Vendee Globe: Average progress south

Banque Populaire still ahead as there is compression across the fleet

Wednesday November 21st 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Now out of the Doldrums, Armel le Cleac'h and Banque Populaire continue to lead the charge in the Vendee Globe. At 07:20 UTC this morning, Banque Populaire crossed the Equator, 10 days 19 hours and 18 minutes since setting sail from Les Sables d'Olonne. This time is  slower than Jean le Cam's 2004 record of 10 days 11 hours and 22 minutes, but faster than Loick Peyron's record on Gitana Eighty in the last race, who took 12 days 8 hours and 58 minutes.

Image above courtesy of Expedition with GRIB files from Predictwind

Positions at 0400 UTC (for some reason the 0800 sched isn't available...)

Pos Skipper Boat Lat Long Spd Crs VMG Spd Dist DTF DTL
          1 hour av     24 hr av      
 1 Armel Le Cléac'h Banque Pop 00°51.12'N 28°19.67'W 11.1 183° 6.2 9.6 230.9 21096.3 0
 2 François Gabart MACIF 02°01.85'N 27°47.39'W 11.1 188° 5.5 9.1 217.8 21132.5 36.2
 3 Bernard Stamm Cheminees 02°15.09'N 27°33.28'W 9.8 182° 5.7 8.5 199.7 21134.5 38.2
 4 Jean-Pierre Dick Virbac 02°04.32'N 27°47.85'W 12.8 199° 4.1 9 216.5 21134.8 38.5
 5 Vincent  Riou PRB 02°07.13'N 27°46.91'W 11 187° 5.6 8.9 212.7 21136.4 40.1
 6 Alex Thomson Hugo Boss 02°17.78'N 27°49.81'W 11.2 208° 1.9 8.9 212.8 21146.7 50.4
 7 Mike  Golding Gamesa 03°49.85'N 28°48.29'W 10.8 192° 4.7 9.6 231.1 21255.2 158.9
 8 Jean Le Cam SynerCiel 04°04.18'N 28°42.23'W 10.7 197° 3.8 10.1 241.7 21262.9 166.6
 9 Dominique Wavre Mirabaud 04°06.47'N 28°42.94'W 10.5 197° 3.8 9.8 235.7 21265.2 168.9
 10 Arnaud  Boissières Akena Verandas 06°34.25'N 27°40.57'W 7.4 171° 7.3 10.2 246 21359.7 263.4
 11 Bertrand De Broc Votre nom 09°49.07'N 27°36.81'W 8.7 173° 8.6 12.2 292.3 21543.5 447.2
 12 Tanguy  Delamotte Initiatives Coeur 11°55.95'N 26°22.15'W 12.6 186° 12.3 11.4 272.9 21654.7 558.4
 13 Javier Sanso Acciona 12°13.95'N 26°36.26'W 14.3 197° 13 12.7 303.6 21674.2 577.9
 14 Alessandro Di Benedetto Team Plastique 18°25.83'N 26°53.06'W 10.9 213° 8.6 10.8 260.3 22045.5 949.2
 15 Zbigniew Gutowski  Energa 30°46.46'N 18°26.99'W 7.9 127° 3.3 7.5 180.5 22817.9 1721.6
RET Jérémie Beyou Maitre CoQ Broken hydraulic ram (19 Nov)              
RET Sam Davies Saveol Dismasted (15 Nov)              
RET Louis Burton Bureau Vallee Rammed by a fishing boat, rigging damage (14 Nov)        
RET Kito de Pavant Groupe Bel Rammed by a fishing boat, hull damage (12 Nov)          
RET Marc Guillemot Safran Titanium keel broke (10 Nov)              

Usually at this stage of the Vendee Globe, with the boats having crossed the Doldrums, the rich get richer as they sail into building southeasterly trade winds. However this isn't the case at present with the St Helena high currently parked off station in the southeast part of the South Atlantic, and, more significantly, a new area of high pressure emanating from northern Brazil. As a result the going remains light for the front runners with speeds barely into double figures.

So Banque Populaire hasn't managed to pull a horizon job on the fleet, her lead over Francois Gabart's second placed sistership MACIF 36 miles according to the official numbers, but in reality more like 74 miles down the race track in terms of where the boats are actually heading - a marginal increase up from the 68 miles we calculated as being Banque Pop's advantage at the 0800 sched yesterday.

The second wave following Banque Populaire remains fantastically close, with MACIF, PRB and Virbac still neck and neck, but with Hugo Boss and Cheminees Poujouat dropping back slightly. So despite the official sched above, the real situation is that MACIF is second with Virbac Paprec 3 just two miles astern in third, and in fourth PRB a further three miles back - all three boats on pretty much the same track. Cheminees Poujoulat is out to the east a further 10 miles back from PRB while just sixth, Hugo Boss, is level pegged with Stamm's boat and now slightly off to the right (west) side of the track.

The third wave behind has continued to do a good job in closing in on those ahead (bear in mind that between Wavre, Golding and le Cam there are probably more Doldrums crossings than the rest of the skippers in the race combined...). The official figures have Golding's Gamesa currently 108 miles astern of Hugo Boss, compared to 120 yesterday. Our figures have Gamesa in fact just 85 miles astern of Hugo Boss. These three are closer to the high out to the west, but are still managing to average around 10 knots, only a fraction of a knot less than the leaders.

Around 150 miles behind them (by our calcs) Arnaud Boissieres on Akena Verandas position-wise should place him in the thick of the Doldrums, albeit his average speed is not that much different to the boats ahead of him. The official numbers have 95 miles between him and ninth placed Dominique Wavre on Mirabaud, compared to 130 at 0800 yesterday. Also on the charge are Bertrand de Broc on Votre Autour du Monde who's deficit on Akena has come down from 241 miles yesterday morning to 184 at the latest sched, but Javier Sanso on Acciona 100% Eco Powered is recording the highest speed in the fleet, soon to relieve Tanguy de LaMotte on Initatives Coeur of 12th place.

Weather-wise, as mentioned, the St Helena high is currently parked in the southeast South Atlantic and occasionally in this positon the depression travelling east out into the Indian Ocean. Meanwhile off to the west side of the soutern South Atlantic, a depression has just launched east out of the River Plate with another area of high pressure to the south of it, currently centred due east of the Falklands. Both these latter two meteorological features are shifting east and come Thursday the high is due to meld with the main area of high pressure on Thursday. This has the effect of firstly shoving the depression north, so that come Friday morning it is centred some 800 miles southeast of Rio, at which point the two highs are fully melded. So, rather unusually the high is set to be located over 40°S, just north of Gough Island (which of course is a new mark of the course, which the boats must remain north of).

The good news is that with no area of high pressure dominating the central South Atlantic, this forecast offers the possibility of the boats 'cutting the corner' with a major expressway of strong northwesterlies to propel the boats towards the Southern Ocean setting up later in the week.


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