In the Vendee Globe, there has been champagne for the boat and a little for the skipper, as the effervescent Italian Alessandro Di Benedetto celebrated his passage of the Cape of Good Hope yesterday evening in the time honoured fashion, spraying more on the decks of his trusted IMOCA Open 60 Team Plastique than he consumed himself.
That the boat was offered most of the bubbly is in part tribute to the fact that it is his evergreen 1998 built Finot-Conq design’s fourth successive passage of the Great Cape in a Vendée Globe, finishing the last three editions successfully in the hands of Thomas Coville, Sébastien Josse and Arnaud Boissières.
Though he has had his small problems to deal with in recent days, Di Benedetto remarked that his boat in perfect shape, ready to take on the remaining two great Capes. With his transit of Good Hope all 13 Vendée Globe competitors are now in the Indian Ocean.
They might now all be in the same ocean but today it is becoming increasingly clear that several of the groups which have been largely intact, the leading triumvirate included, are disintegrating. There is little that the skippers can do, especially when they are tackled from behind by a weather system which brings them light winds.
Of the leading group, first victims to fall from fast rolling low pressure were Alex Thomson, then Bernard Stamm who now are more than 310 miles behind the leader. Today it might the turn of Jean-Pierre Dick, the hard driving, smart skipper who has co-skippered wins in the last two Barcelona World races around the world. He fears that he will no longer be able to hold on to the pace allowed to the leaders who are closer to the front of the system.
'These are the conditions we have. They have more wind that me. That’s the way it is and I have to accept it. But I fear the high pressure bubble coming behind me as according to the files there is no wind in this ridge. I’m trying to get away from it as fast as possible. If it catches me, I could lose hundreds of miles, even some days on the leaders. And they won’t be easy to catch. I try to keep some strength for the rest of the race,' warned Dick who has already lead this Vendée Globe six different times since the start. Virbac-Paprec 3 is now 121 miles behind leader François Gabart. By comparison Gabart’s Macif was still making 19-20kts and Dick just 11kts.
There is still nothing to separate the two leaders. The delta between Macif and Banque Populaire waxes and wanes by a matter of small miles. This evening the twins are separated by just 3.3 miles.
Mike Golding’s split from his French rival Jean Le Cam is looking increasingly costly and, for the British skipper on his fourth Vendée Globe, very frustrating. Caught in a low pressure trough, he was hopeful that there might be breeze to get him out of the ‘ditch’ by this evening but Gamesa was making just 3kts this afternoon while Le Cam now sixth was still making 11kts.
' It is very difficult,' Golding told Vendée Globe LIVE, ' I'm head butting against this trough. According to this file I'm through it, but the wind I'm experiencing is not matching the file. It's very frustrating.'
' I ran a route this morning and it sets me on a southerly route, I decided to run the same route, but starting it from 1800 tonight and it sent me on a northern route and arrived before the one that left in the morning [laughs]! The routing is therefore all over the place!'
Replay : Le live du Vendée Globe du 13 décembre by VendeeGlobeTV
Alessandro Di Benedetto, ITA, Team Plastique: I had to wait a half-hour more to open my bottle of champagne because I had some issues on the boat. Unexpectedly the port rudder’s blade came up. There was no shock. The fuse should have break with a shock .I was able to slow down the boat, and heel the boat on the other side to allow the rudder to steer the boat while I was putting in a new fuse. Then I got back on my course and opened a bottle of champagne to celebrate the first Cap crossing of this fantastic race! Next goal: crossing the Crozet gate. At the Cape the temperatures were very pleasant. I was at the helm in swimsuit with beautiful sunshine on the sails. But going further south for a few hours the temperature decreased by 7 ° C. But the boat began to do some great surfs at20 knots and the waves began to explode onto the deck. It's really nice to see the boat moving like that. In general I can say that after a little more than a month of racing the situation on board is very good.I get lots of messages of encouragement and it makes me very happy, it warms my heart... I really thank you very much...
Jean-Pierre Dick, FRA, Virbac-Paprec 3: There is a high pressure bubble behind me gradually moving towards me, which means that the lead boats have more wind and I have less. What I'm afraid of is getting caught in this ridge of high pressure. So what I need to do is get away from the ridge and try to make as good headway as I can to pick up a stronger breeze after Australia. It's not going to be easy passing this waypoint at the East Australia gate.
Alessandro Di Benedetto ouvre ses cadeaux by VendeeGlobeTV
Alessandro fête le passage du cap de... by VendeeGlobeTV
Rififi chez les tontons flingueurs by VendeeGlobeTV
Lección de navegación con Profesor Bubi /... by VendeeGlobeTV
Vendee Globe website
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7:23 PM Thu 13 Dec 2012GMT
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