Vendee Globe: Jean-Pierre Dick past the Horn

As Bernard Stamm hopes to overturn his disqualification

Thursday January 3rd 2013, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Virbac Paprec 3 was the third boat in the Vendee Globe to round Cape Horn this morning, taking a rather different route to the leaders, who in turn have been making slow progress since passing through the Strait of Le Maire.

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 53°00.99'S 57°16.69'W 15.4 88° 9.1 9.7 232.8 6653.6 0
 2 Armel Le Cléac'h Banque Pop 53°20.78'S 58°10.64'W 12.1 75° 9.2 9.1 219.3 6688.2 34.6
 3 Jean-Pierre Dick Virbac 56°12.83'S 65°54.84'W 13.2 74° 11 12.8 306.5 6987.6 334
 4 Alex Thomson Hugo Boss 57°18.13'S 76°45.74'W 14.8 128° 9.7 15.4 369.9 7330.5 676.9
 5 Jean Le Cam SynerCiel 52°09.62'S 111°58.73'W 14.2 60° 13.1 13.8 332.4 8582.5 1929
 6 Mike  Golding Gamesa 55°04.30'S 123°04.18'W 15.4 84° 15.2 15.9 380.7 9009.1 2355.5
 7 Dominique Wavre Mirabaud 53°25.60'S 126°15.32'W 15.3 93° 15.2 14.6 354.4 9104.6 2451
 8 Javier Sanso Acciona 52°58.41'S 128°59.06'W 15.2 104° 14.9 13.4 321.1 9203 2549.4
 9 Arnaud  Boissières Akena Verandas 52°24.29'S 130°51.28'W 16.1 93° 16.1 14.8 355.2 9273.5 2620
 10 Bernard Stamm Cheminees 54°16.68'S 131°37.48'W 17.5 87° 17.5 16.1 386.1 9295.9 2642.4
 11 Bertrand De Broc Votre nom 52°48.27'S 156°21.72'W 13.5 68° 13.1 14.1 338.7 10313.4 3659.8
 12 Tanguy  Delamotte Initiatives Coeur 53°25.51'S 170°31.50'W 14.9 95° 14.9 13.8 331.6 10823.9 4170.4
 13 Alessandro Di Benedetto Team Plastique 53°00.44'S 165°14.53'E 15.1 95° 15.1 14 336.5 11711.2 5057.6
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)            

Virbac Paprec 3 passed the longitude of Cape Horn at 04:40 UTC this morning, 53 days 16 hours and 38 minutes since leaving Les Sables d'Olonne and 1 day 10 hours and 20 minutes after race leader MACIF. This was the fourth time skipper Jean-Pierre Dick has rounded the Horn.

“Cape Horn is a magical and symbolic moment," commented Dick. "It is well deserved after the long crossing of the grey regions [the sun-less Southern Ocean], you get the feeling that you’re returning to the light. It’s as though you’ve put your indicator on to signal a turn towards the finishing line. Even if there is some ice, wind and a built-up sea, you feel something powerful that hits you right inside.

“The south is normally a place where I can show my potential, but this time it has been frustrating. I'm glad to move on because the race is far from over. I will need to give it my all as we sail back up the Atlantic. Another phase of the race is ahead, and I will be approaching it with a fighting spirit."

With the wind veering into the north, Dick has had to sail Virbac Paprec 3 further offshore since passing the Horn and, currently on a course more due east, it doesn't look as though he will pass through the Strait of Le Maire as the leaders did.

Meanwhile at the front of the fleet MACIF and Banque Populaire have had one of the slowest days of the entire race, the extent of the high to their north clearly reaching further south than the GRIB files indicated. They have covered just 220-230 miles in the last 24 hours allowing those behind to play catch up. However the passage up the South Atlantic is normally a period where the fleet compresses, the boats in the Southern Ocean screaming into Cape Horn, as the leaders heading up the South Atlantic are often on the wind or in light winds. Over the last 24 hours the leaders have lost on average around 150 miles to the rest of the fleet.

At present the two leaders are back into the breeze, only that it is from the north. The forecast has the wind backing into the northwest and building substantially tonight as another front rolls through and by tomorrow morning the wind is strong and into the southwest allowing the leaders to make some fast miles north until the wind veers back into the north on Saturday.

Next to round Cape Horn, will be Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss, for whom the Southern Ocean's ultimate landmark lies 322 miles away still.  While it looked like Thomson would be able to lay Cape Horn directly from the Pacific East icegate, unfortunately the wind appears to have veered a little forcing him south although there may also be an element of the British skipper wishing to stay south to avoid the strongest winds as his 'final Southern Ocean front' passes through. Considering the ice threat around the Diego Ramirez Islands, southwest of Cape Horn, we can expect Hugo Boss to gybe back towards the Chilean coast soon from where she will follow a similar route to the leaders past the Horn, where her ETA is sometime early tomorrow morning.

In the next wave, Jean le Cam on SynerCiel is now just 73 miles from the western end of the Pacific East icegate having endured 24 hours of gale force westerlies. Earlier this morning le Cam gybed north to get him past the gate and he will be eyeing up the weather over the next three to four days so that when he gybes back to the south SynerCiel is on the best trajectory towards Cape Horn. 

Behind, the boats that have been speeding southeast in the southwest winds to the northeast of the giant depression are all gybing towards the Pacific East icegate. Mike Golding on Gamesa has been the last to go, his course taking him all the way down to 55°S, almost the latitude of Cape Horn. Unfortunately the route back up to the gate won't be easy as with the wind forecast to back into the southeast it will be dead downwind. In comparison Dominique Wavre on Mirabaud gybed much earlier.

While there is a match race between MACIF and Banque Populaire for the lead which may only be determined back in Les Sables d'Olonne, a good race is developing between the five boats lying between sixth and tenth, which are currently separated by just 286 miles.

Despite being disqualified for 'accepting' outside assistance (read more here) Bernard Stamm has vowed that he will continue to sail the course. The Swiss skipper also hopes to have his case reopened by the International Jury. Given the unintentional nature of the incident we hope that the jury is merciful and reinstate Stamm with a severe time penalty instead. However Stamm must bring new evidence to the table if the case is to be reopened.

In yesterday's radio vac Stamm recounted what had happened in the Auckland Islands when his anchor began dragging. “When I saw my anchor was moving I called on the VHF to warn the other boat that I was getting closer. They are the one who told me I could tie up to them. I was running everywhere on the boat trying switch on everything. When I came out, there was someone trying to pull up the anchor. I did not even have time to tell him to get off my boat, especially since we were dragging. I finished pulling back up the anchor and he fastened the line to his boat. Any sailor in the world would have done the same thing, and it happened so fast that I did not think what was specified in the rules. Maybe the captain of the Professor Khromov can testify but I'm not sure he would bring any new elements.”

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