sail-world.com -- Vendee Globe - Gains and complexities as skippers push on + Video
Vendee Globe - Gains and complexities as skippers push on + Video
Fri, 4 Jan 2013
In the Vendee Globe, British solo skipper Alex Thomson had less than 200 miles to make to Cape Horn at 1500hrs UTC this afternoon and should pass the legendary rock in the early hours of Friday morning lying in fourth place in the solo round the world race.
Though the skipper of Hugo Boss still has more than one quarter of the course to complete, and the ice strewn passage of the Cape in itself holds considerable danger through the next 24 hours, a successful release from the Pacific Ocean and into the Atlantic will also release many of the demons of past disappointments.
Two failed previous Vendée Globe races and one solo Velux 5 Oceans – when he had to abandon his IMOCA Open 60 in the Indian Ocean – mean that this will be his first Cape Horn alone. That he is in an excellent fourth place in an older generation of design, still in touch with the podium whilst managing an acute on board power shortage is already an enduring endorsement of his skills as a solo sailor. Thomson has been in power saving mode since he broke a hydrogenerator on December 11th, but plans to speak to Vendée Globe LIVE after his passage.
'It will mean a huge amount to Alex tonight. Don’t get me wrong we have not finished yet, but in itself he has got further solo than ever before and passing Cape Horn successfully in fourth will the culmination of 15 years of hard work on his part. This is the last big milestone before the finish and it has been a great race that Alex has sailed. He has worked so hard, as have the whole team over the years, so he deserves this. He has put up with a lot of criticism, negative feelings and back biting over the years, and Alex has thicker skin than most people, but for sure that has hurt him.'
'It has been like in any sport when there is a pressure on a tennis player, a driver or a golfer to perform but Alex will be pleased to have got this far and done so well.'
'Not many skippers will have worked harder. He has done four Transatlantics in six months including setting a new record,' comments Stewart Hosford, CEO at Alex Thomson Racing.
Third into the Atlantic after passing Cape Horn at 0442hrs this morning, Jean-Pierre Dick’s fourth time round the Horn ranked as probably his most difficult. In the pitch black with the ever present threat of ice, with big confused seas which he described as ‘crazy’ and a gusty wind, '….the boat was shaking in every direction.' Said JP on Vendée Globe LIVE this morning, still sounding tired and anxious. 'It was a Cape Horn which I passed ‘virtually’ because I was a way off and could see nothing. It was not much of a celebration.'
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After François Gabart (Macif) and Armel Le Cléach (Banque Populaire) breached Cape Horn on January 1st there are now three skippers in the Atlantic. The two leaders have been sailing quickly in NW’ ly winds of 25kts. The ascent towards the coast of Brazil will offer a range of opportunities for gains and losses, with a small succession of depressions spinning off the South American coast challenging a substantial dominant high pressure which will more or less block the leaders path.
JP Dick, 337 miles behind the leaders, remains confident he can keep catching Gabart and Le Cléac’h.
Cape Horn may be one of the most isolated landmarks on the planet but it will see IMOCA Open 60’s of the Vendée Globe passing like buses over the next two weeks. Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) should pass on Sunday morning, Mike Golding on Gamesa expects to pass late Monday and could have Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud), Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) and Arnaud Boissières (Akéna Verandas) following closely behind. Compression in to Cape Horn is a normal feature, but one weather routing study has the five boats passing hours rather than days apart. Today less than 300 miles separates sixth Golding from Boissières.
Key to the recent gains have been stronger winds arriving from astern. Dominique Wavre reported today that he is still feeling the effects of a battle with his gennaker.
Behind them the contrast between the fortunes of eleventh placed Bertrand De Broc and twelfth positioned Tanguy De Lamotte are very different. De Broc is set to struggle with a huge high positioned over the next gate, whilst De Lamotte has had 45 knots making life on board Initiatives Coeur.
Bernard Stamm, disqualified yesterday for receiving outside assistance, still holds a hope of a final ranking after submitting a request to have his case reopened.
Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA, Virbrac Paprec 3): It wasn’t my easiest Cape Horn. It was dark night outside and a lot of sea. It was chaotic. The sea is going in front of the boat. I can feel my boat’s pain. This morning is very difficult.
I have to check the waves’ files once again. The boat jumps. It’s not great at the moment. I’m happy to be done with the Southern Oceans. I hope the Atlantic will be as good as it was on the way down.
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Dominique Wavre (SW, Mirabaud) : The gennaker became crazy. It was a hard time. I fought for many hours. If I didn’t do it I should have let it go in the ocean. I’m exhausted. It was very stressful especially because it was dark night. I had to go in front of the boat three times. I thought about Yann Eliès. When you deal with such a thing you’re thirsty and exhausted. Now I’m feeling better.
Mike Golding (ENG, Gamesa): I am a bit slowed at the moment but otherwise I have been moving well. It was a pretty rough night with big waves and 38-40kts of wind, big gusts. I was at the top end of the A7 and on Solent for a while. The waves were throwing the boat around a lot. I agree there will be come compression with this group, but really at the moment I am sailing my own race and just focusing on getting to the next gate. Cape Horn, one way or another, is usually a bit of a slow down. But once we are all heading north it can be close between us.
Armel Le Cléac’h (FRA, Banque Populaire): We are just before a depression with 25 knots of wind. It’s grey outside. The weather conditions are very different from yesterday. I think it will be like that for two days. The way up the Atlantic won’t be the easiest part. I think I have a card to play. It’s open even if the weather conditions aren’t easy. We’ll be able to make a first statement off Brazil. We received an email from a scientific boat which does research next to us. We should be 20 miles away from it when we’ll cross it.
Alessandro Di Benedetto (IT, Team Plastique): I’m fine. I have some wind. I’m 400 miles away from New Zealand, off Campbell Island. I manage to resolve my automatic pilots problems. It was important because I had a little sleep during the last 12 days. I also had problems with my rudders. I even think about stopping the boat to do my repairs. If nothing bad happen until the next Island I’ll keep on going. I did a nice lemon sorbet with the ice I found on the boat. I like cooking. Today it was fresh salad for me. It’s important for my mental health. For the moment I’m fine. The important thing is to keep on going like that. I’m very happy to be here.