Vendee Globe: Down to 13

Jean-Pierre Dick and Alex Thomson on the rise

Sunday November 25th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Our condolences go to Vincent Riou who this morning has announced his retirement from the Vendee Globe, following PRB's collision yesterday morning with an adrift buoy that caused severe damage to both PRB's hull and lower starboard shroud. More here.

Meanwhile the front runners continue to get lifted as the wind backs into the northeast.

Image above courtesy of Expedition with GRIB files from Predictwind

Positions at 0800 UTC

Pos Skipper Boat Lat Long Spd Crs VMG Spd2 Dist DTF DTL
          1hr aver     24hr aver      
 1 Armel Le Cléac'h Banque Pop 18°08.43'S 26°16.96'W 13.6 149° 12 12.2 292.4 20158.9 0
 2 François Gabart MACIF 17°40.06'S 27°10.91'W 12.3 159° 9.7 12.1 291.1 20215.8 56.9
 3 Jean-Pierre Dick Virbac 18°05.92'S 27°40.90'W 11.4 157° 9.1 13.9 333.8 20219.1 60.1
 4 Bernard Stamm Cheminees 15°46.59'S 26°55.96'W 13.6 162° 10.5 12.5 299.7 20284.3 125.4
 5 Alex Thomson Hugo Boss 16°22.81'S 27°35.00'W 11.5 164° 8.5 13.7 327.8 20285.7 126.8
 6 Mike  Golding Gamesa 13°54.92'S 30°30.92'W 12.3 180° 6.7 12.5 300.1 20510.5 351.6
7 Jean Le Cam SynerCiel 13°33.76'S 31°31.30'W 15.3 168° 10.7 13.1 313.8 20567.2 408.3
8 Dominique Wavre Mirabaud 12°01.09'S 31°05.13'W 12.2 159° 10 11.1 267.2 20614.7 455.8
9 Javier Sanso Acciona 05°40.48'S 29°31.40'W 11.6 166° 9.4 10.3 248.3 20834.9 676
10 Tanguy  Delamotte Initiatives Coeur 04°24.79'S 29°08.60'W 10 162° 8.6 9.8 235.2 20878.8 719.9
11 Arnaud  Boissières Akena Verandas 05°02.63'S 31°30.60'W 11.2 168° 8.8 10.7 255.8 20940.6 781.6
12 Bertrand De Broc Votre nom 03°14.45'S 31°52.45'W 12.4 188° 6.8 10.6 253.5 21037.2 878.2
13 Alessandro Di Benedetto Team Plastique 03°16.11'N 25°25.06'W 10.1 162° 9.9 7.4 176.8 21131.8 972.9
RET Vincent  Riou PRB Damage to hull and lower shroud after collision with drifting buoy (24 Nov)    
RET Zbigniew Gutowski  Energa Autopilot failure (21 Nov)              
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)              

So the Vendee Globe fleet is now down to 13 boats or 65% of the starters that left Les Sables d'Olonne two weeks ago. Three of the seven retirees have had their hopes dashed following collisions. This raises questions about the operation of the equipment the boats are using, such as radar sets with zone alarms and in particular when skippers have this equipment switched on, and the fuel carrying/power charging implications of this. In addition to simply attempting to avoid such incidents in the future, there is a legal compliance with the ColRegs aspect to this - for example we don't know how the trawlers fared through this, although clearly the crews on these vessels weren't keeping an adequate watch either.

Back to the race and leader Armel le Cleac'h on Banque Populaire has continued to add miles to the boats chasing him over the last 24 hours, with the exception of Jean-Pierre Dick on Virbac-Paprec 3 and Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss, who have both closed on him. At the first sched this morning, Virbac had overhauled Francois Gabart on MACIF to pull into second place, but Gabart has since won this back.

Gabart reported: "The sea has flattened. The boat glides gently along. It does not beat speed records, of course, but the feeling of gliding gently is so nice."

While Gabart and Dick are neck and neck, behind them so are Thomson and Bernard Stamm on Cheminees Poujoulat, although over the last few days they have been continually losing ground on the leaders, Thomson only getting back in his stride yesterday, presumably with more time to focus on sailing the boat fast now his hydrogenerator is repaired. Over the last 24 hours he has recovered 12 miles against the race leader.

Behind, among the 'oldies', the separation between Mike Golding on Gamesa and Jean le Cam on SynerCiel remains much the same as yesterday, with the British solo round the world vet now 56 miles ahead of his French counterpart. They and Dominique Wavre on Mirabaud are at present due east of Salvador de Bahia.

This morning Golding commented: "We were reasonably fast for most of the night but it is now overcast and the breeze is down again. It’s been steady progress, but it is just a long slog around the high, taking the rotation of the breeze as it comes. It is fine, it is straightforward and you have to be grateful for the easy miles but I am really now just wanting to get down and attack the south. I'll be looking forward to this kind of sailing on the way back.

"Looking ahead it’s hard to see what the next opportunity will be. I am disappointed to see the miles ahead to the leaders, but then that was going to happen. There is the high ballooning across, but it is difficult to see if that will slow them or me. The timing will be critical and at the moment it is not clear. It could go either way.

"I crossed tracks with PRB which was slowly headed west. I saw him on the radar. And that’s the thing, seeing the number of boats which have been injured already, and so that is one reason not to be too worried to be 300 miles or so behind at the moment, we know a lot can happen. Any thoughts of a record must be gone. We are on the long way round here and have spent a lot of time on the wind. This is looking like a 90 dayer to me at the moment."

At the rear of the fleet, in the northern hemisphere, still 225 miles from the equator, back marker Alessandro Di Benedetto on Team Plastique has finally extricated himself from the Doldrums.

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