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Vendee Globe - Smokin' Cheminées, new leader emerges

by Vendee Globe on 7 Dec 2012
Bernard Stamm, Cheminées Poujoulat - 2012 Vendee Globe Vincent Curutchet / DPPI
In the Vendee Globe, becoming the third successive leader in less than 24 hours, Swiss skipper Bernard Stamm has established a small margin of 11.5 miles as he directs Cheminées Poujoulat into lighter breezes to take the Crozet control gate which is about 140 miles in front of him.

Stamm, who last lead the solo round the world race after the start on Saturday 10th November has gained steadily since he chose a more southerly option, gaining better breeze, a couple of days ago. He leads François Gabart (Macif) and Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec 3) on their NE’ly course towards the safety gate.

The fortunes of Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) will most probably have tested the patience of the French skipper who lead through the gate yesterday morning. Since passing the westerly control point he has made only 120 miles. At midnight last night he was making just one knot in very light airs, at 0400hrs he had accelerated to five knots. He has been well and truly stuck in the worst of the high pressure zone. But Le Cléac’h should get breeze within the next six to eight hours which will allow him to unfold his longer term strategy, though his deficit to Stamm had already grown to 106 miles this morning.

The leading trio were making 15kts but seem certain to slow as they approach the gate which is still protected by a wide band of light airs.

Briton Alex Thomson’s foray south on Hugo Boss, well into the ice zone, has been reaping a benefit since he has been slanted NE, returning back towards the gate. In sixth he has now closed to a much more tenable 70 miles behind Jean-Pierre Dick and is only 145 miles off Stamm’s lead. Thomson was second quickest of the top group this morning and should stay with the better, stronger breeze for slightly longer. He also seems to have a good chance of overhauling Le Cléac’h.

Some 500 miles behind Mike Golding has had his best night for a while, easing Gamesa away from Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) and Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud). Fast reaching with a decent NW’ly wind which it looks increasingly like they will hold right in to the Crozet gate, some 450 miles in front, this tenacious trio are finally pulling back some miles on the leaders, Golding quickest in the fleet this morning. Behind him Le Cam and Wavre are match racing, side by side, less than one mile apart and almost certainly within sight of each other!

Preparing to the take the first gate of the Southern Ocean giant slalom, Agulhas, is Arnaud Boissières (Akéna Vérandas) who had about 40 miles to go on the early morning poll, putting him about one day behind Spain’s Javier Sanso who is at the latitude of Cape of Good Hope. Alessandro di Benedetto (Team Plastique), in 13th, passed Gough Island this morning, in conditions much more benign than he might expect for his entry into the Roaring Forties. And in 12th place Tanguy de Lamotte has enjoyed some well earned rest after his vital batten car repairs yesterday kept his hopes of finishing his first Vendée Globe alive:

'After a big day fixing the broken bits, I had a big night of sleep!!! I crashed out for 6h nonstop after my dinner and then two times 1h30: I needed it. The wind has increased a little, that was why I was going south but I'm going to gybe back east this morning,' De Lamotte reported this morning. Vendee Globe website
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