Lagravière’s look at the race (5)

“The end of the suspense”

With only about a week to go before we know the outcome of the Vendée Globe, Morgan Lagravière would prefer not to make any risky speculations, but for him, Armel Le Cléac'h (Banque Populaire VIII) is poised to win...and in the wake of that there will be a good few years of reflection on the future of foiling monohulls.

In the Doldrums, we saw Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) get as close as 65 miles to Armel Le Cléac'h (Banque Populaire VIII), now the gap is back to 250 miles again. Will the suspense continue during the final week?

Morgan: In my opinion, no. There are no real opportunities for radical options. Alex's Doldrums was easier than Armel's, which explains that narrowing gap. Alex has a boat that is ideal for downwind angles, but Armel has an advantage upwind and his boat is very versatile. Unless he has a technical problem, I can't see a scenario where Hugo Boss arrives first, or even where there's a duel on the finish line. Armel has led for the whole race, he will win.

 

It is time to take stock of the experience that has been gained during the race. How do you see the next four years in terms of the architectural direction of the boats?

One thing is certain; this Vendée Globe will change the design of the boats. We'll learn lots of lessons. This year, we had multi-purpose hulls on which we tested the foils. These hulls will now be optimised 100% to work with the foils. They will be narrower and therefore lighter. However, this doesn't mean that the existing boats will be left behind. To develop a boat takes years and to have a monohull that is both reliable and high-performance is priceless.

 

When the winner crosses the finish line in Les Sables d'Olonne, the backmarker will be right in the middle of the Pacific. It is an unprecedented situation, because in previous editions of the race the gaps were smaller. What's your analysis of this situation?

It illustrates the pattern right from the start. There are two races within the race, with different goals. The frontrunners, much faster than the competitors of the previous editions, have ceaselessly puched the level of performance. While the other group of competitors didn't leave with the ambition to be among the leaders. Above all, finishing this race is a feat, no matter how long it takes. This edition has perhaps seen the return of a certain type of adventurer, because there are a lot this year.