Vendee Globe: Stamm on a charge

As Banque Populaire resumes control en route to the second icegate

Tuesday December 4th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Business is back to normal in the Vendee Globe with Armel le Cleac'h on Banque Populaire having maintained and extended his lead over the last 24 hours. Le Cleac'h has also set a new Vendee Globe record for the passage from Les Sables d'Olonne to the Cape of Good Hope. This now stands at 22 days 23 hours 48 minutes, 24 hours 2 hours and 22 minutes less than the record previously set by Vincent Riou and PRB on their way to winning the 2004 Vendée Globe.

Image above courtesy of Expedition with GRIB files from Predictwind

Positions at 0800 UTC

Pos Skipper Boat Lat Long Spd Crs VMG Spd Dist DTF DTL
          1hr aver     24hr aver      
 1 Armel Le Cléac'h Banque Pop 40°15.50'S 24°57.14'E 17.7 69° 16.5 15.6 373.2 17609.7 0
 2 Jean-Pierre Dick Virbac 40°30.32'S 24°15.74'E 18 78° 17.7 14.6 349.2 17641.3 31.6
 3 François Gabart MACIF 40°51.38'S 23°51.67'E 17.9 88° 17.9 14.3 342.3 17658.5 48.8
 4 Bernard Stamm Cheminees 40°33.20'S 23°24.42'E 17.3 100° 17.2 16.4 394.5 17680.3 70.6
 5 Alex Thomson Hugo Boss 41°29.17'S 20°36.26'E 14.7 104° 14.4 15.7 376.8 17803.2 193.4
 6 Mike  Golding Gamesa 40°22.10'S 14°17.68'E 16.7 82° 15.9 15.2 364.4 18094.7 485
 7 Jean Le Cam SynerCiel 40°55.88'S 13°14.68'E 15.5 92° 15.5 14.7 353.3 18136.9 527.2
 8 Dominique Wavre Mirabaud 41°04.32'S 12°34.94'E 15 101° 14.2 15.7 375.6 18166.6 556.9
 9 Javier Sanso Acciona 39°30.97'S 01°38.20'E 12.2 127° 11.2 11.6 278.6 18674.6 1064.9
 10 Arnaud  Boissières Akena Verandas 38°07.52'S 09°44.85'W 13.1 135° 11.6 11 264.4 19210 1600.2
 11 Bertrand De Broc Votre nom 38°40.60'S 13°42.27'W 16 101° 16 15.2 364.8 19380.2 1770.4
 12 Tanguy  Delamotte Initiatives Coeur 37°10.13'S 13°19.65'W 12.6 120° 12.4 11.9 286.1 19389.4 1779.7
 13 Alessandro Di Benedetto Team Plastique 32°39.22'S 21°13.15'W 10.6 124° 10.5 11.7 280.6 19852.8 2243.1
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)              

The frontrunners are currently negotiating another Southern Ocean cold front which is just about the cross them and, of course, being ahead gives le Cleac'h another opportunity to further build his lead before the front reaches him and the wind backs into the southwest and the sea gets ugly.

However the big news of the last 24 hours has been the come back of Bernard Stamm and Cheminees Poujoulat. The powerful Juan K design is known to be weapon in the conditions the boats are currently experiencing and although Cheminees Poujoulat is slower now that the front has passed her, over the last 24 hours Stamm has taken 20 miles out of the leader, whereas almost all the other boats in the fleet have lost ground.

Stamm reported: “A restless night aboard Cheminées Poujoulat: Rough and wet. The wind is between 20 and 28 knots. It changes, a lot but it is wonderful, so I am happy. Early yesterday night, I had a very difficult sea, where the waves intersected, and suddenly become totally disorganised. Downwind, the boat was doing impressive jumps and then we smashed hard into the trough of the wave. The noise was very disturbing. It eventually settled, little by little. Cheminées Poujoulat kept driving haltingly into surfing waves, which resulted in gallons of water washing over the bridge. It’s going well and I feel that we finally advance substantially, sailing at the same speed as the system as the wind is settling.”

So we can now think of the front wave as comprising four boats, while Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss is very much on his own in fifth place with Stamm more than 120 miles ahead of him and Mike Golding on Gamesa almost 300 miles astern of him. In order to 'ride' the front, Thomson over the last day has taken Hugo Boss off on a southeasterly course but now the front has passed he has to fight back to the north.

The leaders are currently heading for the second icegate. This is the one which last week was moved substantially north taking the boats out of the Roaring Forties to entice them away from known ice fields. At the latest sched the western end of this ice gate is 790 miles from Banque Populaire.

This morning, the 'oldies' in the second wave have passed the western end of the first ice gate. Among this group, Mike Golding on Gamesa has further extended his lead, his advantage over Jean le Cam on SynerCiel up by 11 miles to 42 at the latest sched. Le Cam revealed yesterday that he had had to dive over the side of his boat (mid-Southern Ocean remember) to cut away a fishing net that had got entangled around his yacht's keel.

"When I dived yesterday, I did not have the time to think about the cold," le Cam recounted in his matter of fact way. "You have to think about the plan before you go down. I tried everything before going down. But I was very very happy when I got back onboard! Those are incredible moments. Scuba diving south of 40°S is unbelievable. This is what the Vendée Globe magic is to me. You go from white to black in a moment. There is no grey in the Vendée Globe..."

Mike Golding reported this morning having had a rough night in large seas. He passed the western end of the icegate at around midnight. "We went from the Code 3, to the 7 and one reef then two reefs. I wiped out twice, badly. It was not so much because we were over the range of the sails, but just the big seas, the sea state was bad, and the waves just meant we lost it twice. We probably had around 30 kts but getting the right sail combination was not easy. There is a lot a crashing and banging at the moment.

"This was in the forecast, a bit more than expected in the gusts. When we wiped out there was a spike of 40 knots and a big shift in direction. So it is not very conducive to fast sailing and we have had to back off just a little."

Back in the Atlantic, the latter half of the fleet has extricated itself from the clutches of the St Helena high. Akena Verandas, Initiatives Coeur and Votre Nom Autour du Monde are all currently in the vicinity of Tristan da Cunha. As expected Bertrand de Broc on Votre Nom on his fast but long track around the high has overhauled Tanguy de LaMotte on Initiatives Coeur and is now has Arnaud Boissieres on Akena Verandas in his sights.

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