After the Alex's incredible recovery of 800nm on 6 days, due to very favorable wind conditions, surprising many, Alex have managed to stay in contact with Armel, both sailors going up the Atlantic in very odd an unstable conditions, with lots of light wind patches and very unreliable forecasts. On that wind minefield they started a very exhausting battle, always with Alex pursuing relentlessly Armel and with Armel resisting to the pressure.
Those light wind conditions are, by far, the worse, in what regards strain and exhaustion for the racers: On stronger constant winds they can regulate the boat, put it on autopilot and have some sleep without losing much time. These boats are designed to be sailed on autopilot and they go on that mode 95% of the time.
But on very light and changing winds they have to tune the sails almost constantly, for not losing time and on those conditions it can makes a considerable difference going on autopilot or doing manual steering. When they sleep the losses can be way bigger than on more sustained wind conditions. So you can imagine the fight between the need of sleep and the will to sail the boat as fast as possible. The result can be exhaustion and if they manage to control that, at least they become very, very tired on those conditions.
15 days ago Alex had managed to be at only 34.5nm from his rival but after that Armel, on the light winds, managed to win steadily for several days and 3 days later had already an advantage of 182.4nm. Then it was the turn of Alex to catch better winds and in one day he reduced that distance in 50nm. Next the wind was favorable for Armel that, in two days of extraordinary sailing, increased the distance for more than the double, putting between them 342nm.
I confess that I thought that with that Armel had then the race controlled....but no. In 4 days Alex managed to diminish that distance by about 263nm and was then at only 78.8nm. Then it was Armel turn and he managed to increase in two days that distance for 253nm, only to see Alex reducing again the distance, in 3 days, for 88.5nm.
After that they entered on strong winds and both put the foot down. Alex's boat is probably the fastest on those conditions and Alex loves those high speeds and hard sailing. The prove is that he beat the 24 world solo sailing record for monohulls on that chase, doing 536.81nm on 24 hours. On 31 hours Alex had managed to recover 1nm per hour over Alex, that is controlling his gains, trying to reduce the risks of breaking the boat to a minimum. Alex , off course, is in full attack mode, sailing very well and both are doing average speeds well over 20, going sometimes near 30K.
Tell me if this is not the craziest vendee globe ever!!! Never saw anything like that😉
Alex is now at 78.4nm from Armel and they still have more 31 hours at full blast. If both manage not to break the boats, they will be facing the last challenge of the race, a ridge of high pressure already near the North coast of France. If Armel manages to continue to control Alex this way, limiting the losses to 1nm per hour, Armel will reach that point with about 58nm over Alex, meaning about a 4 hour advantage.
After that they will have only a bit more than two days sailing to the finish, but that involves a lot of upwind sailing on light winds, tricky sailing, on conditions where the forecasts are not always very precise. We will have a great race to the final with these two fighting to the bitter end a huge war, like champions they are.