Vendee Globe: Round the world match race

Door set to close once again for 'the oldies'

Tuesday December 11th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

The leaders in the Vendee Globe have just passed the western end of the 'Amsterdam' icegate as they continue to make huge speeds east, albeit slightly down from MACIF's monstrous peak and new outright IMOCA 60 record (singlehanded or otherwise) of 545.3 miles. For British fans, the big news this morning is Alex Thomson's Hugo Boss team revealing that their boat suffered a collision causing damage to a rudder and wiping out one of the boat's two hydrogenerators.

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
          1 hour aver     24hr aver      
 1 François Gabart MACIF 40°37.54'S 78°55.19'E 18.6 kts 111° 12.4 kts 19.6 kts 469.9 nm 15166.4 nm 0.0 nm
 2 Armel Le Cléac'h Banque Pop 40°37.63'S 78°51.00'E 19.0 kts 112° 12.5 kts 18.9 kts 452.6 nm 15169.3 nm 2.9 nm
 3 Jean-Pierre Dick Virbac 40°05.15'S 77°20.12'E 18.1 kts 107° 13.3 kts 20.0 kts 479.6 nm 15217.0 nm 50.6 nm
 4 Bernard Stamm Cheminees 40°18.59'S 76°22.73'E 18.5 kts 89° 16.9 kts 19.3 kts 462.1 nm 15262.3 nm 95.9 nm
 5 Alex Thomson Hugo Boss 39°52.94'S 75°23.44'E 19.5 kts 96° 19.5 kts 18.6 kts 446.2 nm 15302.9 nm 136.5 nm
 6 Mike  Golding Gamesa 38°03.56'S 65°03.83'E 15.1 kts 99° 15.0 kts 14.7 kts 351.8 nm 15796.5 nm 630.1 nm
 7 Jean Le Cam SynerCiel 38°11.84'S 64°22.93'E 10.5 kts 102° 10.5 kts 13.8 kts 330.9 nm 15825.4 nm 659.0 nm
 8 Dominique Wavre Mirabaud 37°28.65'S 60°43.68'E 14.5 kts 91° 14.0 kts 10.7 kts 252.5 nm 16003.8 nm 837.4 nm
 9 Javier Sanso Acciona 39°03.38'S 45°45.25'E 13.9 kts 90° 13.5 kts 13.6 kts 326.2 nm 16669.7 nm 1503.3 nm
 10 Arnaud  Boissières Akena Verandas 43°27.19'S 36°49.36'E 13.5 kts 63° 13.4 kts 10.3 kts 247.0 nm 17126.2 nm 1959.8 nm
 11 Bertrand De Broc Votre nom 42°39.86'S 28°29.99'E 13.6 kts 97° 13.3 kts 9.7 kts 232.7 nm 17472.8 nm 2306.4 nm
 12 Tanguy  Delamotte Initiatives Coeur 43°25.55'S 23°42.92'E 14.1 kts 87° 14.1 kts 12.4 kts 296.6 nm 17685.6 nm 2519.2 nm
 13 Alessandro Di Benedetto Team Plastique 43°39.00'S 13°57.62'E 16.5 kts 48° 16.5 kts 14.7 kts 352.5 nm 18177.1 nm 3010.7 nm
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)              

One third of the way into this Vendee Globe and the two leaders, the VPLP-Verdier designed sisterships MACIF and Banque Populaire are separated by less than 3 miles... After MACIF's astonishing 24 hour run yesterday - 545.3 miles represents a 16% increase over where the record stood at the start of this Vendee Globe - so Francois Gabart had taken the lead by the 1100 UTC sched yesterday. MACIF lost the lead by the time of the final sched yesterday, but overnight has regained it.

At around 0400 this morning, the lead duo rounded the western end of the Amsterdam icegate and have since speared off to the southeast. They have just been followed round by third placed Jean-Pierre Dick on Virbac Paprec 3. Dick has done well over the last 24 hours, reducing his deficit on the leaders by 30 miles, down to 50 miles.

Although it seems odd given the high speed of the lead duo, because they were further south and sailing less directly towards the mark, both Virbac and Cheminees Poujoulat have gained ground on them. In fact Hugo Boss is the only boat in the top five to have lost ground on the leaders over the last 24 hours, certainly down to the time Thomson has taken out to effect repairs to his damaged rudder system. Saying this Hugo Boss has consistently been making 24 hour average speeds of a far from shabby 18.5 knots.

At present the leaders are still enjoying the strong NNWerly between a secondary depression that has developed to their west and the high to their ENE. The leaders look set to be able to hang on to the depression as it moves SSE over the next 48 hours, getting them most of the way to the next ice waypoint gate before it overhauls them and the wind shifts into the southwest. However an area of high pressure is set to fill in behind this system and come Thursday morning this is forecast to be hovering directly over the great circle between the two icegates. At present it looks like all of the top five should escape, but the door will close on 'the oldies' in the next wave.

The second wave is still being led by Mike Golding on Gamesa and he and Jean le Cam on SynerCiel are currently riding the northwesterlies due north of the centre of the depression. At the latest sched Gamesa has 567 miles to reach the western end of the Amsterdam icegate. Unfortunately for them the forecast isn't a good one - the wind is set to back into the south and lighten as the high to their west extends its reach east trapping them.

This morning Golding reported: "The wind has been all over the place and so it was another frantic night. The next file just in shows we have a depression targeting us from the north which will be fine, but the others [the leaders] are on a different system now and so that is really pretty hard to take. They will move away more and there will be a lot of miles between us. But that’s the way it is. We live in hope."

Behind, Javier Sanso on Acciona 100% Eco Powered has just crossed the Crozet icegate. The Vendee Globe's sole Spanish entry is still making good progress in southwesterly winds and he will be diving back to the south any minute in order to stay in the stronger westerly breeze.

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