Vendee Globe: Back into the northwesterlies

Leaders anticipating a fast day finally having rounded the Crozet ice gate

Sunday December 9th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Following our last update on Friday morning, the leaders have made it around the eastern end of the Crozet ice gate and since then have got back up to speed as the northwesterlies have filled in as the high has disappeared off to the northeast. Meanwhile at the latest sched 'the oldies' are rounding the eastern end of the icegate having closed significantly on the leaders.

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
          1hour aver     4hr aver      
 1 Armel Le Cléac'h Banque Pop 41°47.12'S 58°16.16'E 20.6 95° 20.5 15.9 380.8 16083.1 0
 2 François Gabart MACIF 40°52.31'S 57°11.60'E 19.8 109° 19 11.8 282.4 16132.7 49.6
 3 Jean-Pierre Dick Virbac 40°22.83'S 56°01.06'E 17.2 97° 17.2 10.4 249.9 16188.3 105.2
 4 Bernard Stamm Cheminees 41°02.58'S 55°32.80'E 13.7 95° 13.7 10 240.4 16206.6 123.5
 5 Alex Thomson Hugo Boss 39°47.45'S 55°24.29'E 19.2 93° 19.2 11.2 267.7 16220.3 137.2
 6 Mike  Golding Gamesa 39°11.01'S 49°26.05'E 16.6 66° 16.6 15.1 361.3 16503.8 420.7
 7 Jean Le Cam SynerCiel 39°17.30'S 49°11.27'E 17.6 69° 17.6 15.6 374.4 16516.8 433.7
 8 Dominique Wavre Mirabaud 39°27.83'S 48°07.45'E 17.2 65° 17 14.5 347.9 16566.8 483.7
 9 Javier Sanso Acciona 41°07.39'S 31°54.68'E 14.4 93° 14.3 13.6 325.3 17314 1230.9
 10 Arnaud  Boissières Akena Verandas 42°50.18'S 25°51.94'E 13 76° 12.8 12 288.1 17589.3 1506.2
 11 Bertrand De Broc Votre nom 41°54.78'S 20°22.34'E 7 106° 6.8 9.5 227.2 17832.3 1749.2
 12 Tanguy  Delamotte Initiatives Coeur 41°15.43'S 12°43.76'E 7.9 148° 5.1 7.2 172.7 18177.3 2094.2
 13 Alessandro Di Benedetto Team Plastique 44°22.19'S 00°28.73'E 19 130° 12.7 14.7 353.7 18738.6 2655.5
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)            

First back into the strong winds after his prolonged exit from the high, Armel le Cleac'h on Banque Populaire gybed east mid-afternoon on Friday and while the remainder of the front runners rounded the eastern end of the icegate in light winds during the early hours of Saturday morning, le Cleac'h regained the lead by the 1500 sched yesterday afternoon. Around this same time the rest of the leaders had got sufficiently south to find the stronger northwesterlies and gybed east. In fact fifth placed Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss was the first to make this manoeuvre and as a result there is now significant north-south separation between the boats, with around 120 miles between the tracks of Banque Populaire in the south and Hugo Boss, with MACIF, Cheminees Poujoulat and Virbac Paprec 3 in between.

Meanwhile the next front is on its way and the frontrunners are once again lining up to ride this for as long as possible, which will see them powering off to the southeast. If they can pick up speed then it looks like the front will pass them tomorrow.

The next wave, 'the oldies' is due to round the eastern end of the Crozet ice gate this morning. At the 0800 sched Mike Golding on Gamesa was 24 miles from the virtual mark with Jean le Cam on SynerCiel 41 miles from it, having reclaimed 7th place from Dominique Wavre and Mirabaud on Firday morning, the Swiss skipper 91 miles from the gate. As the leaders have had to tackle light winds getting up to the ice gate, 'the oldies' haven't had this problem and as a result they have managed to reduce their decifit on the leaders by one third over the last 48 hours. Gamesa, for example, was 650 miles behind on Friday morning but has since closed to 420 miles. However the concertiina effect through the fleet will be back into its expanding phase over the next 24 hours as the leaders 'ride' the front.

This morning Golding reported: "It’s been a bit of a rubbish night, Compared with Jean Le Cam I don’t seem to have done so well. I kept getting headed and he seemed to be lifted so I seem to have lost a bit to him. But I am back on track now.

"Looking ahead it is not quite the rosy routing that it looked like yesterday, but it is still okay, it’s good. I can still see Armel really getting away after the next gate by a long way, but we need to wait and see on that one.

"I am very near to the gate now, about 32 miles to the eastern mark. It won’t be a gybe as such, just a bear away but it will be good to change the sailplan and get going again. As soon as I bear away I should be able to open up a few miles on Jean again.

"It is always good to put a mark of the course behind you. They do become a big preoccupation, though. It was like this last night. You are working towards a mark which is 150 miles away and you are struggling because you are being headed and you are not getting to sleep because of that. That does not feel like a round the world race, but an offshore race. It is like not being able to get your head down on a Channel Race [English offshore race] it is like racing an offshore points series rather than round the world, but it will still feel good to have it behind me and focus on the next one."


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