After the emotional wringer of Tuesday - first the waiting, then the relief as Jean LE CAM was rescued aboard PRB - it's thankfully been a quiet night at sea for the Vendée Globe fleet, whilst Brit Air has resumed racing...
For the 13 boats remaining in the Vendée Globe it seems to have been a largely uneventful night. The leaders, Michel DESJOYEAUX (FRA) on Foncia and Roland JOURDAIN (FRA) on Veolia Environment have now passed the Falkland Islands and are heading away from the South American coast in search of pressure. Whilst the winds in the region of the St Helena High are likely to head the duo, there is at least wind, which is less guaranteed closer to the landmass where there is a zone of unsettled weather. JOURDAIN is still keeping DESJOYEAUX on a tight rein, with less than 100 miles separating the pair, and they are making similar speeds.
Armel LE CLÉAC'H (FRA) on Brit Air has resumed racing after going to the aid of Jean LE CAM (FRA) on the capsized VM Matériaux yesterday, and will be the next boat to round Cape Horn. LE CLÉAC'H is expected to reach the Cape around midday today.
Vincent RIOU (FRA), on PRB, with rescued skipper LE CAM on board, had been headed towards the Beagle Channel but has this morning turned towards the Horn, suggesting that RIOU may be aiming for shelter after the Cape in order to drop off his passenger and make repairs to his outrigger. There will be a video press conference at 09:00 UTC with the skipper at the Vendée Globe Race Headquarters in Montparnasse, Paris which should establish RIOU's plans.
Yesterday evening RIOU described the rescue and the damage sustained to PRB, saying that he threw LE CAM a rope three times but LE CAM couldn't catch it so he moved closer. On the fourth attempt he damaged his own boat but LE CAM wrapped the rope around himself and RIOU pulled him in on the winch. RIOU thought his boat was dismasted as the mast was at a 30° angle, but LE CAM said they could save the mast by gybing and the shrouds went tight again. They have been currently sailing slowly under three reefs.
Sam DAVIES (GBR) onboard Roxy now moves up to fifth position following the abandonment of VM Matériaux. In north northwesterlies Roxy has maintained the highest averages over the past 24 hours and gained nearly 100 miles on the leaders. Behind her Marc GUILLEMOT (FRA) on Safran has just passed through the final East Pacific gate.
The strongest winds overnight were for those towards the rear of the fleet. Rich WILSON (USA) on Great American III in 11th is experiencing gusts in excess of 30 knots ahead of a low-pressure area, while Norbert SEDLACEK (AUT) on Nauticsport-Kapsch and Raphaël DINELLI (FRA) on Fondation Océan Vital will have been shaken up during the night thanks to several fronts going over. Today conditions should be calmer for the final two as they pass under New Zealand, however, life will not necessarily going to be easier as they may have to make ground upwind as the wind shifts to 10 knot north to northeasterlies.
Vendee Globe Leaderboard - 05:00 UTC 7 January 2009
1. Michel DESJOYEAUX (FRA), Foncia at 6475.7 miles to finish
2. Roland JOURDAIN (FRA), Veolia Environnement at + 90.9 miles
3. Armel LE CLÉAC'H (FRA), Brit Air + 641 miles
4. Vincent RIOU (FRA), PRB + 688.2 miles
5. Sam DAVIES (GBR), Roxy at + 1855.5 miles
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