by Vendee Globe
Vendée Globe 2012-13 skipper Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss), as he forecast, appears to have enjoyed the simplest of passages through the doldrums and averaged double-digit speeds overnight (10.7 knots since 1900hrs UTC). On his path on the westernmost part of the fleet, he should have a north wind of between 15/20 knots all morning, decreasing in the afternoon.
Alex Thomson, Hugo Boss - 2012 Vendee Globe
Thomson has lost 93 miles to the leader, Francois Gabart (MACIF), over the last 24 hours and is 739 miles behind.
After his heavy losses last week, Thomson has gained 150 miles back because of Gabart’s difficult doldrums. At this time on Wednesday, January 16, Thomson was 872 miles behind.
But third-placed Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec 3) has enjoyed similar success. Dick remains 237 miles ahead of Thomson and 502 miles behind Gabart. This time on Thursday, January 17, Dick was 378 miles behind Gabart, on Tuesday he had been 695 miles behind. His net gain from Gabart’s doldrums is 193 miles.
280 miles to the west of Cape Verde, Gabart was again finding the best speed of the top four, but only marginally. He averaged 12.8 knots against the 11.7 knots overnight, Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire), grinding nine miles further ahead in the same northeasterlies as Thomson and Dick.
They are approaching the Azores high, the situation is still complex. The anticyclone barrier, around 800 miles ahead, can be particularly difficult to negotiate and the front four will be examining the weather files and satellite images to see whether to go around it or if there is a path through the centre.
The slow torture continued on the east and west of the course for the middle five of the fleet. But Arnaud Boissières (Akena Verandas) is in a hole again, 180 miles southeast of Rio and like Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) before him, has perhaps been tempted by the Rio carnival. He averaged just 2.9 knots overnight and only 1.8 knots in the last hour. He has averaged 4.8 knots over the last 24 hours and made just 113.2 miles. For the other four, the weaving in northerly winds, strengthening to 15-20 knots, will continue on Saturday.
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