Davies in for lip-smacking finish

Vendee Globe skipper Sam Davies could be looking at a St Valentine’s Day finish in her pink liveried Open 60 Roxy. With 313 miles to go at 0400hrs GMT this morning, showing no immediate signs of slowing down, and with a lead of about 220 miles, this morning could be crucial for Sam as she strives to land third place.

Sam is pictured with fellow sailor Jeanne Gregoire on Roxy after they took 10th place in the 2007 Transat Jacques Vabre race from France to Brazil.

She has been working hard to keep her Open 60 in the best breeze and, while her rival Marc Guillemot on Safran has struggled with the lighter breezes he has been dealt by the developing high pressure system, averaging seven knots to Davies’ 13. Davies had spells reaching 12-14 knots during the night whilst Safran dropped to two knots at one stage.

Her strategy appears to be little different to what she alluded almost jokingly yesterday when she would head north until level with her house in South Brittany, above the latitude of Les Sables d’Olonne and this morning she was already between Lorient and Concarneau. She was still reaping the benefits of 10-12 knots NW’lies this morning, some 200 miles from the centre of this dominant anticyclone, which lies just to the NWW os C|ape Finisterre, while at something like 80 miles from the middle Marc Guillemot on the keel-less Safran looks to have closer to 8 knots and is still trying to make north.

The weather models suggest Davies may even hang to the breeze until around midday.
Meantime Les Sables d’Olonne awakes this morning to sunshine and very light breeze.

” I have just been in the cockpit having another karaoke moment – making the most of one of my last nights out here on my own! Leaning on the coachroof looking backwards at Roxys wake, lit up by the moon and streaming out for as far as I could see. Singing out at the top of my voice! I wish I could stay out there all night, but I must rest, ready
for a tough 24 hours of light wind sailing to get through the high “bubble” that is going to block our progress tomorrow night.” Said Davies yesterday evening.

Brian Thompson is now around 280 miles behind Marc Guillemot and he and Dee Caffari have been in fast reaching mode all night. Caffari is just passing the latitude of Cape Finisterre and has been slightly quicker than Thompson this morning, but Bahrain Team Pindar is 120 miles ahead. They look to be well matched for speed and will continue to work to the NW to try and stay away from the worst effects of the anticyclone for as long as possible, more or less following the track taken by Guillemot and Davies for the moment. They will continue to gain on Safran, meaning that after a wait of more than five days for the second boat to finish, and what looks like nearly a week for the third, then we might see three boats finish in comparatively short order from Saturday.

Winds continue to be inconsistent and frustrating for Arnaud Boissières who is level with the Canary Islands now. He is making closer to nine knots early this morning, but his speeds through the night on Akena Véranda were erratic, while Steve White, GBR, (Toe in the Water) still looks to have about 200 miles of trade winds sailing left to continue to catch the French skipper. He is still 481 miles behind.

Rich Wilson has also been frustrated by the conditions he is being given some 150 miles off the Brasilian coast, almost Doldrums like at times with clouds which suck away the light trades he should have, and cause big wind shifts. “What is going on here?” he asked rhetorically last night. He has been making between seven and nine knots.

Raphael Dinelli (Fondation Océan Vital) and Norbert Sedlacek, AUT, (Nauticsport-Kapsch) are in headwinds with the Austrian skipper making about two knots quicker.