- The southern group eats up the miles
- The elastic stretches between the front eight and the pack at the back
Yesterday, between 11am GMT Thursday 29th to 11am GMT Friday 30th November François Gabart (MACIF), travelled from point to point, 482.91 miles in twenty-four hours, averaging speeds of 20.1 knots. This breaks the record held previously by Alex Thomson in 2003. Confirmation of the record is subject to the WSSRC validation.
The fleet is hurtling along at break neck speeds on the super highway of the Roaring Forties. François Gabart (MACIF) and Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) have both almost made top speeds of twenty knots in twenty-four hours, according to 3pm GMT rankings. There is talk on the racetrack of more surprises yet to be revealed. The front group of eight rushes headlong towards the first crossing point at the Gate of Aiguilles on the frozen road of the Indian Ocean. The shorts and sunglasses have been packed away and the boat husbandry has been done to ensure the skippers are as ready as they can be to enter the icy south.
Changes to come
The competitors are keeping their cards close to their chest. Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) was irritated. Today, on Vendée Globe LIVE, he said that he could not overtake, as the conditions were so wet and fierce, he was unable to hand steer and was forced to seek sanctuary below deck. He complained that autopilots could not replace the finesse of the skipper.
Meanwhile, Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) patiently waits; the fleet traverses a volatile and kinetic ocean, and the leadership battle hots up. Further north, the current leader Armel Le Cléac'h (Banque Populaire) knows deep down that the outlook is not good for him, suggesting today on Vendée Globe LIVE that the southern hunters may turn before him.
At the rear, Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) is still hoping to avoid the windless net of the anticyclone of St. Helena and he looks like he might just squeeze pass. But the situation seems bleak for the trio Arnaud Bossières (Akena Verandas), Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives Cœur) and Bertrand De Broc (Votre Nom Autour du Monde avec EDM). Only tail end Charlie, Alessandro Di Benedetto (Team Plastique) looks like he may have an opportunity to claw back from miles from the triumvirate ahead of him.
Ice Gate: Crozet Kerguelen
The IceGate Crozet Kerguelen has been moved to 39 degrees south, this is a change of more than 400 miles (700 km). It is the difference between the old ice gate called Kerguelen and the new gate called Crozet. The reason for this upheaval is the detection of a concentration of small icebergs on the trackers. CLS, the body overseeing the ice satellite imagery gained additional information provided to them by CROSS. CROSS, the regional operational centre for surveillance and island rescue is responsible for monitoring the presence of fishing vessels in the south, and also the verification that all vessels are legal. They discovered more precise information on the presence of ice in a contained area. The detected icebergs are around twenty metres in diameter. This significantly alters the position of the new gate, and lengthens the course by 300 miles. But it was decision taken to protect sailors from being tempted to play Russian Roulette, and flirt with danger, by sailing in the extreme latitudes.
Armel Le Cléac'h (FRA, Banque Populaire):
Hi all. Everything is fine on board. There is quite a lot of wind (20-25 knots) so we’re sailing fast. The sun is there, too, even though there are clouds too.
The gap with the boats chasing me is closing and I can see that. But it’s not too bad. It was very tactical in the Southern Ocean four years ago, and this year, the gate has been moved north, so we’ll have to take that into account, the route will change too. We’ll need to be careful because there will be very tough moments, and key manoeuvres. I’m done with all my checks, which is good because I couldn’t be doing them in the current wind conditions. I haven’t been up the mast but I’ve checked the main sail. I’ve cleaned up the boat, too, she’s ready for the South. We’ve put our shorts and t-shirts away and now it is time for fleece jackets! In the next few weeks, we’ll be very demanding with the boat and the equipment, but we’ve trained for that. It’ll be interesting to see how everybody approaches that period and that area, how they position their boats.
Arnaud Boissières (FRA, AKEA Vérandas):
It’s been a difficult night, things aren’t as fast as yesterday, but I’m doing fine. The sea is agitated because there’s been a front. The leaders are very fast, so the gap between us is growing bigger. The rhythm of my days is set by the live interviews, which are so exciting (he laughs) and then it all depends on whether or not I have to manoeuvre. I also manage to eat regularly, even if it’s just snacks sometimes. I’m out of cannelés (editor's note: cakes from the Bordeaux area), though! But I have plenty of other good things to eat. I’m really enjoying myself here, even though I know I’m far from the leaders. What truly matters to me is sailing in a race on this amazing boat, and there’s competition too, because Bertrand de Broc is behind me and I want to catch up with Javier Sanso. I’m fighting. It’s just that I haven’t been very successful, or lucky, lately.
Jean Le Cam (FRA, SynerCiel):
I’m doing really great. It couldn’t be better, faster and wet. I can’t be at the helm, though, because I have to protect from the water and it’s moving a lot. I wish I could helm more, it sucks big time...I’ll be done in about three hours, because the front will be gone, but right now, it’s unbearable. I have black birds behind me, a dozen of them. But it’s really war-like conditions here now. It’s impossible to do anything.
Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA, Virbac paprec 3):
The conditions are really tough, and the wind has been stronger and stronger since this morning. My current speed is about 20 knots. I have Armel and François close to me. It will be a nice fight but we’ll have to make sure we don’t push the equipment too hard. We don’t want to break anything. Especially since even if we do get ahead now, it won’t necessarily mean anything in the end. I’m starting to see birds, but no albatrosses yet. I think I’ll have to wait a little bit more for them. My tactical choice paid off, but not as much as I wish it had. I thought it would put me ahead of the others, but it didn’t. But what truly matters is we’re all doing ok, no major incident.
Tanguy de Lamotte (FRA, Initiatives-coeur):
I usually eat between 3,500 and 5,000 calories every day, depending on the outside temperature. There’s a lot of variety in what I eat, cans, freeze-dried or even fresh. Some things were cooked by my uncle. It’s all stored in bags, one for each day. I also have a couple of bottles of drinks that are not water, like fruit juice for example. I have food for 100 days and 10 days worth of freeze-dried, too. The current conditions are a perfect opportunity for me to check everything is right with the boat, I’ve had some visual checks, but also more technical things, like the electronics. I’m glad to say that so far, it’s all good. I’m going to shave today, for Movember, (growing a 'mo'ustache in support of raising prostrate cancer awareness) and I’ll show you all what the result looks like.
The top 5 ranking 5 hours (16h UTC)
1 - Armel Le Cléac'h (Banque Populaire) to 19039.8 miles from the finish
2 - Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec 3) at 38.7 miles (DTL)
3 - Francois Gabart (MACIF) to 59.5 (DTL)
4 - Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) at 113.8 miles (DTL)
5 - Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) 121.5 miles (DTL)
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