15 November 2016 - 06:40 • 12842 views

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The leading trio appears to be into a more consistent ESE'ly wind this morning but it remains only light. Alex Thomson's margin is stabilised somewhat at 64 miles on the early morning position report, now positioned to windward and ahead of Armel Le Cleac'h and Vincent Riou who are hunting as a duo, only 1.2 miles apart this morning. Sebastien Josse's more westerly position seems to have lost him some miles, dropping away to the west last night at around 2100hrs UTC. He is now 20 miles to the west and 15 miles behind his compatriots.
 

If this was an afternoon race around the bay, we would say that Alex Thomson halfway between Africa and South America is well positioned beween those chasing him and the next mark, the Cape of Good Hope. However this mark is still some 3500 miles in front of him. Hugo Boss is just 180 miles from the Equator that he is expected to cross this evening more or less a day ahead of the reference time set by Jean Le Cam in 2004. He took 10 days and 11 hours to sail this part of the course, while the 2016 fleet is only going to complete its 9th day of racing at 1202hrs UTC today.

At around midnight under the light of the Supermoon, Alex Thomson reported: "It's been a fantastic day today. I think that is the easiest Doldrums crossing I have ever had, it was a bit of bouncing between clouds, but generally a straight line, going fast. I never saw a zero point zero zero. It's difficult to know how many miles I have made until the others exit the Doldrums and we are into the first couple of days of the South Atlantic trades. Normally the rich get richer at this stage. As I get further south I'll get more wind and the wind will get more left which means I can ease the sails and go faster. That's the normal trend and looking at the forecast that should happen."

© Quéguiner Leucémie EspoirThe leading seven boats are practically out of the woods with the Doldrums in their wake and are all at similar speeds of around ten knots. Morgan Lagravière and Yann Eliès hope they have got across with the frontrunners, but that is far from being the case for those who are more than 230 miles back from the leader with speeds right down this morning for the trio formed by Jean Le Cam-Thomas Ruyant-Jean-Pierre Dick, who are more or less becalmed in the Doldrums, which have widened in front of them. They are sailing at 3 or 4 knots and the toll is likely to be expensive later today, as Jean Le Cam told us during the radio session during the night.

In each part of the fleet there are battles raging. The fleet as a whole is stretched out over more than a thousand miles and what makes this edition remarkable is that so far, no boat has been forced to retire. Of the two skippers, who have suffered serious damage, Didac Costa has just passed Funchal, while Tanguy de Lamotte is still anchored in Mindelo (Cape Verdes), where he is waiting for daylight to climb back up his mast again.