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Vendée Globe Day 53 - Jean-Pierre Dick rounds Cape Horn

by Vendee Globe on 3 Jan 2013
Virbac Paprec 3 - 2012 Vendee Globe © Jean-Pierre Dick / Paprec Virbac / Vendée Globe http://www.vendeeglobe.org/
On day 53 of the Vendée Globe 2012-13 third placed Jean-Pierre Dick, worried about the presence of ice, passed Cape Horn for his fifth time at 0440hrs (UTC) this morning. Meantime the two Vendée Globe leaders François Gabart (Macif) and Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) make steady progress to the NE, some 50 miles south of the Falkland Islands in a light NW’ly wind.

Caution was Jean-Pierre Dick’s watchword as he rounded Cape Horn early this morning driven by a brisk 25kts NW’ly wind. His fourth racing passage of the mythical cape contrasts with his last. In 2011 with Loick Peyron the duo were like kids on Christmas morning when they lead the Barcelona World Race, sailing round within two miles of the cape in perfect visibility making a live broadcast. This time Dick had to ease back to 13-14kts in full darkness and stayed mostly close to the coast to avoid the worst threat of ice. Passing 17 miles off the cape at 0440hrs this morning, Dick has crossed into the Atlantic 1 day 10 hrs and 20 mins after leader François Gabart, but has closing up some 150 miles on the leaders since January 1st. Though he will now be in an upwind regime, he should still have more wind pressure than the leaders through the early part of the day.

As they pass 50 miles due south of the Falklands this morning first placed François Gabart (Macif) leads Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) by a relatively comfortable 30 miles, sailing upwind in moderate breezes. Ahead the wind will rise and swing to the SW to return them to fast reaching conditions, a reminder of the southern ocean cavalcade. One obstacle worth avoiding is a research ship in the area which is using underwater cables which are up to 6000m long.

Hugo Boss skipper Alex Thomson is counting down the miles to his first solo passage of Cape Horn, and they are still dropping fast. With 370 miles to go Thomson should continue to reap the rewards of beneficial conditions, including a shift to the NW. Including his first Vendée Globe in 2004 Thomson has set out for a solo race round the world three times. The British skipper has cut 297 miles from the lead of François Gabart since the turn of the year.

Behind Thomson, in fifth place, Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) is 120 miles from Pacific East gate, whilst Mike Golding (Gamesa) continues to slowly open distance on Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud) now some 100 miles or so behind. The British skipper is 420 miles from the final gate spurred by a spell of stronger winds. Another 100 miles astern of Wavre Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% Eco Powered) the Spanish skipper may have concerns about the threat from Arnaud Boissières (Akena Verandas) who is now just 88 miles behind. So this middle group, sixth to ninth, now has 295 miles separating Golding from Boissières. Meantime Bernard Stamm, despite his unfortunate situation, shows no shortage of motivation as he is the fastest of the fleet this morning.

In thirteenth Alessandro Di Benedetto has had better days on this race, but despite his technical problems (rudder and autopilot), the skipper of Team Plastique remains his cheerful, always upbeat self:

'Today, the rudder is came up because the fuse broke. For a little while I considered going for shelter under the less of the Auckland Islands or Campbell Island to fix the problem before I go into the Pacific. But in the end I chose to get on with it and in the middle of a hail squall I got the rudder blade up, changed the fuse and got the rudder back in the water. At the same time I took a few handfuls of hail from the deck and made a great sorbet with some lemon juice and some Vendee Globe website

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