In the Vendee Globe, the leader Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) and Francois Gabart (Macif) were just 6.3 miles apart after becoming the first two skippers into the Pacific Ocean. It is more of a psychological than a physical line for the skippers, the point at which they begin to feel they are on the way home.
The beginning of the western end of the Pacific is defined by the International Hydrographic Organisation as 146°55' E longitude, marking the border between the Indian and the Pacific Oceans. Draw a line south from Tasmania to Antarctica and you have a rough guide.
It was exciting news for Vendée virgin Gabart: 'I’ve entered the Pacific Ocean? Wow, that’s great, another ocean for me!' He said on Vendee Globe TV. 'That’s perfect, let’s round Cape Horn and go home, now.'
Gabart dans le Pacifique by VendeeGlobeTV
Le Cléac'h was the first to enter the Pacific at 0708hrs (UTC, 0808hrs French time), followed by Gabart (0724hrs UTC). Whilst the others are getting a more traditional buffeting from the Indian Ocean, despite being further north because of the ice gates, the leaders are already starting the great crossing that will take them to Cape Horn.
After reeling Gabart in slowly on Monday and then extending past slightly on Tuesday, Le Cléac’h was himself being hunted as Tuesday wore on. Gabart, to the North of Le Cléac’h as they head east to New Zealand.
Meanwhile, the bumps and breakages are mounting for both the skippers and their boats in the Indian Ocean. Bertrand de Broc (Votre Nom autour du Monde avec EDM Projets), already nursing an injury to his elbow, is also wondering what to do about the hole near the bow where one of his stanchions has ripped out.
De Broc said the repairs are serious enough that it is currently investigating where he could anchor, perhaps on Auckland Island, in the southwest of New Zealand.
At the rear of the fleet, Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives-heart), after his smoke on the water, was closer to being smoked by it on Tuesday. He seemed torn between fascination of 35-45 knots and the enormous waves of seven to eight metres breaking on the back of the boat and the fear of breaking something.
It is De Lamotte’s first time this far south, but even for Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel), on this third Vendée Globe, sheer joy and fear co-mingled as he surfs down enormous waves. 'I did an incredible nosedive, the ‘nicest’ crash in my life,' Le Cam said. 'It was like crashing your car at full speed into butter.' Better that than the slamming landing that is closer to hitting a brick wall with the hull.
Tanguy De Lamotte (FRA) / Initiatives Coeur - 'Smoke on the Water' - Rock’N Roll - Tanguy De Lamotte (FRA) / Initiatives Coeur Click Here to view large photo
As he feared, Mike Golding (Gamesa) in seventh place, has hit a ridge with little wind by the West Australia gate and has lost 50 miles to Le Cam in the last 24 hours with more to come as he was averaging just 8.6 knots in the four hours before the 1500hrs (UTC) ranking.
Behind him Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud) was averaging 13.7 knots and there is real opportunity for Javier Sansó (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) to bank some more miles as he continues his epic catch-up.
Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) had the best average speed – 18.6 knots - over the last four hours and had closed the gap to fourth-placed Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) by 12 miles to just 28 miles. Thomson, reaching south on the same track but three knots slower, was slightly envious: 'I am very aware that Bernard’s boat with her fat bow (Cheminées Poujoulat) will have less trouble with these conditions than I am having,' Thomson said.
Bernard Stamm : « On a failli avoir un vrac en... by VendeeGlobeTV
He has cracked open his winter gear now, but not in preparation for some Christmas skiing and tartiflette, but rather the Furious Fifties.
Quotes from François Gabart, Armel le Cléac'h, Tanguy de Lamotte, Mike Golding, Bertrand de Broc, Dominique Wavre here and Jean Le Cam here.
Alex Thomson (GBR, Hugo Boss): Conditions have changed considerably since yesterday, I'm currently sailing in 23-36 knots of wind with a very disorganised sea. I am struggling to make the boat go fast as I am sailing she constantly buries her nose deep into every wave we go down. I have to be prudent but I am very aware that Bernard’s boat with her fat bow will have less trouble with these conditions than I am having. C’est la vie! When the waves become more organised, I will be able to increase sail and go faster, but the last thing I need right now is a problem. It is nice to be finally heading in the right direction as I have not been able to do that for some time. I am sailing towards this low pressure system in westerly winds which will back to the south in half a day before eventually settling back to the west again. The southerly wind will be very cold and I have prepared all my winter clothes.
Mike Golding (GBR, Gamesa): We just had a wave set that allowed the boat to get on some surfs and it was very tempting and I did quite a lot of it, but unfortunately at the end of some of those surfs, you end up in a situation where you’re going so fast that you almost overtaking the wave in front and then there’s nothing behind it and you come down in an almighty crash. I did a couple of those last night. It’s pretty painful for the boat, it’s very stressful, but at the same time you’re in a situation where if you back off too much then the waves are overtaking you and you start to lose control. Too some extent speed is your friend but when it (the boat) get to 30 knots plus I think that it starts to become dangerous and an impact at that speed for a boat this size is going to break something.'
Javier ‘Bubi’ Sansó (ESP, Acciona 100% EcoPowered): Hi, how are you all? I have 22-25 knots of wind and my current speed is 18 knots. The weather is terrible, though, very cloudy, a lot of rain but what matters is I’m going in the right direction! It may look like I’m hunting Dominique Wavre because I’m definitely coming from behind, I’ve been quite lucky, I have to admit, and hopefully, when I get closer to him, we’ll be in the same weather system. I’m very happy because I came back from 700 or so miles behind and I know it will be more fun to be here with Mike and Dominique! It’s quite boring to be in the middle of nowhere.
Vendee Globe website
Replay : Le live du Vendée Globe du 18 décembre by VendeeGlobeTV
Day 39 highlights - Tuesday, December 18, 2012 by VendeeGlobeTV
Résumé du 39e jour de course by VendeeGlobeTV
Bertrand de Broc au large de Saint-Paul by VendeeGlobeTV
Alerte albatros sur Team Plastique by VendeeGlobeTV
Magnifique spectacle pour Arnaud Boissières by VendeeGlobeTV
by Vendee Globe
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