Vendee Globe 2012-13 skipper Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss), at 130 miles south-west of the Azores, has adjusted his course to be closer to Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) who he has overtaken this morning. Dick is around 40 miles to the east of Thomson, and has succeeded so far, despite the total loss of the keel, to progress without too much difficulty, in weather conditions, which are now building. The wind rise to 25 -30 knots from the southwest could make the effects of this damage much more complicated to manage.
The sportsmanlike gesture of Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) is welcomed and applauded by many. It demonstrates the true solidarity of the fleet. Solo sailors may endure solitude in the middle of the ocean but learn in the face of adversity that their co-sailors have got their back. The history of the Vendée Globe is heralded with these heroic moments that shape’s its character. When the opponent falls foul to the vagaries of incident and their competitor gallantly comes to the rescue. Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) of his own volition is on standby while Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) learns how to handle and manage his 60ft Open 60 dinghy. He continues to make good progress and has said that he will make his final decision on Sunday.
Separated by a mere 100 miles, François Gabart (MACIF) and Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) are setting a good pace towards the finish line of this incredible race. Propelled along by a 20 knot wind from the west-northwest the two young sailors are making 14 and 17 knots respectively for the last hour. François Gabart (MACIF) gybed in the early hours of this morning at 1am. Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) followed with a gybe four and a half hours later at 5.30am and now sails directly and faster to the finish line. Since last night’s ranking 7pm GMT, he covered 137.4 miles averaging 15 knots, versus François Gabart who had sailed 107 miles at an 11.7 knots average. This final show of strength is unlikely to be enough to change the outcome. The weather forecast for the finish is south-west wind freshening to 30 knots, switching to the west-northwest at around 25 knots. This means they will have to put in one last gybe before the line. The sea state is building and they will traverse over four metre waves in the final furlong of the race. The winner is expected between 5am and 10am Sunday morning, tomorrow, the 27th January.
While Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) fifth, and Mike Golding (Gamesa) sixth within a hundred miles of each other glide peacefully in the 15 knot northeast trade winds. Meanwhile, Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud) prepares to cross the equator, for perhaps the 20th time, at around 10 am this morning. He has too, endured a tricky South Atlantic passage. At 50 miles from the island of Fernando de Noronha, Arnaud Bossières (Akena Verandas) continues to gain in an easterly wind of 15 knots, about 3000 miles from the leader, 120 miles ahead of Spaniard Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered). The two sailors should benefit from this stronger wind throughout the day.
After a very good recovery in the South Atlantic, Bertrand De Broc (Votre Nom Autour du Monde avec EDM) is now slowed by near northeast wind, which prevents him taking a direct course towards the north. Offshore swimmer, Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives Cœur) is 350 miles behind. Alessandro Di Benedetto (Team Plastique) is enduring stronger winds from the north of around 30 knots. While the leading duo head to the finish line 4470 miles behind the Franco-Italian skipper continues his journey, one of injury, damage, yet enthusiasm as he shares the pleasure of great moments as sea with charm and delight. For the winners the circle is closing but for the last adventurer, it is far from over.
Rankings as of Saturday 26 January 2013, 12:00 (FR)
by Vendee Globe
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1:12 PM Sat 26 Jan 2013GMT
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2012 Vendee Globe
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