Vendée Globe day 58: Sniffing out the trade winds off Brazil
Monday, January 2, 2017 6:43 PM
In the ongoing duel up the South Atlantic at the front of the Vendée Globe round the world race over the last 24 hours Alex Thomson has made a small, but valuable gain against his French rival Armel Le Cléac'h. As the pair raced eastwards at the latitude of Rio and just a little northwards, the British skipper of Hugo Boss has been able to close gauge, reducing the north-south lateral separation by some eighty miles.
The leaders have been sailing east to sniff out the trade winds. Despite sailing on port tack, the side on which he has no foil and so has less lift and traction than his rival, Thomson has had a better more lifted wind angle which has allowed him to angle slightly more northwards.
Le Cléac'h (Banque Populaire VIII) should be first on to the ‘making', more profitable north-going tack this afternoon, touching the trade winds first. Once both are on the same northbound tack, Thomson's strong side, Le Cléac'h should gain for the coming 18-20 hours as he enjoys the benefits of a slightly strengthening and more lifted breeze. But once both are into the same trade wind breeze this should be closer to the British skipper's sweet spot and he should be quicker, once again be able to redress the balance in his favour.
Unexpectedly rough conditions, gusts to 60kts, have this afternoon placed Conrad Colman in a tough position in one of the most remote area of the Pacific Ocean. Colman so skipper on Foresight Natural Energy has been slowed this afternoon at around five to six knots, suffering a problem with his standing rigging which he will need to wait until the worst of the very active system diminishes before he can take stock. The strength and activity of the system was not apparent on some models yesterday, the race forecast for today announcing: “For Nandor Fa and Conrad Colman the depression they are sailing in does not completely correspond to the weather models from yesterday. It is more active and slightly further east than expected, which has complicated the task of the Kiwi skipper. Winds are blowing in a range from 45 to 55 knots with gusts in the 70s until 1700hrs UTC in the Southwest quadrant of the depression, which is the exact place where Conrad was early this afternoon. Conditions should then improve from then on”
Louis Burton's race so far has been most remarkable for its quiet, under-the-radar consistency. The solo racer from Saint Malo on Bureau Vallée has seemingly been blessed with steady conditions all the way across most of the Indian and the Pacific. He is due to round Cape Horn late tomorrow night for his first time. Burton started the last Vendée Globe but hit a trawler off the Portuguese coast and had to retire. He has sailed more than half of his race in splendid isolation, 1000 miles ahead of Nandor Fa and now 1200 miles behind the duo of Jean Le Cam and Yann Eliès. He knows his boat well, the Farr designed ten year old former Delta Dore, making his IMOCA debut in 2011 when he took fifth in the Transat Jacques Vabre with his brother Nelson.
In 18th place, Sébastien Destremau expects to pitstop close to Hobart on Tasmaniatonight or tomorrow as he seeks to check his rig and rigging fully before venturing into the Pacific for the first time with his 1998 built IMOCA TechnoFirst-FaceOcean which started life as Josh Hall's Gartmore. Destremau had to replace the rig just weeks before the start of the race and only managed to sail from the Mediterraneanto Les Sables d'Olonne with his new mast before starting.