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Vendee Globe - Gap widens as first five pass Gate of Aiguilles

by Vendee Globe on 4 Dec 2012
Cap Bonne Esperance - 2012 Vendee Globe © Olivia Maincent
In the Vendee Globe, just thirty minutes was the gap that separated the first boat through the Gate of Aiguilles, François Gabart (Macif) and the third boat, Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire); a metaphorical photo finish in a race that covers 24,000 miles. It is incredible that the boats are racing so tightly. At 0400 GMT, this morning, there was only a mere fourteen miles separating the three leaders in this nail biting edition.

The lead pack have now entered mythical seas. A place where tales can only be told by a few; tales of the albatross, the tinted grey light, the jet black mountainous savage seas, majestic icebergs and minefields of growlers, large semi-submerged chunks of solid, boat breaking ice.

Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) remains in the game 89.2 miles behind. The front fleet have their foot down to make the most of the conditions as the new ice gate at Crozet is showing lighter airs. It’s a time for tactical choices and canny decisions. The next 1000 miles for them will be exciting.

Behind them by 182.4 miles, Brit Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) crossed the gate this morning, his speeds are slowing and the gap between him and the front four slowly widens.

Around 400 miles behind, Mike Golding (Gamesa) Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel), and Dominique Wavre’s (Mirabaud) are chomping at the bit with impatience to enter the Indian Ocean; but for them, it will be tomorrow morning. They are struggling with a westerly wind and fickle seas.

The Spaniard Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) is still feeling some of the effects of the St Helena High. Sailing at an average speed of only eight knots, he is frustrated to still be stuck in these light conditions and is eager to push on. Arnaud Bossières (Akena Verandas), meanwhile, must be beginning to tear his hair out. He is wallowing at the heart of the high, and has only covered 80 miles in the past 24 hours! Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives Cœur) in the wake of Arnaud Bossières (Akena Verandas) is gambling that he can avoid some of the high to the east, while Bertrand De Broc (Votre Nom Autour du Monde avec EDM) is beginning to make some gains from his southerly route. Of course, Alessandro Di Benedetto (Team Plastique) happily continues on his merry way.

The race partner organizations specializing in satellite observations have discovered (the second ice gate, Crozet has been rising) an abnormal concentration of icebergs, around the Kerguelen Islands. The race direction of the Vendée Globe yesterday informed the skippers that a new gate called Amsterdam (40 ° 00 E 00S/077 ° - 40 ° S/084 ° 00 00 E) must now be passed. The objective is to protect the skippers by preventing the fleet heading too far south in search of better winds but instead discovering greater Vendee Globe website

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