Monday, November 24, 2008

Few changes in the Vendée Globe as the fleet sails past Salvador

[Source: Vendée Globe] Little change in the order of the top 15 as the Vendee Globe as the leaders enjoy fast trade winds sailing along the Brasilian coast, some 600 miles to the east of Salvador de Bahia.

The winds backed this morning to allow the leaders to ease sheets and power reach at speeds up to 17-18 knots at times. Loick Peyron’s lead has been trimmed very slightly, at 21.8 miles over Seb Josse (BT) from the 29 miles he lead by last night, but with the prospect of the St Helena high pressure system still blocking their direct path then there is the likelihood of more important gains and losses in days to come. Indeed as the system moves east there may be lbigger benefits for the chasing pack.

The fleet is now strung out over 1500 miles north to south. Steve White, GBR, (Toe in the Water) made his first crossing of the Equator today – the only skipper in the fleet never to have done so before. He was followed by Unai Basurko, ESP, (Pakea Bizkaia) just after lunch time today, while the next should be Jonny Malbon, GBR, (Artemis 2).

Malbon was relishing the trade winds conditions after a tough, slow Doldrums crossing, his frustration heightened by a problem with his Fleet 77 receiver which limits his ability to get meteo information.

The slight easterly rotation of the breeze saw Vincent Riou, 4th, (PRB) and Roland Jourdain (Veolia Envirnonnement) bank some of their gains by moving slightly eastt, while Golding, 6th, and Elies, 7th, stuck with their course and took the ‘speed’ option.

Brian Thompson, GBR, and Marc Guillemot have had an interesting duel, conceptually different boats from either end if the IMOCA Open 60 design spectrum. Guillemot’s Safran is one of the lightest in the fleet, going for a stripped, simple approach, while Thompson’s Bahrain Team Pindar is perhaps the most powerful. Some 33 miles to the east of him, Guillemot has computed to have taken 10th place from Thompson gaining about 8 miles over the course of the day, the only place change this afternoon.

At the top of the fleet Gitana Eighty still leads by 21.8 miles from Josse’s BT. Vincent Riou (PRB), fourth, has repositioned himself almost directly in front or Armel Le Cléac’h (Brit Air) but this pair are still only seven miles apart and often still in sight of each other.



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