cape Horn and Damien Seguin is there now, both experiencing westerly winds of 24 knots. The next seven boats, lead by Omia-Water Family, with 240 miles to the Cape, are spread over 130 miles. A depression is sweeping up behind this group and will coincide with their passage around the Cape from tonight our time, providing some hairy conditions. There have been reports of sleet and ice on the decks of some of the boats. Pip Hare still has 15th place, 26 miles ahead of La Fabrique and Miranda Merron is holding 23rd position.

There has not been such a concentration of traffic here for years, and it will bring some excitement to the Chilean Navy Petty Officer who mans the famous lighthouse. It’s a lonely posting. When we visited the Petty Officer, at the time he had his wife and two daughters with him, the latter being educated on the internet. They showed us round and we reciprocated with the customary fresh vegetables and meat as they are only re-supplied every 6 months. A large part of the island was mined 11 years ago so we kept to the paths.

Ahead of the fleet is a high pressure system off the Argentine coast with some other calm patches to its north and the South Atlantic High Pressure system, with its calms, is right in the middle of the ocean on the same Latitude as Cape Town and is not showing much sign of moving, although it extends and contracts to give the meteorologists a justification for their existence. Later this week a low will develop mid ocean as well, and by the weekend there will be another one in the way adding to the puzzle as just what is the best route to take. The traditional weather pattern for this ocean has disappeared.

Sunday 3/01/21

Yannick Bestaven passed 80 miles south of the longitude of Cape Horn yesterday about midday our time, having had another fast day’s run, of 463 miles. He experienced winds from the north west of 33 knots. Charlie Dalin followed 15 hours later. Both made day’s runs of 383 miles since yesterday morning. Linked Out is 330 miles further back leading the hunting group of nine, now spread over 300 miles and all of them should be past by Tuesday morning. Pip Hare is still lying 15th and Miranda Merron 23rd

The time for Maître CoQ was 55 days and 22 minutes from Les Sables to Cape Horn. It's not the record, that is just over 47 days, but it illustrates how far we have come with design and equipment in half a century. 52 years ago it took me 217 days to get to the Horn from Falmouth, or almost four times longer. OK, the waterline length of Suhaili is only 26 feet, and the Open 60’s have a waterline length within inches of 60 feet, and yes, an Open 60 has four times the sail area, but the fascinating thing is how sailing has developed to produce such fast craft.

Of course, in those days one had no idea where the competition was. Bernard Moitessier had been four weeks behind me at New Zealand, but neither of us knew where the other was after that. In fact, I rounded the Horn three weeks before him but we only found out about that some months later. He and I used to exchange letters for many years after the Golden Globe race. We only met once, at the announcement of the Jules Verne Trophy, but I wish I could have spent Join The Race