Can Jean Le Cam hold off Vincent Riou in the light, tricky conditions the Vendee Globe fleet is currently facing in the South Atlantic?
Jean Le Cam (Bonduelle) may have slowed up over the past 24 hours with an average speed of 8.5kts but he still holds a 20-mile lead over Vincent Riou (PRB) and nearly a 100-mile lead over Roland Jourdain (Sill).
Chatting from the boat this morning it’s obvious Le Cam is feeling the pressure, commenting: “It’s a long time since we’ve had such slow speeds. It’s very tranquil. As a result you end up hoisting a sail and then the wind changes and you have to drop it again and put up another; then that’s no good so you have to repeat the process all over again. As for my strategy, I’ve chosen to be here and I don’t know if it’s the right choice. What is sure is that these are options we are going to have to live with for a few days.”
According to meteorologist/navigator Ian Moore, the race leader Le Cam has seen his last gains from this weather scenario and the relative positions of the boats will be dictated by how quickly they can get away from the dwindling front and into fresh breeze further south. Because the high to the north-east looks set to die over the next 24 hours, Moore believes it will pay to get south of the front adding: “There are two pieces of high pressure one to the north-east and one to the south-west and there is a stationary and slowly-dying cold front stuck between these two high pressures and that cold front is going to get weaker and weaker. The only active part of that cold front is now to the south-east of the entire fleet and it looks like the entire fleet is in the dying bit of the cold front and that has created the big slow down.”
On current tactics Mike Golding on Ecover currently positioned at 23degS says: “Everyone is going to have to wiggle a little bit to the south because they will want to be on the other side of the cold front because the models show the wind filling in there. Then they will use what they have got to get south-east and eventually they will pick up good fresh breeze to the south at 30. If they wiggle hard here the first person down to that will make the big gain. Then we will see people start to really stretch out.”
Young Alex Thomson aboard Hugo Boss has taken a bit of a flyer off west in an effort to stay in the wind. Although this option is a bit of a gamble taking him off the theoretical route and away from the pack, he could be ‘in the money’ if the current weather situation changes.
Chatting this morning about his decision to go west, Thomson said: “My strategy is simply to get to the south as quickly as possible. I couldn’t see any other way through. To be honest, I’m not sure the way I’m going is much better. If I get lucky I might move up, if not hopefully I won’t lose too much. I really feared that the alternative would have meant sitting on deck in the St Helena high with a gin and tonic and a deckchair. It was hard to leave the group but I was in trouble either way you look at it. I’d been looking at the situation for three or four days before -spending a lot of time searching for something positive.
“I’ve had S, SE, NW winds and the only wildlife I’ve seen has been my arch enemy the flying fish. Aboard the boat the winches need a service and I’ve still got a job list to complete before the south. There’s not much time and it’s already getting colder. I’ve probably only listened to about 15 minutes of music since the start and in terms of home I miss my Sunday roast and my friends and the rugby!”
The outlook is for not much in the way of change during the next 24-hours with the wind remaining weak and shifty but stiff south-westerly winds should hit the fleet by Thursday giving them a foretaste of things to come in the deep south.
Rankings at 15h00 GMT (04:00 PM FR)
1 Bonduelle Jean Le Cam, 25 48.04′ S 21 43.92′ W
2 PRB Vincent Riou, 25 19.80′ S 21 43.24′ W 19.2 miles from leader
3 Sill Véolia Roland Jourdain, 24 39.16′ S 22 53.08′ W 92.9 miles from leader
4 VMI Sébastien Josse, 24 01.28′ S 22 45.64′ W 114.8 miles from leader
5 Ecover Mike Golding, 23 38.80′ S 24 23.64′ W 194.1 miles from leader
6 Hugo Boss Alex Thomson, 24 05.00′ S 28 22.72′ W 334.7 miles from leader
7 Virbac-Paprec Jean-Pierre Dick, 21 32.88′ S 27 26.32′ W 402.4 miles from leader
8 Temenos Dominique Wavre, 20 08.88′ S 27 16.00′ W 456.0 miles from leader
9 Arcelor Dunkerque Joé Seeten, 18 27.36′ S 26 41.00′ W 508.3 miles from leader
10 UUDS Hervé Laurent, 18 51.00′ S 27 19.08′ W 514.9 miles from leader
11 Hellomoto Conrad Humphreys, 16 24.32′ S 24 36.32′ W 524.9 miles from leader
12 Skandia Nick Moloney, 16 29.00′ S 25 00.24′ W 530.4 miles from leader
13 Pro-Form Marc Thiercelin, 15 41.00′ S 24 01.88′ W 538.1 miles from leader
14 VM Matériaux Patrice Carpentier, 15 22.50′ S 27 57.72′ W 662.7 miles from leader
15 Ocean Planet Bruce Schwab, 13 41.48′ S 26 19.20′ W 714.1 miles from leader
16 AKENA Vérandas Raphaël Dinelli, 8 35.72′ S 28 11.76′ W 1024.6 miles from leader
17 ROXY Anne Liardet, 7 04.68′ S 28 37.16′ W 1112.9 miles from leader
18 Max Havelaar / Best Western Benoît Parnaudeau, 7 37.64′ S 29 57.56′ W 1133.5 miles from leader
19 Benefic Karen Leibovici, 7 08.28′ S 31 04.72′ W 1196.9 miles from leader
20 Brother Norbert Sedlacek, 0 43.24′ N 26 02.08′ W 1420.3 miles from leader