Hugo Boss skipper makes up 80 miles on lead boats
Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) has been the big winner from the Doldrums so far, making up 80 miles on those in front since yesterday afternoon and moving into third place. But if the top six all looked to be through the Doldrums this morning then there was a small reminder of the lottery of the wind in this feared equatorial zone at the 09:00 (French time) ranking.
At the back of the fleet, Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski (ENERGA) partially revealed the reason for his strange heading – he is testing a new solution to his autopilot nightmare. Since releasing his gennaker, the 39-year-old Polish skipper, has been heading due east and is 1607.9 miles from the top of the fleet.
Last night he told his team that he is heading in the direction of the Canary Islands (280 miles away) but not to stop and only because this is the “best option regarding the weather situation.” His team have sent a solution to the software problem with his autopilots.
“I got out from the no-wind zone (last night) sailing 15-17 knots with a south-west breeze,” Gutek said. “In the morning (Tuesday) we’ll get cold front with rain and squalls up to 30 knots. And after that on this front a new low will be born, giving more wind.
“So, now I am driving east to be able to sail south-east afterwards without a fight with strong wind straight on my nose.”
Race leader Armel Le Cléac’h, (Banque Populaire), does look to be through and has an opportunity now to open a gap. He has been averaging more than nine knots since last night and appears to have left behind the shifty six knots easterlies for 12 knot south-easterlies, but it is still unstable. The race to catch the first low-pressure weather system south into the Roaring 40s.
Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ) became the fifth skipper to abandon the 2012-13 Vendée Globe on Sunday (18 November) after he was unable to find a safe solution to secure his broken canting keel. Beyou has arrived safely Mindelo harbour in Sao Vincente, one of the Cape Verde islands, where he had diverted on Saturday night to find shelter.