Vendee Globe: Bernard Stamm into the lead

As Banque Populaire is fully nailed by the high at the Crozet ice gate

Friday December 7th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Okay - we admit this hasn't panned out how we thought it would yesterday. Instead of Armel le Cleac'h on Banque Populaire rounding the western end of Crozet ice gate just ahead of the high and then charging off to the south and doing a horizon job on his rivals as the door closed on them, in fact the opposite has happened: Banque Populaire has been royally captured by the high, and has plummetted to fourth place as his rivals have stayed in the wind for the last 24 hours and are now having some success making for the eastern end of the Crozet ice gate. Some you win.... etc  but this scenario is by no means over yet.

Image above courtesy of Expedition with GRIB files from Predictwind

Positions at 0800 UTC

Pos Skipper Boat Lat Long Spd Crs VMG Spd Dist DTF DTL
          1hr aver     24hr aver      
 1 Bernard Stamm Cheminees 40°31.54'S 48°28.03'E 11.9 51° 11.6 13.3 318.6 16590.9 0
 2 François Gabart MACIF 40°48.62'S 48°28.22'E 12.7 27° 12.7 11.6 278.3 16604.7 13.8
 3 Jean-Pierre Dick Virbac 41°08.83'S 47°34.47'E 12.8 36° 12.7 11.9 286.4 16645.5 54.6
 4 Armel Le Cléac'h Banque Pop 40°21.96'S 44°05.10'E 9.5 172° 2.9 5.2 124.1 16728.7 137.8
 5 Alex Thomson Hugo Boss 42°12.77'S 46°15.87'E 13 48° 13 13.5 324.6 16732.3 141.4
 6 Mike  Golding Gamesa 43°35.90'S 34°06.86'E 14.4 93° 13.6 14.5 346.9 17241.1 650.2
 7 Dominique Wavre Mirabaud 43°23.20'S 33°32.01'E 14.4 83° 14.3 14.5 348.7 17262.3 671.4
 8 Jean Le Cam SynerCiel 43°33.19'S 33°34.43'E 16.1 89° 15.7 14.9 358.8 17263.1 672.2
 9 Javier Sanso Acciona 42°15.46'S 19°13.57'E 14 86° 13.9 13 311.4 17882.4 1291.5
 10 Arnaud  Boissières Akena Verandas 41°05.18'S 14°12.46'E 10.8 63° 10.1 14.2 340.8 18113.9 1523
 11 Bertrand De Broc Votre nom 42°45.68'S 07°55.85'E 11.3 75° 11.3 9.6 230.2 18403.7 1812.8
 12 Tanguy  Delamotte Initiatives Coeur 40°34.88'S 04°19.88'E 10.5 160° 4.7 6.6 158.6 18561.3 1970.4
 13 Alessandro Di Benedetto Team Plastique 40°01.78'S 09°16.75'W 11.2 139° 8.7 9.2 221.9 19182.1 2591.2
RET Vincent  Riou PRB Damage to hull and lower shroud after collision with drifting buoy (24 Nov)    
RET Zbigniew Gutowski  Energa Autopilot failure (21 Nov)              
RET Jérémie Beyou Maitre CoQ Broken hydraulic ram (19 Nov)              
RET Sam Davies Saveol Dismasted (15 Nov)              
RET Louis Burton Bureau Vallee Rammed by a fishing boat, rigging damage (14 Nov)        
RET Kito de Pavant Groupe Bel Rammed by a fishing boat, hull damage (12 Nov)          
RET Marc Guillemot Safran Titanium keel broke (10 Nov)              

This morning Armel le Cleac'h is still feeling the pain. Banque Populaire is finally up to 9 knots but has been resolutely at 4-5 for the last day during which time he has covered just 124 miles, less than half that of his rivals. If the GFS model (which we are using above) is correct, then it indicates that Banque Populaire is still only 50 miles away from the centre of the high, whereas those heading for the eastern end of the gate are almost 200 miles from its centre and are being propelled towards the mark in southwesterlies that are strong enough to allow them to make 11-13 knots average speed.

With Banque Populaire wallowing so Bernard Stamm and Cheminees Poujoulat have come good and overnight have overhauled Francois Gabart on MACIF to become this Vendee Globe's fourth leader. Stamm currently has 115 miles to go to get to the eastern end of the gate, compared to 129 for Francois Gabart on MACIF,  170 for Jean-Pierre Dick on Virbac Paprec 3 and 257 for Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss. 115 miles at Stamm's present speed is 9-10 hours getting him to mark by around 1800 UTC tonight. But by this time the centre of the high is forecast to be parked right bang over the eastern end of the gate... However the latest forecast is indicating that while the frontrunners may be wallowing for most of the night, by tomorrow morning the high is exiting stage right (ie to the east) and behind it the breeze will be filling in from the northwest. This period will be an opportunity for Le Cleac'h to regain the ground he has lost - but will it be enough?

So we could end up with another scenario, as we saw in the South Atlantic, whereby the leaders play out dramatically different strategies only for it to ultimately have little consequence when they converge once again...

Meanwhile 'the oldies' behind have been once again closing in on the leaders. Mike Golding on Gamesa still leads this group in sixth place, and is now 671 miles back from the leader, compared to 733 24 hours ago. However both Dominique Wavre on Mirabaud and Jean le Cam on SynerCiel have closed on Golding (see his video update below) with le Cam currently the fastest in the fleet. Overnight, incredibly, Mirabaud and SynerCiel crossed gybes (see the video below).

“We are currently sailing a very difficult stretch,” commented Wavre. “We are skirting the southern edge of a high and the wind is very erratic and difficult to predict. I am very pleased with the progress I have made over the last three days though, my strategy paid off and the boat speed has been excellent.

"We are in the southern Indian Ocean in big seas. Over the last couple of days I have used every one of my big sails, I have done nothing but manoeuvre and peel sails. I am glad though because it has paid off!”

The current conditions are far from typical of the Southern Ocean: “Apart from the temperature, you could be in the Trades; the weather is fine and the sea is a sparkling blue. Last night the stars were spectacular, one of the advantages of a high pressure system in the Southern Ocean: the skies are extraordinary.”

Back in the Atlantic the back markers are still enjoying strong northwesterlies. Javier Sanso on Acciona 100% Eco Powered has dropped south since passing through the first ice gate yesterday in order to sidestep a ridge between him and South Africa - he's just passed the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope. Arnaud Boissieres on Akena Verandas is the latest boat to reach the first icegate to be followed soon by both Bertrand de Broc on Votre Nom Autour du Monde and Tanguy de LaMotte on Initiatives Coeur, respectively 211 and 350 miles away from the western end of the gate at the latest sched.


07/12/12 - Incroyable rencontre dans l'Océan... by LeCam_SynerCiel

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