Second place could be further within Armel Le Cléac'h's reach than a few days ago
Three knots. That was the speed recorded during the night by second place Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnement). The red boat is suffering in the Azores high, with her sails flapping and speeds limited to low single figures. A stark contrast to the conditions Jourdain described yesterday as being perfect holiday weather.
As with every day in the Vendée Globe, pleasure can very quickly give way to frustration in just a few hours. Roland Jourdain’s frustration this morning is down to the small elongation of the Azores high which has extended to hold him powerless while The Professor heads to the finish with the more than enough wind power, allowing him to modulate his speed to his own level.
What will be harder to bear for Jourdain is not just experiencing stickier conditions again as he did in the Doldrums, but the time spent slowed means it is longer before he makes the finish. Meanwhile Desjoyeaux is at 15 knots towards les Sables d’Olonne. Sailing 180 miles SW of the Azores, Foncia has a steady SW’ly wind pushing the white Farr design along directly to the finish. He now has a very comfortable lead of 663 miles over his nearest rival, his biggest yet and could even reach the 670 miles that he had, and lost, in early 2001.
Armel Le Cléac´h (Brit Air) appears to want a shorter journey and is sailing further east than his two predecessors. He has another 36 hours with the trade winds before knowing what he can achieve, but his simple, regular course and speeds have helped him reduce his deficit to Jourdain to 370 miles. Even just another 100 miles gained and the possibility of a windy, fast final few days and, factoring in his redress Le Cléac’h is entitled to be thinking that second is much more within his reach than it was a few days ago.
Off the NE corner of Brazil Samantha Davies (Roxy) and Marc Guillemot (Safran), 250 miles south of the Equator are approaching their Doldrums. For the first time in three days the British sailor is slower than her French rival. Davies reported they were starting to get the gusty, squally Doldrums conditions yesterday evening and was looking to a protracted period of intense sail trimming to keep Rosy moving to best effect in the unpredictable conditions.
Brian Thompson on Bahrain Team Pindar had the honour of being the fastest. Clearly, his powerful boat is well suited to these trade winds reaching conditions. His passage up the Atlantic has been impressively swift, probably quicker than Desjoyeaux and Jourdain. He is now 156.8 miles ahead of seventh placed Dee Caffari (Aviva) who averaged about two knots slower than her compatriot.
Steve White (Toe in the Water – CLICK HERE to read his latest blog) might feel that the end of more than 24 hours of depressingly slow ‘sailing’ is in sight as he managed to make two to four knots during the night and different times and this morning he was at 9.8 knots, preparing to fight on in his quest to catch Arnaud Boissières. The Akena Vérandas skipper made it to within 65 miles of the Brazilian coast and has since assumed a course near to due east.
Rich Wilson (Great American III) is clearly in good humour, as well he might be after his great passage past Cape Horn, remarking in his overnight mail:
“GA3 turned NE past Staten Island earlier today, thus respecting Antarctica by leaving it to starboard. No specific time for this respecting of the mark, just the last couple of months…”
Wilson is SE of East Falkland island this morning, making 9-10 knots, while with 1350 miles to sail to make Cape Horn, Raphael Dinelli (Fondation Océan Vitale) has Austrian skipper Norbert Sedlacek (Nauticsport-Kapsch) being able to set more mainsail again, catching him by 15 miles since yesterday. Nauticsport-Kapsch is now 65 miles behind.