Thursday, December 04, 2008

Vendée Globe fleet goes into the big winds

[Source: Vendée Globe] As the Southern Ocean delivers the first big winds of this Vendée Globe, speeds at the front of the fleet climb proportionately. The leaders are well into 35-40 knots of wind and big rolling seas, anticipating forecast gusts of 45-50 knots tonight as the gales peak for about 10-12 hours.

The challenge as ever is not just pressing hard when you can through the worst of the storm, knowing how little distance separates the top 10 boats, setting the Open 60 up to deal with the big squalls and gusts, but anticipating when the wind is building and when it is starting away again. Most are now predicting that this system will be relatively short and sharp.

Highlights from day 25 of the Vendée Globe. 4 December 2008. Video copyright Vendée Globe

Seb Josse and Yann Eliès remain locked together, rivals and sparring partners of the same mind set and on the same course. Incredibly after 25 days of racing, on a clear day they would be still within in sight of each other, scything through the ocean side by side cutting virtually parallel wakes only five miles apart, Josse’s British built BT representing the Farr design office for whom the Vendée Globe represents one of the sport’s peaks they have yet to conquer, and Eliès’ Generali carrying the hopes of the French design office Finot Conq, incumbents and most regular winners of this legendary solo race.

Loïck Peyron, who had lead this race for longer than any other skipper, has climbed back in to third place on Gitana Eighty 28.5 miles behind Josse, holding a course some 80 miles to the north of the main, chasing pack.

Mike Golding, who holds the Cape to Cape speed records in the south, is pushing hard in eighth and is fastest of the top 10 on the early evening poll, less than one mile behind Vincent Riou (PRB) winner of the last race who lies seventh. This hungry pack, only 13 miles apart, are also racing virtually side by side with Golding, Riou and Jean Le Cam all closely spaced, the British skipper having gained more than 25 miles on leader Josse in the last 24 hours.

Already surfing along in more than 40 knots of wind at times, Sam Davies, GBR, (ROXY) was relishing the rock and roll ride, while Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia) in tenth was making the most of the 30-35 knots he had during today’s radio chat session. He is now 140 miles off the lead, and reckoned today that he was about 5 hrs 45 minutes behind Golding.

Derek Hatfield, CAN, (Algimouss Spirit of Canada) may now be having a great race with Jean-Baptiste Dejeanty (Groupe Maisonneuve), dueling with just a mile between them in 22nd and 23 rd place, but the Canadian skipper said today that he has a major clean up operation to deal with today, after sluicing through a crude oil slick, a large quantity of which washed over his decks getting trapped in his sheets, rope bags, cockpit and equipment.

Meanhile Unai Basurko, ESP, (Pakea Bizkaia), who reported damage to the cassette stock for one of his rudders, is now making 8 knots NE towards the quieter winds of the St Helena high pressure area where he plans to try and effect a repair.



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