Despite the clasic weather systems now in place with low pressure centres following each others, together with fronts and ridges in between, the results have been surprising.
When Michel Desjoyeaux (PRB) passed the last ridge he was slower than Roland Jourdain (Sill Matines La Potagere) who was two degrees further South. At the last Argos position, Bilou caught the wind from the new low pressure earlier than his fellow competitor who was still a bit more in the North East in the calms conditions of the ridge.
The difference was brutal and changed the overall leadership of the race. The Breton sailor, nicknamed "Bilou", who had to return to Les Sables d'Olonne a few hours after the start has produced an amazing come back. When he passed the Canaries, he had just rejoined the first group of boats. He then stayed on the look out, sailing a conservative race in the leader's wake. The hundred mile gap a few days ago never stopped reducing and today favoured by a good weather option further South than the others, he managed to climb into first place.
For Thomas Coville (Sodebo, Savourons la Vie) life hasn't been so kind. The repair he did on his tiller axis after a collision with a whale has broken. It was nearly impossible for him to control Sodebo, and as he was sleeping the boat bore off and broke the gennaker tack. As the gennaker was floating violently in 25 knots of wind, just attached by the head and the clew, Thomas had to run to the mast and try to sort the mess. During the manoeuvre, the halyard got wound around his left hand, burning the back of the hand, but worse, dislocating his thumb. The thumb didn't come back straight away but, with the help and good advice from the French doctor Jean-Yves Chauve, Thomas managed to put it back in place. After what happened, Thomas was feeling depressed and during the radio chat this morning he confessed his morale was low. "I am still paying the consequences of this collision with this whale and each time I have come back in the race after fighting hard, all I do is for nothing. Ellen took me 60 miles and now she is ahead of me. I have to admit I am nearly knocked out".
For Dominique Wavre (Union Bancaire Privee), things are going well. The Swiss skipper is preparing Christmas. He has a tiny Christmas tree and some tinsel garlands to embellish a bit the atmosphere inside his boat. We will tell you how each skipper is preparing this festive season, alone, in the largest desert of the world.
Ranking Polled Friday
Boat Skipper Speed DTF DTL
1 Sill Matines & La Potagere Roland Jourdain 15.6 12767 0
2 PRB Michel Desjoyeaux 14.9 12794 27
3 Kingfisher Ellen MacArthur 15.5 12952 185