Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Loïck Peyron leads a compact Vendée Globe fleet

[Source: Vendée Globe] After 16 days of sailing, just 50 miles cover first to fifth as the leading group squeeze ever-closer, with several skippers throughout the fleet engaged in some great battles with their nearest rivals as backing winds allow them to crack off the sheets and sail for speed.

Second-placed Sebastien Josse (BT) has got leader Loick Peyron in his sights, and by the 1900hrs (GMT) update has brought the deficit down to just 10.1 miles. It’s been a good day at the office for ‘Jo Jo’, who gained more than 18 miles on Gitana Eighty since this morning.

Marc Guillemot on Safran is also having a great duel with Briton Brian Thompson on Bahrain Team Pindar. The VPLP-designed Safran seems to be getting the better of the powerful Pindar at the moment, clocking up over 309 miles over the past 24 hours, the most of any boat.

Highlights from the 16th day of the Vendée Globe. 25 November 2008. Video copyright Vendée Globe

Speaking at this morning’s live radio broadcasts, Brian Thompson compared Safran and Bahrain Team Pindar, which are at different ends of the IMOCA 60 design spectrum. “We’re very different. We’ve been quite similar [pace] over the past couple of days, Safran has probably been a touch faster. She’s been a little bit more in the east, which may have helped her but there’s not much to choose between them. I remember at the start Safran was very fast and she’s a particularly good boat upwind, which is surprising when you look at those curved foils etc but maybe that long chine helps her go upwind as well. But it’s going very fast a lot of the time.”

Michel Desjoyeaux has also picked up the pace — he is currently one place behind Sam Davies (13th), whose Roxy is the very same boat on which he won the 2000-2001 Vendée Globe.

At the other end of the fleet Derek Hatfield now has to fend off Jean-Baptiste Desjanty on Groupe Maisonneuve, as they approach the Doldrums. “I'm also feeling the heat from Jean Baptiste who is right behind pushing hard to catch up. He is providing me with some motivation to pick up the pace now. All good stuff, as they say.”

But while picking off a rival will no doubt give any skipper some satisfaction, the real gains and losses are still to come — when to turn left, that is the question…?

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