Vendee Globe - Final sprint begins
by Vendee Globe on 25 Jan 2013
Vendee Globe 2012 -13 has been fun but the time is coming to bring down the final curtain and move along because the home strait sprint has begun. This morning, the two race leaders passed the symbolic 1000 miles point from Les Sables d'Olonne, the start and finish of the solo race around our beautiful planet.
Macif - Vendee Globe 2012-13 © François Gabart / MACIF
Doing between 15 and 17 knots throughout the night in a west wind of 20 knots, François Gabart (Macif) has a tight grip on the lead in the seventh Vendée Globe, Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) slight gains overnight are not significant enough to dent the 101 mile lead of the ‘Goldenboy’ Gabart. Both sailing on a port tack they have one last gybe to make before they sail directly home. Gabart will turn in the morning and Le Cléac'h around four hours later. The new arrival time for the first boat is now Sunday January 27 at 3 am.
732 miles behind the leaders, 450 miles south-west of the Azores, Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) is sailing keel-less in a south-westerly wind of 15 knots doing an average speed of 10 knots and covering in the last 24 hours, a respectable distance of 230 miles. It is a remarkable feat considering the major damage suffered by the skipper and the challenges this ill-fated situation imposes upon him. It is not enough however, to keep Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) at bay, who is sailing consistently 2.5 knots faster. He is currently 35 miles behind Dick and is expected to pass him today. It will be a bittersweet moment for Thomson. This will not be his preferred conclusion. The trials and tribulations of ocean yacht racing alters the perspective of the competitor. To endure three months of your life, in such inhospitable conditions, in order to realise your dreams and to have them broken beneath you in a matter moments so close and yet so far from the end is not the outcome that any member of the fleet wishes upon another.
To stop or continue is the dilemma that Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) continues to battle with. He will make his decision Sunday. Heading towards the west of the Azores in fickle southwest winds of 15-20 knots, moving around to the south this evening, as he approaches the islands it gives Jean-Pierre Dick time to get the measure of the situation. He is assessing his boat and it’s performance with different sail combinations and filled ballasts. Is it stable enough? This is what he must decide. Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) is determined individual and from the outset he was sailing to win but now to simply finish this hardcore race would be a victory in itself. Can he do it?
For both Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) and Mike Golding (Gamesa) will have water draining anti-clockwise down their plugholes once more as they cross the Equator into the northern hemisphere. Although this will be the last thing on their minds as they have both encountered the worst South Atlantic in both their long careers. Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) passed 19.22 GMT after 75 days, 6 hours and 58 minutes of racing and Mike Golding (Gamesa) passed 5 hours later at 00.14 GMT after 75 days, 12 hours, 12 minutes and 26 seconds of racing.
Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud) 440 miles behind Le Cam has had a better day than most in the tortuous South Atlantic as he is the only sailor to make double digits over 24 hours. With a 10-15 knot wind he should cross the Equator is around 30 hours. Still far to the west, 80 miles off the Brazilian coast, Arnaud Bossières (Akena Verandas) seems to be picking up speed, while a very frustrated Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) is trapped in a windless hole, with no wind instruments crawling along at 4.2 knots. It’s not the high speeds that send skippers crazy but instead being becalmed going nowhere fast which drives them to distraction.
Bertrand De Broc (Votre Nom Autour du Monde avec EDM) is 168 miles behind the Spaniard while Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives Cœur) is a further 300 miles behind. 4323 behind the leader, Alessandro Di Benedetto (Team Plastique) will be a winner because without doubt he has captured the hearts and minds of us all. The road is long for him but the support unending and he will be cheered on until the very end.
Rankings as of Friday 25 January 2013, 09:00 (FR)