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Vendee Globe - Gabart breaks Indian Ocean and Cape Leeuwin records

by Vendee Globe on 16 Dec 2012
Francois Gabart, Macif © François Gabart / MACIF
The Vendee Globe is currently underway and like every young man in a hurry to meet his destiny, Francois Gabart (Macif) arrived early last night and in his urgency, claimed an unexpected second record. When he crossed the longitude of Cape Leeuwin in Australia at 22:25 UTC (11:25 p.m. French Time) on Friday night, Gabart set a new record (which will await ratification) between the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Leeuwin of 11 days, six hours and 40 minutes. That bettered the time of his mentor, Michel Desjoyeaux, by just nine minutes. Desjoyeaux completed the passage in 11 days, six hours and 49 minutes on Foncia when he won the last edition of the Vendée Globe in 2008-09.

More expected was Gabart’s new record between the start at Les Sables d'Olonne and Cape Leeuwin of 34 days 10 hours and 23 minutes. That bettered by two days, two hours and 25 minutes the mark set by Vincent Riou on PRB of 36 day 12 hours and 48 minutes, when he won the 2004-05 race.

This has been race of minutes and small margins and 29-year-old Gabart and the 35-year-old Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire), continue to chase each other around the world as if they were match-racing in an Olympics, drawing away from the rest of the fleet.

A little less than two hours after the passage of Macif, Le Cleac'h crossed the longitude of the second major Cape of the race. His time between Les Sables and Leeuwin was 34 days and 12 hours 13 minutes. Enjoying consistent 25 knot south-westerly breezes, the two men accumulate miles but Macif still seems to have a slightly better performance and 40 miles now separate the two men.

In the Vendée Globe one sailor’s gain is often another’s loss and Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec 3) is now almost 450 miles behind the leader, having lost 160 miles in the last 24 hours. It is his worst day since the start. Further north, weaving through messier conditions, Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) has had an even tougher time making just 254 miles in the last 24 hours compared to Gabart’s 463. Thomson is now 724 miles behind and the losses are set to keep coming on Saturday.

Mike Golding (Gamesa) gained a little on Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) but both are in a hole this morning and will also lose even more significant miles to Gabart.

Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud) has endured the most miserable 24 hours, making just 209 miles and seeming almost becalmed at times and lost in the wilderness. That means that Javier Sansó (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) has been reeling him in. Sansó on his new boat has been the only one making the same speeds – of over 18 knots - as the front two and is only 117 miles behind Wavre, after making up 190 miles in the last 24 hours. Vendee Globe website

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