Leader's Patience Tried and Tested
Life is not getting any easier for Charlie Dalin, the Vendée Globe leader, as he is still struggling in light breezes as he tries to wriggle free from the sticky clutches of the Saint Helena high pressure which now spans most of the South Atlantic.
In the last 24 hours to 0400hrs UTC this morning Dalin on the yellow hulled Apivia had only made 130 nautical miles, averaging 5.4kts. In an area in which he might normally hope to be on a sleighride south averaging four times this speed, this will be frustrating. And according to the weather models this morning Dalin’s patience is going to be tested for at least another 24-36 hours.
His lead over second placed Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut), at 88 miles, and to Jean Le Cam (Yes We Cam!) at 350 miles behind, remains steady as both are mostly following his wake. That said the position of the veteran Le Cam, in the north and east, is looking vulnerable as evidenced by his slow speeds and many manoeuvres during the night.
But the group lead by Britain’s Sam Davies (Initiatives Coeur) in ninth and Alex Thomson (HIGO BOSS) in eighth look set to make ongoing inroads as they are in downwind and reaching conditions on the west side of the high with a clear pathway in building breezes that should accelerate them south.
Davies in particular seems to have the timing of her trajectory just right and continues to gain with good breeze and a profitable angle south, unlike fourth placed Kevin Escoffier (PRB) who this time yesterday morning admitted he could not decide which way to go. His procrastination seems to have cost him as he is angled on a south westerly course this morning, sailing away from the theoretical best course to the south east.
Speaking this morning from ninth placed Arkea Paprec Sébastien Simon said “ As soon as we get to the south of the high pressure area we'll have a good ride in the southern depressions which will take us far, perhaps as far as the Kerguelen Islands. Meantime we will have to stay focused so as not to miss this train. If we miss it, we will catch a high pressure system which leave us behind.”
Simon is just one skipper among a few, no doubt, who are regretting being too conservative in their strategic choices, opting for a middle route between Davies and Burton who dived south in his west and Le Cam and Escoffier who are paying a price for their easterly choice. He noted, “ Sam and Louis will pass in front of me but I hope I get on the train in front of group to my east. "
Isabelle Joschke the fastest
With an average speed of 16.6 knots overnight and a VMG of 8.6 knots, Isabelle Joschke (MACSF) in 15th, recorded the fleet’s best performances of the night. Her 115.9 miles run allowed her to cut 20 to 30 miles from her deficit to Giancarlo Pedote (Prysmian Group), 13th, and Benjamin Dutreux (OMIA - Water Family), 11th.
Armel Tripon (L'Occitane en Provence) took his penalty of four hours yesterday and so he has not yet really caught up again with his target group (Pip Hare, Manuel Cousin, Didac Costa). Clément Giraud (Compagnie du Lit - Jiliti) was the 28th of the 32 boats racing to enter the Southern Hemisphere last night. The three still in the Northern Hemisphere are Sébastien Destremau, Kojiro Shiraishi and Jérémie Beyou.