Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) was still working this morning (his night) to try and fix his hydrogenerators, re-join the race and preserve any hope of a place on the podium. The weather has hardened, with 16-18 knot northwesterlies sweeping down on the Auckland Islands, but Stamm has shelter in Sandy Bay, Enderby Island, in the northeast of the Archipelago, where he anchored at 0500hrs on Sunday morning.
The diversion has already cost the Swiss sailor at least 600 miles and he has fallen 1,481 miles behind the leaders.
He may well lose fifth place to as Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel), in sixth, He averaged 14.6 knots on a direct course overnight and is just 290 miles behind Stamm – less than a day’s sailing at current speeds. If Stamm re-starts on Christmas Day, as is possible, then he will be chasing Le Cam in the Pacific.
Behind Le Cam, the nightmare of complicated routing continues for Mike Golding (Gamesa), Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud) and Javier Sansó (Acciona 100% EcoPowered), in horrible transition bubble of high pressure south of Tasmania. From their respective boat speeds they are still finding different conditions on the water than on the weather models. Golding (Gamesa) managed just 46.7 miles overnight at an average of 5.2 knots. It will be no consolation to him that he has arrived in the Pacific. Behind him Wavre (Mirabaud) fared a little better with 85 miles, but his progress has been complex and with a lot of effort Twisting further south Sansó made just 74 miles and will need another of his monumental catch-ups in the Pacific.
The losses may even be worse than they feared on Saturday, as they could have to wait 24 hours for some solid breeze to arrive from the southwest. On Friday they were still of a gang of four, now they are three because Le Cam is in a different weather system and flying away – 408 miles ahead of Golding, 475 miles ahead of Wavre and 703 miles ahead of Sansó.
After briefly losing the lead at the 1100hrs ranking on Sunday, Francois Gabart (MACIF) had won it back from Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) by 1500hrs and has continued to be the fastest boat in the fleet since, averaging 19.7 knots overnight. But he is only 10.2 ahead and 0.7 of a knot faster than Le Clèac’h, with 25-27 westerlies behind them as they head northeast to the Pacific West gate.
Rarely has a Vendée Globe lead been so hotly contested – there have been 19 changes of lead since December.
Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec 3) lost some ground in third and is 518 miles behind, conceding 50-odd miles from his comeback. But he is further north and looks to have a good angle attack to the Pacific West gate.
As he anticipated Thomson has lost some speed. He made multiple gybes overnight as he heads northeast to the New Zealand gate around 200 miles ahead (depending on where he crosses). He averaged 12.1 knots overnight – his day and may have continued to make repairs to his hydrogenerators.
Behind Sansó the other four will all be pushed by a depression coming in from the north and bringing 30 knots of wind. That means more progress for Arnaud Boissières (Akena Verandas), as heads down to the East Australia gate, 350 miles southeast. He has been the fourth fastest over the last 24 hours, covering 364.8 miles more than twice as many as Sansó, who has made just 179.9 miles. He is 465 miles behind Sansó.