Vendee Globe

Leaders knocking at the door to the Pacific, repair mode for others

Leaders Armel Le Cleac'h and Alex Thomson, 144 miles apart this morning, should enter the Pacific Ocean later today after only 32 days since the Vendee Globe solo round the world race started in Les Sables d'Olonne. While the progress for the pacemaking duo remains fast, others among the 22 skippers competing are in repair mode or have just completed significant fixes to keep them in the race.

Sebastien Josse / Edmond de Rothchild - # Vendee Globe

French skipper Romain Attanasio stopped in Simon's Bay by Simon's Town near Cape Town last night around 1800hrs UTC where he aims to make repairs to his rudders. He planned to sleep before replacing one of the broken blades with his spare and making some kind of repair to the other rudder which has the top snapped off.

Both Eric Bellion and Thomas Ruyant are back on course after completing repairs yesterday which have kept their Vendee Globe dreams alive. Ruyant repaired his ballast scoop area and was making 15kt this morning. Bellion, in 16th, spent more than 12 hours making repairs yesterday.

Ruyant explained this morning: "In fact it was the water scoop for the ballast tank which damaged part of the bottom of the hull, when it split open as we crashed down onto a wave. I had an eight inch column of water, so needed to act quickly. I blocked it off, to start off with the trousers of my foulies as i gybed, furled the headsail and assessed the damage. Then I filled it in using foam from the inside and a carbon seal. It seems to be working. It's the port intake that can no longer function. When it happened I thought it was over for me. The engine wasn't affected and I have already managed to start it twice. I lost a day with all that and the repairs themselves took me eight hours."

The Japanese sailor, Kojiro Shiraishi (Spirit of Yukoh) arrived in Cape Town on Wednesday afternoon, while the final two competitors still in the Atlantic are expected to enter the Indian Ocean early this weekend.

A tough welcome to the Pacific
Le Cleac'h and Thomson face a period of stronger winds tomorrow, a tough welcome to the Pacific, and then should be south of New Zealand in around 48 hours. They have been a SW'ly breeze on starboard gybe and the British skipper has had periods when he has been notably slower than his French rival. This morning Thomson is polled around two to three knots slower.

There is now over 1100 nautical miles back to third placed Paul Meilhat (SMA) who should pass Cape Leeuwin this morning. The 34 years old rookie who seems to have ably taken up the mantle of the race winning Francois Gabart aboard his former MACIF had around five hours before he could check off his second Great Cape of the course, and is around 155 miles ahead of Jeremie Beyou in fourth. In seventh Jean Le Cam (Finistère Mer Vent) has an opportunity to catch miles on the fast moving group ahead as he is taking advantage of a front passing over which is currently 400 miles behind Jean-Pierre Dick.

Skippers that have so far retired from the eighth Vendée Globe
- 19th November: After colliding with a UFO, which damaged his keel off Portugal, Bertrand de Broc stopped for repairs aboard his MACSF off the island of Fernando de Noronha, but was finally forced to throw in the towel. Bertrand arrived back in Lorient in Brittany yesterday.

- 22nd November: Vincent Riou (PRB), the only previous winner of the Vendée Globe, announced he was retiring after his keel hit something and was damaged. He headed for Cape Town and set off for home on Saturday 3rd December.

- 24th November: Morgan Lagravière (Safran) hit a UFO, damaging one of his rudders. He retired and headed for Cape Town.

- 28th November: Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives Cœur) officially retired. Two weeks earlier on 13th November, Tanguy announced he was going to carry out repairs in the Cape Verde Islands after his masthead broke. On 16th, he was forced to turn back to head for les Sables d'Olonne.

- 4th December: the mast on Kojiro Shiraishi's Spirit of Yukoh broke just above the staysail attachment. The Japanese sailor headed for Cape Town, where he arrived yesterday.

- 5th December: Sébastien Josse suffered damage to his foil after slamming into the trough of a wave. He put his race on hold to attempt to carry out repairs, but was forced to admit defeat yesterday.

- 6th December: Kito de Pavant had a violent collision with a UFO damaging the keel housing on his Bastide Otio, which led to an ingress of water. Forced to retire from the race, Kito was rescued by the Marion Dufresne on Tuesday night.


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Alan Roura (La Fabrique): "It was a complicated night, especially early on, when there was quite a lot of wind. I broached, the boat was knocked down. I thought I was going to go all the way around. I banged my pelvis, but it's better now. We seem to be alternating each day between fine weather, storms and grey skies. It takes time to get used to. Physically, it's tiring and it gets you down too, as the conditions are so tough, but the boat and sailor are fine."

Enda O Coineen (Kilcullen Voyager Team Ireland): "They call this the Roaring Forties for a good reason. It Roars. We had some respite for 12 hours, sunshine and winds of only 20 knots! Then it swiftly powered back again to 30 knots plus. It seems never to end. Our worry is that since the wind had moved into the north some, we could run out of sea room to avoid the ice exclusion zone. The wind chill and cold is also relentless. On deck are also concerned about not been seen or running into something - having lost our radar dome and the Activ Echo attached."


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