Vendee Globe: MACIF demolishes 500 mile/day barrier

As the leaders sail east at warp speed

Monday December 10th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

The Vendee Globe frontrunners are currently charging east at warp speed, ahead of a front bound for the 'Amsterdam' ice gate. While Armel le Cleac'h on Banque Populaire continues to lead, on a charge has been Francois Gabart on MACIF who according to the latest figures has apparently covered 515 in the last 24 hours - after Jean-Pierre Dick on Virbac Paprec 3 took it up to 498.80 on 1 December. We wait for confirmation if this is indeed a new record.

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
          1 hour aver     24hr aver      
 1 Armel Le Cléac'h Banque Pop 41°26.92'S 68°54.24'E 21.5 86° 21.4 19.9 477.2 15606.7 0
 2 François Gabart MACIF 41°29.20'S 68°35.38'E 23.6 89° 23.3 21.5 515.6 15621 14.3
 3 Jean-Pierre Dick Virbac 40°47.47'S 66°52.04'E 21.2 80° 21 20.6 494.7 15693.7 87.1
 4 Bernard Stamm Cheminees 41°01.12'S 66°15.80'E 19.2 82° 19.2 20.2 484.7 15721.8 115.2
 5 Alex Thomson Hugo Boss 40°06.83'S 65°53.08'E 19.6 76° 18.7 19.7 482.1 15738.7 132.1
 6 Mike  Golding Gamesa 38°22.48'S 57°36.58'E 15.1 74° 13.3 16.1 385.3 16133.7 527.1
 7 Jean Le Cam SynerCiel 38°06.35'S 57°12.76'E 14.1 76° 12.6 16.3 390.9 16155.6 548.9
 8 Dominique Wavre Mirabaud 38°42.47'S 55°18.24'E 10.8 105° 10.8 14.7 353.5 16235.6 629
 9 Javier Sanso Acciona 39°52.47'S 38°47.36'E 15.8 86° 15.7 13.4 322.5 16995.8 1389.1
 10 Arnaud  Boissières Akena Verandas 42°27.71'S 31°21.79'E 8.5 112° 7.4 10.1 243.6 17345.7 1739.1
 11 Bertrand De Broc Votre nom 42°03.62'S 23°18.85'E 2.9 165° 0.8 5.5 131.5 17700.9 2094.2
 12 Tanguy  Delamotte Initiatives Coeur 42°26.08'S 17°22.62'E 12.7 83° 12.5 9.1 219.4 17963.8 2357.1
 13 Alessandro Di Benedetto Team Plastique 45°45.30'S 06°14.40'E 9.4 81° 9.1 10.7 257.8 18525.5 2918.9
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)            

As present the lead IMOCA 60s are into their optimum conditions charging east in the 25-30 knot northwesterlies and relatively arranged sea state ahead of a cold front. He with the biggest cajones at present seems to be MACIF skipper Francois Gabart, who in addition to his monster 24 hour run (we await to see if he betters this at the 1100 and 1500 scheds), for the last four hours has managed an average speed of 23.4 knots (which equates to 561 miles in 24 hours). As a result Gabart has closed to within 14 miles of Banque Populaire, down from 49 a day ago.

Having gybed east at different times coming out of the last ice gate, so there remains north-south separation between the leaders with Banque Pop and MACIF in the south and Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss on a track some 85 miles to their north, although he has just hardened up slightly to the north. Yesterday afternoon the British rocket rose to third place, just 96 miles behind the race leader at the final sched yesterday, but overnight has since dropped back to fifth place. Hopefully this is just a having less wind issue.

As they head for the next icegate (the western end of it is 378 miles away Banque Populaire at the latest sched), on this occasion the weather for the leaders looks set to be more co-operative. The leaders should round its eastern end tonight, still in strong northwesterlies ahead of the front.

Behind, among 'the oldies', Mike Golding on Gamesa has staved off yesterday’s attack from Jean Le Cam on SynerCiel. The French veteran had closed to within 7 miles of his British counterpart last night but Golding has now pulled out some miles again. Compared to the leaders, tThis group is substantially further north where the front has smaller teeth. If the GRIBs are correct, Golding and Le Cam are still in northwesterlies ahead of the front while Dominique Wavre on Mirabaud has fallen off its back and into the ridge behind it.

Golding feels the weather gods are conspiring against his need for sleep. Once again last night he had just settled when a big wind shift wrong footed the autopilot, broached Gamesa and he had to get out of his bunk to sort out the ensuing mess.

"Now we are plugging along quite okay, but conditions are a big fragile," he said this morning. "The winds are up and down and shifting a lot. Last night I had the boat nicely set up with the A3, reaching along when suddenly there was a shift and I had full lock out on the pilot. Since then I have been a bit overcautious, sailing a bit deeper. It seems like the nights have been when the changes have happened, like every time I get my head down.

"This high pressure is more or less with us for a while, stretching out so it is not like we are passing through it. It is frustrating to be losing miles so quickly again but that is just the way it is going to be."

Behind them Spanish skipper Javier Sanso on Acciona 100% Eco Powered is making reasonable progress towards the eastern end of the second 'Crozet' icegate as behind poor Arnaud Boissieres on Akena Verandas has just had another area of high pressure come and sit on him, as similar state to Bertrand de Broc on Votre Nom Autour du Monde, who's averaged just four knots over the last four hours.

Prudence has been foremost in the mind of Italian backmarker Alessandro di Benedetto on Team Plastique through the night. Now down at 45°S and in an area of known ice, he has slowed right down to less than five knots with his mainsail down during the darkness hours, carefully monitoring his radar.

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