Le Cléac'h extends lead; Boissières duels with 'guardian angel'
French sailor Armel Le Cléac'h has almost doubled his lead on arch-rival Alex Thomson overnight after finding breeze to the west of the Cape Verde islands.
After several days of painful progress through the Doldrums that allowed Thomson to close the gap to under 100 nautical miles, Le Cléac'h was this morning 180nm ahead of the Brit. In fact in the 30 minutes leading up to the 0400 UTC report the speedo on Banque Populaire VIII was up to 17 knots while Thomson's Hugo Boss was only making 11. The new buffer will be welcomed by Le Cléac'h, who yesterday spoke of his frustration that an unlucky Doldrums crossing had allowed Thomson back into the game.
Jérémie Beyou, on the other hand, has barely felt the effect of the Doldrums after he passed the Equator yesterday at 1329 UTC. With the Doldrums dissipating, Beyou's Maître CoQ was this morning making a steady 10 knots north, 700nm behind Le Cléac'h. Eric Bellion was today just 150 miles from Cape Horn, with Conrad Colman a further 100 miles behind.
In the Pacific French sailor Arnaud Boissières was this morning relishing in a fantastic battle for 11th place with fellow countryman Fabrice Amedeo. Boissières was this morning around 20nm to the north of Amedeo, and around 10nm closer to Cape Horn, which they should both pass this weekend. "I had a fantastic day in the Pacific - I picked up some wind, did some manoeuvres, hoisted the spinnaker and met Fabrice Amedeo," - said La Mie Caline skipper Boissières, on this his third Vendée Globe. "What more could you want? We've been talking a lot. He's my guardian angel. We have got going again after a few quiet days. We just split up under a cloud with me getting away under spinnaker. We got back together again when the sun appeared. It's encouraging to see another boat after so long. I managed to stay under spinnaker for longer than him and we're out of sight again now."
Rich Wilson (Great American IV) in his daily log:
"We have 1500 nautical miles to Cape Horn. A few days ago we were on the Asia Pacific satellite, with a declining elevation of the satellite over the horizon, and we switched to the Americas satellite. We study the weather to Cape Horn. One more depression coming along in a day and a half. We hope that we can skirt its southern side, up against the Antarctic Exclusion Zone, to minimize the wind strength that we will see. The group ahead, although within a hundred miles, is still going faster than we are. Today's more moderate conditions mean that that's a bit slow. But within a few hours we should get more, so in my decision-making, I don't think it's worth the effort, and mileage lost, to do two more sail changes, up with the full main, and then back down again into a reef, which will surely be needed."
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