by Vendee Globe
In the Vendee Globe, Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) is holding onto to his lead as he picks his way through the light winds, near the ridge, northwest of the anticyclone of St. Helena. But, coming from a more southerly aspect, his pursuers are starting to accelerate ahead of the front of the depression that has been brewing in the west, near Argentina.
Armel Le Cleac’h, Banque Populaire - 2012 Vendee Globe
The weather situation remains complex and uncertain for the leader of the fleet, Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire), who is tracking the theoretical shortest route. He has maintained a cushion of miles between him and the chasing pack. But for how long?
Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss), in second place pursues the same route, 147 miles away with his fingers crossed, hoping his losses are not too severe and birthday boy, Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat), who is 49 today, sits in third place, 194 miles behind the leader and 50 miles in front of the breaking pack who headed south in search of wind.
François Gabart (Macif) and Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) are in the best position to feel first the benefits of their brave, but calculated, decisions. They are now experiencing the early effects of the depression as the front advances from the west, off the coast of Argentina. Speeding along at slightly more than 17 knots average over the last hour, they are free of the tight grip of the light airs that previously frustrated them and are beginning to catch up.
'We've finally left for the' fantastic rides! Macif slides on a flat sea all. Full Moon (this time it is good) as a guide,' confided an elated Gabart in his night time message.
The temperatures onboard are cooling as the fleet head south and the skippers break out another layer. 'The air is cooled. I took a shower late yesterday afternoon and put on a new set of sub layers. I have a feeling that I will not remove them any time soon.' Said Gabart.
The Brit Hunting, Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) has made his kill and jumped into sixth place, flying along at 17 knots too, now ahead of Mike Golding (Gamesa), who is slightly slower. This morning Golding said, 'I’m just waiting for a bit more wind which should be coming but it’s a bit frustrating because it has not come through as expected just yet. I have just 10 knots of wind at the moment. I changed down from the Code Zero to the Genoa and if it is going to stay like this I need to think about changing back up, but at the moment I’d lose as much in the change, so I’m just hanging on to see if it happens.' But the fastest west this morning, was Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud) not wanting to be left behind from his fellow senior sailors he has put his foot on the gas and covered 381.8 miles yesterday.
At the back, leading the chasing pack in this morning’s ranking is Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) who sits in ninth place. He has covered almost 400 miles in the last 24 hours onboard his Owen Clarke 60, Acciona 100% EcoPowered. He’s clawed back 130 miles on the leader over the same time period, but is still more than 600 miles away. Also very fast, Arnaud Bossières (Akena Verandas) overnight has snatched 10th place from a resigned Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives Cœur), despite Lamotte managing to maintain averages of nearly 14 knots. Lamotte was resigned to this inevitability yesterday on web TV Vendée Globe LIVE.
Bertrand De Broc (Votre Nom Autour du Monde avec EDM) is bearing down fast on the chasing group. He was the second fastest in the Vendée Globe fleet this morning, having covered 374.2 miles since yesterday. Even the salad growing, sea gardener, Alessandro Di Benedetto (Team Plastique) made hay yesterday, sailing around the 300 miles in 24 hours. These fast conditions at the back of the fleet could provide a great opportunity to pull back some miles from the front-runners. Of course, they too have to negotiate the windless vacuum of the ridge of St Helena but the models are predicting that she will not be as light for them. The fleet is compressing and it promises to be a fantastic race ahead, into the heart of the southern ocean.
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