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Vendée Globe leaderboard shuffles on Day 21

by Vendée Globe on 2 Dec 2012
JP on top this morning - Vendee Globe 2012 © Jean-Pierre Dick / Virbac-Paprec / Vendée Globe
The Vendée Globe leading trio are playing musical chairs, and Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) this morning is at the front, ahead of François Gabart (MACIF) and Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) sits closely on his tail. As the wind lightens tomorrow we will see which of the three will gain the advantage.

The leading trio three boats are neck and neck with their bowsprits pointed at the first ice gate. Time is of the essence today. On the skipper’s programme; fine tuning, weather analysis and razor sharp tactics as they cannot afford to waste a drop of the available wind. The record breaking days are behind us for now, as the sea is agitated and the speeds decrease. It’s light at Aiguilles, but the real challenge lies ahead at the next ice gate, Crozet. A wallowing high is forming and all of the front eight boats will be racing to get there before it shuts the wind window on them. The windless trap looks likely to create an even larger separation in the fleet.

Only Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) in fourth position this morning shows a top speed of 19.4 knots, while Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss), the most northerly of the head of the fleet begins to slow down.

Nothing is certain. This merry band of three are jostling for position and could gain in the coming hours. Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel), Mike Golding (Gamesa) and Dominique Wavre’s (Mirabaud) journey provides an opportunity through the high at the first gate, which could result in a compressed fleet, and allow them to return to the top five, despite the current 200 miles that separate them.

Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) has managed to free himself out of the maze of the high, which previously prevented him from making progress, and he now advances between the two packs. There are more high hurdles to come for him, but he will have his sights on that front group. His boat is fast and there are still chances for him to recover.

But the guys further back are suffering. Arnaud Bossières (Akena Verandas), is still 250 miles from the island of Tristan da Cunha and barely moving (3.2 knots this morning). Last night, Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives Cœur) had to fight hard to gybe and reposition himself in a less complicated area of wind. Bertrand De Broc (Votre Nom Autour du Monde avec EDM) heads south to bypass the high, but the road may be long. Alessandro Di Benedetto (Team Plastique) is sailing on port tack with a feeble (12 knots) east wind. He continues to widen the gap with the head of the fleet, some 1,847 miles away. Fortunately, he perceives a beautiful adventure in the race and charms us all with his joie de Vendée Globe website
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