Vendee Globe: Hugo Boss closing on third place

As four more boats round Cape Horn and Bernard Stamm formally becomes the race's eighth retiree

Thursday January 10th 2013, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

The last 24 hours have been busy ones in the Vendee Globe with four more boats rounding Cape Horn, Bernard Stamm and Cheminees Poujoulat formally retiring from the race, and Alex Thomson and Hugo Boss on a charge up the Brazilian coast as the leaders continue to head into the west side of the high.

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 30°18.47'S 29°13.40'W 10.5 63° 7 9.9 237.3 4917.5 0
 2 Armel Le Cléac'h Banque Pop 31°19.20'S 31°30.98'W 10.8 59° 8 10.3 246.3 5007.9 90.4
 3 Jean-Pierre Dick Virbac 36°08.24'S 31°37.46'W 13 51° 10.7 13.3 320.1 5286.8 369.3
 4 Alex Thomson Hugo Boss 32°44.41'S 45°21.17'W 15.5 38° 15.1 14.5 348.9 5340.9 423.4
 5 Jean Le Cam SynerCiel 49°36.40'S 58°17.21'W 11.5 65° 9.9 13.4 321 6505.6 1588.1
 6 Mike  Golding Gamesa 52°36.28'S 58°20.45'W 14.2 51° 13.6 13.3 318.5 6655 1737.4
 7 Dominique Wavre Mirabaud 54°02.20'S 64°09.05'W 10.9 23° 10.5 7.9 188.7 6848.4 1930.9
 8 Arnaud  Boissières Akena Verandas 55°10.69'S 64°54.11'W 9.4 69° 8.2 13.6 327.2 6918 2000.5
 9 Javier Sanso Acciona 55°31.34'S 65°32.57'W 11.5 71° 9.9 13.6 326.9 6947.9 2030.3
 10 Bertrand De Broc Votre nom 52°14.36'S 104°11.72'W 15.8 106° 15.6 12.5 299.4 8309.6 3392
 11 Tanguy  Delamotte Initiatives Coeur 51°23.28'S 111°15.34'W 13.8 106° 13.5 13.9 334.5 8567.2 3649.6
 12 Alessandro Di Benedetto Team Plastique 47°49.21'S 131°07.02'W 14.3 56° 7.4 15.5 370.9 9359 4441.5
RET Bernard Stamm Cheminees Ran out of fuel after hydrogenerator problems (9 Jan)      
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)            

Okay we were wrong about them tacking yesterday - the leaders in the Vendee Globe have continued to the northeast on into the eastern side of the high over the last 24 hours with Banque Populaire now trailing race leader MACIF, which seems able to sail a little higher than her sistership. Armel le Cleac'h has regained some ground and was back to being 86 miles astern of Gabart at 0400 although he has lost a little since then. While these distances are in terms of DTF, Banque Populaire is in fact a more alarming 132 miles behind MACIF on the water. At some point, probably today as the wind veers into the northeast, the boats WILL tack, so that they will be able to clear Recife as the wind continues to veer.

Jean-Pierre Dick on third placed Virbac Paprec 3 has done well over the last 24 hours. In the southwest quadrant of the high with the wind more backed, Dick has been able to sail faster, typically 2-5 knots faster over this period. As a result he has taken 98 miles out of the leaders. Dick is also aiming to sail into the western side of the high, tacking out on the shift, however compared to the leaders he will have to sail further into the high with the possibility of falling into lighter winds if he is successfully to clear Recife on the new tack.

Exciting for British fans is Alex Thomson's progress on Hugo Boss. With Hugo Boss sailing directly towards the mark and able to reach the 15-20 knot southeasterlies, so the British IMOCA 60 has taken a massive 170 miles out of the leaders in the last 24 hours (now 423 miles behind MACIF in terms of DTF). While Virbac has also made great gains, Hugo Boss is now just 54 miles from third place...

While Hugo Boss will continue to make good progress today, she might even technically claim third place briefly, this sadly will be shortlived. Tonight she's going to get stuck as she has to negotiate a trough due south of Rio and will then find herself directly on the wind and will have to spend two to three days clawing her way past Rio, inevitably losing the great gains made since the weekend.

