Loïck Peyron, who is one of the popular favorites to win the Vendée Globe sailing race dismasted his yacht yesterday. The solo skipper, who had lead the pack down the Atlantic for 16 days, was down below in his sailboat Gitana Eighty when he heard a very loud bang. When he got in deck his immediate fears were realized when he found his mast in three or four pieces. Gitana Eighty is now sailing under jury rig.

Vendee Globe

Vendee Globe

With the dismasting of Loïck Peyron’s Gitana Eighty on their minds, there is no sign of any obvious let up in the intensity of the battle among the leaders of the Vendée Globe this morning. Some 430 miles west of the Kerguelen Islands, deep in the south Indian Ocean, there is now less than 40 miles between the leading five boats as Jean-Pierre Dick makes a small gain to lead by 30.4 miles from Roland Jourdain who is up to second place again. But there is now just nine miles between second and fifth place Michel Desjoyeaux sailing Foncia.

Foncia remains consistently quick sailing a course which is not extreme. Michel Desjoyeaux chose to go north sharply late on Tuesday,  joining Seb Josse in the north and has moved forward progressively. He is second fastest to JP Dick this morning and has been waging a speed battle with Mike Golding, GBR, (Ecover 3) for fourth position, one and a half miles behind the British skipper.

In 18th place in the Vendée Globe is Steve White sailing  (Toe in the Water) appears to be heading north east again on a course that will pass more towards easterly end of the second Ice Gate and seems to be losing miles on the pack he is chasing at the moment.

The next low pressure system for the Vendée Globe fleet is presently over the Prince Edward islands, or the equivalent of where Dee Caffari, GBR (Aviva) and Arnaud Boissières (Akena Verandas)  are, and will move over the fleet to reach the Kerguelens early morning tomorrow, while a bigger low is due to reach the Kerguelens Sunday yielding 40+ plus knots of wind.

The yachts are now converging, being channeled through the gap between the Kerguelen Islands and Heard Island. It is about 230 miles wide but this hostile channel, where the seabed shelves quite sharply, is part is responsible for the difficult, confused seas which several skippers today reported having to deal with. Factor in gusty, squally winds which make it hard to manage and set a sail-plan – under-powered and you lose miles, or get pushed around by the 5 metre seas, over-powered and the auto-pilots can barely cope and the consquences are expensive in terms of lost energy and miles.

Two phenomena are coming together: firstly the wind will veer from the west and south-west to the north-west and will be very powerful: thirty in the forecasts, with gusts around 45 and more in the squalls.  The seas are confused, pushed along by this flow associated with a Southern Ocean Low which will pass over the Kerguelens tonight. These leaders will be reaching the continental shelf just after the cold front goes over them, making the manoeuvre particularly tricky, as they will be changing tack. Some may attempt to gybe, but even under reduced sail (two or three reefs in the mainsail and storm jib), there are serious risks.

– Vendee Globe News from various sources

Vendee Globe Rankings

December 11 2008  (for updated Vendee Globe rankings, click here)

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

Vendee Globe

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