Vendée Globe: On a Mission to Madeira

Published on November 9th, 2016

(November 9, 2016; Day 4) – Armel Le Cléac’h continues to lead the Vendée Globe as the fleet stretches from the Portuguese coast toward Madeira, the first island obstacle of the around the world course.

The Banque Populaire solo skipper, which should pass to the west early tomorrow, has seen his lead shrink slightly as he tries to hold his distance ahead of a chasing pack which are pushing each other hard in the light to moderate breezes.

For Le Cléac’h it is key to get south of Madeira with a margin intact, knowing that first into the NE Trade winds will accelerate away. The Azores high pressure, and the fickle, unsettled winds it produces has proven hard to escape.

The leading group of eight are within 30 miles of each other, the lateral spread at 120 miles between Le Cléac’h to the east and British skipper Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) to the west in eighth.

The pace to Madeira remains slightly quicker than that of the 2012-13 race when François Gabart was at approximately the same point a day later. Once into the trade winds the average speeds should be higher – 450 mile days commonplace for the foilers – and so the Equator should certainly take less than ten days. If the weather models prove true that should mean one new record on this race from the outset.

While Banque Populaire VIII holds the lead, posting 273.8 nm in the past 24 hours, the placing behind have changed. Finding fast lanes in the 8-12 knot winds, and being well positioned as the wind clocks to the right, has spelled gains and losses irrespective of whether the IMOCA has hydrofoil daggerboards or not.

Sébastien Josse’s investment to the west has paid slightly and his Edmond de Rothschild was up to second place. Paul Meilhat on SMA improved overnight from seventh to second, then fifth. Thomson has dropped to ninth but has been as quick as the leaders, gained a little westing back and closed on Le Cléac’h.

Due to strong winds in the Bay of Biscay, Didac Costa and his team will decide tonight if the departure from Les Sables d’Olonne will be in the morning or afternoon Thursday. Costa had to return to the start town within one hour of the start when his boat partly flooded due to a ballast pipe leak. His water damaged alternator had to be replaced with repairs to his electronic systems.

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Ranking (Top 5 of 29 as of 22:00 UTC)
1. Banque Populaire VIII, Armel Le Cléac’h (FRA), 23439 nm to finish
2. Edmond de Rothschild, Sébastien Josse (FRA), 12.81 nm to leader
3. Maître CoQ, Jérémie Beyou (FRA), 14.25 nm
4. Safran, Morgan Lagravière (FRA), 14.7 nm
5. SMA, Paul Meilhat (FRA), 15.31 nm

Race detailsTrackerRankingFacebookVendeeGlobe TV

Background:
The eighth Vendée Globe, which began November 6 from Les Sables d’Olonn, France, is the only non-stop solo round the world race without assistance. Twenty-nine skippers representing four continents and ten nations set sail on IMOCA 60s in pursuit of the record time set by François Gabart in the 2012-13 race of 78 days, 2 hours and 16 minutes.

For the first time in the history of the event, seven skippers will set sail on IMOCA 60s fitted with foils: six new boats (Banque Populaire VIII, Edmond de Rothschild, Hugo Boss, No Way Back, Safran, and StMichel-Virbac) and one older generation boat (Maitre Coq). The foils allow the boat to reduce displacement for speed gains in certain conditions. It will be a test to see if the gains can topple the traditional daggerboard configuration during the long and demanding race.

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Source: Vendee Globe

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