Vendee Globe - Jeans make a westward gamble

In the Vendee Globe, the front guns are slowing as they negotiate a light passage between the Saint Helena high and a depression forming off Argentina. The fleet this morning crossed the symbolic 20,000 miles theoretical distance to finish (DTF Distance To Finish), Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire), the most easterly of boats slowed down to a crawling ten knots. Golden boy, Gabart (Macif) is riding alongside with only 44 miles separation, but still hitting 12 knots, he will also feel the effect of the slowdown as the wind spins to the east northeast and will gradually decline.

Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3), who galloped two places into second yesterday, has lost some ground this morning. He’s gambling that a shift in the west could allow him to get better winds for longer to close the gap.

Virbac Paprec 3 - 2012 Vendee Globe
Behind, Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) clings on to his newly gained fourth place, which he stole from Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) yesterday. Stamm is picking up speed and clearly wants it back. The fast-talking Brit hunting Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) travelled 374.4 miles in last 24 hours, at an average of 15.6 knots. He is by far the fastest of the fleet, although still behind Mike Golding (Gamesa), 16 miles astern.

He too has entered the westerly gambling saloon and he is banking that a strong shift in the west will allow him, like Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3), to benefit from the greater pressure and continue his attack. Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud) still showed good averages (over 300 miles over 24 hours). Vincent Riou (PRB) this morning was 300 miles east of Salvador de Bahia lolloping limply and forlornly back to port.

A little more than 700 miles behind the leader, Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) sped south almost reaching a 13 knots average over 24 hours, flying along in his Owen Clarke-generation (launched in late 2011) Open 60 steed. Less than 70 miles behind, and enjoying having the doldrums in his rear view mirror, Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives cœur) hung onto to his unexpected to 10th position.

Lamotte, however, will have to work hard to keep Arnaud Bossières (Akena Verandas) at bay. The local boy from Les Sables D’olonne sailing onboard Vincent Riou's ‘chewing gum’ PRB, regained some speed this morning and posted the best group average amongst his pack at the back (312.5 miles in 24 hours). His is just ahead of Bertrand de Broc (Votre Nom Autour du Monde with EDM), who is finally trucking along after a diabolical Doldrums crossing, covering almost 300 miles travelled in the past 24 hours, although he is still a hundred miles behind Arnaud Bossières (Akena Verandas). In the North Atlantic, Alessandro Di Benedetto (Team Plastique) should cross the Equator by lunchtime. Far east, he is making his way westward to avoid getting caught in the calm of the Saint Helena high but is looking forward to raising his glass of rum and toasting the God of the sea.

Vendee Globe website