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Can a foiler win the Vendee Globe?

With five of the top skippers on foils the consensus is that the winner of the Vendée Globe will be one of them, if they make it to the finish.

Will the new foiling boats, their technology really only race course tested over the last eighteen months, prove reliable enough to make it to the finish?

One theoretical favourite to win is Armel Le Cléac'h, backed by Banque Populaire, he has finished second twice in the last two Vendée Globes.

British skipper Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss, Sébastien Josse on Edmond de Rothschild, Jean Pierre Dick on StMichel-Virbac and Jéremie Beyou on Maître CoQ have the capability and the hardware that it takes to win.

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Thompson believes he has a good balance between tested reliability and speed potential, although his foil package has not reached the development level he had wanted to be at.

Thomson said of his foils “Our foil systems are very different to the other boats. On our foils the shaft is doing the work (lifting the hull) and on the others the tip is doing the work."

Thomson also revealed that he has a watch which gives him an electric shock to ensure he wakes from his sleep periods.

His particular worry is straying into the forbidden ice exclusion zone and being penalised.

“The difference in having this exclusion zone is that this will force us to sail VMG down the line. And so the difficulty for us is the possibility of crossing the exclusion line, they have already told us the penalties. The penalties are big."

There are around ten skippers who might make it on to the podium.

The reality of not having to go out into the teeth of a Bay of Biscay storm, instead getting a relatively straightforward passage to Finisterre and into the Portuguese trade winds.

Which is the favourable scenario painted by the current weather outlook – should at least reduce the number of early failures caused by the fierce weather.

The departure of the Vendée Globe will be broadcast LIVE her on Sailweb on November 6 between 8.30am and 1.45pm (Paris local time).

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