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Vendée Globe Race 2012 - Gabart, Le Cléac’h battling; Dick surging

by Vendee Globe on 29 Dec 2012
Jean-Pierre Dick [Virbac Paprec 3] is slowly cutting the lead of Francois Gabart and Armel Le Cleac’’h in Vendee Globe Race 2012-2013 © B. Stichelbaut / Sea&Co
The Vendée Globe Race 2012 has been a battleground for current leaders Francois Gabart and Armel Le Cléac’h, who are still in tight contest towards the final safety gate. On the other hand, Jean-Pierre Dick continues to make the race interesting after cutting down the leaders’ lead to 344 miles while Mike Golding and Dominique Wavre are not yet losing hope of landing a spot in the podium.

Last night the advantage held by Armel Le Cléac’h at the top of the Vendée Globe standings was just 0.3 of a mile. This morning the tables have been turned by Gabart but by only 0.6 of a mile on the 0500hrs ranking. As they anticipate the final gate of the course, a matter of 50 miles ahead, the twosome continue to speed match one another, side by side, making tiny gains and losses against each other, minute by minute, hour by hour. The rankings output this morning says Gabart was one tenth of a knot quicker overnight but for some of the time the duellists will have been in sight of each other and will certainly not need empirical evidence of who was quicker through the night schedule. Even after nearly 50 days at sea the intensity of the match is as high as ever. 'It’s incredible... Macif side by side with Banque Populaire for a few hours, just like we are training at Port La Fôret.' Gabart told his fans by Twitter last night. With less than1400 miles to go to Cape Horn, there is every chance that not only might the duo bring in 2013 together, but they should pass the mighty Cape during the first day of the New Year. Might they even be in sight of each other then?

Jean-Pierre Dick’s fight back has continued. The Virbac-Paprec 3 skipper has been quickest of the fleet overnight to reduce his margin to the leader now to 344 miles. Dick is still in a moderate to fresh NW’ly wind flow and making over 17kts this morning, but – significantly perhaps – so too Le Cléach’s instantaneous speed is back up to 18kts which suggests that perhaps speeds will even out between the top three now. Dick still has the more direct route towards the gate. At 833 miles to the leader, so too Alex Thomson’s return on the leaders has stabilised now. Thomson gybed late yesterday afternoon and is heading more to the north with a strong W’ly wind of around 30kts. The British skipper says he has found recent days tough, the intensity of the changes in wind strength down in the Furious Fifties, challenging him as he, too, anticipates his first solo passage around Cape Horn.

Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) continues to profit from his positioning on a low pressure system making more miles against Mike Golding (Gamesa) and Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud) who this morning are now more than 460 miles behind him. Golding was under threat from his friend and rival Wavre – with whom he raced the 2005 Transat Jacques Vabre - yesterday. This morning Golding has the upper hand by only seven miles but the two are splitting in opposite directions, lateral separation already at 100 miles, after their passage of the New Zealand gate. Gamesa is heading south looking for stronger breeze.

Since rejoining the race course yesterday morning Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) has made over 300 miles giving chase behind 70 miles behind Arnaud Boissières. Stamm has yet to report how successful his battery charging is but the Swiss skipper has continued to average between 16 and Vendee Globe Race website

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