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Vendee Globe - Mike Golding struggles to find speed on boats ahead

by Vendee Globe on 22 Dec 2012
Mike Golding, Gamesa - 2012 Vendee Globe Mike Golding Yacht Racing © http://www.mikegolding.com
Vendee Globe skipper Mike Golding (Gamesa) faces a race this morning not to get entangled in the bubble of high pressure south of Tasmania and watch Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) sail away.

Golding was not alone in scratching his head as to why Le Cam dived south 36 hours ago. It may be clearer this morning, but in his morning message Golding, who averaged 15 knots to Le Cam’s 16.knots in 18-20 knots of NW wind, was confident he would also escape with Le Cam.

'The stronger stuff is about 100 miles away and I should get a good push from that for a while,' Golding wrote on Saturday morning. 'The only determination just now is to get to that wind. Jean Le Cam will get there before me but in turn I don’t think the guys behind are going to get it and we should just get away a bit from them.

'But in general I feel I should be going quick so it has been disappointing. I am struggling to find speed at the moment on the boats ahead. Long term there is nothing really bearing down on us to give us a real shove. But, equally, if you look to the south neither has there been anything going past that you think ‘well if we were south we might have had something’ so it is all a bit frustrating to be where we are.'

Le Cam, 1,755 miles behind the leaders, passed the East Australia gate yesterday evening and is best placed to catch the strong more northerly wind ahead of them. Golding is 195 miles and about ten hours behind him. Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud) is south of Golding but another 76 miles behind.

Javier Sansó (Acciona 100% EcoPowered), in ninth, 364 miles behind Le Cam, is also the furthest north and perhaps the most vulnerable. Sansó, the fastest skipper in the last ten days apart from the two leaders. For once coming from behind may not be the advantage for him, as it has been twice in the race so far during his magnificent comebacks.

'It is going to be interesting to see which side is the best to get through this small wind-less transition ahead of us,' Sansó wrote on Friday night, 'before we get onto the back of a growing squall which will take us directly down south and into the Pacific….but well….'

'It is honestly quite difficult to know what is going to happen, since sometimes the calms will appear more to the south or more to the north, and in these cases it is usually more beneficial for those coming up from behind since those in front come to a standstill. But sometimes those who get there first will get through to the other side before the others. In 40 hours or so we will see what happens.'

Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) may have power problems, but he is not underpowered in the sailing department. He was the fastest boat overnight, averaging 18.4 knots. Just south of him as they race south of the Auckland Islands, Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) could only make 15.9 knots. But both have a difficult day ahead as the pass the Campbell Plateau that so shook the leaders. Thomson continued to find the best speed in the fleet this morning and is 37 miles ahead of Stamm.

The leaderboard at 0800hrs puts Francois Gabart (MACIF) 12.6 miles ahead of Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire), but that is only half the story. There was only 1.4 miles in it overnight and this morning Le Cléac’h, further north, crossed the New Zealand gate and immediately gybed south. Gabart will do same shortly. The slalom effect of the gates continues to be obvious.

The leading duo ticked off another psychological marker on the way home by crossing the International Dateline, or the Antimeridian at 180 degrees. Their longitude position now reads W instead of E. In times of stress and great sleep deprivation these small things matter.

Third-placed Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec 3) has kept pace in third, 562 miles behind and should cross the Dateline on Saturday night.

At the back of the fleet, the charge of Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiaves Cœur) on Bertrand de Broc (Votre Nom autour du Monde avec EDM Projets), 214 miles ahead, looks to have slowed as they approach the West Australia gate. But both will struggle for speed as the wind appears to dropping off for the next 36 Vendee Globe website

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