A Sailing Marathon Becomes a Sprint to the Finish

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Charlie Dalin's Apivia is shown with competitors on its tail at the November 8, 2020, start of the Vendée Globe race. With less than 48 hours to go, this week's finish, almost three months and a full circumnavigation later, is still too close to call.

Charlie Dalin's Apivia is shown with competitors on its tail at the November 8, 2020, start of the Vendée Globe race. With less than 48 hours to go, this week's finish, almost three months and a full circumnavigation later, is still too close to call.

After almost 80 days and more than 24,300 nautical miles of racing, the Vendée Globe round-the-world race winner may be decided by the layline the sailors pick in the last 100 miles to get to the finish off France’s Atlantic Coast.

Computer models predict that the winner will arrive sometime late on Wednesday and suggest that the first three skippers could finish within four hours of each other. Depending on how the wind blows, they could even finish within minutes of each other.

It is also still possible that fifth-placed Yannick Bestaven, who as of Monday afternoon was 253 miles behind leader Charlie Dalin, could still win because of the 10-hour, 15-minute time compensation he was given for his search for Kevin Escoffier after that skipper’s boat sank in the Southern Ocean. If not the win, Bestaven could still garner a podium appearance.

Meanwhile, some of the leading sailors are experiencing foil problems which allow them to go fast on one tack, but not on the other. And then there are the route options. Some of the sailors have headed north, while others have headed east. Eventually their tracks will converge again, but nobody knows for sure which route will have the most favorable winds.

To deal with so many sailors coming to the finish line in so short a time, the race director has decided to lengthen the finish line from 0.3 miles to 1.9 miles to give the fleet enough runway to slow down after they finish.

To follow the sailors as they pass through the Bay of Biscay and close in on Les Sables-d'Olonne, go to the Vendée Globe Track Map.

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