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Vendée Globe - Francois Gabart fights back

by Vendee Globe on 19 Dec 2012
Indian Ocean - Vendee Globe 2012-13 © Alessandro Di Benedetto / Team Plastique
The Vendée Globe 2012-13 is on the 38 day of racing with 470 miles to the Auckland Islands. How quickly the hunter becomes the hunted. Francois Gabart (MACIF) re-took his lead on Wednesday morning, 15 hours after losing it to Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire). They also both passed the halfway mark on the theoretical mileage for the race and seem destined to play cat and mouse round the world. Just as Armel The Jackal chewed his way to Gabart slowly, likewise Gabart fought his way back a mile every hour. Gabart is just 5.3 miles ahead of Le Cléac’h and only 20 miles to the north as they race in the direction of the Auckland Islands, south of New Zealand.

After the various modifications to the gates the theoretical distance of the Vendée Globe, on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012, is 24,394 miles. The mid-point is 12,197 miles from Les Sables d'Olonne and at 0400hrs UTC, Gabart and Le Cléac'h had, 12,173.7 and 12,179 miles respectively to the finish. So, as Gabart felt yesterday after being told he was in the Pacific, they really are into the second part of the race now and on the road back – theoretically. The reality is they will sail a lot more miles than 12,197 home. Gabart has already sailed 14,606.85 miles and even the more direct Le Cléac’h 14,042.61 miles thus far.

The small mystery of the last 24 hours is why Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec 3) has slowed so much. Dick, in third, has slid back to 473 miles behind the leader after losing 100 miles in the last 24 hours. He appeared to slowdown even before hit the light winds of a high pressure ridge as he approaches the East Australia gate and has averaged just 6.8 knots overnight, or his day in the southern hemisphere. But

Further west, Mike Golding (Gamesa) knows exactly how Dick feels. He hit his own private ridge crossing the West Australia gate and has made just 256 miles at and average speed of 10.7 knots in the last 24 hours. The good news for Golding is that Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel), in sixth, has been caught by it to overnight and averaged just 10.3 knots overnight and saw his lead cut to 207 miles. But Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud) Javier Sansó (Acciona 100% EcoPowered), continue to close on Golding and may bank the miles. Sansó, averaging the fastest in the fleet overnight, with 16.2 knots, has made up 138 miles in the last 24 hours on Golding and is 87 miles behind Wavre and 223 behind Golding.

'There has been a steady rise in wind pressure and that feels more permanent and so hopefully now I can stop the rot a bit,' Golding wrote this morning. 'It has been terrible. I don’t know if I did something to the Wind Gods.'
Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) held off the charge of Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat), averaging 15.4 knots overnight, 0.4 knots better than Stamm.

There is now over 4,000 between the fleet as Alessandro Di Benedetto (Team Plastique) had the slowest 24 hours, making 190 Vendee Globe website
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