Sam Davies lying fourth in fleet
Vendee Globe skipper Armel Le Cleac’h crossed the finish line at Les Sables d’Olonne on Saturday morning as to take second in the non-stop, solo circumnavigational race, which is his first.
They may call him the Jackal, a skipper just 31 years old, whose patience and prudence masks an innate predatory instinct and timing, which has seen him regularly succeed as runner up after other favourites have fallen, but he still admitted today that his mother worried if he had been eating enough.
Le Cleac’h feasted on the warmth of the welcome, drank deeply of the memorable hours from the minutes he spotted the first media boat an hour after a chilly dawn this morning, pacing every metre of the deck of his Finot Conq design Brit Air to acknowledge the cheers from his family, friends and sponsors as he approached the finish line.
A two hour wait until the tide rose enough to allow him to pass down the canal was just an opportunity to draw breath after a long, stressful final week, winds gusting to 50 knots and big seas, which ripped away his protective canopy and pulled his mainsheet track car off two nights ago.
He paid tribute to winning skipper Desjoyeaux, and to the unfortunate Roland Jourdain, who held second place for more than half of the duration of his race, from whom Le Cleac’h inherited second place.
” My Mum’s a bit worried. In our family it’s important to eat well. I set out with 90 days of food. The experts kept talking about 80 days or less, so I thought 90 would be just right. We were a bit slow on the way down, then the route was extended. In the south I was hungry so ate more than planned, thinking of 83-84 days. Then, the climb back up the Atlantic was difficult and long. So for the past two or three days I didn’t have much left. I had some crepes and bread and butter this morning. The steak and chips later on will be perfect.”
Marc Guillemot (Safran) looks set to propelled to a third placed finish by brisk Atlantic winds, while his British rival Sam Davies, GBR (Roxy) has picked up speed and is racing to beat another high pressure system and to be back in Les Sables d’Olonne before Valentine’s Day. She is 107 miles behind Guillemot.
Only three boats are still in the Southern Hemisphere after Steve White, GBR, (Toe in the Water) crossed the Equator very early this morning.
Brian Thompson, GBR, (Bahrain Team Pindar) corroborates Dee Caffari’s belief they face at least two parking lots before the finish, light winds in different high pressure systems at the Azores and in the Bay of Biscay.
After her losses yesterday, a time when, seeking to stay at optimum power, she worked through her sail inventory and her reserves of stamina Sam Davies is back pacing Marc Guillemot for the meantime, accelerator pedal pressed hard on the ‘pink rocket’ as she referred to Roxy, the double Vendee Globe winning former PRB.
Davies should pass through the Azores tonight and has a 107 miles deficit on Guillemot, who admitted that the stress and tiredness is taking a toll on him at the moment and he is just trying to sail sensibly and safely, not pushing too hard.
While Guillemot is being pushed onwards in strong SW’ly winds, with big seas, up to seven to eight metres as a big low pressure sweeps across in front of him in the North Atlantic, he is at least assured of a speedy, if demanding few days to the finish, riding the depression. Davies said this morning that she is making the most of the adrenalin sailing while she can, for she be caught by the formation of another high pressure system. Friday is her considered finishing day, but she certainly wants to be home for Valentine’s Day.
Davies is making 15.3 knots this afternoon compared with the 16.3 of Guillemot who is reckoned to have 10 knots more wind.
The British skipper admitted this morning she would love to take part in this summer’s 40th jubilee Figaro solo, alongside the two skippers who have already finished, Desjoyeaux and Le Cleac’h.
If Guillemot finishes third the podium will effectively comprise two Farr sister-ships, the Finot Conq designed Brit Air and the VPLP-Verdier designed Safran. Prize money is Euros 150,000 for first, 90,000 for second and 60,000 each for the two third places.
15:00 HRS GMT. Rankings
1 . Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia) finished after 84 days 3 hours, 9 minutes
2 . Armel Le Cleac’h (Brit Air) finished after 89 days 9 hours 39 minutes
3 . Marc Guillemot (Safran) at 1207 miles to finish
4 . Sam Davies (Roxy) at 1314 miles to finish
5 . Brian Thompson (Bahrain Team Pindar) 1747 miles to finish
6 . Dee Caffari (Aviva) at 1829 miles to finish
7 . Arnaud Boissières (Akena Verandas) at 2414 miles to finish
8 . Steve White (Toe in the Water) 3169 miles to finish
9 . Rich Wilson (Great American III) at 4695 miles to finish
10 . Raphaël Dinelli (Fondation Ocean Vital) at 5880 miles to finish
11 . Norbert Sedlacek (Nauticsport – Kapsch) at 6268 miles to finish
RDG . Vincent Riou (PRB). 30 boats started