The leading ten sailboats in the Vendee Globe Race are now sailing into the ‘Roaring’ Forties, with 25-28 knots of wind, and rolling 3-4 meter swells. Seb Josse of the yacht BT is at the head of the fleet still, gaining 16.8 miles on second placed Loïck Peyron on Gitana Eighty as he directs BT east, while Peyron is on the southerly gybe.

Vendee Globe Sailboat BT

Vendee Globe Sailboat BT

The head scratching, brain teaser that was the St Helena high pressure system is a fast fading memory as the top ten leading skippers on the Vendée Globe gybe south and east to pick up the Roaring Forties, to propel them eastwards to the first Ice Gate some 650 miles to the east.

The equation to be weighed up presently is the perennial dilemma, head south, sail more miles but gain more breeze, or sail more directly east in a few knots less of prevailing NW’ly, cover a shorter distance at slightly slower speeds.

Having taken a 120 miles slant to the south east, Seb Josse is back on the gaining gybe, heading near enough eastwards averaging something close to 15 knots spurred on the heels of a modest cold front. Over the last four hours his sixty miles of easting, while his closest rival, Loïck Peyron angles more south, means that the British built BT has gained nearly 20 miles and Josse is now measured at 43.2 miles ahead of Peyron whose birthday it was today.

After three weeks of racing the leading Vendee Globe boats remain incredibly close. Vincent Riou (PRB) and Armel Le Cléac’h (Brit Air) are locked only on a parallel course, only four miles apart, while Riou reported a port and starboard crossing with rival Jean-Pierre Dick (Paprec-Virbac 2) which was more in keeping with inshore Olympic racing than a round the world race. At 1230hrs this afternoon the pair crossed on opposite gybes,  a matter of metres apart. Riou filmed as the pair separated, PRB on port and Paprec-Virbac 2 on starboard.

There are less than seventeen miles separating fourth from seventh.

The ice gate is the first of seven, which keep the fleet north, away from the worst of the ice. The CLS service, which monitors ice throughout the race, report a 450 metres long ice-berg at 47 degrees south, some 350 miles to the south of the ice gate. The fleet must pass through it, pass north of both ‘marks’ or pass between the two and gybe back south immediately.

Mike Golding, GBR, (Ecover 3) holds ninth place 94.7 miles behind Josse,  whilst Switzerland’s Dominique Wavre (Temenos II) is the latest to fall to the advancing Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia). Foncia was making a remarkable 18.3 knots, averaging 13.8 knots over the last 24 hours gaining to 11th place ahead of Temenos II, with less than 37 miles standing between Foncia and the top 10.

Brian Thompson, GBR, (Bahrain Team Pindar) is into the stronger Forties type breezes now after having to exonerate himself for his four hours starting penalty. Having been dicing and dueling with Wavre for days, Bahrain Team Pindar has dropped to nearly 100 miles behind the Swiss skipper.

Dee Caffari, GBR, (Aviva) has been taking a pre-emptive course of antibiotics to control and inflamed knee in preparation for her first adventure in the south with her Open 60.

Dee Caffari, GBR: “ I knew my knee was sore but when I peeled off some layers yesterday to have a shower I saw it was really red and swollen, and so I sent a picture to my medic and he has put me on an anti-biotic to see if we can clear it up. I think we might have caught it in time, so my fingers are crossed I have four days of antibiotics.

I am just looking to make sure it is mended before we get into the south and make sure it just does not get any worse.”

“I just need to get a little further south and into the stronger breeze to stay with the fleet. I am just negotiating the shift in the breeze, twenty to thirty degrees, just gybing on them so that I am always making progress south, but not getting sucked in by trying to cut the corner too tight.”

“ The next bit is the bit I am a little more apprehensive about. I am turning left and going under South Africa for the first time, so this is a whole new phenomenon for me.”

1st, Seb Josse, (BT): I’m pretty tired because I manoeuvred a lot in the last hours. I gybed at night, and took the gennaker down this morning: it was getting a bit tricky given the wind conditions. I have 23 to 28 knots of breeze, and big downwind sails are difficult to handle over long periods when it blows hard. I now have one reef in the main and the Solent jib, it’s still fast but much more stable – it will allow me to get some rest, and that’s exactly what I’ll do after I hang up!”

4th at + 73.1 miles, Vincent Riou, (PRB): “It was one of the most dangerous moments I have ever had on the open seas. With Virbac, I was forced to grab the helm, because he was starboard and I was on the port side.  So I just had to give way, as he had priority! It just goes to show how close we are… It’s completely mad!”

Vendée Globe Rankings

(find the current rankings at the Vendée Globe group)

  1. Sébastien Josse – BT
  2. Loick Peyron, Gitana Eighty
  3. Yann Eliès – Generali
  4. Roland Jourdain – Veolia Environnement
  5. Vincent Riou, PRB
  6. Armel Le Cléac´h – Brit Air
  7. Jean-Pierre Dick, Paprec Virbac 2
  8. Mike Golding, Ecover 3
  9. Jean Le Cam – VM Matériaux
  10. Marc Guillemont – Safran
  11. Michel DesjoyeauxFoncia
  12. Dominique Wavre – Temenos
  13. Brian ThompsonPindar
  14. Samantha DaviesRoxy
  15. Dee CaffariAviva
  16. Arnaud Boissières – Akena Vérandas
  17. Steve WhiteToe in the Water (Spirit of Weymouth)
  18. Jonny Malbon – Artemis
  19. Bernard Stamm – Cheminées Poujoulat
  20. Rich WilsonGreat American III
  21. Unai Basurko – Pakea Bizkaia
  22. Raphaël Dinelli – Fondation Océan Vital
  23. Jean-Baptiste Dejeanty – Maisonneuve
  24. Derek Hatfield – Algimouss Spirit of Canada

Norbert Sedlacek – Nauticsport-Kapsch (NL)

Vendee Globe

Vendee Globe

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