In this morning’s Vendee Globe report, we indicated that Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud) appeared to be sailing an unorthodox route. This afternoon, we received this update from his team. 'I was on the phone with Michèle (the wife of Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud), there was a 40-knot wind and suddenly, the autopilot alarm went off! It was brutal, the yacht tacked suddenly and it tilted at 90 degrees.
It was chaos, my biggest since the beginning of the race. It was really scary, then the yacht went backwards, and the sea was rough. It wasn't far from where Michèle and I dismasted two years ago. The good news is, the situation is now under control. I turned the faulty autopilot off and turned the other on. I'm now sailing at a normal speed again. Even better; I'm now going to manoeuvre and I think I'll sail even faster!
My tactical choice is a long-term investment so, hopefully, I can sail with a better angle when the wind switches east. But we'll have to wait for two days to find out if it was a good move or not. It looks like the boats ahead of me will slow down a bit so we may regroup eventually.'
Dominique Wavre, Mirabaud - 2012 Vendee Globe - © Dominique Wavre
The autopilot issue seems to have cost him two positions as Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) and Arnaud Bossières (Akena Verandas) have both overtaken him. Talking on web tv show Vendée Globe LIVE today Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) explained that he had experienced a his cold night at sea last night but he was pleased that he was able to overtake Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud) and hoped he was able to retain the advantage.
'I’m glad I’m seventh, now let’s hope it lasts… It’s looking good right now, I’m happy with my tactical choices. Last night, the outside temperature was eight degrees, pretty cold, but it’ll get better soon. I mostly eat muesli in the morning, then a snack for lunch, ham or chocolate, and the rest is freeze dried food. I’m dying for fried eggs, French fries and two kilos of ice cream!'
A good, disciplined set of naps last night have made a lot of difference for Mike Golding who confirmed to his shore crew that he had been running very low on energy since his Cape Horn rounding. 'I’ve caught up now. Now I am just plain knackered!' Golding joked on his morning call to his team in Southampton, England. He is 128 miles to leeward off fifth placed Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel)
'I did think I was on to a winner last night when I put the bow down and accelerated a bit, but then I see Jean has done the same this morning. It is the only thing to do really. Looking ahead the routing wants to take us into the coast, but the way I see it that just paints you into a corner. I’d rather just play the bigger picture and work the rotation of the high and push NE. It is good to be getting into milder weather. I don’t have to wear the mid layer in the boat. But I’m starting to whiff a bit. Let’s put it this way, when you get into the sleeping bag you do it pretty quickly.' Further exploration of the topic onboard cleanliness was explored in Vendée Globe LIVE today when Golding explained whilst a skipper can wash there is no washing machine onboard and with only a limited amount of clothing, after 63 days at sea, the materials begin to take on an odour of their own.
Last night, Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) was slowed down by an area of high pressure. At the last report 15 miles separate the third and fourth placed boats. On Vendée Globe LIVE today Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) back in third place, sailing near South America, was enjoying the sailing in the warmer climates. But like all the skippers at this stage of the race remain cautious about the fragility of the boats.
After 63 days at sea it is difficult to be certain to know when and where parts will begin to pop. Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) 'Alex has spent a lot of time in the center of the depression last night. It has slowed him. This allowed me to take back some miles. He is back in the wind again but I think I can take it back a few more miles. I do not know exactly how much we will see. The wind should continue to rise a bit during the day.'
Alex Thomson, Hugo Boss - 2012 Vendee Globe - © Christophe Launay
At the front of the fleet François Gabart (Macif) takes advantage of the gradual shifting winds and continues to increase his lead ahead of Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire).
The St. Helena High, the mistress of the game is firmly established on the South Atlantic. Minor adjustments will help to make a difference and these small shifts can have major consequences, as shown by the current duel between François Gabart (Macif) and Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire). The skippers know that there will be no new strategic opportunities before the doldrums. For now patience is the name of the game.
Meanwhile, Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) sails, at high-speed north of the Falklands. For the Swiss sailor, he is making the most of his boat for the sole pleasure of sailing alone. The confirmation by the jury of his disqualification does not alter the situation since refueling diesel after Cape Horn. For Bernard, the goal is to achieve the best possible journey to Les Sables d'Olonne. But between the desire to preserve his boat, the desire to take full advantage of the boat’s potential and the lack of competition, Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) will be managing a cocktail of strange emotion.
