RAF captures amazing shots of Dalin (Vendée Globe update 6Jan21)

While conducting routine maritime patrol reconnaissance within the Falkland Conservation Zone, the A400M of Royal Air Force captured imagery of Charlie Dalin sailing close to the Islands.

Aerial images courtesy of Corporal Philip Dye

“The big South is a special place,” says Dalin. “It’s hostile, there is always sea, wind, more wind than you think. The wind is heavy, powerful because it is cold. It is a jumble of feelings to be in the middle of nowhere, far from any civilisation. I spoke to a fishing boat at the beginning of the Indian ocean, it was the only one that I met in the whole South.

“For 30 days, I saw no sign of human life. We forget our life before the south, just as we forget the life before the pandemic. I forgot about life before the Southern Ocean. The other boats no longer existed, the land no longer existed. You are in an endless world of water.

“It is unique in the world to be in a place where the closest people are the astronauts. Right now the contrast is stark like when I spoke with the lighthouse keeper a the Horn, I saw a British RAF plane that flew over me, and now the maritime traffic reappears. It is reminiscent of the movie Waterworld. I feel like I’m coming back from a water world where the land was a fantasy. I come back from another planet. I’ve been through things that I wouldn’t have experienced anywhere else, obviously that will have an influence on me.”

Boris Herrmann has fixed his mainsail.

“I am happy to have got around the Horn but I hardly noticed it. I was just fully focused on repairing my mainsail.

“It was complicated because it was structural, I had to dry and clean two layers up there in 45 knots of wind, it was pretty hairy on deck and I suppose it was well intentioned, but I finished today in the sunshine in the Atlantic. And now it is finally great to be in the Atlantic, sunshine, lighter winds and blue skies. And I have a mainsail up and that is just great.”

Hear from skippers around the fleet

Pip Hare is prepping for 12 hours of intense sailing

She’s got her storm jib ready to go as the weather starts to look ominous. The sea’s building, and she says it’s difficult to stand up down below.

Watch her describe her process (09.43 6Jan21).

Miranda Merron’s been struggling with technical issues

“Yesterday before nightfall, the B&G autopilot, which has been almost faultless for weeks, started misbehaving in wind mode, pushing the helm hard over each way four times every time the boat slowed a bit in the waves in 25+ knots.

“It was highly unnerving, not to mention dangerous as the boat slewed perilously close to crash gybing one way and wiping out the other. I tried compass mode which worked for a while until it too started doing the same thing. I didn’t dare switch to the NKE as the compass heading it displayed bore no reality to either magnetic or true, and I wasn’t quite sure what it would do. It was too rough to use in wind mode as there is a loose connection or something somewhere aloft.

“In amongst all this, I had to gybe, which involves furling the headsail, going dead downwind and unfurling again on the new side to take the pressure off the mainsail and gybe it and the runners without wiping out.

“I only had time to move half the interior as the wind was shifting. It was pretty full-on trying to keep the boat in a straight line dead downwind as the autopilot didn’t take kindly to the lower speed and was steering all over the place. Luckily the wind had dropped for a few minutes, only to kick in at 30 knots straight afterwards. Naturally it was the middle of the night, but it’s never quite dark here. Having not slept, I had a siesta on the floor of the boat with it slewing wildly from time to time. Philippe Roger tried to help out before dawn, to no avail. At daybreak, I contacted B&G and NKE for the respective issues, and touch wood, both pilots are working.

“Thank you to David at NKE for the quick fix of the compass heading bug, and to Felix and the team at B&G for their trouble-shooting.

“Easy conditions now, and just trying to work out how to tackle the nasty low that on its way in a couple of days. The only thing I’m sure about is having plenty of runway, a long way from the forbidden ice zone.”

Watch yesterday’s round up from race organisers

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