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Southern Spars

Vendee Globe - Gamesa, SynerCiel, Mirabaud pass through first gate

by Vendee Globe on 4 Dec 2012
Dominique Wavre (SUI), Mirabaud © Dominique Wavre
In the Vendee Globe, the seasoned triumvirate of Gamesa’s Mike Golding, SynerCiel’s Jean Le Cam, and Mirabaud’s Dominique Wavre reached a significant point in the ongoing race after passing through the first gate at Aiguilles.

It was not an easy night for the Vendée Globe skippers. The agitated sea bashed the boats and forced the determined navigators to make constant sail changes. Those at the back are moving again. They appear to have been released from the chains of the St Helena High and the senior trio, Mike Golding (Gamesa) Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel), and Dominique Wavre’s (Mirabaud) passed through the first gate at Aiguilles.


How are they doing? How do they cope without lack of sleep, the incessant noise of the humming hull, cold and humidity? After more than three weeks of racing, covering nearly 7000 miles, the fatigue will be beginning to be felt; yet the race is young and they are not even a third of the way around the track. It’s only going to get worse. The sailors are now entering the Indian Ocean for the first time and beginning their solitary, arduous, journey away from land and civilisation. They must strike a balance between performance and disaster. They must not break but at the same time they won’t want to be left behind. This is the dilemma; find the limit but stay in the race.

The Leaders continue their mad stampede to the second gate, Crozet. They have 860 miles to go in changeable erratic winds, spinning quickly from west to northwest. They will endure this for the next three days until they arrive at Crozet and there, they will encounter a wallowing high.


The race leader, Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) on this morning’s ranking was cruising steadily along at over 18 knots, and 33 miles behind, in second place, Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) was a little faster 19.5 knots, the same speed as François Gabart (Macif).

Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) is on the warpath, unleashing the beast of a boat he calls his ‘weapon’, and chasing down the front-runners, with now only 10 miles between him, and third place, the Golden Boy Gabart’s transom.

This morning, he wrote; 'Restless night aboard Cheminées Poujoulat. Rough and wet. The wind is between 20 and 28 knots. It changes a lot but it is wonderful so I am happy. Early yesterday night, I had a very difficult sea, where the waves intersected, and suddenly become totally disorganized. Downwind, the boat was doing impressive jumps and then we smashed hard into the trough of the wave. The noise was very disturbing. It eventually settled, little by little. Cheminées Poujoulat kept driving haltingly into surfing waves, which resulted in gallons of water washing over the bridge. It’s going well and I feel that we finally advance substantially, sailing at the same speed as the system as the wind is settling.'

Last night, Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) seemed to be struggling to stay with the front, with 120 miles between him and Bernard Stamm. No doubt he’ll be considering his options.

Mike Golding (Gamesa) has lead the senior trio through the Gate of Aiguilles. Today promises to be intense as overnight the differences between them significantly decreased. 40 miles between Mike Golding (Gamesa) and Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) and then 25 miles behind is Dominique Wavre’s (Mirabaud). It will be a day of many transitions and paying close attention to the westerly wind that will be shifting to the south, gusting up to 35 knots.

500 miles behind, Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) has finally been released from the vagaries of St. Helena. Travelling at 16 knots, he is feeling serene after fulfilling his job list of boat maintenance.

'On board Acciona I’ve had quite a lot of work. I have replaced three broken battens. I chose to spend some time on these repairs now before it all gets too difficult. This has meant that I have been going a little slower in the position reports but now I’m back 100%. This high pressure system seems to have taken a bit of a shine to me and it doesn’t seem to want to let me go. Right now I am on the eastern side of the high pressure system moving as far south as I can to get to the westerly winds. I’m still in good spirits but I have missed the ‘train’ with the first group. Let’s see if over the next few weeks I can catch up and join Mike’s group; I don’t see it being easy but I’m definitely going to give it a go.'

But for the pack at the back there is a great victory as Bertrand De Broc (Votre Nom Autour du Monde avec EDM) has moved into 11th place, snatching it from Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives Cœur) with only three miles between them. It will be a day of celebrations for him. And the fleet soldiers Vendee Globe website

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