Bernard Stamm, Cheminees Poujoulat - 2012 Vendee Globe - Vincent Curutchet / DPPI
In the Pacific, Bertrand De Broc (Votre Nom Autour du Monde avec EDM), Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives Cœur) and Alessandro Di Benedetto (Team Plastique) are on their way Cape Horn. Faced with western winds, they must connect the gybes to keep them on track for the headland. In a few days they will have the mythical rock in their sights.
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François Gabart (FRA, Macif): I’m doing fine, I’m not complaining, I’ve been going quite fast for a few hours now. The wind is much more stable than yesterday, the temperatures are higher, I sweat whenever I try to manoeuvre. I wish I had air conditioning on board!
Every day, we get raw weather files coming from the official weather services of different countries. Sometimes, they’re not accurate so we need to adapt and look around to understand what is truly going on in terms of weather. That’s part of our job.
The feeling I have is I haven’t changed my approach since the start of the race, I’m trying to pick the most direct and fastest route to les Sables. The big choices were made a few days ago, now it’s more about speed than anything else.
I’m constantly checking things on board, whenever I get a chance. I write a list of spots where I noticed something had worn out so I can be careful and take care of it when the conditions are calmer. But I trust my boat, really.
I’ve tried to sail at my own rhythm from the beginning on, and I think it’s been like that for the whole race. I’m not slowing down or accelerating on purpose, I’m just like a marathon runner, trying to keep a regular pace. When we’re at the very end of the race, it may change, though.
Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA, Virbac Paprec 3): I’m doing fine, there are no problem on board. The trade winds are quite strong, more than 20 knots, so it’s going fast. The sky is a very nice and clear shade of blue, the water is not as cold as it used to be and we’ve started to get rid of the fleece jackets. I’m so happy to be done with the Southern Ocean, now we’ll get to truly enjoy sailing.
I need to get out my toolbox, keep an eye on everything on board and be ready for anything that could happen.
I still have my sights set on the two leaders. Alex Thomson has slowed down a little bit but he’s back at a faster speed now. I should be ahead of him when we cross the Equator. I think once we have, I’ll need to make a huge effort to catch up on Armel and still keep an eye behind because Alex will be coming back too. I’ll have to find the right compromise between attacking and being more conservative.
Armel Le Cléac’h (FRA, Banque Populaire): The weather is nice and warm in the Brazilian trade winds. Last night wasn’t that great, there was very little wind so I hope it gets stronger in the next few hours, which is what the forecast is saying.
François is getting the strong wind before me, that’s why he’s going faster and the gap between us is widening. Don’t worry, I’m not relaxing and fishing, I’m working hard on board! I haven’t really looked at the North Atlantic tactics yet, I still have a few days before crossing the Equator so I’ll think about that later, when the time comes.
Lately, we’ve seen a little traffic, a few cargo ships, it’s getting livelier.
It’s not always as agitated and tough as you can see on some of the videos we send. We send those because they’re impressive, but we also have much quieter moments. But the Southern Ocean is always tricky, you need to be very careful and to stay safe when manoeuvring on the deck in these conditions.
Now I’m going to enjoy the current weather and dry my wet clothes.
Mike Golding (GBR, Gamesa): I’ve had a good progress overnight and this morning. The weather is gray and foggy.
We can always have a wash on board but when you’re in the Southern Ocean, it’s very cold, so it’s not that easy. And the tough conditions make it difficult to change clothes, too. Of course, clothes are in limited supply, so it’s not like we can change them every day, it’s not ideal.
Alessandro Di Benedetto (FRA-ITA, Team Plastique): I realised I have krill on board, on the deck or the roof. It was the first time I got the opportunity to see what it looks like up close, I knew about it from books I had read at school. I took pictures, because this is very important, it’s the basic food for whales and a lot of other animals in the ocean. They’re too small to be eaten by humans, though, I couldn’t use them in my salad… I put them in a small bottle and I’m bringing them home to study them with a microscope. The good thing is there aren’t enough of them out there to make it dangerous to walk on the deck.
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Vendee Globe website
by Vendee Globe - 6:38 PM Sat 12 Jan 2013 GMT
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