The low pressures system which usually turns around the Atlantic ocean struggle to get organised.
The competitors are arriving in the middle of the Indian ocean and despite some squalls up to 50/60 knots, the sailors haven't yet met the big swell. The small lows raised a relatively short sea but were not following each other. After three 'normal' depressions everything was back as usual. Now there is a long swell again. Marc Thiercelin ( Active Wear) says, "It's the first time really that the sea is so big. There are some very big waves even if last night we had a maximum of 45 knots. Yesterday in a very big gust I couldn't hold the boat and I stayed 15 minutes with the sails flapping, nothing broke but I decided to slow down!"
It's really cold now and it's getting much harder. Bodies, especially the fingers, are numbed so the manoeuvres take more time and are more dangerous. When the sea is warmer you are not afraid of taking a wave in the face. With a water at 4°, one pays a little more attention not to be wet, especially when it's so hard to dry the clothes. Many sailors try to limit the numbers of manoeuvres.
Michel Desjoyeaux (PRB) is still sailing his own course saying, "Bilou is 100 miles behind. It's quite comfortable". He is not worried by Yves Parlier (Aquitaine Innovations) who has done a fantastic come back, reducing the gap by 140 miles in one day, "For sure he is pushing his boat very hard and well, but we are in different weather systems, he's got more wind so he is faster. Then it will be my turn to have good conditions, and I hope that I will be able to build up more miles between myself and the others." For the leader the strategy is simple, "I need to be in good position with the low pressures and to sail the boat at its best, without breaking. "
Raphael Dinelli (Sogal Extenso), who stopped in Cape Town at the beginning of the week, has finished to repair his keel. He should leave again soon. As he has received some assistance, he is disqualified but he has decided to finish the course and to come back to Les Sables d'Olonne. The race organisers will still follow his boat with the Argos beacons to ensure his safety but will not communicate with him any more to mark the difference between the skippers still racing and the others.
Ranking polled at 1100UTC 16/12 00
Boat Skipper Speed DTF DTL
1 PRB Michel Desjoyeaux 13.1 14391 0
2 Sill Matines & La Potagere Roland Jourdain 13 14476 85
3 Aquitaine Innovations Yves Parlier 17.5 14596 205