Only 100 miles separate first and tenth position
It appears that the ability to pace themselves is making all the difference at the front of the Vendée Globe fleet. With just 100 miles between first and tenth, less than two miles between second and third, and less than two miles between fourth and seventh, the skippers will need to be consistent.
Seb Josse (BT) has made another small gain (48.7 miles from 44.2 miles last night) and is now back in phase with Loïck Peyron (Gitana Eighty) in second.
Yann Eliès has had a good night, pushing hard to gain about ten miles on the lead to lie just less than two miles behind Peyron, while the tight group of fourth to seventh – Vincent Riou (PRB), Armel Le Cléac’h (Brit Air), Jean-Pierre Dick (Paprec-Virbac 2) and Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnement) have all got just less than two miles separating them in terms of distance to finish. Riou has regained third for the moment.
Racing downwind in 20-25 knots of wind, down the same track on the heels of the same weather system, the gains made by the skippers now are largely down to their ability to have the right sail up and their angle to the wind. With the wind directly from astern, the speed drops off, so they need to find a compromise between course and speed.
This depends on several factors: sea state, the ability of the boat to sustain long surfs, the amount of sail and of course, how tired the sailor is. They need to remain vigilant at all times at high speed, so if they want to sleep, they have to ease off slightly. This often affects the performance at night. If Jean Le Cam (VM Matériaux) was able to claw back 20 miles from Mike Golding (Ecover 3), you can be sure he spent the night working hard.
Another competitor, who could not have got much sleep is Michel Desjoyeaux who is now only 6.8 miles behind Marc Guillemot’s Safran. He achieved the best average speed during the night of 16.5 knots.
In seventeenth Briton Steve White (Toe in the Water) exonerated himself, taking his penalty yesterday evening – taking advantage of slowing to a stop for half an hour making a check of his mainsail, and now is just three miles ahead of countryman Johnny Malbon (Artemis II).
Click here for a full list of boat positions.