Further south down the south Atlantic, Jean le Cam on SynerCiel has left the Falkland Islands to starboard, while Mike Golding on Gamesa, also passed through the Strait of Le Maire but has left them to port, following a similar route to the race leaders. Gamesa has regularly been sailing faster than SynerCiel over the last day only she's been more off course and so has lost around 17 miles in the last 24 hours. Coming back on to course now he's passing the southeast side of the Falklands, Gamesa's VMG over the last four hours has been 7 knots faster than SynerCiel. Both boats are still in strong WNWerly breeze to the north of a Southern Ocean depression.

These two boats looks like they should stay in solid breeze until they get up to around 45°S when it will get interesting with a high forming off the Argentine coast that will benefit them. The long term forecast for the middle of next week is currently showing a scenario very similar to the one we've seen over the last few days with the prospect of a fast passage in favourable breeze closer to the South American coast and 'the other option' also looking good of sailing into the west side of the high.

This morning Golding reported: "The breeze has eased back – perhaps there is an effect of the island, but I should be far enough away – but I had 23-25 knots through the night with pouring rain, but the boat was moving well. I had a little oversleep and the boat was really powering along with the bow down and the pilot struggling a bit and so I was on deck, angry with myself, and I think I did the fastest change to the Solent ever. But to be fair I think I was only asleep for an extra few minutes. And looking at it afterwards it is fine, I was wanting to stay away from the islands bit.

"Cape Horn was a very long session. First there was a lot of manoeuvres, then the Le Maire Strait, overall it was a very long period so I feel I have been a bit overtired. As soon as we get clear of the Falklands I am going to catch up a bit. I’m still a bit jaded."

As to Jean Le Cam, Golding added: "I think he will be struggling a little in a bit and has to come this way. We have a long runway in this breeze. Longer term our weather is reasonably complicated. It is not as bad as for the guys in front. It is good with this lateral separation with Jean, it would certainly be good to get back to 100 miles."

Cape Horn was busy yesterday. Around seven hours after Mike Golding and Gamesa's rounding at 02:19 GMT, next to pass the maritime world's most famous landmark was Dominique Wavre and Mirabaud. Impressively this was the Swiss legend's ninth rounding of Cape Horn in a yacht race, his first back in 1981 in the Whitbread Round the World Race (a race in which Jean le Cam also sailed). 

“I am absolutely delighted to be leaving the Southern Ocean behind me, the cold, the ice, the damp!” admitted Wavre. “I feel for the sailors that have come before me through history, freezing cold, no technology, it must have been incredibly tough and terrifying. This region is a graveyard for vessels and you can’t ignore that fact when you sail in these waters. It is a very powerful place.”

In eighth place Bernard Stamm on Cheminées Poujoulat rounded at 12:49 UTC but then successfully rendez-voused with another IMOCA 60 Pakea Bizcaia in the lee of Horn Island, north of the Cape Horn lighthouse, where he took on fuel. Having accepted outside assistance Stamm, as anticipated, formally retired from this his fourth Vendee Globe campaign at 17:11 UTC. Cheminees Poujlouat becomes the eighth boat to drop out of this Vendee Globe, but the first retirement since PRB on 24 November. Still still intends to sail back to Les Sables d'Olonne, and will do so now knowing that his boat can be sailed safely now she is able to generate power.

Overnight there have been two more Cape Horn roundings. Arnaud Bossières on eighth placed Akena Verandas and Javier Sanso on Acciona 100% EcoPowered passed at 21:35 and 0:55 GMT respectively.

While rounding Boissières had a chat with a cruise ship, which broadcast the conversation to its passengers. "They told me they had on board a swimming pool, two bars, one nightclub, blah, blah. Okay, I thought, I have a sore arse and am minging - nothing in common here then, other than a good laugh. However, they were well aware of the Vendée Globe and even knew my name. The crew wished me a good journey and gave me a honk with their horns. I am sure they will charge the passengers extra for seeing a competitor of the Vendée Globe."

With these two names struck off the list, there are now nine in the Atlantic. The next sailors expected are Bertrand De Broc (Votre Nom Autour du Monde avec EDM), Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives Cœur) and Alessandro Di Benedetto (Team Plastique). They are respectively 1340, 1615 and 2340 miles away from the mythical Horn and sailing fast. Alessandro Di Benedetto (Team Plastique) showing the best growth in 24 hours with 386 miles.

This now leaves just three boats still tackling the Pacific Ocean: Bertrand de Broc on Votre Nom autour du Monde avec EDM Projets, still 1300 miles away, Tanguy de Lamotte on Initiatives Cœur 1559 miles away and Italian back marker Alessandro Di Benedetto on Team Plastique 2325 miles from the Horn, just mid-way across the Pacific.


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