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sail-world.com -- Is Vendée Globe skipper François Gabart crazy?

Is Vendée Globe skipper François Gabart crazy?    
Wed, 5 Dec 2012

Third placed Vendée Globe golden boy and MACIF skipper, François Gabart, today confirmed on Vendée Globe LIVE that he is excited, but not frightened, about entering the mountainous swells of the southern seas. Is this naivety, optimism or just plain craziness?

The Southern Ocean is south of 60°S latitude and encircles Antarctica. This ocean zone is where the flow of cold, northward waters from the Antarctic, mix with warmer sub-antarctic waters. The Sea temperatures range from about ?2 to 10 °C (28 to 50 °F). Cyclonic storms travel eastward around the continent, and often become intense because of the temperature difference between ice and open ocean. These fast-moving weather systems make for highly changeable conditions in terms of both wind speed and direction. The average wave heights exceed twelve feet, and it is these, not the wind that pose the greatest danger to the sailing boats. In the Southern Ocean the waves are some of the largest on the planet. The wind shifts faster than the waves, creating dangerous time periods, following the passing of a cyclonic storm, which can lead to the development of cross seas or large breaking waves strong enough to smash up sailing boats. On reflection, it would be fair to say the Southern Ocean is an ocean to be feared.

Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) is back in the game and is in the fourth place only 16 miles behind the leading trio of Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire)François Gabart (Macif) and Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) who thunder along to the gate of Crozet, trying to beat the looming high pressure threatening to stall them all and create a fleet compression.

The Swiss skipper is making good progress through the agitated seas to the south of Cape Horn and is stealing back the miles. He said today on Vendée Globe LIVE, ' yesterday, I was doing a manoeuvre during the LIVE. It’s like being on a rodeo at the moment. The boat is going fast but constantly hits a wave with her nose. I don’t know which sail I have to use. I’m waiting for the sea to calm down. I could go faster this is how it is. There are many albatross above my head and they are flying in very close.'

It was a ticked off Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss), who sent in this report today, despite his limited communications. 'Today has been another day of hyrdogenerator repairs so far. I thought I had fixed it yesterday. But it looks like there are still some issues and they are not charging meaning my communications are limited today as I try to conserve power. I feel like this has dominated my race. I am starting to get a little tired of hydro repairs to be honest. It would be good just to be able to concentrate on sailing again. I still have to shave my beard! Everyone voted on Facebook for me to shave it into Fumanchu style. I think I am getting pretty close to having enough to make this happen. I just need the rough seas to calm a bit before I get out a razor!' Even in the face of adversity and exhaustion he is still the showman playing to the crowd.

Mike Golding (Gamesa) has been having an awful time as he wiped out twice in the night. He was rudely awoken by the boat broaching onto its side in a fixed position, with the keel akimbo, his rudders out of the water and his autopilots not in control. He wearily explained how he felt today, on the Vendée Globe LIVE, 'I was trying to sleep when it happened, the boat just laid over, not fully, but laid over at 80 degrees, the keel was out of the water and the boat was just held pressed by the sail and the rudder couldn't grip and the boat was still doing 17 knots, but there was no steerage. The boat was sailing very close to the wind. I had to get out of my bunk fast, it was freezing cold and I got very wet pretty quickly. It is never a pleasant, not being in control. I am very tired. It’s one of the by products of this race being very tired.' It could be the understatement of the year, participating in the Vendée Globe is very tiring.

Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) and Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud) have also been experiencing challenging day on the agitated seas of the Indian Ocean.

The back pack have broken free of the grip of the St Helena High, Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) is hoping he will be able to claw back some miles on the sailing trio some 300 miles ahead of him and has began to up the pace. Arnaud Bossières (Akena Verandas) sent back at video as he sailed passed the beautiful island of Tristan de Cunha, a table cloth of cloud, resting on it’s brow, and Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives Cœur) said, today on the Vendée Globe LIVE 'I’m close to Inaccessible Island. It’s wonderful. I took many pictures. It’s getting colder and colder. I’m going to take the helm again. It’s going to be memorable moments.'

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Vendee Globe website

by Vendée Globe



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