Vendee Globe - The fight for supremacy continues

Synerciel - 2012 Vendee Globe
In the Vendee Globe, three key duels of differing intensities prevail on the race track this morning - but only in the head-to-head tussle for the overall lead has there been no change in supremacy overnight.

Racing in sunshine and 20kts of SW’ly winds it is the battle between François Gabart and Armel Le Cléac’h which remains closest with Le Cléac’h seemingly poised to move ahead, 1.9 miles behind the leader on Macif and sailing faster by between one and two knots.

With Jean-Pierre Dick still nicely in touch at 99 miles behind in third on Virbac-Paprec 3, the leading twosome have a relatively straightforward speed race to the Australia South ice gate, around 300 miles in front of them, but the duel for fourth place between Switzerland’s Bernard Stamm and Briton Alex Thomson is subject to a much more tactical range of options. But this duo will share the same disappointment that their margin to the leader is now opened to close to 300 miles.

Yesterday, whilst also dealing with a small catalogue of repairs, Stamm dropped off the back of the low pressure system which the leaders are still riding and into lighter winds. Since then he has had to take Cheminées Poujoulat to the east, mirroring the course which Thomson has been on since the last gate. Thomson’s Swiss rival has suffered through the night with only moderate breezes at time, periodically very slow, and so the Hugo Boss skipper has broken back through to fourth, 12 miles ahead of Stamm.

The key, medium term, for Alex Thomson is that by tomorrow morning he should be hooked into a fast moving depression before Stamm whose track at times is now north of east, effectively sailing away from the next gate as he searches for that same low.

Thomson’s compatriot Mike Golding, who has been ahead of his French rival Jean Le Cam for more than two weeks, has had to cede sixth place as he works further to the north of Le Cam, an investment which he hopes will give him a long term benefit as he targets the same low as Hugo Boss. Le Cam is more than 30 miles ahead this morning whilst Golding has been slowed to five knots.

In contrast conditions are finally excellent for Spain’s Javier Sanso on Acciona 100% Eco Powered to make miles on the trio in front of him. With Dominique Wavre virtually stuck to the Indian Ocean making just 1.2kts this morning, Sanso is catching fast at 17kts and soon perhaps the Swiss skipper will be closer to Sanso than he will to Le Cam and Golding, his companions since the Cape Verde Islands.

Arnaud Boissieres (Akena Vérandas) checked in through the Crozet gate last night at 2000hrs UTC whilst Alessandro Di Benedetto (Team Plastique) crossed the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope at 1730hrs UTC.

Vendee Globe website