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sail-world.com -- Vendee Globe - Banque Populaire clutches the lead

Vendee Globe - Banque Populaire clutches the lead    
Fri, 30 Nov 2012

In the Vendee Globe, it was resolute Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) that appeared on the live Visio video link up on Vendée Globe LIVE today. He said, 'I went around the St Helena anticyclone. I am heading to the first Ice gate. I am looking at the others and I believe we won’t be very far away from each other in 48 hours. We have two different weather forecast models: a European and a America. I try to adapt my journey according to both of them. For me Dick is the leader of the western group. They all did a great come back (Le Cam, Golding and Wavre) as they almost never stopped.'

Holding on to second place, is Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) who said that. 'If I don’t have any more slow patches tonight I may hold on to second place for much of today but at some point I will relinquish that position to Virbac and then another to Macif. There is nothing I can do, the cards have been dealt and although I knew this when I climbed into the second place I have now got used to it and don’t want to give it up!'


He explained in his latest update that his saving grace over the last few days has been the wind angle. 'I have been sailing much tighter wind angles than the guys to the west which in the lighter winds has meant I have been able to get the best possible speed from the boat for that wind angle. Hugo Boss is also performing well and exceeding the polars (best theoretical speeds) all of the time. This is helped by the flat water and maybe by the long ocean swell which is coming at us from the south west.'

Alex wrote that in a little under two days a weather front will cross the fleet and the wind will go from the north to the south west. The fleet will gybe and continue to the ice gate and be followed by a ridge of high pressure which will probably slow them all down. He is not expecting it to last too long and is expecting the fleet to pass the ice gate of Aiguilles on the morning of the 2nd Dec.

The race routing will follow great circle to the next ice gate. There have been reports of an ice berg 500 miles south east of the first ice gate. The skippers will not be want to see their frozen enemy ice.

A few days ago, Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) lead the charge in the western group, when he launched his southern attack to avoid the Saint Helena High. He is now sailing at speed towards Gough Island the first gate, which the fleet must leave to starboard. The outcome of this bold choice will be decided, within a matter of 24 hours. The skippers are now preparing to enter the Southern Ocean. Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) is looking forward to it.

'I feel like I am returning to my world! I like to sail in the very wild, very beautiful Southern seas. I am wearing underlayers and soon, I will put on my boots.'

François Gabart (Macif) has climbed into fourth position and is tailing Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) by six miles, he spoke confidently today on the web TV show, Vendée Globe LIVE: 'I am fine. I start to get some more wind. I am pleased to be in the lead group. I am ready to enter the Southern Ocean; I have everything ready on the boat. The next days are going to be easy.'

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Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) has jumped ahead of the pack of senior sailors.

Mike Golding said today, 'I'm feeling good. I think we are in a good place, Jean [Le Cam] is in a better place. Overall we are going to make a close on the lead group and that is the most important thing at this stage. The exact amount is difficult to predict. Armel [Le Cléac'h, current race leader] is going better than I would have forecast, but none the less, he did well on the last poll, Alex [Thomson] is keeping going which is good, but again, we seem to make little gains on each poll and that is how we lost the miles and that is how we get them back.


I think everyone was expecting this front to come in harder than it has, certainly I was. And we are pretty close to being down south, it is cooling off, the shorts are off, we are in foulies on deck and it is time to get wet. But still it is a beautifully sunny day, blue skies, very fast sailing, we aren't quite there yet [the Southern Ocean], but not far away.'

Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud) is keeping up with the chasing pack by the skin of his teeth. The weather models are predicting that he will get to Gough Island and the first gate just in time before the St Helena High close the wind door on the back pack.

The fleet splits now into two races. There is no way that the back pack, lead by the fastest boat of the group, Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) will be able to join the leaders in the same system in the Southern Ocean. Behind the powerful depression that is charging the western riders into a gainful position is a wallowing high that will cast it’s airless net over Bubi and those behind him.

'We continue with a good pressure and good luck. But it remains to be seen how long it will last. I think by noon tomorrow we'll see how much we will lose over those that will escape. In three days time we will enter a difficult phase which is difficult to predict at the moment where it will go. I only hope that those in front will not take too much in advantage but hey, we are only at the beginning of the race and there will still be plenty of opportunities.'
Facing uncertainties, the back pack have no choice but to put their foot down to avoid the trap. 'We must quickly put coal in the machine so that we continue the fast rides' says Arnaud Bossières (Akena Verandas) whose main ambition is to 'stay in the same weather system and to be on the lookout.' Indeed, the centre of the anticyclone of St. Helena moves quickly and the three boats, Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered), Arnaud Bossières (Akena Verandas) and Bertrand De Broc (Votre Nom Autour du Monde avec EDM) are desperate to avoid having to divert further south to pick up the wind. It’s a race against time.

Bertrand De Broc (Votre Nom Autour du Monde with EDM): I was in the manoeuvres, changing gennaker, gybing, sending genoa. It was a bit of sport, but now I am at 18-19 knots. I must scrape a few miles ahead and I'm afraid that the small door of St. Helena closes on me, and two, or three, boats. We'll see with the weather but it goes fast everywhere, try to move forward. Conditions are not favorable, eight or nine are gone. Cali and I were to hazard a nice crossing, near the ... hoping that the weather changes a little. It is not dramatic either. Life begins to become organized, I have some time to set everything up in the boat, to feel good. Before the start there was little sport, it was necessary that I'd start off the pace. The others were better prepared than me, but now we will try to make a difference in the distance.

Alessandro Di Benedetto (FRA / ITA, Team Plastique): It's okay. The wind eased a bit, so it might get better but I'm not complaining because it is still sunny. As long as there is sun all goes well! The weather varies a lot during the day and at the moment it changes every two or three minutes so I must be setting sails. The wind is now six to seven knots whereas before he was 17. I almost emptied all ballasts, up to four tons of water.

Bernard Stamm (SUI, Cheminées Poujoulat): It's my birthday so it is a special day. All messages are wonderful, touching. I will remember my 49th birthday! There is not much wind, it is slow to return, it does not move very fast. To the west they tumble and we are going to have trouble starting. One is obliged to be a little fatalistic, wind goes when it wants. We need some. There are a lot of settings to try to take advantage of the wind coming in and not lose too much speed as we go. But I could rest but I'm in great shape.

Vendee Globe website

by Vendee Globe



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