by Emily Caroe
For Mike Golding and Jean Le Cam, locked in the duel for fifth place in the Vendée Globe, one last hurdle, the Azores high pressure zone which is ridged from the SW to the NE in front of the pair, might be the tactical opportunity which will settle once and for all the battle between the British and French skippers.
29 Jan, Mike Golding onboard Gamesa - 2012 Vendee Globe
Golding is still on a steady ascendancy, making nine miles back on Le Cam in 24 hours. That may not seem like much but confirms a trend over the past 48 hours of Golding sailing on average a knot faster than Le Cam.
His French rival is still 53 miles ahead this morning and has moved slightly east to perhaps cover Golding’s advance, but more likely as he seeks to avoid the worst of the lighter winds which are to the west. The duo are seeing the winds lighten and back more to south of east as the final weather feature of their course sets up in front of them. As it stands whoever escapes the high pressure ridge might well be in the 'winner takes all' situation as strong SW winds from the Atlantic low await them on the other side of these light breezes and that will mean a fast sprint to the finish.
Golding is 420 miles NWW of the Cape Verde islands making 12 kts of boat speed.
Vendée Globe LIVE interview with Mike Golding 29 January 12:00 GMT :
How are things today?
It has been a pretty torrid night of horrible wind shifts, 100 degree wind shifts, 17 knots and five knots, so quite difficult to find a course. Right now I am sailing dead upwind, which I shouldn't be. The files said I should be reaching!
When is your ETA for Les Sables d'Olonne?
Based on the routing, it is the seventh or eighth of February.
I have been looking at the dates of 2004 which you did it in 88 days, you will match your speed for 2004.
In 2004, it was much nicer!! The Vendée Globe was much nicer to me in 2004.
Armel and François have come in 10 days faster than in 2004.
It is amazing. Really great result. All that group, they did a great job, all of them. They hooked into the right weather; they were in a different race. Jean and I are at the spearhead of the rest of the pack! All of this lot, certainly this middle group, Dominic and Javier as well. Javier has had a great race when he caught up with us, but was cursed from then onwards! He was doing fantastically, was really going beautifully, and then he got a bit too close to us, he got the plague!
He [Javier Sanso] has no wind instruments at the moment, so he is pretty much hand steering as much as possible, his autopilots are working, but he is having to sail off tell-tails.
24 Jan, Mike Golding onboard Gamesa - 2012 Vendee Globe
That's not good.
Denis was a talking about doing 76 days and everyone was laughing at him, it is phenomenal.
I agree and I was one of them laughing at him, but he is occasionally right!
What's the situation with you and Jean Le Cam. If you can beat Jean Le Cam, that is better than 2004 as well.
That's a fair point, harsh, but fair! At the moment, I am dealing with my own problems and not really concentrating, I am just trying to get to the finish without a problem. I am obviously trying to beat Jean, but at the moment, the weather is so flukey, it is really quite difficult to …. you can't strategise when the wind is shifting on you 100 degrees. My strategy would have to change every five minutes at the moment.
Generally, I am pretty happy with where I am and there is plenty of runway. Jean has his good days, and I have my good days. The last 24 hours we have been doing pretty good and 48 hours before that was a bit of a struggle, while we tried to find out what made the boat work. The boats at this stage of the race, all the boats at this stage of the race are carrying little problems and some of them are more … some of them hurt you more than others. And sometimes you are getting hurt more than others.
Alex said that he had been battered by Biscay at the moment trying to get into the finish line and he said yesterday that he is 'just trying to nurse the boat home'. I think you are probably at the same stage. There is a little bit of survival?
I don't know about Jean, but I am sure jean has his problems. But you have to look at the weather that all this middle group have been through in terms of wear and tear, just little things, nothing major major, but things that could stop you, that could put you out of the race and even at this late stage. You have got to imagine that the boats that have gone through that weather have had a much tougher time than the lead group, which sailed a much faster and cleaner race than the race we have sailed. It makes it sound like it is our fault, but you are where you are in the fleet and that front group just got away down in the South, they just had that little bit of a lead and suddenly that lead just expanded and they were on a completely different race to our race. And from that moment on our race turned into 'which ocean is the worst one'! And I am still undecided, I'm telling you, as it is looking like the North Atlantic. The routing doesn't look bad, you know, it is just unfortunately it is the weather we are getting looks nothing like the routing!
Jean Le Cam, Synerciel - 2012 Vendee Globe
Just to let you know the front two boats came in and they have definitely had their problems throughout the course, they just haven't even fully revealed the full extent even now and they have been back for two days. We know that Cleac'h had a problem with his gennaker, which effectively was a very small problem, something to do with the gennaker jamming, causing him to veer off course near Uruguay and that pretty much lost him the race and we are talking about three hours. That one small break and the Macif lot, they have a broken list, but no one knows what's on it.
That's it. It is that way. But you imagine that the boats that have been through the more punishing conditions are going to potentially have more wear and tear, that is all I am saying. I am not saying we are more worse off. We have probably sailed more miles and we have probably had more punishment. I think the lead boats when they are doing those … every time you see them doing 20 knot averages your heart sinks because you know you are not getting the conditions to do it. I think my top poll, poll to poll in this race, was 19 knots. I know the boat can do better than that if the conditions are right, but we never had those conditions.
Gabart averaged 15 knots around the course.
That is amazing. Absolutely stunning. Absolutely incredible. And Alex has done a great race as well. Very sad for JP [Dick], but I wouldn't want Alex to think that he has inherited someone else's place because he has earned his place.
We just spoke to JP and he thinks he can get round Finistérre, but Biscay is looking very bad for him. He is still just slowly going forward.
It would be nice to see him finish, but there are clear risks involved and the weather looks pretty heinous on the GFS file at least.
Marc Guillemot said there are now two classes in IMOCA, there are those with keels and those without keels.
I have sailed both!
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