The Vendee Globe Race 2012-2013 is starting to heat up going into last stretches towards the finish line as Gamesa skipper Mike Golding gathered enough breeze in the east to sneak past west-bound Jean Le Cam of SynerCiel on Monday.
Mike Golding (Gamesa) has won the latest round with his arch rival Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel), passing him in the night to move into fifth place. But it was a case of suffering less as high pressure, confusing weather files and shifty conditions plague the middle of the fleet.
Golding, 1990 miles behind the leader, averaged just 9.8 knots overnight, but Le Cam managed only 6.3. Golding leads Le Cam by 12 miles. Seven days ago he was 247 miles behind. But the two are also diverging as Golding heads east and Le Cam west – he’s pointing to Rio at the moment, but presumably not intending to stop for the Carnival. Who best avoids the high-pressure hole they are in will play out in the next three or four days.
Likewise behind them, where Javier Sansó (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) has also profited from being east and continued his charge, moving into seventh past Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud) on Monday night and rapidly closing on Le Cam and Golding.
Sansó’s average overnight speed of 14.3 knots will have made his rivals weep. Wavre’s was only 7.6 knots and Arnaud Bossières (Akena Verandas) averaged an almost becalmed 4.9 knots and both had even worse VMG – Velocity Made Good to the finish line. Sansó is suddenly 75 miles ahead of Wavre and 174 miles behind Le Cam, having won 60 miles from the former and 72 from the latter overnight.
Sansó has one of the six new boats that started the race and one of the three left (with Macif and Banque Populaire) but he is profiting more from strategy. Wavre and Bossiéres, 300 miles west of Sansó gybed east overnight, but the same high-pressure system affecting Golding and Le Cam ahead of them. Only time will tell who has chosen the right path, but Sansó would not swap at the moment. Fleet News
At the front, Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) finally began to reverse the tide on Francois Gabart (Macif) on Monday night. He may have only cut the lead by 26 miles since Monday afternoon – down to 248 miles, but there could be more to come as the southeast trade winds look to be going lighter on Gabart as he leaves behind the coast of Brazil. Le Cléac’h is benefitting from the breeze that powered Gabart’s escape 48 hours ago. Gabart is 120 miles from the equator and the Doldrums, around 300 miles away, may yet change the race.
Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec 3) in third has made a small comeback too and is 695 miles behind Gabart, after being the fastest fleet over the last 24 hours, covering 383.1 miles – although Le Cléac’h had a better VMG of 15 knots.
Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) stemmed his losses in fourth place, still hugging the coast of Brazil, just 200 miles to his west. He is the easterly tradewinds and averaged 13.2 knots overnight, but still slipped another 19 miles behind Dick, who is 187 miles ahead.
Bertrand De Broc (Votre nom autour du monde avec EDM Projets) became the 10th boat to pass Cape Horn at 1800hrs UTC on Monday night. It is not his first time but the sense of achievement at passing the great maritime mark was obvious, especially as he has made tortuous progress: 'This is the end of a difficult sea that is not a gift,' De Broc wrote. 'We're happy to finish and return to the Atlantic because it means a return home. It is a mythical passage that keeps the memory of the great periods of maritime conquests and racing, even if today we can cross it at breakneck speeds aboard our boats. I am proud to pass.'
Those feeling will be even more accentuated for Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives cœur), who was rounding Cape Horn for the first time and was the 11th boat to pass at 0503hrs UTC on Tuesday morning. But he will not dwell on them. He has cut De Broc’s lead to just 115 miles and has him in his sights. Alessandro Di Benedetto (Team Plastique), 822 miles behind De Lamotte, is the only boat left in the Pacific.