Vendee Globe: Good day for the Brits

As Golding rounds Cape Horn and Alex Thomson strikes gold off the Argentine coast

Wednesday January 9th 2013, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

In the early hours of this morning, Mike Golding and Gamesa rounded Cape Horn, the British legend setting a new record becoming the first person to have raced around the Horn three times in both direction (more here). Meanwhile on his course closer to the Argentine coastline, Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss has been making great inroads into Jean-Pierre Dick and Virbac Paprec 3. Could a roast beef get on the podium in this race?

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
          1 hour aver     24hr aver      
 1 François Gabart MACIF 32°24.77'S 33°08.65'W 11.5 55° 9.2 12.2 293.3 5094.9 0
 2 Armel Le Cléac'h Banque Pop 33°25.47'S 35°41.38'W 10.9 54° 9 10.5 252.6 5192.9 98
 3 Jean-Pierre Dick Virbac 39°40.27'S 36°41.65'W 8.3 73° 5 8.8 210.5 5562.5 467.6
 4 Alex Thomson Hugo Boss 37°46.08'S 48°56.11'W 10.9 9.8 9.9 238 5689.2 594.3
 5 Jean Le Cam SynerCiel 53°27.37'S 64°16.02'W 9.1 51° 8.9 7.8 186.6 6823.9 1729
 6 Mike  Golding Gamesa 55°32.49'S 65°53.10'W 10.8 46° 10.8 12.3 294.5 6956.2 1861.4
 7 Dominique Wavre Mirabaud 55°57.21'S 68°29.86'W 14.6 70° 13.5 11.3 271.8 7049 1954.1
 8 Bernard Stamm Cheminees 56°13.02'S 69°39.56'W 16.7 72° 16.5 10.5 252.4 7088.9 1994
 9 Arnaud  Boissières Akena Verandas 56°22.03'S 74°22.30'W 15.3 98° 15.1 13.3 318.8 7245.9 2151
 10 Javier Sanso Acciona 56°17.03'S 75°10.39'W 15.1 93° 15.1 13.3 320.1 7272.4 2177.5
 11 Bertrand De Broc Votre nom 52°35.74'S 112°21.55'W 13.1 81° 12.8 14.1 337.7 8602.6 3507.7
 12 Tanguy  Delamotte Initiatives Coeur 51°06.04'S 120°09.32'W 13.9 82° 13.1 14.2 341.8 8891.3 3796.4
 13 Alessandro Di Benedetto Team Plastique 49°15.34'S 140°12.32'W 17.1 71° 17.1 16 384.3 9672.3 4577.4
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)            

Francois Gabart on MACIF has played the South Atlantic masterfully. The young French skipper's easterly strategy continues to pay dividends and his advantage of over second placed Banque Populaire has now grown to 98 miles (a gain of 33 miles since yesterday) having been more than 100 at times over the last 24 hours.

Both boats are on port tack heading into the west side of the high with the wind veering into the north the further north they sail. With the wind continuing to veer into the northeast so they will tack, however the timing of this is critical. While on the new tack they will be lifted, it is important that they leave this tack until they are far enough east so that can get past Rio and ideally Salvador de Bahia further north without having to put in costly losing tack further up the course. MACIF we expect will tack at some point this morning.

Yesterday Gabart reported: “I’m quite fine, I keep on going. I am sailing faster now. I don’t have an incredible speed but it’s getting better. I try to do my best to remain sharp. The journey is still long, so I try to rest as much as I can. I’ll try to catch the southeast trade winds in a few days. Sometimes I think about the arrival in Les Sables. I think about my family. It’s a source of motivation. Now we are closer to the finishing closer. I hope my fight with Armel will keep on going.”

To the south, third placed Jean-Pierre Dick on Virbac Paprec 3 is parallelling the leaders, 380 miles due south of Banque Populaire, the wind more in the northwest, but is in less pressure, although conditions will build Virbac today.

An exciting prospect is Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss, who is playing out his different South Atlantic strategy closer to the Argentine coast. For the second day running the British skipper is the fastest of the lead four and of the four Hugo Boss is the only boat off the breeze. As a result over the last four hours Hugo Boss's VMG has been 13.1 knots compared to 8.9 for MACIF or just 5.4 for Virbac. This has seen the British boat take another 40 miles out of Virbac over the last 24 hours, her now down to 126 miles.

Thomson is making hay due to being well positioned relative to an area of high pressure that is due to exit the River Plate estuary over the next 24 hours. While Hugo Boss is in ESEerly breeze at present to the east of the high, as the high moves east and Thomson gets north of it so the wind will back into the southeast providing a good opportunity for Hugo Boss to get northeast at pace. It's vital that Thomson get easting in soon for at some point he will run out of the favourable breeze and will then have to cross a trough before entering the northeasterly trades and if he isn't east he'll lose all he has gained having to sail directly upwind.

But the upshot of all this is that in 48 hours time we can expect Thomson to be within striking distance of third place...

Behind, as expected, Jean le Cam on SynerCiel passed through the Strait of Le Maire and now looks set to be the first boat in this Vendee Globe to leave the Falkland Islands to starboard. This is in fact a shorter course, but as mentioned makes it hard to get easting in. Mike Golding now he is past Cape Horn, looks set to follow his French rival. While there is all the hoopla over Golding's Cape Horn rounding, significant is that over the last 24 hours the British skipper has made further huge inroads into SynerCiel, closing by 115 miles, down to 132 at the latest sched - not bad considering that mid-Pacific le Cam's advantage was more than 500 miles. 

Expected around Cape Horn today will be Dominque Wavre on Mirabaud, currently 41 miles away, and Bernard Stamm on Cheminees Poujoulat 81 miles away. Stamm is of course expecting to make a pitstop to pick up vital fuel, which will see him formally out of this Vendee Globe - a very sad for the popular two time Velux 5 Oceans winner on his fourth unsuccessful attempt at the solo non-stop round the world race. They will be followed around sailing's most significant landmark in the early hours of tomorrow morning by Arnaud Boissieres on Akena Verandas and Javier Sanso on Acciona 100% EcoPowered.




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