Vendée Globe: Good Pace for the Pacemaker
Published on December 16th, 2016
(December 16, 2016; Day 41) – Vendée Globe pacemaker Armel Le Cleac’h, who covered 410.7 nm in the past 24 hours, anticipates rounding Cape Horn sometime after December 22nd but, now with a lead of 400+ nm over Briton Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) the solo skipper of Banque Populaire VIII reflected on his progression over three consecutive editions of the famous non stop solo race around the world.
“It will be nice to round the Horn in front, as eight years ago, I was third and four years ago in second place, so I’m making progress. I hope to get to see it. Four years ago, we were busy watching out for icebergs, that was a nasty surprise.”
Le Cléac’h has been second in the Vendee Globe twice in a row. In 2008-9 he benefited when Roland Jourdain, who was second, pulled out at the Azores because he had lost his keel. Le Cléac’h has earned a few more miles on Thomson for three points as he has done during each of the last three days. A messy transition zone has hampered Hugo Boss while the Breton Le Cléac’h had a NW’ly airstream this morning and converted it into miles. By Cape Horn this advance could be as much as two days.
Meanwhile Thomson’s margin back to third place has stabilised again at just over 800 nm. Both are now in lighter winds and making 11-12kts. To get to Cape Horn, Armel Le Cléac’h is going to have to find a way to deal with the high, which is generating a moderate westerly air stream and make the connection with a low that is forming at 60°S. If he does make it, which is not going to be that easy, he should be able to speed towards 56°S to enter the Drake Channel and finally leave the Southern Ocean behind.
All eyes are now on the pack further back as a nasty low-pressure system is passing NW of the Kerguelens offering heavy cross seas and winds in excess of forty knots.
Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire VIII): “We have light conditions here in the Pacific, but it varies a lot, as yesterday we had squalls up to 25 knots. It’s calmed down a bit since yesterday evening, but we’re still slower than expected. There is a wind hole behind me and I can’t afford to slow down. I’m in the high after crossing the front 24 hours ago. I still have a NW’ly so am taking advantage of that. I’m trying to get to a low ahead of us and it’s going to be close whether I get there. The weather models are changing all the time. The target is Cape Horn, but I don’t know how we’re going to get there. I should get there on around the evening of 22nd. But it could be after that. In any case, before Christmas. Four years I passed it on New Year’s Day with François (Gabart), but we started four days later from Les Sables d’Olonne.”
Ranking (Top 5 of 29 as of 22:00 FR)
1. Banque Populaire VIII, Armel Le Cléac’h (FRA), 9375 nm to finish
2. Hugo Boss, Alex Thomson (GBR), 422.63 nm to leader
3. SMA, Paul Meilhat (FRA), 1232.91 nm
4. Maître CoQ, Jérémie Beyou (FRA), 1249.18 nm
5. Quéguiner – Leucémie Espoir, Yann Eliès (FRA), 2114.83 nm
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.
November 12, Day 7 – Tanguy de Lamotte, Initiatives Coeur, masthead crane failure
November 19, Day 14 – Bertrand de Broc, MACSF, UFO collision
November 22, Day 17 – Vincent Riou, PRB, UFO collision
November 24, Day 19 – Morgan Lagravière, Safran, UFO collision
December 4, Day 29 – Kojiro Shiraishi, Spirit of Yukoh, dismasted
December 6, Day 31 – Kito de Pavant, Bastide Otio, UFO collision
December 7, Day 32 – Sébastien Josse, Edmond de Rothschild, foil damage
Source: Vendee Globe