Vendée Globe: Fast Forecast Ahead
Published on November 16th, 2016
(November 16, 2016; Day 11) – After a fast passage south from Les Sables d’Olonne to cross the Equator last night, the leading skippers in the Vendée Globe can expect the high pace and intensity to continue down the South Atlantic. Forecasters are presently predicting the race record to the Cape of Good Hope may fall thanks to the very south easterly position of the South Atlantic High Pressure system.
Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) continues to blaze the trail southwards ahead of Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire VIII), with both of the foiling IMOCAs have moved slightly clear of third placed PRB over the day in the beam reaching conditions – averaging 15-18kts of SE’ly breeze. After covering 430.8 nm in the past 24 hours, Hugo Boss is nearly at the same latitude as Recife and just 200 nm off the Brazilian city’s coastline.
After racing cheek by jowl with his compatriot Le Cléac’h coming out of the Doldrums, now in the slightly windier, more eased, reaching conditions, the orange hulled six year old VPLP-Verdier design with conventional ‘straight’ daggerboards has been a click slower than the two boats in front.
Notable today is that Le Cléac’h has been sailing just a couple of degrees higher than Thomson and so theoretically making a better VMG. Thomson, meantime, is maybe happier with a marginally lower and faster angle because of his sail combination or more likely his routing to meet the best breeze in the low further down the track. But there is really nothing in it.
The combination of a newly developing low pressure system between Rio and Itajai and then a second which will help maintain the position of the Saint Helena high pressure far to the south and east, is a mouth-watering prospect for the leaders. This should create reaching conditions in a breeze all the way south east with the door potentially closing behind the ten leading skippers. More about the forecast here.
Third placed Vincent Riou said this afternoon from PRB: “I was expecting this level of performance, otherwise I wouldn’t be here taking part. Conditions are difficult for me at the moment. In the Northern Hemisphere, we had high speeds. We know that the foils work.
“Coming out of the Doldrums, we‘re not upwind, so that doesn’t favour me. The wind will be on the beam for the next few days. I’m lucky that the wind isn’t going to strengthen that much, so the difference is not going to be that big, but it does exist. I’m going to have to find a way to hang on in there to avoid getting left behind. There is still a long way to go.
“We’re waiting to see what we’ll get in the South Atlantic to know whether I need to put my foot down. It looks fast but there’s some disagreement between the models. There are two ways of getting to the Cape of Good Hope. But it’s clear it is going to be quick.”
Mechanical problems have slowed Jérémie Beyou on Maitre CoQ as he struggled to deal with issues affecting his autopilots. Tanguy de Lamotte continued his northwards return to Les Sables d’Olonne to fix the broken mast crane on Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque. His current plan is to rejoin the race after repairs are completed.
Ranking (Top 5 of 29 as of 22:00 UTC)
1. Hugo Boss, Alex Thomson (GBR), 21050 nm to finish
2. Banque Populaire VIII, Armel Le Cléac’h (FRA), 53.34 nm to leader
3. PRB, Vincent Riou (FRA), 68.02 nm
4. Edmond de Rothschild, Sébastien Josse (FRA), 73.03 nm
5. SMA, Paul Meilhat (FRA), 102.2 nm
Foilers: There is little debate on the superior speed of the foiling IMOCA, but the Vendee Globe is as much about speed potential as it is the skipper’s ability to get the most out of their boats. It comes down to how well they know their sails and angles, and how hard they are willing to push their boats. Here is the ranking of the seven boats fitted with foils: 1. Hugo Boss, 2. Banque Populaire VIII, 4. Edmond de Rothschild, 6. Safran, 7. Maitre Coq, 11. StMichel-Virbac, and 24. No Way Back.
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.
Source: Vendee Globe