North Sails NEWS

FIGHT TO THE FINISH

Ruyant Strives For The Lead as Others Fall Prey To Tough Conditions

© Pierre Bouras / TR Racing

The Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables d’Olonne has turned out to be a close match for the IMOCA fleet, with several lead changes on each leg so far. The Vendée-Arctique is an opportunity for those with their eyes on the Vendée Globe race to get in the required qualifying miles and put their IMOCAs to the test in a racing environment for the first time since many of them have been launched after building or refit. 

The first leg showed close racing between the foiling participants, as the competitors raced upwind battling wet weather and fog. It was a tight race amongst three North Sails powered teams, Apiva, Charal, and LinkedOut to the IOC UNESCO Waypoint, but ultimately it was Thomas Ruyant who managed to take the first position around the northernmost mark, off the coast of Iceland. 

François Van Malleghem / Imoca

By staying to the left side of the course, Ruyant tacked inside his competitors on the final approach to the digital waypoint, just barely a mile ahead of Charlie Dalin skippering Apiva. 

“It was worthy of a round-the-cans race. It was fun for all three of us to get up there at the same time, in any case, I found it really enjoyable.” Ruyant said over an SAT phone call, “For them, maybe a little less… Above all, it was getting up there after the night I had last night that was crazy. Getting back in contact at the symbolic mark in this race, and being first to round it, it’s fantastic. I’m very happy with how things played out, but there’s still a long way to go in this race. Charlie and Jérémie are going very fast and there’s all to play for”.

Onboard LinkedOut

As the rest of the fleet rounded the IOC UNESCO Waypoint and began their second leg reach towards the Gallimard Waypoint, Ruyant held his lead but was closely followed by the nearest competitor. The two continued to trade the first position several times over the following hours. 

As of 11PM Eastern Time on Friday night, Ruyant is in second by less than a nautical mile and challenging hard.

The group has been sailing in an area with winds less than five knots, meaning the past few hours have been all about managing a proper sail wardrobe and maintaining focus in frustrating conditions. Every move, tack, or adjustment will count towards the finish. 

The leaders are entering a band of weather where gusts over 20 knots are expected. This will give skippers a chance to test out their boats and challenge themselves in windier weather. 

At this point, the Vendée-Arctique is anyone’s race, with the top four of the fleet, including North Sails powered LinkedOut, PRB, and Charal, all within five nautical miles of the leader. With one week at sea behind them, it will be interesting to see which skippers can maintain their mental and physical stamina and who will fall behind. 

Follow along with the race tracker.