Mike GOLDING is mounting the first major challenge to the French domination at the front of the Vendée Globe fleet with the British skipper making big gains over the weekend.
The ascent of Mike GOLDING (GBR) and Ecover 3 up the Vendée Globe leaderboard continued over the weekend as he moved up from tenth place on Friday to sixth this morning. GOLDING is now just three miles adrift of fifth placed Armel LE CLÉAC'H (FRA) on Brit Air and poised to attack the elite top-five group which has been established for five days.
Making a net gain of nearly 14 miles on leader Loïck PEYRON (FRA), GOLDING's position slightly west of the leading pack and speed helped him rise to within two miles this morning of LE CLÉAC'H. GOLDING has again been quickest over the last 24 hours and since the last rankings were published at 19:00 UTC last night.
Approximately 70nm ahead of GOLDING, PEYRON on Gitana Eighty remains at the front of the fleet. It's the 11th day for PEYRON in the top spot, although his advantage over Seb JOSSE (FRA) and BT has now dropped to just under 24nm.
After passing Dominique WAVRE (SUI) on Temenos II yesterday evening, Brian THOMPSON (GBR) onboard Bahrain Team Pindar moves into the top 10, partly due to the detour of Jérémie BEYOU (FRA) to Salvador de Bahia due to damage to his spreaders.
BEYOU was lying ninth in the fleet very early on Sunday morning when he realized that his leeward rigging was slack and that he has suffered damage to his two upper spreaders.
"I haven't yet come to terms with it!"
BEYOU told yesterday's Radio Broadcast made live from Race HQ in Paris, "I was inside during the night sailing upwind in 22 knots of wind under staysail and full mainsail. I heard a cracking sound…. On the leeward side, the second spreader was hanging off: The whole spreader root [the attachment point to the mast] was broken. The shroud got entangled in the runner and then the top spreaders broke away too. I immediately slowed down and bore away, making sure I didn't gybe, as that would have caused the mast to fall. The spreaders were turning around and around: it's impossible to climb the mast without running the risk of getting my head chopped off by the piece of carbon… I think the mast itself may have been damaged. I'm doing all I can to make sure the mast stays up until we reach Brazil,"
"It is the mechanical parts that broke. I can't possibly manufacture them on board the boat: I have stuff to repair everything except the mast and the keel. I'm not the only one with this system: Generali, BT, Gitana Eighty also have the same fittings. We fitted new parts just before setting sail and checked it all in Les Sables d'Olonne."
After being past by THOMPSON, WAVRE is now increasingly under threat from the progress of Marc GUILLEMOT (FRA) on Safran who has been second quickest overnight, and is 12 miles behind the Swiss skipper.
In pursuit, Michel DESJOYEAUX (FRA) on Foncia is 404 miles behind the leader Gitana Eighty and has a course which is 50 miles inshore, to the west of that taken by THOMPSON and WAVRE, and is still 128 miles behind 13th placed Sam DAVIES (GBR) on ROXY.
Steve WHITE (GBR) on Toe in the Water should have crossed the Equator early this morning, the 18th skipper to do so. He lies 19th on the rankings but was about 120 miles closer to the border to the Southern Hemisphere than 18th placed Unai BASURKO (ESP), on Pakea Bizkaia, who is computed to have a more favourable easterly position.
Vendee Globe Leadeboard - 05:00 UTC 24 November 2008
1. Loïck PEYRON (FRA), Gitana Eighty, 20,686.1 miles to the finish
2. Seb JOSSE (FRA), BT, +29.6nm to leader
3. Jean-Pierre DICK (FRA), Paprec-Virbac 2, + 40.2nm
4. Vincent RIOU (FRA), PRB, + 59.9nm
5. Armel LE CLÉAC'H (FRA), Brit Air, + 62.4nm
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