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Vendée Globe day 20: Ruyant puts foot down through South Atlantic

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Vendée Globe day 21
Vendée Globe day 21

Ruyant puts foot down through South Atlantic

 

French sailor Thomas Ruyant was this morning knocking off the miles to the Cape of Good Hope as he blasts south east ahead of a quick-moving depression.

 

Ruyant, a past winner of the Mini Transat and the Route du Rhum, was relishing another day of boat speeds into the high teens as he puts behind him the trauma of the St Helena High.

Although nearly 2,000nm back from leader Alex Thomson, Ruyant's Le Souffle du Nord pour le Projet Imagine was among the quickest boats in the fleet at the 0500 UTC position update.

Speaking to Vendee Globe HQ in Paris this morning the 35-year-old reported his speedo topping out at a lightning-fast 27 knots overnight as he attempts to stay ahead of the weather front some 50 miles behind.

The Vendee Globe first-timer was also celebrating hitting 32 degrees S - the furthest south he has ever been – as he chases down Jean-Pierre Dick and Jean Le Cam some 40nm below him.

“I'm in a little light patch, but still managing to make very fast headway,” Ruyant said. “I'm positioned nicely ahead of the low that's accompanying our passage and it's relatively easy going. We can't afford to hang about if we want to keep pace with the system for as long as possible.

The front is around 50 miles behind and it's making about the same speed as us. For the past 48 hours we've been through the entire sail wardrobe and right now I'm sailing under reefed main and J2 with 25 to 30 knots of NNW'ly and the occasional gust.

We're set to hang onto this breeze for at least a day before it back rounds to the west. It's great to be able to get the best out of the boat thanks to the smooth seas, but it can lead to some sharp accelerations at times. It's exhilarating, freaky even sometimes…. It's a good feeling! We make as much as 25-27 knots in the surf with an average of 20 knots.

I'm at 32°S - the furthest south I've been in my entire life. I'm in it for the long haul… It's good to have neighbours and be part of a trio. It gives you references and I see that I've made up a bit of ground on Jean-Pierre and Jean. It motivates you to limit the deficit with the head of the fleet.”

At the head of the fleet Thomson's Hugo Boss gave away more miles to Armel Le Cléac'h as the gap between the pair was reduced to just 20nm.

And at 0500 UTC Le Cléac'h was hitting more than 19 knots while Thomson was only mustering 11 as he attempts to transition through an area of lighter winds.

The next depression that will fire them east is another 24 hours away – and it remains to be seen which of the two frontrunners will profit from it most.