Yesterday Thomson's Hugo Boss was the most southerly boat in the fleet, sailing within 30nm of the Antarctic Exclusion Zone, with Le Cléac'h and third placed Sébastien Josse more than 100nm to the north. However this morning the positions for the leading trio have inverted with Thomson now 50nm to the north of Le Cléac'h as they gamble on the best route to pick up an Indian Ocean depression.
Speeds are still high among the frontrunners but at the 0500 UTC position report Le Cléac'h had almost three more knots of boat speed, pushing Banque Populaire VIII along at 17.9 knots compared to Hugo Boss at 15.3. Josse's Edmond de Rothschild crossed the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope at 0044 UTC today, almost 14 hours behind Thomson, making him the third skipper to leave the South Atlantic and begin the next phase of the Vendee Globe.
A clear rift has developed between the front three and the chasing trio of Paul Meilhat (SMA), Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ) and Yann Eliès (Quéguiner-Leucémie Espoir). A week ago it looked like Eliès' hopes of a shot at the Vendée Globe title had been dashed but some smart sailing has allowed the French Vendée Globe veteran to stay within a few days of the frontrunners.
As well as pushing ahead these three must also look over their shoulders – 500nm behind the trio of Jean-Pierre Dick, Jean Le Cam and Thomas Ruyant are accelerating towards them in better breeze at speeds of more than 20 knots. The large group still stuck in the St Helena High can expect to be in the South Atlantic for at least another eight days before they pass the Cape of Good Hope bound for the Southern Ocean.
Crossing of the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope
1-Alex Thomson : 17d 22h 58’
2-Armel le Cléac’h : 18d 03h 30’ - 04h 32’ after the leader
3-Sébastien Josse : 18d 12h 42’ - 13h 44’ after the leader
© TEAM STEPHANE LE DIRAISONStéphane Le Diraison (Compagnie du Lit-Boulogne Billancourt): “At the moment we’re in an area with a little wind: it should last 24 hours and we need to take advantage of it, as afterwards there is a high to cross. We’re not fast enough to get ahead of it. Passing through a high means hard work in light winds… We’ll even be upwind in 24-48 hours. In relation to the frontrunners, our fate is sealed and even with the three in front of us, who are already in the low and who will be extending their lead. In that group ahead, there is only Eliès, Le Cam, Ruyant and de Pavant, who have boats from the same generation as ours. Except that they were able to fine tune theirs, whereas in our groups we’re all more or less of the same standard.”
© Yoichi YabeKojiro Shiraishi (Spirit of Yukoh): “A short message for Morgan. I heard the bad news that you had been forced to retire from the Vendée Globe. I am really sad about that. You had sailed well from the start and I thought it was looking good for you. I didn’t get a chance before the start to thank you for showing me around the Kairos premises (the company run by Roland ‘Bilou’ Jourdain, which takes care of Safran – editor). It’s thanks to you, Bilou and the team at Kairos that I was able to line up at the start of the Vendée Globe. I am very grateful. I hope you weren’t hurt when the boat was knocked down and that you have a good trip to Cape Town. You had a great race and there nothing to be ashamed of. Your experience in the Vendée Globe will undoubtedly be beneficial for you in the future. Don’t think that this result is a failure, but rather something that will help you to become the winner.”