....from the leaders and Brits lying 6th, 9th and 11th
PHOTO: STEVE WHITE
Smooth seas, easy sailing, even some sun – skippers across the Vendee Globe fleet were reporting a respite in conditions today, but not all of them sounded that happy about it?
For Michel Desjoyeaux, who joined in this morning’s radio broadcasts with a video link on board Foncia just off the coast of South America, the visibly eased conditions have brought a sudden deceleration. This afternoon Foncia, skirting close to the tip of Tierra del Fuego, has been averaging less than eight knots and her 24-hour distance has dropped below 300 miles for the first time in nearly 10 days.
The result of this is that the chasing pack has compressed once again, Roland Jourdain is now 76 miles back on Veolia Environment, from a deficit of 120 this morning. This evening third-placed Jean Le Cam is around 350 miles away from Cape Horn
The duo of Vincent Riou (PRB) and Armel Le Cléac’h have also taken around 70 miles out of Mich Desj’s lead in the past 24 hours, and are themselves separated by less than 3.5 miles after 57 days of racing! These two are still the fastest boats on the course ? PRB sailing at 16 knots and BritAir clocking the highest mileage of the fleet, at 374.9 miles.
While Le Cam, Riou and Le Cléac’h are sailing in changeable 25-35 knot conditions to make good headway, further back in the fleet several boats were stuck in small high pressure zones and for many the frustration was clear to hear in this morning’s radio vacations. Whilst the skippers are universally agreed that the Pacific has been kinder to the fleet than the Indian Ocean, any windless or slow zones must surely add to the massive challenges of being 7,000, 8,000 or 10,000 miles from home, no longer racing for a trophy ? or even against a near rival given the number of retirements ? but only against the daily scheds and yourself.
Sam Davies on Roxy (GBR) has slowed in a light winds zone, and now has a 260-mile buffer from Marc Guillemot on Safran, who has been sailing consistently rapidly for the past day. Mixed news for both boats, as they received notification of their redress for assisting in the rescue of Yann Elies today, but Marc Guillemot also reported that a pit-stop is looking inevitable for Safran to repair the main track.
In ninth position Dee Caffari (Aviva, GBR) reported fair weather sailing conditions, but is sailing on the unfavourable gybe for her damaged mainsail, while Steve White (Toe in the Water, GBR, 11th) has been enjoying ideal conditions for the past couple of days, which have now given way to a less stable wind pattern.
Skippers’ reports in their own words
1st – Michel Desjoyeaux, Foncia (FRA)
It’s good news because the last time was in the Atlantic I was not the first! I was far from this position, so I’ve worked hard during the past one and half months to come back into the Atlantic in this position, but my interest is not to be in this position at this moment but a few weeks later, if you see what I mean!
The wind was still quite strong yesterday when I crossed the Cape, it was 35-40 knots up to 45-48, quite lumpy, but anyway it was downwind and I had two reefs in the main and the trysail and it was okay to gybe near the Cape ? I think I was less than one mile from the Cape, but it was night so I was not able to appreciate the show!
The weather is now quite smooth, small waves, less than 10 knots of soft wind from the south-west so I have a gennaker to go downwind in Le Maire Straits to go north. We don’t know exactly how we will go up to the St Helena High pressure.
6th – Sam Davies, Roxy (GBR):
I’ve been finding the light winds all over the South Pacific and I’ve just found another spot, but it shouldn’t last for too long. Already the wind’s coming back but it’s quite forward of the beam which means Roxy’s not at her fastest, but that should change in the next few hours.
For me Yann’s safety was the most important and I didn’t actually know when the Jury would make the decision over the time redress, so it’s good to hear and I think they’ve been more than fair with allocated time. Although it’s impossible to tell how much you’ve actually lost because you never know what weather system you might have been able to catch up with. But I kind of hope that the result on the water will stay the real result rather than places changing because of time penalties or time redress, because that’s always a much more fun way to do it! So hopefully those hours won’t make any difference. I kind of think that Safran’s in front of me anyway, but we’ll see!
9th – Dee Caffari, Aviva (GBR)
I had a glorious day, and the night was promising but then the wind dropped. But it’s really nice so I celebrated by washing my hair ? that was incredible! It’s really calmed down, just the wind’s a little light and indecisive, but it’s making for a lot more gentle sailing.
It’s really nice – rather than just going from one end of an ocean to another – to have stages to pass, it just makes [the time] pass much easier, so one more gate to go and then the big hand-brake turn! To have other people around and to have stages kind of fills it up, whereas I was down here last time for three months, it felt like I was just fighting depression after depression, so it’s a very different race.
11th – Steve White, Toe in the Water (GBR)
It’s been absolutely ideal, we’ve just had really stable conditions and been reaching along quite nicely without needing to do anything at all really, it’s really easy sailing and eating miles up quite fast too. At the moment the wind’s all over the shop, I’m doing a very wiggly course because it can’t quite make its mind up. But we’re heading roughly in the right direction so I’m happy enough, I’ll take it however it comes. It’s really quite nice, it makes a very pleasant change from being beaten to death with 50 knots every other day!
I can only see the top bit of the boat, but that looks okay, it’s washed fairly clean on a regular basis. Downstairs is a bit in chaos ? it’s quite like a student flat at the moment, I’m trying to dry out a load of things so there’s clothing spread all over the place, bits of the gooseneck repair and I had some plumbing to do, but I’m gradually tidying up. The sails look good as new, other than the fact that some of the branding has got a bit faded, so we’re in pretty good shape really.