Vendee Globe - Long ascent continues for the leaders

Arnaud Boissieres, Akena Verandas - 2012 Vendee Globe
© Arnaud Boissières / Akena Vérandas
In the Vendee Globe, constantly in a northerly flow of around 15 knots, the two leaders continue their long ascent up the South Atlantic, Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) managed to claw back a few miles this morning reducing the gap between him and François Gabart (Macif) by fourteen miles. With approximately three weeks to go and the potential to reduce gaps by fourteen miles in one ranking, shows that the Brittany skipper is willing to fight for every mile in the battle of ying and yang.

The tall, dark Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) physically is the polar opposite of the short, blonde François Gabart (Macif) but they have one thing in common they are both brilliant sailors and strategists. This edition of the Vendée Globe could spark the beginning of a legendary sporting rivalry that could span many years as these two sailing giants continue to battle head-to-head up the South Atlantic.

It was with sigh of great relief that Arnaud Bossières (Akena Verandas) and Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) rounded Cape Horn last night at 21:35 GMT and 0:55 GMT. For the two sailors Cape Horn was a welcome site marking the end of a long Pacific crossing.

A special crossing for Arnaud Boissières who had a chat with a Cruise ship, which broadcast the conversation to their passengers. 'They told me they had on board a swimming pool, two bars, one nightclub, blah, blah. Ok, I thought, I have a sore arse and am minging nothing in common here then, other than a good laugh. However, they were well aware of the Vendée Globe and even knew my name. The crew wished me a good journey and gave me a honk with their horns. I am sure they will charge the passengers extra for seeing a competitor of the Vendée Globe.' wrote the cheeky Cali, the nickname for Arnaud Bossières (Akena Verandas) in his message to the race HQ.

With these two names struck off the list, there are now nine in the Atlantic. The next sailors expected are Bertrand De Broc (Votre Nom Autour du Monde avec EDM), Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives Cœur) and Alessandro Di Benedetto (Team Plastique). They are respectively 1340, 1615 and 2340 miles away from the mythical Horn and sailing fast. Alessandro Di Benedetto (Team Plastique) showing the best growth in 24 hours with 386 miles.

According to the Vendée Globe website tracker, the trajectory of Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss is set on the great circle (the shortest path between the start and finish). His course takes him to the South American continent and enables the British sailor to travel a shorter distance faster than Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3). If the latter is currently sailing upwind in 20 knots, Alex Thomson has the better angle and faster speeds with a southerly wind of 20 knots. This way Thomson steals miles and this morning was around 60 miles behind Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3). Now that he is fully powered up, he will be focusing his attention on the virtual third place, showcasing the true talents and ability of the British skipper when he has full visibility of the race course.

Currently positioned north of the Falkland Islands, Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) is enjoying good conditions and behind him Mike Golding (Gamesa) is sailing south of the islands. After negotiating the edges of Le Maire Straits, Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud) is plotting his course around the Falkland Islands. Should he go west or east? He will make his decision later today.

At 1811 GMT the news broke that Bernard Stamm had officially retired. Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) had little choice but to retire when he accepted 150 litres of fuel from his friend, Unai Bazurka after passing Cape Horn yesterday. Bernard Stamm, therefore, will no longer be included in the rankings, but will continue on his journey back to Les Sables d'Olonne.

Vendee Globe website