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Vendee Globe - High traffic spells high alert through second night

by Vendee Globe on 13 Nov 2012
Macif - 2012 Vendee Globe Jean-Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendée Globe © http://www.vendeeglobe.org
Following a rapid passage across the Bay of Biscay since Saturday’s start of the Vendée Globe, the Portuguese coast is passing at good speeds for the leading group in brisk tradewinds conditions. In the busy shipping area, a state of high alert has been required through the second night at sea. The leading five or six boats have made good progress on the fleet behind them having been consistently in stronger breeze. Behind, at Cape Finisterre a high pressure ridge has already slowed the later runners.

Leader of the Vendée Globe since Saturday evening François Gabart on Macif has seen his lead eroded very slightly during Sunday night. He might be feeling the effect of sustaining the very high pace he set from the start line and having had slightly less wind on the track which he has taken, 30 miles further offshore from the Portuguese coast, but the young skipper’s margin has shrunk to 7.5 miles ahead of the fierce duel between Vincent Riou (PRB) and Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire). The top trio have more than 14 miles to fourth placed Bernard Stamm.

The leading pack have consistently seen three or four knots more wind than the chasing boats. As the high pressure ridge extends the gaps between the different will likely increase.

'The wind is dying from the north and the first will certainly escape. Thirty miles this morning will be 60 tomorrow and 100 the next day,' cautioned Kito de Pavant, the French skipper on ninth placed Groupe Bel making 14kts this morning compared with the leaders 16-17kts.

And those towards the back are already struggling with less wind. Zbigniew Gutkowski, the Polish skipper in 17th place on Energa is already being forced out to the west making just seven knots this morning.

British skipper Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss has held his sixth position overnight but gave up some miles to fifth placed Jean-Pierre Dick when he chose to reposition himself to the west. Thomson gybed offshore around midnight and was still slanting SW this morning having doubtless had a busy night crossing the main shipping lane. After being ahead of the French skipper Dick, a double round the world race winner, yesterday afternoon Thomson has lost some 20 miles against him.

Sam Davies is just one of those in the lower third of the fleet now making less than 10 kts in the lighter winds: 'It is great to no longer have the menacing dark monster squall clouds that we had last night as that was pretty stressful to deal with each 35 knot squall. The sea state is calming down now too!' noted the British skipper who is the only woman in the race.


As the fleet progress south so the race course will open out more, the shipping traffic associated with one of the busiest lanes of the North Atlantic will dissipate and the race rhythm will settle. But last night will have been intense. A snapshot on AIS, the marine traffic monitoring system, showed more than a dozen cargo ships of all sizes within a 15 miles radius of one of the top 10 IMOCA Open 60’s this morning and there will be other vessels around to watch out for.

Other International :

10 Gamesa, Mike Golding, GBR +74.5 miles to leader
11 Acciona 100% Eco Powered, Javier Sanso, ESP, + 74.6 miles to leader
14 Mirabaud, Dominique Wavre, SUI +102 miles to leader
15 Savéol, Samantha Davies, GBR, +123.7 miles to leader
16 Energa, Zbigniew Gutkowski, POL, +149.9 miles to leader
18 Team Plastique, Alessandro Di Benedetto, ITA, +213 miles to leader

Sam Davies, GBR, Savéol: It is great to no longer have the menacing dark monster squall clouds that we had last night as that was pretty stressful to deal with each 35 knot squall. The sea state is calming down now too!

The beautiful clear sky means that it is quite chilly so I have been sleeping under my fleecy blanket, with alarms set to warn me about ships, wind changes etc. I have managed to get some nice blocks of sleep, which was much needed.

Now I am in front of the computer to try to work out the best way South don the Atlantic, with the latest weather Vendee Globe website

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