Vendee Globe: Gybing south

Banque Populaire extends while PRB is on a charge as the boats approach the Cape Verdes

Saturday November 17th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Yesterday the frontrunners in the Vendee Globe, in near unison, gybed south on to port and since then the leaders, with Armel le Cleac'h on Banque Populaire still out in front, have been gradually getting richer. Elsewhere in the fleet Sam Davies has formally retired following Saveol's unfortunate dismasting on Thursday night. This leaves just 16 boats racing, while Javier Sanso on Acciona 100% EcoPowered has departed the Canary Islands where he had sought shelter to climb aloft to recover his main halyard and repair his mainsail's headboard.

Image above courtesy of Expedition with GRIB files from Predictwind

Positions at 0800 UTC

Pos Skipper Boat Lat Long Spd Crs Spd Dist DTF DTL
          1 hour av   24 hour av      
 1 Armel Le Cléac'h Banque Pop 19°39.62'N 26°57.64'W 17.4 188° 13.9 334.4 22119.3 0
 2 Bernard Stamm Cheminees 20°20.45'N 25°58.78'W 14.6 182° 12.5 301.2 22155.9 36.6
 3 François Gabart MACIF 20°34.34'N 26°21.47'W 13.9 206° 11.9 286 22171 51.7
 4 Jean-Pierre Dick Virbac 20°59.90'N 26°27.49'W 18.5 184° 13.8 330.5 22196.9 77.6
 5 Vincent  Riou PRB 21°01.43'N 26°39.28'W 17.5 179° 14.1 337.4 22199.3 79.9
 6 Alex Thomson Hugo Boss 21°46.04'N 26°13.90'W 19 172° 11.6 277.6 22242.1 122.8
 7 Jérémie Beyou Maitre CoQ 22°27.82'N 25°33.97'W 13.6 178° 10.6 254.8 22282.3 163
 8 Mike  Golding Gamesa 23°47.77'N 23°56.70'W 13.6 231° 10.4 249.7 22363.2 243.8
 9 Jean Le Cam SynerCiel 23°49.76'N 23°29.46'W 13.9 229° 10.6 255.4 22366.6 247.2
 10 Dominique Wavre Mirabaud 24°09.02'N 25°29.13'W 11.7 181° 10.2 244.7 22383.4 264.1
 11 Arnaud  Boissières Akena Verandas 24°51.92'N 22°47.26'W 11.7 231° 10.8 259 22431.5 312.2
 12 Tanguy  Delamotte Initiatives Coeur 28°24.28'N 22°09.31'W 13.5 241° 12.8 306.4 22646.2 526.9
 13 Javier Sanso Acciona 27°25.84'N 15°57.84'W 13.8 164° 5.3 126.5 22660.3 541
 14 Bertrand De Broc Votre nom 29°54.62'N 26°21.42'W 11.7 166° 12.1 289.5 22730.4 611.1
 15 Zbigniew Gutowski  Energa 31°43.46'N 26°13.61'W 5.9 219° 9.7 232.5 22838.8 719.5
 16 Alessandro Di Benedetto Team Plastique 32°05.81'N 21°27.65'W 12.9 236° 13.4 322.6 22870.3 751
RET Sam Davies Saveol Dismasted              
RET Louis Burton Bureau Vallée Struck by a trawler. Damaged rigging          
RET Kito  De Pavant Groupe Bel Struck by a trawler. Boat holed          
RET Marc Guillemot Safran Titanium keel broke            

From being virtually neck and neck yesterday morning, so the front runners gybed south at around 1000 UTC followed by the second wave late in the afternoon and since then more separation has developed between the lead trio with race favourite Armel le Cleac'h on Banque Populaire now 36 miles in front of Bernard Stamm's Cheminees Poujouat, who overnight has relieved Francois Gabart's MACIF of second place. But from being 11 miles apart, 24 hours on 51 miles now separates the top trio.

Of the second wave Vincent Riou has done best through over the last day and is the only boat in the fleet to have gained ground on Banque Populaire, thanks to his continued holding of the right side of the course, elevating PRB from seventh place to fourth. He is now two miles from Jean-Pierre Dick on Virbac-Paprec 3, who is also doing well, notching up the highest average speed in the fleet over the last hour. The two boats have been on converging courses since gybing south.

After his meteoric rise over Thursday-Friday, Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss has done less well over the last 24 hours having lost 57 miles on Banque Populaire over this period, dropping him to sixth. However he still has a 40 mile advantage over Jeremie Beyou on the similarly vintaged Farr design, Maitre Coq.

Since following MACIF by taking the southerly route around the ridge earlier in the week, Mike Golding on Gamesa and Jean le Cam on Synerciel are converging with the fleet once again and look set to pull in ahead of Dominique Wavre's Mirabaud.

This morning Golding reported: “It’s not too bad now. I’ve got 18kts of wind and we are trucking nicely west. I am just waiting for the gybe, so hopefully the quietest stuff is over for the moment. I am slowly seeing the breeze build and it is staying more stable now. The breeze will clock round progressively now so there is no actual shift in the wind direction I am waiting for, so it is just a question of picking the right time. But for sure I prefer to put some in the bank, to go a little further west, rather than regret it later. And I am sure that Jean will go first. Otherwise everything is going OK. I am pretty tired just now because I am hanging on for the gybe and you don’t want to go to sleep and miss the time.”

At the latest sched Banque Populaire is just over 300 miles northwest of the Cape Verdes. She and MACIF appear to be sailing a deeper angle than Cheminees Poujoulat and the boats chasing. The boats are into the trades which are slowly veering into the ENE the further south the boats sail. While there's an area of high pressure due west of the Cape Verdes at present, this is forecast to disappear with the trades continuing to veer into the east taking the boats all the way to the Doldrums. At present the Doldrums appear to be around 5degN.


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