Thirteen years that Yannick Bestaven, 47, was waiting to see the tide turn in his favor. Exactly since that day in November 2008, when her mast was washed away in the Bay of Biscay, the day after the start, by a gale that decimated a good part of the Vendée Globe fleet. Years of maritime galleys followed, chomping at the bit in class 40 (13 m monohulls), piling up victories or places of honor that hardly resonated outside the closed circle of sailors.
Before finding a boat thanks to the buyout by its sponsor “Master Rooster” from the old Saffron, of Morgan Lagravière, the sailor alternated races against time at sea and in business. After his failure in 2008, he had chosen to set up a business and promote his technical choice, during his interrupted Vendée Globe, to take a hydrogenerator of his invention on board. A frustrated sailor, Yannick Bestaven would become a successful entrepreneur through his company Watt § Sea, which equips most of the Imocas in this Vendée Globe.
Once again, the sailors’ evil eye seemed to be on him again. After a month in the lead in the Pacific, an unfavorable weather front and a succession of damages allowed the pack of his pursuers to pounce on him. Dropped to fifth place at the equator in the Atlantic, held back by a final concern for rudder the day before the finish, his chances of getting on the podium seemed very slim, in view of the cavalcade in front of Charlie Dalin and Boris Herrmann, perched on two more recent foilers and theoretically faster.
Boris Herrmann hits a trawler
But the wind gods finally blew in its sails. Charlie Dalin arrived first, Wednesday 27 at 8:35 pm But Le Havre knew his provisional triumph, given the announcement of the arrival of Boris Herrmann, expected five hours late. The German had a six-hour time credit following his participation in the rescue of Kevin Escoffier in December.
Herrmann holding the rope, would the ten hours credited to Yannick Bestaven, also a stakeholder in Operation Escoffier, be enough, at least for the podium? An hour after the arrival of Charlie Dalin, the calculators were going well, until the thunderclap of the evening: the collision between Boris Herrmann’s monohull and a trawler in the congested waters of the Bay of Biscay.
→ TICKET. Vendée Globe, the bonus has the last word
In the early morning hours of Thursday January 28, Boris Herrmann, safe and sound but severely damaged foil, is sailing at low speed towards Les Sables d’Olonne, which he will not join before the end of the morning. Leaving the three medalists Yannick Bestaven, Charlie Dalin and Louis Burton, the care of savoring the podium after a hot shower and a first meal of land.
Jean Le Cam still in the running for third place
Fine players, the two beaten did not shy away from their pleasure. Perfectly aware of being a very provisional first, Charlie Dalin will cut short at a press conference any controversy concerning the overturning of the classification because of the bonuses. “If the race director had called me (to take care of the castaway Kevin Escoffier), I would have done it without hesitation, even if I had to back up and sail into the wind. It is normal that the skippers who are diverted have bonuses ”, did he declare.
Louis Burton, brilliant third after having cut the line behind Dalin, enjoys a first podium after ten years of chasing the best. He did not even think of bringing up the subject of bonuses by setting foot on the ground, too happy to be there.
“There is great joy in reuniting with my loved ones and being out of any danger. Cut the line in 2e position, it’s a crazy thing, especially with the race that I lived, he said, I haven’t said anything in recent days. I had a fire at the entrance to the doldrums so a general blackout of the entire electrical system. There is hardly any electricity in the boat, only the pilot was working. “
After that crazy night, one of the most beautiful in the history of ocean racing, there are still many chapters to write. Starting with that of fourth place, provisionally assigned to Thomas Rettant, arrived around 6 am, Thursday 28, in the bay of Sables d’Olonne. Here again, the Northerner is not sure to keep this consolation prize, because the third of the skippers holding a bonus following the sinking of Kevin Escoffier, Jean Le Cam (4:15 p.m. credit) is tacking all sails out. towards the Vendée.
Will King John head to the post for fourth place Thomas Rettant and his discreet pursuer Giancarlo Pedote? This is one of the many questions still open for a race that is far from over. More than twenty competitors are still at sea and the last one is expected in Les Sables in a month.