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10 January 2005, 10:39 am
Golding's Grip Loosened
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Vendée Globe

At the 1000 GMT ranking today, Vincent RIOU (PRB) has stretched out his lead to 13 miles over Jean LE CAM (Bonduelle). Meanwhile, Mike GOLDING (Ecover) has tumbled down the ranking into 3rd position, dropping from a 2 mile deficit on the leader to 21.2 miles in the space of just 6 hours.
In the last 4 hours he is clocked at an average of just 9.6 knots and, easy as it is to speculate, the only thing that is clear before speaking with him at the radio session at 1045 GMT is that there is something not quite right, with PRB making an average of 15.2 knots over the same period in a similar zone.

The top trio are currently sailing through big squalls with massive rotations in the wind. Behind them Sébastien JOSSE (VMI) may be able make up some considerable ground on the front of the fleet as there is a chance that his more southerly position will allow him to get the right side of the anticyclone ahead of him.

Further back things don't look quite so bright for Joé SEETEN (Arcelor Dunkerque), Conrad HUMPHREYS (Hellomoto) and Bruce SCHWAB (Ocean Planet). They are all in a depression giving them 45 knot averages and gusts of up to 60 knots, torn between heading further south off course into less wind with an increased risk of encountering icebergs or toughing it out on a better course in bigger winds.

Nearly 6000 miles from the front of the fleet, Karen LEIBOVICI may well be caught by a warm front on Wednesday evening and then a cold front on Thursday evening, the latter giving her 30/40 knot winds and big seas. At her current speed, she may outpace the system though.

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