VENDEE GLOBE NEWS – At the end of the pacific passage, through the treacherous deep south, Cape Horn is the last mandatory gate via which the skippers must pass. It is their dream to round the mythical Horn, synonymous with turning into the final furlong, onto the home strait. Even, if they know that the rise of the Atlantic can be tricky, turbulent, and still, anything can happen; rounding Cape Horn is a big psychological milestone. Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) is due to round Cape Horn this morning.
He will enjoy the moment, especially as on this day four years ago he was sheltering in his survival suit in his capsized boat, awaiting rescue. Jean Le Cam has fought hard to get here buffeted by heavy seas and strong, unstable winds. At 5am, this morning, after a series of gybes, he was 60 miles from Cape Horn pushed on by a southwesterly wind of less than 20 knots. He will have an eye on the radar, one eye on the deck, as he prepares to traverse through the minefields of Icebergs depicted around the eastern Horn.
Behind him the five boats led by Mike Golding (Gamesa) have around 295 miles to go. They are sailing in improved conditions yet, the wind remains unstable, and, frustratingly for them, decreases as they approach the Horn. Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud) and Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) are neck and neck within 20 miles of each other. These are tense times for Bernard Stamm who is critically short on energy reserves. The approach to Cape Horn is complicated and difficult for him. At 200 miles behind Arnaud Arnaud Bossières (Akena Verandas) and Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) are 20 miles but face a changeable system that is generating weaker westerly winds.
Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) sent this message into race HQ yesterday, “Yesterday I could see Akena briefly on my bow; the first thing I have seen in two months other than whales, water and birds. It was good to meet up with someone at these latitudes. On Sunday I let Cali past me so he could take a photo of Acciona astern as I knew it would make him happy (it’s a joke!). He overtook me because he has had ten days with good weather conditions, he has made good tactical decisions and because I have had a few issues on board. But I’m not making excuses. Yesterday, we spoke on the VHF and had a bit of a laugh. I congratulated him on his progress but I hope he has stopped now and it will be my turn to go into the lead.” There is now no time now for VHF chats but instead to analyze the weather and to gybe onwards.
Broc, De Lamotte, Di Benedetto in low pressure
Doing 16.9 knots this morning, the skipper of Team Plastique is still sailing ahead of the depression. The northwesterly wind of 25 knots, should not abate in the next 24 hours. Alessandro Di Benedetto (Team Plastique) is storming along and 24 hours, the Italian sailor gained 115 miles. Tanguy de Lamotte(Initiatives Cœur) and Bertrand De Broc (Votre Nom Autour du Monde avec EDM) overnight encountered southwest winds of 35 knots. They will have to gybe to reach the last gate of the route 480 miles ahead of De Broc
Alex Thomson is gaining ground
It’s tight at the top. The two leaders are battling head to head upwind in conditions that are lightening to a northwest wind of around 15 knots. François Gabart (MACIF) and Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) are seperated laterally by 110 miles. It’s a tough time for Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire). It’s difficult to steal back precious miles when the conditions for his duelling partner are exactly the same.
Yesterday, Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) lost vital ground and shifted east having to effect repairs due to a broken forestay strop. Now, he is 170 miles ahead of Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) who must be rubbing his hands with glee. Thomson has a chance to take advantage of a more direct route then the two at the front. The south Atlantic promises thrills and spills all the way home.
The top 5 ranking 5 hours (4h UTC)
1 – François Gabart (Macif) 5 388.3 miles from the finish
2 – Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) to 65.9 miles
3 – Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) 406.7 miles
4 – Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) at 576.3 miles
5 – Jean Le Cam (Synerciel) 1 685.7 miles