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Vendée Globe 2012-2013 - War in the Pacific

by Vendée Globe on 6 Jan 2013
Mike Golding, Gamesa - 2012 Vendee Globe Mike Golding Yacht Racing © http://www.mikegolding.com
Vendée Globe 2012-2013 No Sunday papers, no walk in the park this weekend for the thirteen Vendée Globe sailors. The four leading boats are currently climbing through the South Atlantic Les Sables D’Olonnes bound. Clawing past the edge of a high pressure waiting to reach the more sustained northerly winds. Meanwhile in the Pacific, the other skippers are being pounded by hard conditions. They are sailing with a reduced sail in cold, messy, unrelenting seas. Life onboard for them is very unpleasant.

It’s on wintry Sunday’s like these, from the warmth of your living room when the Vendée Globe comes into its own. It’s hard to imagine what life onboard an Open 60 is like in a ferocious storm in the icy belly of a raging, tempestuous Pacific. No bedding or pillow, or hot bath to warm up and no respite, or rest.

Last night Arnaud Bossières (Akena Verandas) sent this message back to the race office. 'The wind varies from 18 to 43-45 knots, and it’s not easy to establish the ideal sail plan without risking the equipment. The rest is complicated too! I dream of being dry and on my veranda!'

This email took some time to decipher, clearly typed onboard a boat bucking like a bronco. Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) said last night, as he prepared to go into battle with the elements, 'this is war!' It’s a complicated time for him, enduring 45 knots in violent seas. With two reefs in the mainsail, he will just have to batten down the hatches until he reaches Cape Horn tomorrow where he will find hopefully some calmer conditions.

Mike Golding (Gamesa) continues to lead the charge of the five boats together. Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud) is pursued by Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat), who will have a renewed vigour, since he learned yesterday that his disqualification case has been reopened. He is flying along at more than 18 knots and is 20 miles behind Mirabaud.

Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) travelling at a speed of 14.5 knots this morning is the weakest of the group and has around three more days before he reaches Cape Horn. Three days is a long time in these turbulent conditions. It's even longer Bertrand De Broc (Votre Nom Autour du Monde avec EDM), Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives Cœur) and Alessandro Di Benedetto (Team Plastique) all catapulted along by a 25 knot north westerly wind.

It’s a complete change of scene for the top four as they approach the rise of the South Atlantic. Scrutinising the weather files, tacking and fine tuning as they crawl along at 7-8 knots, to the west of the high pressure. Every knot counts. François Gabart (MACIF) still leads the dance, but Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) shifted to the west, is hot on his tail. He could benefit first from the Uruguay depression they are chasing for faster speeds. With intensity they will be studying the weather files each looking to steal the advantage from the other.

Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) is sailing with a little more wind than the leading duo and has been able to steal back 30 miles. In the last 24 hours alone he has narrowed the gap by 124 miles. Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) is also catching up and has gained 43 miles in 24 hours. The Vendée Globe is culminating towards a nail-biting climax. Watch this space.

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