South calling for Dick, Ruyant and Le Cam
Three more Vendée Globe skippers are due to pass the Cape of Good Hope today to bring the tally of those now in the Indian Ocean to nine. Barring any issues, Jean-Pierre Dick will be the next sailor to make it past the important milestone that marks the entrance to the next phase of the solo round the world race.
Seventh-placed StMichel-Virbac skipper Dick was this morning heading ENE making 15.3 knots with around five hours to go until he passes the longitude of 18°30'E. Just under 100 miles to the north west, Thomas Ruyant in eighth on Le Souffle du Nord pour le projet Imagine was around four knots slower with 150 miles still to go to the Cape of Good Hope. Finistère Mer Vent skipper Jean Le Cam a further 50 miles north west was matching Dick's speeds, 200 miles from the reference point. The trio's times for passing the Cape of Good Hope from Les Sables d'Olonne will be more than five days behind the record set by Alex Thomson of 17 days, 22 hours and 58 minutes. Kito de Pavant, in 10th, is still three days from passing the Cape of Good Hope.
Meanwhile the game of cat and mouse continued at the front of the Vendée Globe fleet this morning as Thomson made back a handful of miles on leader Armel Le Cléac'h. British skipper Thomson was this morning around 24 miles adrift of Le Cléac'h, and at the 0500 UTC report was travelling at 19.3 knots compared to the Frenchman's 16.8 knots.
In the back half of the fleet the quickest boat this morning was 21st-placed Pieter Heerema's No Way Back at 13 knots. Along with Alan Roura and Enda O'Coineen, the 65-year-old Dutch sailor chose to skirt south of the high pressure that is currently blocking the path of nine skippers. Only time will tell if that breakaway group can claw back enough miles before the pack make it into more stable South Atlantic breeze.
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EXTRACTS FROM TODAY'S RADIO SESSIONS
Armel Le Cléac'h (Banque Populaire VIII, leader, 15,815 miles from the finish): "We're making good progress towards the Kerguelens ahead of a front with 20-25 knots of wind and seas that are relatively decent. It's cold with the sea temperature around 5 degrees. Luckily I have a little heater, which means I can keep it up to a temperature that is correct in the boat. We are not luffing up enough to make the most of the foils. After the Kerguelens there will be a tricky transition zone to deal with, but we're particularly watching the gales forecast for late this week. Being in front doesn't change that much for me. I sail my own route, but it's nice to have a pacemaker like Alex. We mustn't get too excited. There's still a long way to go."
Kito de Pavant (Bastide-Otio, 10th 2583 miles back from the leader): "The seas are not as heavy as yesterday evening, when the waves were steep. On the programme today, a gybe and then we'll prepare to get her stoked up, as the wind is going to ease off. (..) I have twenty knots of wind and the boat just went surfing along at 28 knots. Luckily I'm attached to my seat. We haven't yet had any heavy weather, but it will be different in December, as we know that there is a storm a day in this region. I'm keeping my eye on one that is developing in the Indian Ocean, not far from Crozet, in around a week. I should pass the Cape of Good Hope on Friday the second at around two in the morning according to my computer. The idea is to beat this forecast."
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