TOO PEACEFUL PACIFIC AS THOMSON HAS SLOWEST DAY YET

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The last 24 hours have been the slowest yet during this Vendee Globe solo round the world race. The only British skipper in the race, who on 21 November sailed 535.34 nautical miles to surpass François Gabart’s 24 hour record, sailed less than 200 miles in the 24 hours to 0400hrs UTC this morning, seeing speeds as low as two or three knots at times as he struggles to cross the light winds of a high pressure zone in the Furious Fifties. Breton, Armel Le Cleac’h has gained again from his more southerly position. Although he has been slowed as well, Le Cleac’h is over 300 miles ahead of the Hugo Boss skipper this morning.

For the leading duo in the high pressure which is between two big low pressure systems, one at Cape Horn and one under New Zealand, the Pacific looks like remaining calm for the coming days with no big lows. There are small lows and highs developing between 40° and 60° S. Conditions are easier between Cape Leeuwin and New Zealand now. In third place at 900 miles behind Thomson, Paul Meilhat (SMA) and Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ) are in an intermediate zone after Auckland Island with just fifteen knots of wind. In fifth, Yann Eliès (Quéguiner-Leucémie Espoir) and Jean Le Cam (Finistère Mer Vent) are able to relax a little after the big blow in the Tasman Sea, while Jean-Pierre Dick (StMichel-Virbac), now 48 miles behind Le Cam and making 18kts to Le Cam’s twelve, is speeding down from the Bass Strait towards Stewart Island on more manageable seas. Thomas Ruyant (Le Souffle du Nord pour le projet Imagine) is likely to enter the Pacific on Friday evening.

Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée) crossed the longitude of Cape Leeuwin at 0219 UTC, while Stéphane Le Diraison (Compagnie du Lit-Boulogne Billancourt) and Nándor Fa (Spirit of Hungary) will be there tomorrow. There is some respite too for the pack, but not for too long, as another low-pressure system is moving eastwards above the Kerguelens and the group of three international sailors are being shaken around. Enda O’Coineen (Kilcullen Voyage-Team Ireland), Alan Roura (La Fabrique) and Rich Wilson (Great America IV) are experiencing forty-knot northerly winds, just like Eric Bellion (Commeunseulhomme) further north. Pieter Heerema (No Way Back) went through that early in the night, but it should have eased once the front passed over him. For the three at the rear, conditions remain manageable before a new low arrives this weekend for Didac Costa (One Planet-One Ocean), Romain Attanasio (Famille Mary-Étamine du Lys) and Sébastien Destremau (TechnoFirst-faceOcean).

Quotes

Paul Meilhat (SMA): “It’s calmed down this morning. We just have a 15-knot northerly wind. That has meant I have been able to deal with my hook problems and I have been able to hoist my mainsail with one reef. The jammer on the halyard wasn’t working at all and I went through the low with two reefs, as I managed to hook it, but I needed to solve the problem. We’re going to be getting light conditions for the next few days, which will give me time to take care of the boat. The low has moved to the south and the Pacific is looking calm. It’s complicated for Armel and Alex, but it will be tricky for Jérémie and me too. We won’t be going as fast, so will be later getting to the Horn and we are going to have to think long and hard about our way across the Pacific.”

Stéphane Le Diraison (Compagnie du Lit-Boulogne Billancourt): “After a crazy week, everything is fine on board. I shattered two of my records. I covered around 3000 miles averaging 15 knots and should get a good time to Cape Leeuwin on Friday. The wind has eased off, which is nice. I even slowed down a bit during the night to get some rest, because I had so much to do in the Indian. Now I’m back in good shape and the contest between France and Hungary is on again. I’m able to see how I do against Nandor Fa and that is very motivating. The pack is along way behind, because we managed to stay ahead of a front. Conditions look good for the coming days, even if we are going to have twelve hours, when it goes very light. That will give me time to work on the boat. I’ll be opening a beer at the next cape. A Mexican one, not an Australian, but it will be chilled, not like the one I had at the Equator.”

Sorce: Vendee Globe

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