Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA, Virbac Paprec 3):
It’s great to be the new leader, the conditions are perfect, there’s a lot of wind.
We’ve tried to be reasonable and the future will tell us whether we’ve done the right thing. Breakage can happen in any situation anyway, and in the long term too. But we also know our boats can take those intense conditions.
I spend a lot of time on my knees, it’s hard to stand and do basic things, like cooking for example. I feel like I’m camping! I also try to get some sleep, but it’s difficult because we’re shaken hard and there is a lot of noise. But after a while, you get used to that noise. But sleep is so important that at one point, you have to sleep, whatever the conditions, and when you’re as tired as I’ve been, you fall asleep anyway.
The front is coming our direction, you can tell it will be on us in a few hours, with rain and changing winds, it looks very gray, almost black.
Mike Golding (GBR, Gamesa):
The gybe was fine, the shift came pretty quickly. Although I was semi-prepared it was still quite complicated, because the shift was quite large it put us in to a nasty head sea which meant the boat was slamming, so not a great situation for a gybe but it went through alright with no problems and we got going initially on almost exactly the same heading with the same sail plan.
In reality last night we were pointing the wrong way so the focus was to the get the boat pointing in the right direction, because obviously if you are going quite fast in the wrong direction that’s worse than having the sails on the right side of the boat, but everything is stacked now and we are all set up, it feels a bit strange on board because we are leaning the other way and it feels like everything is upside down.
Right now we are reaching, the boat is keeled over a lot, and we are surfing as well, so the boat is occasionally taking off on waves and there is a tremendous sense of power, everything is shaking, a lot of noise, it feels quite tense all the time, there is a lot of tension in everything, you can hear things clicking and groaning, so it is quite noisy, but then if you are more downwind which is when you’re maintaining perhaps even more speed, the boat can be relatively flat and conditions can actually be quite reasonable, but there is always a lot of noise because the boat is carbon, so with all that noise and the motion it is quite violent, you are moving around a lot. You have to move very carefully inside the boat, to avoid an injury or falling, however, It’s not that bad, I am still able to cook and eat and have hot drinks but you just have to do everything carefully and be careful where you put things. I run a fairly tidy boat so it is not too bad at all.
Dominique Wavre (SUI, Mirabaud):
I’ve been crawling a lot lately, just to be on the safe side, I don’t want to fall.
There’s been very heavy rain and right after that, the sun came back. The anticyclone is chasing us, right behind.
Thanks to the sun, it’s not too cold yet, it’s not the great south yet.
I’m currently sailing at 18 knots.
The very high ice gates and the chasing anticyclone are not a great combination, it won’t be easy.
What I can see from the boat is beautiful, a great natural show, it feels great to be in the middle of the ocean in such a nice environment.
Arnaud Boissières (FRA, AKENA Vérandas, taped):
This morning, the wind was light but I had a quiet night and there were little birds everywhere when I woke up this morning.
The weather conditions are complex and I can see the skippers ahead of me are sailing faster so it’s very frustrating and I have to remain calm and not get too angry. In order to do that, I try to listen to music when I have time or, when it’s necessary, I focus on manoeuvres and I try to imagine there’s a boat right next to me and I have to fight against her to stay ahead, hoping it will give me extra motivation.
I focus on my own performances more than on others’. I talked to Betrand de Broc through email, and he told me we’d have to be very patient.
I don’t spend too much time at the helm, except when I change sails. The autopilot is doing well, I need to thank it! But when a man is at the helm, it’s even better.
François Gabart (FRA, MACIF):
We’re doing great, it’s going really fast, 25-26 knots as I speak. We’re still ahead of the front, but probably not for long.
Now I know people in Niort will be following me, I feel pressured, I can’t afford to make mistakes! (he laughs). No, seriously, I’m glad people are interested in the race and in my performances.
Getting rest is also part of a sailor’s life and job, so no matter what the circumstances, we have to get some rest in order to be more efficient later.
Right now I’m wearing my winter hat, it’s getting a little cold and it will get worse and worse.
Paul Meilhat (MACIF skipper, Figaro class):
The speed record is impressive, especially when you realise the double-handed record is only a few miles more, which shows how incredible the solo skippers have been.
Jean-Pierre Dick’s voice sounded great, he seems to be rested and to be doing fine. The leaders need to go fast now because very soon, the conditions won’t be as favourable as the front is faster than the sailors so it will eventually catch up with them. Maybe taking risks now is actually safer, because they won’t be taking risks later, when the conditions are more dangerous.
There are many Figaro specialists who have done great on the Vendée Globe, it looks like it’s a good school!