Overnight only race leader Charlie Dalin (Apivia) is the only skipper among the top 10 to have managed to hold speeds in double figures as the leaders of the Vendée Globe continue their slow but steady progress south, trying to wriggle their way across a band of light winds to get to the Southern Ocean.
Dalin and second placed Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) are desperately trying to track and stay with the breezes they have, a narrow, isolated band of wind which they are working to get the most, Successfully staying under this wind flow could reward them with a perfectly timed arrival on the top of an eastwards moving low pressure system which in weather modelling would slingshot them east to more than double their 298 miles lead on third placed Jean Le Cam (Yes We Cam!). Dalin is certainly benefiting from leading into stronger breeze and appears to have a faster sail combination, likely a spinnaker, than his rival Ruyant. Their regime is demanding, manoeuvre, nav station, rest. Repeat, as described by Ruyant this morning tracking the wind in real time is key.
“We spend time at the chart table to find the way. We know the basics, but there are a lot of subtleties to deal with and, for now, Charlie (Dalin) does it very, very well. My position in second with a good cushion behind me is quite satisfying but we are not in the Indian Ocean yet. That is to say we are far from the goal. There is a rhythm from the star and thay is still the case, and there will be more in the coming days we will run through the whole sail inventory and combinations."
Behind the top duo, Le Cam is sticking to his philosophy of sailing fewest miles, working a more direct route, always on the inside of the fleet relative to the centre of the Saint Helena high pressure which is now to their north. He seems intent on staying with this straight line to the SE and working as best he can through the very light winds which are ahead of him. Le Cam has repositioned slightly to put himself directly ahead of Kevin Escoffier
In contrast Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée 2) gybed away from the second pack yesterday afternoon and is looking to work a more direct course due south. He will forego south-eastwards miles in the short term – the optimal direction – but believes that his gain will be by getting reaching a fast moving train ride east.
Meantime Alex Thomson has clearly been on the nightshift on HUGO BOSS. After resuming race mode yesterday afternoon, taking the opportunity to trundle down the track in relatively benign breezes and flat seas after the first phase of his repairs to the internal longitudinal framing in the bow of his IMOCA, the British skipper followed his plan to work the cooler night hours to finish his laminating repairs. As a consequence he has been slow during the night and slipped to seventh but he is in a good pack of boats and is very much still in the race.
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