Thursday, November 27, 2008

Seb Josse, new leader of the Vendée Globe

[Source: Vendée Globe] For the first time in 14 days, the 2008-08 Vendée Globe has a new leader. At this afternoon’s 1500hrs (GMT) updates, Seb Josse on BT has taken pole position from long-time pace-setter Loïck Peyron.

But whilst place-changes among this leading group can sometime be misleading — it is after all measured from ‘distance to finish’, which doesn’t take account of the fact that the front pack are having to dive south rather than take the most direct route to the Cape — Josse is also further south and showing better boatspeed than Gitana Eighty to stretch out a lead of 15.3 miles. Over the past five hours Peyron’s average speed has been little more than five knots, and his 24-hour distance covered has dropped to under 200 miles for the first time in six days. His track shows a number of tacks, apparently the result of squalls as Peyron finds himself sailing under a black cloud — in every sense.

Peyron wrote today: “This morning, I ended up stuck beneath a squall for three – four hours. There wasn’t a breath of air and I was manoeuvring in every direction to try to get out of it all. We’re hitting a buffer zone and as I was leading the way, I was the first to land in the shit! It’s no surprise though, I’d be preparing for it for several days. This isn’t the important thing: you mustn’t be distracted by the rankings and the changes in hierarchy as things really only get serious further down the track…”

Jonny Malbon on Artemis gives a very interesting account of sailing in the Doldrums. 27 November 2008. Video copyright Vendée Globe

Behind this duo the place changes are less clear-cut, Jean-Pierre Dick (Paprec-Virbac 2), who was third this morning, is currently showing as fifth, but is still the next most southerly boat in this race to the 40s. That means Armel le Cléac’h (Brit Air) has moved up to third, and Vincent Rio (PRB) to fourth. But the leading seven boats are now packed within just 40 miles, and who is actually in front will be open to debate while we wait to see the effect of the high pressure system. Currently showing in eighth place, Mike Golding (Ecover, GBR) is to the west of this leading group, and has conceded a few miles to Yann Elies (Generali).

Still consistently quick, Marc Guillemot on Safran is just over 150 miles off the leader —having halved the distance of one week ago — and other boats are coming down with him; Brian Thompson (Bahrain Team Pindar, GBR) and Dominque Wavre (Temenos, SUI), who have reversed yesterday’s order with Thomspon now 10 miles ahead.

Michel Desjoyeaux on Foncia continues to clock up the miles to the west, although Dee Caffari (Aviva, GBR) has been doing a good job of hanging onto his coat tails, showing the greatest mileage over the past 24 hours.

The fastest boat on the course is currently Bernard Stamm’s Cheminées Poujoulat (SUI), averaging over 13 knots in his pursuit of Raphael Dinelli (Fondation Océan Vital).

In this morning’s radio broadcasts the chasing skippers were all hoping for the opportunity to make some gains and close up with the leading pack, but the real chances will come for whoever can exit the high pressure system in best shape. In the meantime it’s time to keep on top of any ongoing maintenance and perform some final checks before the plunge south — a trip up the rig is in order for many of them.



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