Vendee Globe: Leaders gybe north for next icegate

As the oldies have their pedal to the metal

Monday December 17th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Yesterday late evening the lead duo in the Vendee Globe gybed northeast for the Australia East ice gate. As a result of their change of course on to the losing tack, so the boats behind have finally managed to reclaim some ground on them.

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 51°50.60'S 137°20.94'E 16.2 53° 14.9 12.6 301.3 12794.8 0
 2 Armel Le Cléac'h Banque Pop 52°15.17'S 137°00.49'E 17.1 63° 16.8 13.8 331.9 12813.1 18.3
 3 Jean-Pierre Dick Virbac 51°48.28'S 126°23.12'E 15.7 102° 14.2 16.9 406.5 13183.9 389.1
 4 Alex Thomson Hugo Boss 40°52.15'S 122°19.60'E 11.5 155° 10.2 15.7 377.9 13579.8 785.1
 5 Bernard Stamm Cheminees 40°52.63'S 121°03.25'E 10.9 135° 10.9 14.7 352.5 13625 830.3
 6 Jean Le Cam SynerCiel 44°23.77'S 100°06.88'E 13.5 122° 13.5 15.1 363.5 14290.4 1495.7
 7 Mike  Golding Gamesa 43°29.32'S 96°40.76'E 15.7 118° 15.7 15.3 368.3 14447.4 1652.7
 8 Dominique Wavre Mirabaud 42°21.17'S 93°19.40'E 16.8 122° 16.8 16.3 392.3 14609.5 1814.7
 9 Javier Sanso Acciona 44°14.28'S 88°40.38'E 15.2 138° 12.8 14.3 344 14754.6 1959.8
 10 Arnaud  Boissières Akena Verandas 39°07.45'S 77°54.25'E 14.8 103° 14.3 11.7 279.9 15317 2522.2
 11 Bertrand De Broc Votre nom 39°20.02'S 69°49.58'E 15.1 105° 15 14.4 346.2 15663.5 2868.8
 12 Tanguy  Delamotte Initiatives Coeur 38°35.89'S 62°09.09'E 11.9 100° 11.9 13.4 321.4 16023.6 3228.9
 13 Alessandro Di Benedetto Team Plastique 39°45.35'S 48°50.50'E 12.3 97° 12.3 11.5 276.5 16621.1 3826.3
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)              

The gybe northeast has resulted in Armel le Cleac'h on Banque Populaire once again closing in on race leader Francois Gabart on MACIF. From being 40 miles astern of him yesterday morning, his deficit has been more than halved. Luckily for the two boats their progress east over the last three days has finally seen them overtake the giant Southern Ocean low and so their manoeuvre has coincided with the wind shifting back north of west as they recross the remnants of the front associated with the depression.

At present the Australia East ice gate is around 142 miles ahead of MACIF assuming she maintains her present course, so she should arrive there later this afternoon, when she will gybe back resuming her course to the southeast.

Yesterday Gabart gave some insight into the freezing conditions down in the Furious Fifties. “It snows, it snows. I don’t know how it is in France but here it’s pretty cold. I had several sleet showers and even some cute little snowflakes this morning. It’s not ever yday that it is snows on MACIF. We must get out the mittens. It is summer here and in Australia I imagine everyone in there swimsuits on the beach, it is only a few kilometres away, but that said, we are closer to the penguins in Antarctica. We have found some icebergs ahead too, so it is better not to continue this way for long.”

The gybe northeast has allowed Jean-Pierre Dick on Virbac Paprec 3 to regain almost 100 miles on the leaders over the last 24 hours, reducing his deficit to 389 miles, still hardly close...

Meanwhile, some 10 degrees north of the lead duo, conditions are balmier for Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss and Bernard Stamm on Cheminees Poujoulat. With the depression formerly known as Claudia having paused momentarily in her easterly track, so Thomson and Stamm are currently working their way along her very northeasternmost part and this morning have gybed southeast. While they are slightly slow at the moment, Claudia is due to move east again over the course of today and the duo will be back making big speeds in the 30+ knot westerlies to the north of the depression. Unfortunately Claudia isn't heading east fast enough, nor is she heading south enough and it looks like in 48 hours time Thomson and Stamm are going to end up passing the Australia East icegate, way to the north, perhaps only 200 miles south of Tasmania.

The biggest gains over the last 24 hours have been made by the next group, 'the oldies', currently in big westerly conditions to the northeast of the depression formerly known as Claudia. Here Jean le Cam on SynerCiel still leads, with Mike Golding on Gamesa ekking out a few miles since yesterday morning. They have both taken about 70-75 miles out of the leaders in the last 24 hours with more expected to come today with the leaders on their losing tack. They are approaching the Australia West icegate which is around 240 miles up the course for le Cam at the latest sched.

As mentioned in our update yesterday, 'the oldies' are now four-strong, with Javier Sanso on Acciona 100% Eco Powered having joined them. However the Spaniard's track southeast is to the south of the others which will mean he has to put in a gybe sometime tomorrow to cross the Australia West icegate and he will lose some miles in the process.

Yesterday Sanso reported he surviving rather than racing in 40 knots winds gusting to 50. “I’m not very worried about the speed but more about the boat, holding everything together,” Sansó said.

The race organisers have announced that they are moving the West Pacific ice gate north. The new position is 49°S 145-137°W.

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