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7 January 2013, 08:58 am
Global Ocean Match Racing
Armel Le Cléac'h will look to close the gap
Armel Le Cléac'h will look to close the gap

Vendee Globe
Les Sables, France

The two pretenders at the front, François Gabart (MACIF) and Armel Le Cléac'h (Banque Populaire) are engaged in a match racing battle.
Armel Le Cléac'h is pushing hard to the west to steal the advantage in the anticipated wind shift. Will it pay off? Caught in the dark days of dirty weather the six sailors approaching Cape Horn are still neck and neck. Last night, Arnaud Bossières (Akena Verandas) caught sight of Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) ahead on the horizon.

Frustratingly, for the front pair they are now wading through treacle home. They are battling upwind and for the next few days will have to zig zag to the end goal. They are going to be going nowhere fast, which is a stark contrast to the record breaking speeds achieved over the course of the distance. François Gabart (MACIF) said, "It's been over 50 days, covering over 15,000 miles, but this is the first time we have had to sail upwind in strong winds. It looks like we are going not very far fast."

It will require patience to see who will gain and lose in this uphill struggle. Gabart must be feeling the pressure as Armel Le Cléac'h (Banque Populaire) is pushing hard in the west waiting for the winning wind shift. Nicknamed, The Jackal, he is determined to win the advantage. To tack or not to tack, that is the question. Tacking could be fatal to Armel Le Cléac'h (Banque Populaire) so it's nail biting time to see which of the two will conquer, as they sail towards the goal. It's even possible the two pretenders could cross paths in the coming days.

Alex Thomson on track

Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) is a happy sailor. His goal now is to pick miles off the leading duo. He knows he has a chance; a new race begins again for him with only 267 miles between him and the leader, François Gabart (MACIF).

Behind, Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) on a westerly course sails the direct route with an impeccable VMG and good boat speed. He has covered 274 miles in 24 hours compared to 240 for François Gabart (MACIF).

Arnaud Boissiere sees Sanso

"At the edge of the boat, under the spring drizzle, I can see the Spanish Acciona obscured a little by the squalls. It is always fun and exciting to find a boat, " wrote Arnaud Bossières (Akena Verandas) last night, in a message to the race HQ. Attached, was a photo of Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) a small speck in the distance. It's an incredible situation that in the heart of the Pacific after 57 days at sea, the fleet are sailing within sight of each other.

Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) continues to be caught in the storm. He is still 380 miles from Cape Horn and now is due to round it tomorrow. Only Mike Golding (Gamesa), Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud) and Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) continue to show high average speeds between 15 and 16 knots the last 24 hours.

At the back of the "Famous Five", Bertrand De Broc (Votre Nom Autour du Monde avec EDM) enters a good southwesterly wind flow of 20-25 knots. Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives Cœur) is sailing in comfortable conditions which will give him some respite. Unlike Alessandro Di Benedetto (Team Plastique) who has just entered a new cycle of the Pacific washing machine, 36 knots of a northwesterly breeze.

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