Saturday, January 03, 2009

Cape Horn within grasp for the Vendée Globe leading duo

[Source: Vendée Globe] For the leaders this Vendée Globe remains a race of speed and tactics - Cape Horn is starting to feel within grasp and the home stretch within sight. For those behind, it’s now a race of attrition — and 12,000 miles must surely still feel an awfully long way to Les Sables d’Olonne, with sail damage affecting several British boats.

The front duo are looking to reach Cape Horn, the last great ‘gateway’ of the course, in the next day or so. Meanwhile those at the rear of the pack have yet to make their way across the Pacific Ocean, which has wreaked as much havoc as the Indian and Atlantic Oceans before it.

At the front, Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environment) has had a strong day, climbing back 20 miles on Mich Desj (Foncia) from his overnight lead. Behind them Vincent Riou (PRB) has also held steady in fourth place, having overtaken Armel Le Cléac’h (Brit Air) last evening.

Video highlights from day 55 of the Vendée Globe. 3 January 2009. Video copyright Vendée Globe

Sam Davies (Roxy, GBR) reported that she made a promise to her friend Sebastien Josse when BT retired, that she would not go for boatspeeds over 17 knots! Sam, in sixth place, seems to be in danger of breaking that promise, holding averages of 16.5 knots over the past 24 hours to score the highest mileage of the fleet.

For some, nearly two months at sea is starting to show – both in the skippers and in the boats. In this morning’s radio sessions Jean Le Cam's voice on VM Matériaux couldn’t hide his tiredness, or his eagerness to finish with the Southern Oceans and get around the Horn to head for home.

Others are made despondent by recurrent or worsening problems: Jonny Malbon (Artemis) is facing a serious delamination to his mainsail, as the Kevlar fibres, taffeta and Mylar film separate, leaving the Artemis team pondering their options with more than 12,000 miles to go. Dee Caffari (Aviva, GBR) is facing a similar problem, watching her sail disintegrate despite attempts to fix it with any tools she has to hand.

News from those whose race has already ended: Derek Hatfield (Algimouss Spirit of Canada) has made landfall in Hobart, and Unai Basurko (ESP) has safely arrived in Cascais, Portugal.



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